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Accepted Manuscript

Title: Prostitute Homicides: A 37-Year Exploratory Study of


the Offender, Victim, and Offense Characteristics

Authors: Heng Choon (Oliver) Chan, Eric Beauregard

PII: S0379-0738(18)30957-5
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2018.11.022
Reference: FSI 9559

To appear in: FSI

Received date: 24 October 2018


Revised date: 26 November 2018
Accepted date: 26 November 2018

Please cite this article as: Heng Choon (Oliver) Chan, Eric
Beauregard, Prostitute Homicides: A 37-Year Exploratory Study of
the Offender, Victim, and Offense Characteristics, Forensic Science
International https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2018.11.022

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Prostitute Homicides 1

Prostitute Homicides:

A 37-Year Exploratory Study of the Offender, Victim, and Offense Characteristics

Running head: PROSTITUTE HOMICIDES

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Heng Choon (Oliver) Chan, Ph.D.1

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Teaching Laboratory for Forensics and Criminology, Department of Social and Behavioral

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Sciences, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong, SAR

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&

Eric Beauregard, Ph.D.2

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School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
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Conflict of interest statement: The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to
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the research, authorship, and/or publication of this manuscript.

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Heng Choon (Oliver) Chan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Criminology, Teaching Laboratory for Forensics and
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Criminology, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Avenue,
Kowloon, Hong Kong, S.A.R.
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E-mail: oliverchan.ss@cityu.edu.hk (corresponding author)


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Eric Beauregard, Ph.D., Professor, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia,
Canada.
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Highlights
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 This study examines 244 single-victim American heterosexual prostitute homicides.

 Cases for a period spanning over 37 years (1976-2012) are explored.


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 The offender is commonly a male in early 30s against a female of similar age range.

 The murder is commonly committed in a higher populated area.

 Edged weapons, firearms, and personal weapons are commonly used.

Abstract
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Research demonstrates that prostitutes are at heightened risk of fatal victimization. Besides,

prostitute homicides are known to be notoriously difficult to investigate; and hence, little is

known about this underresearched offender and vulnerable victim populations. This study aims

to explore the offender, victim, and offense characteristics of 244 single-victim heterosexual

prostitute homicides, extracted from the US Supplementary Homicide Reports database, for a

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period spanning over 37 years (1976-2012). Findings indicate that the general portrait of the

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offender who murdered a prostitute victim is a male in his early 30s who committed the murder

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in a higher populated area against a female of similar age range. Edged weapons, firearms, and

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personal weapons are reported to be commonly used in killing the victim. Data limitations are

discussed along with the need for future research to build on the knowledge.

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Keywords: prostitute, homicide, murder, prostitution, commercialized vice, characteristics
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Prostitute Homicides:
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A 37-Year Exploratory Study of the Offender, Victim, and Offense Characteristics


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1. Introduction
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Relative to the general population, a heightened risk of victimization is found among

the marginalized populations, which include prostitutes (or sex-trade workers) and homeless
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people (e.g., runaways) [1,2]. Marginalized people are generally those who are not part of the

dominant societal groups, who encounter serious social problems (e.g., homelessness), and
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whose circumstances are severely unstable and crisis-prone due to various factors (e.g., society

is no longer interested in investing in them and their communities) [3]. These individuals are

specifically vulnerable to the risk of victimization, in view of their lack of protection against

criminal victimization and their insufficient resources for responding to such victimization. In

general, prostitutes engage in high-risk behaviors (e.g., sex work). Given the solitary nature of
Prostitute Homicides 3

their work, particularly those who work on the street, they are susceptible to assault [4]. For

instance, the sexual services are typically performed in an isolated place, which is a potentially

dangerous circumstance for the prostitutes (and sometimes for the clients themselves). Thus,

prostitutes are inherently vulnerable, which makes them attractive targets to all types of

offenders, including murderers.

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Prostitutes, in general, are regarded as the “missing missing” (i.e., missing people who

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were never reported as missing), and the police are often unaware of offenses involving them

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[5]. Homicides against prostitutes remain a criminal investigative challenge, especially to solve

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the case with a conviction. Reasons for the difficulty in solving these cases include the lack of

public interest in view of the society’s low opinion of the victims, the lack of credible witnesses,

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the lack of client records, the reluctance of both prostitutes and clients to cooperate with the
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police, and at times the presence of DNA evidence from numerous sources having been
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extracted from the victim’s body [1]. Besides, their transient lifestyles and lack of interpersonal
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relationships make them unlikely to inform family or friends when they move to another city
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or state [6]. As a result, the disappearance of prostitutes is less likely to be noticed immediately
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and reported to the police, which may then impede the police investigation and heighten the

odds of destroyed or lost evidence [7]. Furthermore, the offending patterns used by those who
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specifically target prostitutes may further hinder the criminal investigation. For example,

offenders who murdered prostitutes were found to dispose their victim bodies outside of the
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central cities where they had met them [8], which may result in multijurisdictional police

investigations [1]. Consequently, this may further delay discovery of the victim’s body and
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interfere with reliable evidence. The police may face more challenges even when the victim’s

body is finally discovered, such as the increased odds of recovering more than one sample of

DNA from the body [4].

Although there are a handful of studies that examined prostitute homicides, no study

has attempted to explore the nature of prostitute homicides that occurred in the US, particularly
Prostitute Homicides 4

on single-victim heterosexual-oriented cases. Therefore, the present study aims to provide a

descriptive analysis of a sample of homicide cases that have been committed in conjunction

with prostitution and commercialized vice (a.k.a. prostitute homicides) across the US for a

period that spanned across 37 years. In doing so, this study aims to examine the offender, victim,

and offense characteristics. Using a multiyear nationally representative homicide database, this

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information could not only extend our knowledge on the offending dynamics of prostitute

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homicides, but it could also inform police practice in the form of police suspect prioritization.

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Possibly, this could aid the police to facilitate a more strategized and effort efficient criminal

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investigation plan.

2. Research on Prostitute Homicides

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Estimating the prevalence rate of prostitute homicides is a challenging task, largely due
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to the lack of the prevalence rate of female prostitution in the US. So far, one of the only
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scientific estimates reports its prevalence at 0.023% or 23 per 100,000 US female citizen, or
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approximately 84,000 prostitutes as of 1988 [9]. According to Potterat and colleagues [9], the
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“evanescent” quality of prostitution further complicates the phenomenon (p. 235). Indeed,
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many prostitutes only work briefly as a prostitute and they are generally geographically mobile,

which contribute to the challenge in approximating the general prevalence rate of prostitute
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homicides. Prostitution is a high risk activity that involves working alone in dangerous areas.

Prostitutes are commonly found to suffer from some form of violence (e.g., slapped, kicked,
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punched, or attempted rape) [10]. According to Potterat and colleagues [11], the homicide rate

for female prostitutes was 18 times higher than for females of the same age and race in general.
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For offenders who target prostitutes, the victim selection process may be perceived as

a function of access and opportunity [4]. Relative to others, they are victims that the public are

likely not to care about and may even harbor a sense of hatred against them. Prostitutes are

often regarded as invisible people, regularly mistreated and abused without ever receiving any

kind of assistance from the general public. The offenders and the general public may even
Prostitute Homicides 5

dehumanize and downplay the death of prostitutes [12]. However, it is noteworthy that not all

offenders who target prostitutes killed all or most of them with whom they came into contact.

Selby and Canter [13] argued that subtle factors, such as the offender’s perception that the

victim cheated, hurried, lied, or insulted them, may be at play, and not only the nature of their

occupation. For instance, some clients may reveal vulnerabilities during their interactions (e.g.,

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sexual dysfunction), and that information may poses the prostitutes in a position of perceived

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power from which they can humiliate clients who may be particularly psychologically

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vulnerable [14]. In turn, such humiliation may enrage the clients, who may subsequently assault

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the prostitutes to regain their masculinity and perceived control over the situation. In such

circumstance, a lethal outcome is not uncommon.

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The dynamics of prostitute homicides, as argued by Salfati and colleagues [1], are more
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likely to bear resemblance to sexual homicides than to nonsexual homicides in their crime
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scene behaviors (e.g., the instrumentality nature of the murder and the victims often being
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strangers to the offenders). According to Beckham and Prohaska [8], offenders who murdered
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prostitutes were also found to preferably target strangers and intoxicated victims, seemingly
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because it may be easier to rationalize their violence against such victims than those who were

not prostitutes. In terms of the weapon used, Horan and Beauregard [6] indicated that violent
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sexual offenders who assaulted marginalized victims (e.g., prostitutes) were less likely to use

a weapon at any point during their offense. The nature of the offense was more impulsive in
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those offenders who assaulted their victims manually. Relative to marginalized victims,

offenders who victimized nonmarginalized victims were found to be more forensically aware
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(i.e., did not leave the victim’s body exposed and committed the offense at night). In contrast,

the study by Beauregard and Martineau [15] found that sexual murderers who killed sex-trade

workers were more likely to commit bizarre or unusual acts, to fully remove the victim’s

clothing, and to take items from their victim. Nevertheless, these offenders were less likely to
Prostitute Homicides 6

perform postmortem mutilation on their victim. Similarly, a higher rate of stolen property from

the victims was also reported in the study of prostitute homicides by Salfati and colleagues [1].

3. The Present Study

Research on prostitute homicides is scarce. The study by Brewer and colleagues [16]

estimated that 2.7% of female homicide victims in the US between 1982 and 2000 were

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prostitutes. To date, little work has focused exclusively on exploring the demographic

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characteristics and offending dynamics of prostitute homicides that occurred in the US. Many

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questions remain unanswered: What are the common demographic characteristics of American

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prostitute homicide offenders? Who are their victim? What is the common offender-victim

relationship found in this type of homicides? What weapons are used? Do these homicides

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commonly occurred in higher or lower populated areas? Are there differences in murder
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weapons used in relation to different offender and victim demographic characteristics and
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offense locations? Before any conclusions regarding characteristics, victimology, and offense
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processes can be offered, more efforts to study this population is desirable. Therefore, the
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present study aims to explore the nature of American prostitute homicide cases by examining
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the offender, victim, and offense characteristics using a nationally representative homicide

database spanning a period of 37 years (1976-2012). Particularly, the epidemiology,


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victimology, offender-victim relationship, and weapon use patterns in such homicides are

investigated. On the basis of the existing literature, it is hypothesized that the offending patterns
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involved in these homicides (i.e., offense characteristics) are in part influenced by the victims’

and their characteristics (e.g., demographics).


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4. Method

4.1. Data and Procedure

The data used in this study was compiled by James A. Fox, which he extracted from

the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHRs) for a

period of 37 years (1976 to 2012) [17]. SHR data are compiled from homicide reports, which
Prostitute Homicides 7

are voluntarily submitted by local law enforcement agencies for all 50 states and the District

of Columbia, for cities of varying sizes, suburban areas, and rural areas. Even though reporting

is voluntary, participation by law enforcement agencies across the U.S. is over 90%. Despite a

small percentage of murders go unreported or undetected, SHR data are largely regarded as the

best available source on arrests for murder in the United States [18,19]. It should be noted that

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the reported incidents are used to estimate the number of homicides nationally.

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For the purpose of this study, the data used were extracted from the complete SHR

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database to comprise only arrests of individuals reportedly involved in a felony murder that has

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been committed in conjunction with prostitution and commercialized vice. 1 For simplicity,

these offenders were regarded as prostitute homicide offenders (PHOs) in this study. Instead

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of the victim data, the offender data were used primarily due to the focus of this study. Variables
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in this data include demographic characteristics of both the offenders and victims, and the
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characteristics of each homicidal incident reported to the FBI by participating law enforcement
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agencies across the U.S. It is noteworthy that the classification of homicides recorded in the
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SHR database was determined by the investigating law enforcement agencies, and not by the
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authors of this study. Therefore, the reliability of the classifications of specific murders by the

police and the extent to which the criteria the police used to make these determinations are
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similar to those provided by the field experts remain unknown.

During the 37-year period of examination, 709,075 individuals were arrested for
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homicides. Out of this total, only 591 (0.08%) with pertinent offense-related data were

identified as prostitute killings. With nearly 600 cases, 50.1% were single-victim, single
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offender (SVSO) cases (N = 296); and the remaining cases were either involved multiple

offenders, multiple victims, or unknown offenders (N = 295). Out of the 296 single-victim

cases, 82.4% of cases were determined as heterosexual-oriented (i.e., opposite-sex killings),

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Although the SHR data do not provide specific details for homicides under this circumstance coding of
“prostitution and commercialized vice,” but the authors believe that most of the cases classified under this code
involved prostitution (see also Brewer, Dudek, Potterat, Muth, Roberts, & Woodhouse, 2006).
Prostitute Homicides 8

with the remaining were homosexual-oriented cases (i.e., same-sex killings). In this study, only

single-victim heterosexual homicide cases (N = 244) were selected.2

4.2. Measures

In this study, nine variables were examined; with three each pertained to the offender

and victim (i.e., age group, sex, and racial group) and the remaining three pertained to the

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offense (i.e., offender-victim relationship, geographical urbanness level, and murder weapon

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type). In addition to categorizing the offenders and victims according to their sex as (a) male

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or (b) female, they were also grouped according to their age: (a) juvenile and young adult (i.e.,

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30 years and under) and (b) middle-aged and older adult (i.e., 31 years and above). The

offenders and victims were also categorized as either (a) white or (b) nonwhite (e.g., Black,

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American Indian, and Asian and Pacific Islander) as their racial group. It should be noted that
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the SHR database does not code offenders and victims as multiracial, and it no longer records
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Hispanic origin.
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In terms of the offense characteristics, the offender-victim relationship was classified


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as either (a) stranger or (b) nonstranger (e.g., friend, acquaintance, and other with known
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relationship). Two categories were created for the geographical urbanness level of the offense

location, initially coded by the FBI: (a) higher populated areas (i.e., large and small cities with
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a population of at least 2,500) and (b) lower populated areas (i.e., suburban and rural areas).

Concerning the murder weapon types, four distinct categories were created: (a) personal
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weapon (i.e., killing with hands and feet, strangulation, beating with bare hands, asphyxiation,

drowning, and defenestration [the act of throwing someone out of a window]), (b) contact
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weapon (i.e., blunt objects), (c) edged weapon (i.e., different type of knives), and (d) firearm

(i.e., handgun, shotgun, rifle, and other type of guns). There was only one case where the

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Multiple victim-single offender cases (i.e., serial homicides) were not studied in this study as the SHR data
connects only the first victim to the offender, making the analysis of multiple victim cases impossible. Besides,
there were only eight cases recorded, and only six cases were identified as heterosexual-oriented. Thus, it might
not be methodologically and conceptually appropriate to include these six cases in the study.
Prostitute Homicides 9

murder weapon used was identified as “other weapons” (i.e., drugs, explosive, fire, poison, and

other types of weapons), and thus excluded from the analysis.

Data were available for more than 90% or more for all variables. Cases with missing

data on the selected variables were removed from the analyses of only the variable under

consideration. The number of cases available for each of the analyses is indicated in the tables.

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4.3. Analytic Strategy

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In this study, cross-tabular (i.e., chi-square) analyses were computed, using SPSS 24.0,

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to examine the significance of group differences. The selection of this analytic method was

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mainly due to the categorical nature of the variables of interest. Significance level was set at

0.05. When the degrees of freedom exceeded one (e.g., 2 x 3 matrix), the Bonferroni correction

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method was computed in the chi-square analyses to compare column proportions. Given the
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nominal nature of the variables, measures of association (i.e., phi and Cramer’s V coefficients)
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were used to interpret the strength of the relationships; and most importantly, to identify
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meaningful patterns. A relationship of 1.00 designates a perfect relationship. The effect size of
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phi (between two binary variables) and Cramer’s V (between two variables with at least three
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levels on one variable) were interpreted in term of degrees of freedom. Using Cohen’s

standards for cross-tabular effect size interpretation, the effect size of 0.16 and below was
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considered as weak, between 0.17 and 0.28 as moderate, and 0.29 and above was regarded as

strong [20].
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5. Results

5.1. Frequencies of the Offender, Victim, and Offense Characteristics of Single-Victim


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Heterosexual Prostitute Homicides

Table 1 presents the offender, victim, and offense characteristics of single-victim

heterosexual prostitute homicides. In this study, the mean age of offender was 30.13 years, with

mostly males (78%), nearly two-thirds (60%) was identified as juvenile and young adults, and

more than half (54%) were labeled as nonwhites. Pertaining to the victims, their mean age was
Prostitute Homicides 10

32.52 years, with mostly females (78%) and more than half were juvenile and young adults

(58%) and identified as whites (53%). The difference in mean age between offenders and

victims was small and not significant. In terms of the offense characteristics, more than half of

the cases (54%) were perpetrated against nonstrangers and approximately three quarters (76%)

of the cases were committed in higher populated areas. Edged weapons were the most

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frequently used weapons (34%), followed by firearms (31%) and personal weapons (29%) in

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prostitute homicides3. Contact weapons and other type of weapons were the least reported.

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[INSERT TABLE 1 ABOUT HERE]

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5.2. Offender Sex

Table 2 illustrates the findings of the offender, victim, and offense characteristics by

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offender sex. A significant group difference with a moderate strength in relationship was
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observed between male and female PHOs based on their age group (χ2 = 12.40, phi = -0.23, p
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< 0.001). Significantly more female offenders (81%) than male offenders (54%) were found to
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be juveniles and young adults in the commission of prostitute homicides. Similarly,


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significantly more nonwhite female offenders (74%) than nonwhite male offenders (48%) were
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arrested for prostitute murders (χ2 = 11.81, p = 0.001), and this relationship was moderate in

effect (phi = 0.22). A significant difference was found between male and female PHOs in the
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age of their victims (χ2 = 28.51, p < 0.001). Relative to female offenders, a higher percentage

of male offenders perpetrated against victims who were 30 years or below (i.e., juveniles and
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young adults) (67% versus 26%). The strength of this relationship was moderately strong (phi

= 0.35). Overall, male offenders predominantly used personal weapons (35%) to murder their
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victim, whereas more female offenders preferred to use edged weapons (45%) in killing their

victims (χ2 = 15.11, p = 0.002). This difference was moderate in its relationship strength

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Out of 67 victims were murdered by personal weapons, 35 of them were killed by strangulation (52%) and 4
were asphyxiated (6%).
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(Cramer’s V = 0.26). Relative to female offenders, male offenders were more likely to use

personal weapons to kill their victim (35% versus 8%).

[INSERT TABLE 2 ABOUT HERE]

5.3. Offender-Victim Relationship

Only one significant finding of the offender, victim, and offense characteristics by the

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offender-victim relationship was noted in Table 3. Significantly more nonwhite offenders were

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found to victimize nonstrangers (60%) than strangers (46%), while white offenders were more

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likely to perpetrate against strangers (55%) than nonstrangers (40%; χ2 = 4.69, p = 0.03).

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Nevertheless, the relationship was only approaching a moderate strength (phi = 0.15).

[INSERT TABLE 3 ABOUT HERE]

5.4. Levels of Geographical Urbanness U


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Table 4 reveals the findings of the offender, victim, and offense characteristics by levels
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of geographical urbanness. Nonwhite offenders were more likely to commit their murder in
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higher populated areas (85%), while white offenders were more likely to commit the murder
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in lower populated areas (67%) to commit their offense (χ2 = 12.31, p < 0.001), and the strength
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of this relationship was moderate (phi = -0.23). Pertaining to murder weapon types, edged

weapons (37%) were significantly more likely to be used by PHOs who committed their murder
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in higher populated areas, while personal weapons (39%) were preferred by PHOs whose

offense location was in lower populated areas (χ2 = 6.49, p = 0.04). This relationship was
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moderate in strength (Cramer’s V = 0.17). Relative to murders committed in higher populated

areas, a higher percentage of personal weapon were used by the offenders in murders
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committed in lower populated areas (39% versus 25%).

[INSERT TABLE 4 ABOUT HERE]

5.5. Types of Murder Weapon Used

Table 5 shows the findings of the offender, victim, and offense characteristics by types

of murder weapon used by PHOs. A significant group difference was observed between white
Prostitute Homicides 12

and nonwhite offenders in their use of murder weapon (χ2 = 9.54, p = 0.02). Comparatively,

white offenders were more likely to use personal (55%) and edged (51%) weapons, while

nonwhite offenders were more likely to use contact weapons (69%) and firearms (68%). The

strength of this relationship was moderate (Cramer’s V = 0.21). Significant comparative

findings based on the Bonferroni correction method were observed in this model. Pertaining to

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the murder weapon used according to the victim racial groups, significantly higher percentage

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of personal (63%) and edged weapons (56%) were used against white victims, while contact

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weapons (77%) and firearms (56%) were most likely to be used in killing nonwhite victims (χ2

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= 9.81, p = 0.02). This relationship was moderate in strength (Cramer’s V = 0.21).

[INSERT TABLE 5 ABOUT HERE]

6. Discussion U
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This study aimed to extend the literature by exploring the offender, victim, and offense
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characteristics of prostitute homicides, which occurred in the US for a period that spanned over
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37 years (1976-2012). To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study with the largest sample
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to date to investigate the offending dynamics and characteristics of single-victim heterosexual


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prostitute homicides. Although this study was exploratory in nature, several key and

meaningful observations are noteworthy to illustrate the features of American single-victim


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heterosexual prostitute homicides. Notably, the general portrait of the offender who murdered

a prostitute victim of the opposite sex as a male in early 30s who committed the murder in a
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higher populated area (i.e., large or small city) against a female of similar age range with either

an edged weapon, firearm, or personal weapon. This murder can be either an intra- or interracial
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offense, and the victim may or may not know the offender prior to the offense.

Significant sex differences were noted in male and female offenders who murdered

prostitute victims. Unlike their male counterparts, female offenders were more likely to be

nonwhite and younger in age (i.e., juvenile and young adults; M age = 25.15, SD = 6.89). This

finding is somewhat consistent with female offenders who sexually killed where the majority
Prostitute Homicides 13

of them are nonwhite and young in age [21,22]. It is noteworthy that a significant sex difference

is observed where victim of male offenders were more likely to be younger in age (i.e., juvenile

and young adults; M = 28.10, SD = 8.73), while victim of female offenders were more likely

to be older in age (i.e., middle-aged and older adults; M = 48.11, SD = 20.20).

According to the physical strength hypothesis [24,25], differences in weapon selection

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by the offender may be related to the offender’s body build and physical strength, and the

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victim’s physical vulnerability. This hypothesis assumed that offenders who are physically

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stronger and more capable of overcoming their victim’s resistance are more likely to use

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weapons that require more physical strength (e.g., personal and contact weapons) to complete

their homicidal acts. In contrast, offenders whose physique is comparatively weaker than their

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victim may require to resort to the use of weapons that demand lesser physical strength (e.g.,
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edged weapons and firearms) in murdering their victim. This hypothesis was supported in this
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study. Although male and female PHOs were equally likely to use weapons that were
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physically less demanding; male offenders were nevertheless significantly more likely than
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their female counterparts to use personal weapons in murdering their victim. It is reasonable to
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argue that the general physical build and strength of male offenders is larger and stronger than

female offenders. Of note, this physical strength hypothesis has also been supported in studies
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that sampled sexual homicide offenders (e.g., [26,27,28]) nonsexual murderers (e.g., [29,30]).

Yet another interesting finding in relation to the murder weapon used by PHOs was
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noted in the study. It was found that weapons that were physically less demanding (i.e., edged

weapons and firearms) were more frequently used in murders that were committed in higher
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populated areas (i.e., big and small cities), while weapons that were physically more demanding

(i.e., personal and contact weapons) were more commonly used by offenders who committed

the murder in lower populated areas (i.e., suburban and rural areas). It is reasonable to argue

that the offenders who committed their murder in higher populated areas might be rushed to

complete their offense to avoid unexpected interruption from bystanders; and hence, they used
Prostitute Homicides 14

weapon that required lesser physical strength and quick to kill. Conversely, the offenders who

committed their murder in lower populated areas might have more time alone with their victim

without interruption, and decided to use weapon that required more physical strength but more

“up-close” with the victim. Specifically, the use of personal weapons in killing the victim is

asserted to be an “intimate” way of killing that may provide the offenders with a sense of

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psychological excitement or sexual euphoria, through the expression of anger, power, or a

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combination of both, against their victim [31]. This finding was not new. Chan and Beauregard

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[27] also reported that the geographical urbanness of the crime scene also played a pivotal role

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in determining the choice of murder weapon by the offenders in sexual homicide cases.

The racial background of offenders and victims also yielded some interesting trends in

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prostitute homicides. Although white and nonwhite PHOs were equally likely to kill strangers,
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nonwhite offenders were found to be more likely than white offenders to murder nonstrangers.
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This finding was in contrast to those reported in sexual murders by both male and female
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offenders (e.g., [32,33]), but was in the same direction as those found in general type of
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homicides committed by juveniles (i.e., sexual and nonsexual murders) [19]. Besides, nonwhite
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offenders were more likely to commit their murder in higher populated areas, while white

murderers committed their offense more frequently in lower populated areas. Perhaps, this
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trend has to do with the racial composition in cities, suburban, and rural areas in relation to the

general socioeconomic status of whites and nonwhites. The place stratification model assumes
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that places are ordered hierarchically and that suburban places have higher status than central

city locations [34]. Nonwhites, blacks specifically, are more likely to reside in inner cities in
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segregation as their residential mobility to move out to suburbs, as most whites do, is restricted

due to their lower socioeconomic status.

Furthermore, nonwhite PHOs were found to use more contact weapons and firearms

than their white counterparts in killing their victim. Although this finding was in contrast to

those reported in sexual murderers [32,33], but nonwhites (i.e., black, Asian/Pacific Islander,
Prostitute Homicides 15

and American Indian/Alaskan Native) were found to use more guns and blunt objects than

white offenders in murders committed by juveniles [19]. Pertaining to the victim racial

background in relation to the murder weapon, there were more white victims to be killed by

personal weapons, while nonwhite victims were more likely to be murdered by contact

weapons. This trend is not easy to decipher. Aside from the victim racial background, it is

T
necessary to take into account of other victim characteristics (e.g., body build-up, physical

IP
strength and vulnerability) in understanding the offender’s specific choice of murder weapon.

R
Overall, this study offers an initial and noteworthy glimpse into the features of

SC
prostitute homicides that occurred in the US for a long period that spanned over 37 years.

Nevertheless, this study is not without its limitations. First and foremost, the SHR data set is

U
compiled from arrests and not convictions. Thus, it is uncertain if the arrested individuals were
N
subsequently charged and/or convicted. Besides, findings reported in this study are limited to
A
only known cases. It is possible that offenders who have successfully evaded police
M

apprehension or avoided police detection remains unknown. Additionally, the SHR data set is
D

limited to basic offender, victim, and offense circumstance variables. This level of detail does
TE

not permit for a more in-depth examination into other offending factors, such as the offender’s

motivation and diagnosis of any psychopathologies, comprehensive situational and offense


EP

characteristics, and other crime-related variables, which are commonly collected in clinical or

correctional settings. Similarly, this data provide only limited details on the victims. More
CC

importantly, this data are coded by the investigating law enforcement agencies, and there is

always the possibility that reporting errors, misclassifications, or omissions may have occurred.
A

Missing data is by far the most problematic issue of SHR. Unit missingness arises when

participating agencies fail to report some or all of their homicide incidents to the FBI [18].

Notwithstanding the noted limitations, this study has nonetheless set a solid ground for

further research to better comprehend the dynamics of prostitute homicides, particularly in the

US. Research of this nature could contribute to further understanding of the etiology of this
Prostitute Homicides 16

specific form of homicide. Needless to say, it is important to continue to build our knowledge

about this underresearched and vulnerable victim population. This is imperative in that

implications for practice (e.g., investigative strategy and crime preventive measures) and

treatment (e.g., offender rehabilitation) could be proposed to address this serious offense

effectively and in a timely fashion.

T
R IP
SC
U
N
A
M
D
TE
EP
CC
A
Prostitute Homicides 17

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CC

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A

[17] J.A. Fox, Uniform Crime Reports [United States]: Supplementary homicide reports with
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U.S. arrest data, Int. J. Offender Ther. Comp. Criminol. 58 (11) (2014) 1261-1278.
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parricide cases, J. Interpers. Violence 22 (11) (2007) 1400-1414.
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integrated theory of social learning and routine activities theories, Int. J. Offender Ther. Comp.
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D

the offender racial profiles in offending process, Forensic Sci. Int. 233 (1-3) (2013) 265-272.
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TE

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EP
CC
A
Prostitute Homicides 19

Table 1. Frequencies of offender, victim, and offense characteristics of single-victim


heterosexual prostitute homicides sample extracted from the Uniform Crime Reports [United
States]: Supplementary Homicide Reports, 1976-2012 (N = 244).

Percentage of
Variables Frequency SD Total (100.0%)

Age (mean) of offender 30.13 9.81 range = 14 – 79

Age group of offender (n = 232)

T
Juvenile and young adult 140 60.3
Middle-aged and older adult 92 39.7

IP
Sex of offender (n = 244)

R
Male 190 77.9
Female 54 22.1

SC
Racial group of offender (n = 239)
White 111 46.4
Nonwhite 128 53.6

Age (mean) of victim 32.52 U 14.74 range = 14 – 90


N
Age group of victim (n = 240)
A
Juvenile and young adult 140 58.3
Middle-aged and older adult 100 41.7
M

Sex of victim (n = 244)


Male 54 22.1
D

Female 190 77.9

Racial group of victim (n = 243)


TE

White 129 53.1


Nonwhite 114 46.9
EP

Offender-victim relationship (n = 221)


Stranger 101 45.7
Nonstranger 120 54.3
CC

Geographical urbanness level (n = 244)


Higher populated areas 185 75.8
Lower populated areas 59 24.2
A

Type of murder weapon used (n = 234)


Personal weapon 67 28.6
Contact weapon 13 5.6
Edged weapon 80 34.2
Firearm 73 31.2
Other weapons 1 0.4
Notes. Offender’s and victim’s age groups (juvenile and young adult, 30 years and under; middle-aged and older
adult, 31 years and above). Two offenders and 18 victims aged 60 years and above. Three offenders and three
victims who were nonwhites (e.g., Black) belonged to other racial groups (e.g., American Indian, and Asian and
Pacific Islander). Offender-victim relationship (friend/acquaintance/other known as nonstranger).
Prostitute Homicides 20

Table 2. Offender, victim, and offense characteristics by sex of the offenders (N = 244).

Offender, victim, and Male Offender Female Offender


offense characteristics (N = 190) (N = 54) Total
phi/
n (%) n (%) n (%) χ2
(df) Cramer’s V p

Offender age group (n = 232) 12.40

T
(1) -0.23 < 0.001 ***
Juvenile and young adult 97 (54.2) 43 (81.1) 140 (60.3)

IP
Middle-aged and older adult 82 (45.8) 10 (18.9) 92 (39.7)
Total 179 (77.2) 53 (22.8) 232 (100.0)

R
Offender racial group (n = 239) 11.81

SC
(1) 0.22 0.001 **
White 97 (52.4) 14 (25.9) 111 (46.4)
Nonwhite 88 (47.6) 40 (74.1) 128 (53.6)
Total 185 (77.4) 54 (22.6) 239 (100.0)

Victim age group (n = 240) U 28.51


N
(1) 0.35 < 0.001 ***
Juvenile and young adult 126 (67.4) 14 (26.4) 140 (58.3)
A
Middle-aged and older adult 61 (32.6) 39 (73.6) 100 (41.7)
Total 187 (77.9) 53 (22.1) 240 (100.0)
M

Victim racial group (n = 243) 1.06


(1) -0.07 ns
D

White 97 (51.3) 32 (59.3) 129 (53.1)


Nonwhite 92 (48.7) 22 (40.7) 114 (46.9)
TE

Total 189 (77.8) 54 (22.2) 243 (100.0)

Offender-victim relationship (n = 221) 2.45


EP

(1) 0.11 ns
Stranger 83 (48.5) 18 (36.0) 101 (45.7)
Nonstranger 88 (51.5) 32 (64.0) 120 (54.3)
Total 171 (77.4) 50 (22.6) 221 (100.0)
CC
A
Prostitute Homicides 21

Table 2. cont.

Offender, victim, and Male Offender Female Offender


offense characteristics (N = 190) (N = 54) Total
phi/
n (%) n (%) n (%) χ2
(df) Cramer’s V p

Geographical urbanness level (n = 244) 3.32

T
(1) -0.12 ns
Higher populated areas 139 (73.2) 46 (85.2) 185 (75.8)

IP
Lower populated areas 51 (26.8) 8 (14.8) 59 (24.2)
Total 190 (77.9) 54 (22.1) 244 (100.0)

R
Murder weapon type (n = 233) 15.11

SC
(3) 0.26 0.002 **
Personal weapon 63 (35.0) a 4 (7.5)a 67 (28.8)
Contact weapon 9 (5.0) 4 (7.5) 13 (5.6)
Edged weapon 56 (31.1) 24 (45.3) 80 (34.3)
Firearm
Total
52 (28.9)
180 (77.3) U
21 (39.6)
53 (22.7)
73 (31.3)
233 (100.0)
N
Notes. Nonsignificant (ns). a indicates significant differences.
A
***p < .001, **p < .01
M
D
TE
EP
CC
A
Prostitute Homicides 22

Table 3. Offender, victim, and offense characteristics by offender-victim relationships (N = 221).

Offender, victim, and Stranger Nonstranger


offense characteristics (N = 101) (N = 120) Total
phi/
n (%) n (%) n (%) χ2
(df) Cramer’s V p

Offender age group (n = 214) 2.31

T
(1) 0.10 ns
Juvenile and young adult 63 (64.9) 64 (54.7) 127 (59.3)

IP
Middle-aged and older adult 34 (35.1) 53 (45.3) 87 (40.7)
Total 97 (45.3) 117 (54.7) 214 (100.0)

R
Offender racial group (n = 217) 4.69

SC
(1) 0.15 0.03 *
White 54 (54.5) 47 (39.8) 101 (46.5)
Nonwhite 45 (45.5) 71 (60.2) 116 (53.5)
Total 99 (45.6) 118 (54.4) 217 (100.0)

Victim age group (n = 217) U 2.25


N
(1) 0.10 ns
Juvenile and young adult 61 (62.2) 62 (52.1) 123 (56.7)
A
Middle-aged and older adult 37 (37.8) 57 (47.9) 94 (43.3)
Total 98 (45.2) 119 (54.8) 217 (100.0)
M

Victim racial group (n = 220) 1.47


(1) 0.08 ns
D

White 59 (59.0) 61 (50.8) 120 (54.5)


Nonwhite 41 (41.0) 59 (49.2) 100 (45.5)
TE

Total 100 (45.5) 120 (54.5) 220 (100.0)

Geographical urbanness level (n = 221) 1.24


EP

(1) 0.08 ns
Higher populated areas 79 (78.2) 86 (71.7) 165 (74.7)
Lower populated areas 22 (21.8) 34 (28.3) 56 (25.3)
Total 101 (45.7) 120 (54.3) 221 (100.0)
CC
A
Prostitute Homicides 23

Table 3. cont.

Offender, victim, and Stranger Nonstranger


offense characteristics (N = 101) (N = 120) Total
phi/
n (%) n (%) n (%) χ2
(df) Cramer’s V p

Murder weapon type (n = 211) 3.42

T
(3) 0.13 ns
Personal weapon 23 (24.2) 39 (33.6) 62 (29.4)

IP
Contact weapon 4 (4.2) 8 (6.9) 12 (5.7)
Edged weapon 36 (37.9) 36 (31.0) 72 (34.1)
Firearm 32 (33.7) 33 (28.4) 65 (30.8)

R
Total 95 (45.0) 116 (55.0) 211 (100.0)

SC
Note. Nonsignificant (ns).
*p < .05

U
N
A
M
D
TE
EP
CC
A
Prostitute Homicides 24

Table 4. Offender, victim, and offense characteristics by levels of geographical urbanness (N = 244).

Higher Lower
Offender, victim, and Populated Areas Populated Areas
offense characteristics (N = 185) (N = 59) Total
phi/
n (%) n (%) n (%) χ2
(df) Cramer’s V p

Offender age group (n = 232) 0.10

T
(1) 0.02 ns
Juvenile and young adult 106 (60.9) 34 (58.6) 140 (60.3)

IP
Middle-aged and older adult 68 (39.1) 24 (41.4) 92 (39.7)
Total 174 (75.0) 58 (25.0) 232 (100.0)

R
Offender racial group (n = 239) 12.31

SC
(1) -0.23 < 0.001 ***
White 73 (40.1) 38 (66.7) 111 (46.4)
Nonwhite 109 (85.2) 19 (33.3) 128 (53.6)
Total 182 (76.2) 57 (23.8) 239 (100.0)
Victim age group (n = 240) U 0.13
N
(1) -0.02 ns
Juvenile and young adult 105 (57.7) 35 (60.3) 140 (58.3)
A
Middle-aged and older adult 77 (42.3) 23 (39.7) 100 (41.7)
Total 182 (75.8) 58 (24.2) 240 (100.0)
M

Victim racial group (n = 243) 0.44


(1) -0.04 ns
D

White 96 (51.9) 33 (56.9) 129 (53.1)


Nonwhite 89 (48.1) 25 (43.1) 114 (46.9)
TE

Total 185 (76.1) 58 (23.9) 243 (100.0)


Murder weapon type (n = 233) 6.49
(3) 0.17 0.04 *
EP

Personal weapon 45 (25.4)b 22 (39.3) b 67 (28.8)


Contact weapon 8 (4.5) 5 (8.9) 13 (5.6)
Edged weapon 65 (36.7) 15 (26.8) 80 (34.3)
CC

Firearm 59 (33.3) 14 (25.0) 73 (31.3)


Total 177 (76.0) 56 (24.0) 233 (100.0)

Notes. Nonsignificant (ns). b indicates significant differences.


A

***p < .001, *p < .05


Prostitute Homicides 25

Table 5. Offender, victim, and offense characteristics by types of murder weapon used (N = 233).

Personal Contact Edged


Offender, victim, and Weapon Weapon Weapon Firearm
offense characteristics (N = 67) (N = 13) (N = 80) (N = 73) Total
phi/
n (%) n (%) n (%) n (%) n (%)
χ2 (df) Cramer’s V p

T
Offender age group (n = 221)
2.35 (3) 0.10 ns

IP
Juvenile and young adult 45 (68.2) 8 (61.5) 44 (57.1) 37 (56.9) 134 (60.6)
Middle-aged to older adult 21 (31.8) 5 (38.5) 33 (42.9) 28 (43.1) 87 (39.4)
Total 66 (26.0) 13 (5.9) 77 (34.8) 65 (29.4) 221 (100.0)

R
SC
Offender racial group (n = 228)
9.54 (3) 0.21 0.02 *
White 36 (54.5)c 4 (30.8)c,d 41 (51.3)c,d 22 (31.9)d 103 (45.2)
Nonwhite 30 (45.5)e 9 (69.2)e,f 39 (48.8)e,f 47 (68.1)f 125 (54.8)
Total 66 (28.9) 13 (5.7)
U
80 (35.1) 69 (30.3) 228 (100.0)
N
Victim age group (n = 229)
0.14 (3) 0.02 ns
A
Juvenile and young adult 39 (59.1) 8 (61.5) 45 (57.7) 41 (56.9) 133 (58.1)
Middle-aged to older adult 27 (40.9) 5 (38.5) 33 (42.3) 31 (43.1) 96 (41.9)
M

Total 66 (28.8) 13 (5.7) 78 (34.1) 72 (31.4) 229 (100.0)

Victim racial group (n = 232)


D

9.81 (3) 0.21 0.02 *


White 42 (62.7) 3 (23.1) 44 (55.7) 32 (43.8) 121 (52.2)
TE

Nonwhite 25 (37.3) 10 (76.9) 35 (44.3) 41 (56.2) 111 (47.8)


Total 67 (28.9) 13 (5.6) 79 (34.1) 73 (31.5) 232 (100.0)
EP

Notes. Other weapon category (n = 1) was removed from the analysis given its small sample. Nonsignificant
(ns). c,d,e,f indicates significant differences.
**p < .01, *p < .05
CC
A
Prostitute Homicides 26

T
IP
R
SC
U
N
A
M
D
TE
EP
CC
A