Research and analysis

Towards identification of the sexual homicide perpetrator

Comparison of sexual homicide offenders with offenders convicted for sexual assault to determine any differences in characteristics.


Towards identification of the sexual homicide perpetrator

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.

Request an accessible format.
If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.


A ‘continuum’ conceptualisation of sexual offending has been proposed (eg Oliver et al., 2005; Proulx, Cusson, & Beauregard, 2005; Salfati & Taylor, 2006) where circumstantial violence determines whether the outcome of a sexual assault is fatal. However, so far research has failed to distinguish those sexual homicide offenders for whom homicide was a sexually motivated act, from those who killed their victim(s) incidentally, or in order to evade capture.

This study identified a group of sexual homicide offenders who committed acts of post-mortem interference, which is suggestive of a sexual motivation for the killing. This group was compared to a group of offenders convicted of sexual assault, to determine whether there were any differences between them, in crime scene and psychological characteristics.

The adult male sample consisted of 48 non-serial post-mortem interference sexual homicide offenders whose victims were females aged 14 years or over, and 48 convicted sexual offenders whose offences did not result in homicide, all of whom had participated in the UK Prison Service Sexual Offender Treatment Programme (SOTP). Both samples were identified from information relating to convictions between 1954 and 2012.

Published 26 February 2015