Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Human and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Andrew Welsh

Advisor Role


Second Advisor

Dr. Thomas Fleming

Advisor Role

Second Reader


The prototypical serial killer is widely perceived as extremely violent offender who murders out of sexual gratification (Hodgkinson et al., 2017). The perception of serial killers primarily being sexual sadists may be greatly affected by an overfocus of research on sexually violent serial killers and a lack of attention on their non-sexually motivated counterparts such as healthcare serial killers (HCSK) (Lubaszka et al., 2014). In addition, a lack of qualitative inquiry into the experiences of serial homicide may be an impediment to understanding the deeper psychological reasons of why serial killers commit homicide (Kerr & Beech, 2016; Skrapec, 2001a). The current qualitative study addressed the literature gaps above and used Grounded Theory (GT) to explore how three HCSKs subjectively experience and justify their criminal actions through techniques of neutralization (Bryant et al., 2018) Results suggest that HCSKs in the current study experience serial homicide similarly and use similar neutralization techniques to mitigate their feelings of guilt and responsibility. A notable finding identified in the accounts of HCSKs in the current study are that they experienced a moral conflict in their murders but justified that death liberated their victims from suffering to reduce feelings of guilt. HCSKs in the current study and violent and/or sexually motivated serial killers in the literature also shared similarities in their experiences and justifications of their crimes, most notably feeling victimized by the system and blaming the authorities (e.g., healthcare administrators, law enforcement) for failing to prevent the crimes from occurring. However, HCSKs did not express living a fantasy which is inconsistent with what has been identified in studies on serial sex killers (SSK) (e.g., Ressler et al., 1988). Qualitative inquiry of HCSKs may help provide a holistic understanding of healthcare serial homicide and shed light on the psychological processes experienced by serial killers. Future directions to improve the knowledge of healthcare serial homicide were discussed.

Convocation Year


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