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Crime Scene and Distance Correlates of Serial Rape

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 14 Issue: 1 Dated: March 1998 Pages: 35-59
Date Published
25 pages

This study, based on a sample of 108 serial rapists and 565 rapes, examined the relationship between demographic, crime scene, and criminal history variables and the distance traveled by serial rapists to offend.


Rape cases were collected from participants in a course offered quarterly to middle-management police officers by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Participants included in their case submissions a detailed victim statement for each rape, the police report detailing the series of crimes, and a map showing the location of each rape and the home and place of employment of the rapist. Crime scene behavior during the 565 rapes was quantified using a protocol containing 52 multiple choice items. The second part of this protocol included scales that described verbal, sexual, and physical interactions between the rapist and his victim during the rape. The 83 local serial rapists, defined as those who traveled less than 20 miles, traveled an average of 3.14 miles to commit their rapes. The average shortest distance they traveled was 1.66 miles. Half of them raped at least once within 0.5 miles of their residence. Factors defining individual search patterns of serial rapists varied in their individual and cumulative effects as distance from home varied. Geographic decisions of serial rapists on the distance they traveled to rape varied systematically in accordance with certain demographic characteristics, crime scene behaviors, and criminal history aspects. Serial rapists who enacted a more scripted, ritualized type of rape tended to travel farther to find their victims. Further study of crime scene and distance correlates of serial rape is recommended. 37 references, 3 tables, and 4 figures

Date Published: January 1, 1998