Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Eric Beauregard appointed Associate Editor

March 31, 2015

Professor Eric Beauregard was recently appointed as one of the new Associate Editors of Sexual Abuse:
 A Journal of Research and Treatment.

The journal is entirely devoted to the topic of sexual aggression, sexual violence, and the treatment of sex offenders. It provides a forum for the latest original research and scholarly reviews on both clinical and theoretical aspects of sexual abuse. The journal has an impact factor of 2.280 and is ranked 5 out 52 in Criminology & Penology.

It’s a highly specialized journal, which makes Beauregard perfect for the Associate Editor role – 

his own area of research deals specifically with the behaviours of sex offenders.

He looks at what can influence the offender’s behaviours with the victim, what can influence the interaction between the offender and the victim, and the different outcomes that can result from this interaction.

Over the past three years, Beauregard’s been conducting a major research project that investigates the behaviours of sexual murderers.

Beauregard is comparing 350 cases of sexual homicide, including 100 cases that were unsolved at the time of data entry. His collaborator Melissa Martineau provided the data from the Behavioural Science Unit of the RCMP located in Ottawa, Ontario. The cases span from across Canada except Ontario and Quebec.

The research provides a rare glimpse into the behaviour traits that enable sexual murderers to go undetected – knowledge that will be instrumental in aiding police investigations.

“It’s a unique opportunity because one of the major weaknesses of our research in criminology is that we deal mainly with offenders that get caught,” says Beauregard.

“What we don’t have access to are offenders who typically avoid police detection or being incarcerated. So this project is giving us the unique opportunity to investigate the behaviours or potential actions that these offenders are taking to avoid being detected by the police.”

Beauregard and Martineau initially investigated if undetected sexual murderers exercised “forensic awareness strategies,” such as cleaning up the crime scene to avoid leaving evidence of fingerprints, hair or body fluids. In other words, it was assumed undetected offenders used more precautions than the offenders who got caught.

Surprisingly, Beauregard discovered that sexual murderers as a group are not concerned about forensic evidence. He found that many of them didn’t take any action to clean up the crime scene after the crime or even during the crime.

“A common argument is that crime shows are educating offenders in terms of forensic evidence and how it can be recovered from the crime scene. That apparently, these shows are making criminals smarter by teaching them to remove evidence,” says Beauregard.

“Well, maybe, but we couldn’t find any evidence of that in our research. It’s not the majority of offenders who seem to be concerned about forensic evidence at the crime scene.”

Beauregard’s research findings did identify some common behaviours that helped offenders avoid detection:

  • Spending time to hide and conceal the body,
  • Traveling a further distance to commit the crime, and
  • Moving during the crime.

He also notes that some of these criminals avoid detection because of luck not calculated decisions.

“We’ve completed several studies so far, and we are not done yet. We are still looking at other aspects of their behaviours because I think sexual homicide is a very important topic for Canada, and especially for this province considering the BC Missing Women Investigation and the Robert Pickton case,” says Beauregard.

Beauregard and Martineau are also writing a book to summarize all of the research they’ve gathered on sexual homicide. The book will provide new knowledge and statistics on sexual murderers.

“The cases of sexual homicide are actually quite rare so it is hard for an investigator to develop investigative experience in these cases. We need to provide them with a book that will collect all the evidence we have on sexual homicide to potentially help them investigate their cases,” says Beauregard.

He’s also in discussions with the police in Scotland to gain access to all of their cases of sexual homicide that took place in Scotland. This access will allow him to conduct a comparative analysis to see if Canadian cases are comparable to the cases in Scotland.

Overall, Beauregard’s research efforts are helping determine the behaviours of sexual murders. This research is key to helping the police prevent and solve crimes of sexual homicide.

Further Reading

Martineau, M., & Beauregard, E. (2015). Journey to murder: Examining the correlates of criminal mobility in sexual homicide. Police Practice and Research. OnlineFirst.

Beauregard, E., & Martineau, M. (2014). Does the organized sexual murderer better delay and avoid detection? Journal of Interpersonal Violence. OnlineFirst.

Beauregard, E., & Martineau, M. (2014). No body, no crime? The role of forensic awareness in avoiding police detection in cases of sexual homicide. Journal of Criminal Justice, 42, 213-220.

Balemba, S., Beauregard, E., & Martineau, M. (2014). Getting away with murder: A thematic approach to solved and unsolved sexual homicides using crime scene factors. Police Practice and Research, 15, 221-233.

Beauregard, E., & Martineau, M. (2012). A descriptive study of sexual homicide in Canada: Implications for police investigation. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 57, 1454-1476.