Perceptions of Homicide

Homicidal crimes of passion, though reprehensible, can at least be understood and dealt with rationally. Thus, given the cultural context of this society, most adults can “understand” that volatile interpersonal relations sometimes end in a homicidal act. Even in felony homicides and “classical murder,” it is possible in a grim sort of fashion to make sense of the homicide in terms of patterns of relations, between the killer and the victim. But this cannot be said of serial killings, where an innocent person is slain, sometimes after inhuman torture and degradation by a stranger. The killers motives are unknown, and the unknown is feared most of all. (Holmes & DeBurger; 1988, pp. 24–25)

As is inherent in the preceding quotation, crimes of serious violence, especially when ...

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