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What kind of animal could look into the eyes of an innocent child, purposefully hurt and kill her,  then toss her away like garbage?   Who are these sick people who prey on our children?   Is there something we can do to make our babies safer?

The criminal Division of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and the US Justice Department wanted to know the answers to those questions, too. They wanted to find out if child predators had anything in common in order to provide a profile to aid law enforcement; they wanted to target what group of children might be more susceptible to being abducted; and they wanted to give parents the knowledge they needed to help ensure their kids weren’t the next victims.

The resulting study consisted of more than 600 solved cases of child abduction murders where the killers were caught and convicted.  The initial study was published in 1997, and a follow-up study that included 175 additional solved cases was published in 2006.  Those 883 cases occurred between 1968 and 2002 and were from all across the US.   The research has provided valuable insight to law enforcement, and we can learn a lot from their findings as well.  A profile of a child killer was compiled, as well as a profile of the victim.  A preventive guideline was also created.

I thought the study’s conclusions were fascinating and insightful. I’ve included what I felt were the most important points, and the full report can be accessed through the link posted at the end of this post.

The single most important thing I learned from this study!


In 88.5% of the cases studied, the child was dead within 24 hours of being taken, and in 76% of those cases, the child was dead within 3 hours of the kidnapping.

In 60% of the 883 cases studied, over 2 hours passed between the time the child was discovered to be missing and the time the police were called. This is shocking to me in light of the fact that in the majority of cases the child was dead within 3 hours.  The window of opportunity for saving an abducted child is small, and because parents are reluctant to call police before searching thoroughly themselves, that window shrinks to nearly zero.



From a study of 883 cases where the murderer was caught and convicted. Percentages based strictly on the cases researched in this study

He lives on the edge of society, and is socially retarded. “Social marginals” is the term used for him.

I say “him” because child killers are almost 100%  male.

His average age is 27.8  years old.

69.8% are white,  19.1 black,

He is usually unmarried and unattached at the time of the murder.

17.1% of child killers live alone, and 33.2% live with their parents.

He usually either lives in the neighborhood where the abduction takes place or frequents that area during his everyday activities.

1/2 of child killers are unemployed or work in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs.

2/3 of child killers have prior arrests for violent crimes. 1/2 of those violent crimes were committed against children.

The child killer’s most frequent past crime is sexual in nature, and the primary motive for a child abduction is sexual.

The use of pornography by killers as a trigger to murder has increased since the original study.

The child is usually abducted in a place very close to where he/she was last seen.

The child killer usually takes the child more than 1/4 mile  from where he was abducted,

but the distance between the murder site and where the body is later dumped is less than 199 feet in most cases.

23.7 returned to the place they dumped the body

9.7 contacted the victim’s family

10% of the child killers interjected themselves into the actual murder investigation.

In the initial study, the name of the killer was almost always in police files within the first week. When the supplemental cases were studied, that proved to no longer be the case. (does that mean the killers are getting smarter?)

Police usually have contact with the killer before he becomes a primary suspect.



From a study of 883 cases where the murderer was caught and convicted. Percentages based strictly on the cases researched in this study

44%  of the children in the cases studied were the victims of stranger abduction. 42% were the victims of friends or acquaintances.

Only 14% of the children in the cases studied were victims of their own parent.

74% of the children are female with an average age of 11. The youngest females ages 1-5 tend to be killed by friends or acquaintances, and the oldest females (16-17) are usually killed by strangers.

Most of the males abducted tend to be victims of stranger abduction.

The victims are overwhelmingly white–74.5%.  14.3% are black and the remaining 11.2% include all other races.

50% of the abductions take place within 3 city blocks of the child’s home, and 1/3 of them occurred within 1/2 block of the home.

Most of the children are victims of “opportunity” A child is rarely chosen for a specific reason such as a physical characteristic. (this is different than race)


So, what can we do as parents and grandparents to keep our precious children out of  harm’s way?  The study offered a few recommendations, but no magic pill that could guarantee a child’s safety. Most of their suggestions were just common sense preventive measures.

1) Always supervise your kids–even in your own yard and on your own street.  When you can’t be there, teach your children never to get into cars with strangers. Make sure they know not to approach a car even if they are familiar with the occupant.

2) Be aware of strangers and unusual behaviors in your neighborhood– More difficult than you might think  in this electronic world we now live in.  Our world grows smaller and smaller thanks to the internet and television. We hear the news almost before it’s made.  But, ironically, as our personal knowledge and interaction with the world grows bigger, we, as individuals live within narrower and narrower parameters.  We may have an intimate relationship with someone on the other side of the planet thanks to the WWW,  but at the same time, live for years in the same place with only a passing knowledge of our next door neighbor’s habits,  and not be aware enough to even recognize the rest of the people living on our street.

3) And if, God forbid, your child goes missing, don’t hesitate to call police.  Do it immediately. If the worst thing that happens is that a policeman appears on your doorstep just as your kid walks up the basement stairs, and you end up with a red face, SO WHAT???  Believe me, that’s not really the worst thing that can happen.

read the study:

Child_Abduction_Murder Research Case Study PDF File LINK


Washington State Office of the Attorney General Child Abduction Study LINK

Find out the location and names of any sex offenders in your own neighborhood.  There is a permanent link to this site at the right side of this blog.

Family Watchdog LINK

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Roberta Davis permalink
    October 27, 2009 6:24 pm

    Very good article. There were many common traits between what’s in the article and the crime against little Somer Thompson in Orange Park. I pray law enforcement finds the killer.

  2. TOETAG permalink
    December 26, 2009 3:21 am

    This is interesting but very difficult to read. The red background with black print is pretty but non functional.

  3. itsamysterytome permalink*
    December 26, 2009 8:57 am


    ?? I’m not sure what you are talking about. The print is black on a white background.

  4. Phil permalink
    August 23, 2011 10:06 am

    Bear in mind that these figures only deal with abduction murders. But such killings constitute only a very tiny percentage of all child murders. If you look at the figures for all violent child killings, you’ll find the vast majority are perpetrated by the victim’s own mother. Next in line will be another family member. Sad but true.

    So, instead of whipping people into a frenzy about “stranger danger” and risking encouraging vigilante action against released offenders who are trying to reform and reintegrate, resources would be best placed into support for at-risk families to prevent all-too-common parental violence against children. Serial killers are a vanishingly small risk to children statistically – there’s a greater chance that a child will crash in an airplane or get killed crossing the road. And a much greater chance that the child will be killed or seriously abused by a parent. Dysfunctional parents are a much bigger risk than serial killers. Hard to swallow isn’t it?

  5. adam permalink
    October 21, 2012 2:35 pm

    Sorry to say this, but the way Phil is getting defensive in his posting, I wonder if he is a convicted sex offender?

  6. ami permalink
    October 21, 2012 2:51 pm

    phil: your words Are true. it is sad And hard to swallow. it’s important to remember that this article is Not trying to state that ‘stranger danger’ is worse than ‘dysfunctional parents’. maybe you should write an article about ‘dysfunctional parents’? just saying…
    adam: i don’t think phil intended to come across as ‘defending’. i think he was trying to bring a good point forward. most children Are killed by family members!

  7. ami permalink
    October 21, 2012 2:53 pm

    by the way, i enjoyed the article… it was very interesting and informative! thanks! 😀

  8. Jessica permalink
    November 5, 2012 9:08 pm

    Best article I have seen yet. But I still dont understand the why?

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    aллен кaрр похудеть легко
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