Classifying homicide offenders and predicting their characteristics from crime scene behavior

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Santtila P, Häkkänen H, Canter D, Elfgren T
Publication year: 2003
Journal: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
Journal acronym: Scand J Psychol
Volume number: 44
Issue number: 2
Start page: 107
End page: 118
ISSN: 0036-5564


A theoretical distinction between instrumental and expressive aggression was used in analyzing offender characteristics and their associations with crime scene actions in Finnish homicides. Twenty-one variables reflecting the offenders' criminal activity, previous relationships with intimates and victims, and general social and psychological adjustment were derived from files of single-offender/single-victim homicides occurring between 1980 and 1994 (n = 502). Additionally, three variables describing post-offense actions and police interview behavior were included. A multidimensional scaling procedure was used to investigate the interrelationships between the variables. A distinction between expressive and instrumental characteristics was observable in the empirical structure, which was divided into three subthemes of Instrumental, Expressive: Blood, and Expressive: Intimate. Associations between the characteristics with five previously identified subthemes of crime scene actions were computed. In addition, the subthemes of crime scene actions were related to post-offense actions and police interview behavior, with Expressive themes being associated with less denial as well as a greater likelihood of surrendering and confession. The practical usefulness for police investigations and theoretical implications of the results are discussed.

Last updated on 2020-25-02 at 06:54