Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
International Crime and Justice
First Advisor's Name
Rob T. Guerette
First Advisor's Committee Title
Second Advisor's Name
Stephen F. Pires
Second Advisor's Committee Title
Third Advisor's Name
Third Advisor's Committee Title
Fourth Advisor's Name
Fourth Advisor's Committee Title
Serial killers, serial murder locations, serial killer classification, home invasion serial homicide, home invasion serial killers, non-home invasion serial killers, offense characteristics, geospatial patterns, environmental criminology, developmental/life-course criminology, routine activity theory, rational choice theory, crime pattern theory, criminal career paradigm, life-course persistent offenders
Date of Defense
This dissertation seeks to address the research gap in serial homicide regarding home invasion serial killers (HISKs) and add to existing policy by providing insight and approaches to assist in serial murder investigations of such killers. Data for the study was obtained from the 2019 Radford University/Florida Gulf Coast University Serial Killer Database (RU/FGCU SKD) and additional public information searches. A retrospective comparative design and proportionate stratified random sampling of 326 serial killers from the RU/FGCU SKD (2019) were used to examine the differences and classifications of HISKs and non-home invasion serial killers (non-HISKs) in three investigations: (1) common characteristics; (2) geospatial patterns; and (3) criminal precipitators.
The study contributes to knowledge in three key ways. First, Study One revealed that HISKs warrant a distinct classification from non-HISKs regarding their modus operandi and crime scene actions (stalked attacks and single location crime scenes). These findings lend further evidence to support Routine Activity and Rational Choice perspectives regarding the offense patterns of residential sex offenders. Such findings can also aid law enforcement in serial murder investigations by providing sets of characteristics for both groups that could lead to swifter apprehensions, prevent future murders in a series, and assist in cold cases.
Second, this dissertation raises public awareness of the problem of HISKs. Home invasion serial homicide is one of the most prevalent forms of serial murder, indicating that an individual’s home does not unequivocally safeguard residents from serial killers. Public awareness of HISKs, and situational crime prevention measures can result in policy-relevant implications, leading to reactive and proactive strategies to reduce or prevent home invasion serial homicide.
Finally, this study addresses the research gap and advances our understanding of HISKs in the three analytical dimensions investigated in this dissertation. The findings also serve as a comparative baseline relevant to environmental criminology and developmental/life-course perspectives. Future research is recommended to bridge the gap in serial homicide literature concerning HISKs to provide a more comprehensive understanding and preventative approaches to deter such serial killers in the future.
Comerford, Caroline V., "Do Home Invasion Serial Killers Warrant a Distinct Classification from Other Serial Killer Location Types? A Retrospective Comparative Examination" (2022). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4924.
Available for download on Sunday, February 25, 2024
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