Research into sexual murderers and their development has been somewhat limited. Previous research has mainly focused on establishing consistent terms and definitions and creating developmental models. However, there have been few clinical applications of these models. The current research attempts to point out the limitations in previous studies, compare existing theoretical models, and identify which components, traits, and behaviors best predict the escalation to sexual murder. To do this, the lives of four presumed sexual murderers are analyzed. These individuals include Albert Fish, Robert Hansen, Andrei Chikatilo, and Aileen Wuornos. The analysis of these individuals supports the idea that existing theoretical models are a sufficient base for understanding the development of sexual murderers but can be improved by identifying common components across models. It also supports the idea that consistent definitions and terms are essential for identifying these individuals as exemplified by the case of Aileen Wuornos. These findings serve as a start for assessing the ecological validity of existing models. Further research should be conducted to increase the number of clinical applications with the current theoretical models. These applications would help develop innovative prevention and intervention measures and provide a base for research into effective clinical treatments. Additionally, further research would aid crime scene investigations and the identification, detection, and apprehension processes.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2021


Robert W. Mitchell

Mentor Department Affiliation


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Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level