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The variables within criminal investigations predispose members of marginalized populations to be victimized by serial killers. In this paper secondary and primary sources from the Merrill-Cazier library and internet were studied to understand the variables in and out of law enforcement control within criminal homicide investigations. Primarily, the focus was on the variables in police control–highly focused on cognitive biases. Police biases surrounding a victim's identity(ies) impacts their perceptions and responses to an investigation. Racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia within law enforcement can have explicit negative effects on investigations. The case studies of Samuel Little, the West Mesa Murders, and Jeffery Dahmer will be brought forward to assess and address real-life examples of the impacts of these biases. Oftentimes, members of law enforcement disregard deaths due to a victim's 'lifestyle' (or assumed lifestyle) and enforce a type of victim blaming. Negative views of victims lends to linkage blindness and failures to correctly investigate crimes. Such things allow serial killers to be free for a longer period of time. This endangers the innocent lives of individuals at risk of victimization (due to a killer's Modus Operandi, or other factors), which are often members of marginalized communities. Until social changes are made to protect these people, this will continue, and people will continue to be killed.

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Logan, UT


criminal justice system, serial killers, victim blaming, victimization


Arts and Humanities

When Death Strikes: How the Criminal Justice System Lets Members of Marginalized Communities Be Victimized By Serial Killers