Characteristics of Sexual Homicide Offenders Focusing on Child Victims: A Review of the Literature

Josefa Page, Calli Tzani, Helen Gavin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The topic of sexual homicide encompasses various categories of both offender and victim and much research has shown that there are different typologies of sexual homicide offender (SHO). The aim of this study was to review the current literature regarding sexual homicides, with a focus on those SHOs that targeted children. Studies were selected for review based on the samples utilized. Studies that used a mixed sample of sexual homicide, for example, serial/non-serial, adult/child victim, stranger/non-stranger relationship were included, as well as those that exclusively investigated sexual killers of children. Relevant studies were found by utilizing online libraries and databases. Research studies (n = 39) and review studies (n = 3) were deemed suitable to be included in this review. Offender and victim characteristics, as well as crime scene behaviors, offender’s previous convictions, psychopathologies and paraphilias were reported. Geographical profiling of sexual homicides was also discussed. The review highlighted the current typologies of SHOs, including the Sadistic/Angry/Opportunistic model and the only current model dedicated to SHOs of children. There are mixed findings within this topic which may be caused by different cultures or different samples. Limitations, such as small sample sizes and the lack of comparison between sub-types of SHOs, were discussed. Suggestions for future research, including further exclusive study of sexual killers of children, were recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2922-2935
Number of pages14
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number5
Early online date24 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


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