Home » Nonfiction » Joy Lynn E. Shelton » Behavioral Analysis of Maternal Filicide

December 26 , 2009

Behavioral Analysis of Maternal Filicide


Maternal filicide has been discussed in the medical, mental health, and child abuse fields, yet little research exists with a criminal justice/law enforcement perspective. Nevertheless, criminal justice professionals responsible for investigation and prosecution of these offenders often must give attention to unique behavioral, social, and psychological dynamics not considered in many other types of cases.The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) III – Crimes Against Children identified, collected, and reviewed law enforcement case files in which a biological mother killed her child(ren).Collectively, the cases involve 213 biological mothers who killed 265 children, and are comprised of neonaticide, infanticide, and filicide cases. Data analysis revealed that the offenders ranged in age from 12-46 years, and many were unmarried, unemployed, and had a history of violence. Many of the victims were three years of age or younger, did not live with their biological fathers at the time of their deaths, and had a history of maltreatment most often perpetrated by their mothers. In addition, traditional weapons such as a firearm or knife were used less often compared to asphyxiants and blunt force instruments. The authors explore the tenets of female violence, the mother-child dynamic and mental disorders, and address the complexities associated with investigating and prosecuting maternal filicide offenders.​
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