Patterns of substance abuse and intoxication among murderers.

R. M. Yarvis,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law 22(1): 133-44, 1994.
A series of 100 murderers was examined to discern patterns of substance abuse and intoxication in relation to homicidal events. More than half of the study subjects were found to be actively abusing drugs at the time of their crime, and almost half were intoxicated. Alcohol was the drug most often abused. Demographic and other discriminating factors were utilized to examine the hypothesis that murderers do not constitute a homogeneous population and that subgroups differ in their abuse patterns. Cluster analytic techniques were applied to the study population. Utilizing a set of 13 proximate causal factors, a typology of seven distinct homicide profiles was created. Two of the seven profiles exhibited extremely high abuse and intoxication rates, three others intermediate rates, and two profiles very low rates. Moreover, different substances were prime offenders in different profiles. These findings demonstrate that substance abuse is an important etiological contributor in some types of murderer but not in all types.