skip navigation

Justinfo Subscribe to Stay Informed

Add your conference to our Justice Events calendar


NCJRS Abstract


Subscribe to Stay Informed
Want to be in the know? JUSTINFO is a biweekly e-newsletter containing information about new publications, events, training, funding opportunities, and Web-based resources available from the NCJRS Federal sponsors. Sign up to get JUSTINFO in your inbox.

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Library collection.
To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the NCJRS Abstracts Database.

How to Obtain Documents
NCJ Number: NCJ 169314     Find in a Library
Title: Targeting Victims: Serial Killers and the Urban Environment (From Serial and Mass Murder: Theory, Research and Policy, P 133- 153, 1996, Thomas O'Reilly-Fleming, ed. -- See NCJ-169306)
Author(s): D K Rossmo
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 21
  Annotation: This analysis of serial murderers' targeting of victims within urban settings explores the spatial relationships between the offender's awareness zones and the crime sites.
Abstract: The aim of this approach is to provide a tool that can inform investigators about the geometry of crime patterns and criminal target search patterns. Combined with psychological and other forms of profiling, this is an important technique that can assist investigators in forming a profile of possible suspects. This chapter focuses on the relationships between the activity space of the serial killer and the hunting pattern. A basic principle followed in this analysis is the "least-effort" principle (Zipf, 1950); all else being equal, a person who is "given various possibilities for action...will select the one requiring the least expenditure of effort" (Reber, 1985). This maxim describes a great deal about human spatial action, but it is important to take into account other factors that play a part in decisionmaking and the selection of behaviors. Income and socioeconomic status also influence spatial behavior, since this can affect transportation opportunities and restrictions. Also, the subjective psychological perception of distance by the offender is just as critical as the objective physical space involved. The most comprehensive spatial model of criminal target selection, which has been developed by Paul and Patricia Brantingham, focuses on the geographic intersection of offender awareness zones, generated from activity spaces, and perceived suitable targets. Their model suggests that most criminal offenders do not choose the sites of their targets or victims at random. This model is consistent with a routine-activities approach to understanding criminal behavior. The final section of this chapter describes techniques of spatial analysis and then provides case examples. 89 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Geographic distribution of crime ; Crime patterns ; Crime analysis ; Serial murders ; Urban criminality ; Crime causes theory ; Homicide causes ; Victims of violence
Sale Source: Canadian Scholars Press
Marketing Manager
180 Bloor St. West
Suite 1202
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2V6, Canada
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Country: Canada
Language: English
  To cite this abstract, use the following link:

* A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's web site is provided.