Australian Institute of Criminology

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Serial murder in Australia

Crime facts info no. 163

ISSN 1445-7288
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, January 2008

A recent report by the Australian Institute of Criminology (Mouzos & West 2007) uses data collected by the National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) to examine the incidence of serial murder in Australia. Over the 17-year life of the NHMP, there have been 5,743 known homicide offenders and 5,617 victims in a total of 5,226 known homicide incidents in Australia. Serial murders account for one percent of this total, with 11 groupings of serial murders committed by 13 known offenders and a total of 52 known victims. The table below shows these offenders divided into the four classifications commonly assigned to serial murderers: the visionary, who are driven to kill by voices or visions; the mission-oriented who believe it is their duty to eliminate individuals they consider unworthy; the hedonistic, who murder for excitement or arousal; and the power or control group who gain pleasure from dominating and controlling their victims. The majority of victims (63%) in these incidents were female (n=33), a contrast to the general pattern of homicide in Australia (Davies & Mouzos 2007) where most victims (63%) are male.

Typology of serial murder in Australia, 1989-90 to 2005-06
Incident year (s) Gender of offender Type Number and gender of victims Modus operandi
Source: AICNHMP 1989-2006 [computer file]
1992-99 4 males Power control oriented 10 males; 2 females Victims all known by at least one offender; bodies dismembered
1993 Male Mission oriented 3 females Victims taken from the street and controlled with a 'gun', actually aluminium piping; victims stabbed violently
1989-92 Male Power control oriented 1 male; 6 females Picked up and overpowered hitchhikers with a firearm; victims received multiple stab wounds
1998-99 Male Hedonistic 4 females Overpowered on the street, put in car boot, throat slit
1998 Male Mission oriented/ power control 2 males; 1 female Disabled pensioners strangled to death
1997-2001 Male Power control oriented 3 females Frenzied knife attack from behind; multiple stab wounds
1989-90 Male Mission oriented 6 females Victims assaulted with hammer then strangled with own pantyhose
1974-90 Male Hedonistic 1 male; 3 females Strangulation, objects stuffed in mouth
1989, 1990, 1992, 1999 Female Visionary 2 males; 2 females Suffocation
1996 Male Hedonistic 3 males Stabbing, shooting
1996-97 Unsolved Not known 3 females Abducted from the street within close proximity of each other

References