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Sadism in sexual homicide offenders: identifying distinct groups

Kylie Reale (School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University , Burnaby, Canada)
Eric Beauregard (School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University , Burnaby, Canada)
Melissa Martineau (Department of Polygraph Training Unit, Canadian Police College, Ottawa, Canada)

Journal of Criminal Psychology

ISSN: 2009-3829

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether it is possible to identify different types of sadistic offenders within a sample of sexual homicide offenders (SHOs).


The study addresses this research question through the use of two-step hierarchal cluster analysis and binary logistic regression utilizing a sample of 350 cases of sexual homicide from Canada.


Results from cluster analysis show that three groups emerge: a non-sadistic group, a mixed group that show evidence of some sadistic behavior and a sadistic group that have high levels of sadistic behavior. Additionally, the sadistic cluster was more likely to destroy or remove evidence at the crime scene than the mixed and non-sadistic cluster and was more likely to leave the victim’s body at a deserted location than the non-sadistic cluster.


This is the first study to examine the dimensionality of sadism within a sample of SHOs.



Reale, K., Beauregard, E. and Martineau, M. (2017), "Sadism in sexual homicide offenders: identifying distinct groups", Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 120-133.



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