Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Criminal Justice

Advisor/Committee Chair

Alan Lizotte, Ph.D.


Yardley, Wilson, and Lynes (2014), in their study of British family annihilators between 1980 and 2012, established four profiles of familicide offenders: self-righteous, disappointed, anomic, and paranoid. This paper located 39 cases of familicide within the United States between 2009 and 2019 using LexisNexis. Familicide is defined as a domestic crime where a father murders at least one of his biological children and the children’s mother. Cases were categorized by analyzing the relationship between the offenders’ primary motives and features of the crime and offender. Primary motives were family breakdown, appearance, financial distress, mental illness, and protection. Features included domestic violence, financial distress, mental illness, divorce, affairs, custody disputes, jealousy, and substance use. The behaviors of the offender after the familicide, such as completed or attempted suicide, denial, or fleeing, were also considered. From this analysis, two new profiles of familicide emerged: the self-preserving offender who is triggered by a threat to their individual well-being and the mentally ill offender who is triggered by a serious mental disorder or disability. Understanding each profile and the associated features of familicide can help protect at-risk families by identifying the warning signs and intervening before the crime takes place.

Included in

Social Work Commons