Victim target networks as solvability factors in serial murder

Maurice Godwin1
1University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
Cite this article:  Godwin, M. (1998). Victim target networks as solvability factors in serial murder. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 26(1), 75-84.

Volume 26 Issue 1 | e913 | Published: February 1998 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1998.26.1.75

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The situational context in which the serial killer targets his victims is critical to understanding the hunting patterns of a predator. However, police and researchers eschew victim target networks (VTN). Rather, their attention is overwhelmingly concerned with the offender’s characteristics. As an alternative to traditional police investigations, in this paper it is suggested that by directing attention to victim target networks, inferences about the decision-making process underlying the selection of crime locations, victims, and locating offenders’ home bases can be made. A decision- making model that the serial predator uses to scope out potential victim target networks and shows how proactive policing in victim target areas can deter the killer is presented. It is also posited that by directing investigative attention to victim social networks, police can first identify a set of prospective victims targeted by a serial killer. Finally, suggestions about the applicability of law enforcement use of victims’ targeting networks and how victim social networks can be used to link serial murder victims are presented.


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