Murder in America


Ronald M. Holmes & Stephen T. Holmes

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    To Tootie—my wife, Steve's mother

    To Amy—Steve's wife, my grandkids' mother


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    Not a day passes when a murder is not reported. Obviously, the more bizarre the murder, the more attention the media devote to it. For example, when the Rafael Resendez-Ramirez case first came to the attention of the public, we, as experts on serial murder, were besieged by requests for television appearances, radio talk show engagements, and interviews, from California to Florida. For a day or two, we were hot property. Murder sells. However, in teaching university classes on homicide, we were somewhat surprised that we could not find an adequate text addressing the various forms of murder that we discussed in class. To this end, we decided to update a text that we wrote several years ago that still suits our purposes and is, we hope, useful, informative, and suitable for various classes at other colleges and universities. Some people might debate the types of homicide discussed, or not discussed, in this book. We have chosen to include the types of murder with which we have become most acquainted in our professional capacities as academicians and authors, and, in the case of the first author, as a deputy coroner. We have had the opportunity to offer assistance to police departments throughout the United States on more than 500 murder and rape cases. Most of these cases involved sexually motivated homicide, occult-related and ritualistic crimes, mass murder, and murder within families. Our choices also reflect the interests of our students, who, over the years, have indicated their desire for information about these forms of homicide. We believe that the types selected deserve special attention and consideration because they are not covered adequately in existing professional and academic publications. Thus, we include chapters that deal with atypical and relatively bizarre homicides, such as serial murder, mass murder, and terrorism and assassination. Other, more common, types of murder are discussed as well, such as murder committed by children, murder of children, partner homicide, and workplace homicides. The volume is divided into nine chapters that can be read in any order; each chapter is designed to stand alone.

    Although we mention theories in passing throughout this book, our focus is on the pragmatic examination of selected forms of homicide, trends, methods, motives, statistics, and other descriptive information. Interested students are encouraged to seek out relevant theories in primary sources that offer more detailed discussion than we can include here. In addition to the numerous journal articles listed in our references, there are many books available, such as Lilly, Cullen, and Ball's (1989) Criminological Theory: Context and Consequences, that are valuable resources for serious students interested in pursuing further study of the forms of homicide included in this book.

    Of course, no work of this type can be completed without the cooperation and understanding of a large number of people. Despite the obvious danger of forgetting someone when listing important contributors, we are willing to run that risk to thank the following people: Sergeant David Rivers, Metro-Dade (Florida) Police Department; Detective Jay Whitt, Greensboro (North Carolina) Police Department; Dr. Richard Greathouse, Coroner, Louisville, Kentucky; Dr. Eric Hickey, University of California at Fresno; Dr. Al Carlisle, psychologist at Utah State Prison; Dr. George Rush, California State University at Long Beach; Dr. Ed Latessa, James Frank, Frank Cullen, and Larry Travis of the University of Cincinnati; Drs. Bernie McCarthy, David Fabianic, and Elizabeth Mustaine of the University of Central Florida; Dr. Robert Langworthy of the National Institute of Justice, and Jim Massie, parole officer, State of Kentucky.

    We also owe a great debt to our students. Their interest, questions, demands, and quizzical expressions keep us on our toes. They also keep us mentally alert and eager for the next class.

    Finally, our families—especially our wives—deserve special attention. They are attentive to our interests, although they do not completely understand our enthusiasm for interviewing serial killers, attending autopsies, or visiting homicide scenes. It might be easier for them if our interests were different. Our wives are sometimes reluctant to answer telephones; on more than one occasion, they have answered when serial killers have called from prison, wanting to share some thoughts. To Tootie and Amy go our special thanks.

    Ronald M.Holmes
    Stephen T.Holmes
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    About the Authors

    Ronald M. Holmes is Professor of Justice Administration at the University of Louisville. He is the author of several books, among them Profiling Violent Crimes, Sex Crimes, and Serial Murder. He is also the author of more than 50 articles appearing in scholarly publications. He is Vice President of the National Center for the Study of Unresolved Homicides and has completed more than 500 psychological profiles for police departments across the United States. He received his doctorate from Indiana University.

    Stephen T. Holmes is Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida. Prior to this position, he was a social science analyst for the National Institute of Justice in Washington, D.C. He has authored 6 books and more than 15 articles dealing with policing, drug testing, probation and parole issues, and violent crime. He received his doctorate from the University of Cincinnati

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