Author(s) Petee, Thomas A.
Year 2000
Title Differentiating Forms of Mass Murder
Link [1]
Abstract Several high profile cases of mass murder have raised public consciousness on this form of multiple homicide. Incidents on a commuter train in New York, in a restaurant in Kileen, Texas, in schools in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Littleton, Colorado, an office building in Atlanta, Georgia, and the numerous post office shootings have garnered a great deal of scrutiny over the past several years. However, despite the media focus, very little attention has been given to mass murder in the research literature.

For our purposes, mass murder is defined as the killing of three or more people in one place, at one time. This definition has some flexibility so long as the incident occurs in a limited area over a limited time period (i.e., generally less than one day). Although the victim criterion has varied in some studies (see Levin & Fox, 1985; 1996), this number seems sufficient because it eliminates many of the more common type of multiple homicides – especially lover's triangles – without being overly exclusive.

In the little existing literature on this topic, the concern has primarily been with delineating between different forms of multiple murder, or attempting to create a typology for mass murder (Busch & Cavanaugh, 1986; Dietz, 1986; Gresswell & Hollin, 1994; Holmes & Holmes, 1994; Kelleher, 1997; Levin & Fox, 1996; Rappaport, 1988; Rowlands, 1990). However, many of these studies were based on either a single case study, or a very limited number of cases. Despite the work that has been done to date, research on mass murder is clearly in its infancy (see Levin & Fox, 1996).

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