The Female Homicide Offender: Serial Murder and the Case of Aileen Wuornos

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Why do some female homicide offenders commit serial murder? The answer to this question has eluded criminal profilers and police officers for decades. Although researchers have offered some tentative explanations based on the limited cases documented, no systematic treatment of this phenomenon has occurred in the popular and academic literature--at least not until now.

In this engaging, accessible, and detailed book, authors Stacey L. Shipley, Psy.D. and Bruce A. Amigo, Ph.D. put many of the missing pieces together, shedding new and provocative light on this fascinating though deadly crime. Relying on insights from psychology and criminology, they argue that unresolved trauma following poor or severed childhood attachments to parents can result in disorderly conduct in adolescents who act delinquently and psychopathic adults who behave criminally.

In order to test this theory, Shipley and Arrigo turn to the high profile case of Aileen Wuornos, a woman executed in 2002 for the cold blooded and calculated murders of seven men. Challenging conventional wisdom that female killers are victims of abuse, the authors provide a cogent and penetrating analysis, raising many disturbing questions about the nature of predatory and serial murders committed by women. Going well beyond the confines of the Aileen Wuornos case, Shipley and Arrigo also examine the ethical dilemmas inherent in a culture of violence where the systems of criminal justice and mental health seemingly fail to assist persons in profound distress. At issue here is the manner in which society helps to create the female homicide offender, including those women who kill repeatedly.

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Women and Crime
Women as Homicide Offenders
Mental Disorders in Female Homicide Offenders

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About the author (2004)

Bruce A. Arrigo, Ph.D., is professor of criminology, law, and society and professor of public policy within the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, he holds additional faculty appointments in the Psychology Department and in the Public Policy Program. In the College of Health and Human Services, he holds a faculty appointment in the Department of Public Health Sciences. Professor Arrigo is also a faculty associate in the Center for Professional and Applied Ethics a teaching, research, and service unit of the philosophy department, a senior member of the University Honors College, and a faculty affiliate of Wake Forest University s Bioethics, Health, and Society Program. Arrigo is an award-winning researcher and scholar, who has authored or coauthored, and edited or coedited more than 30 books and edited volumes as well as more than 175 scholarly papers. His scholarship examines human justice and social welfare issues at the intersection of law, mental health, and society; theory, culture, and society; and deviance, violence, and society. His recent collaborative works in these areas include "The Terrorist" "Identity "(2007), "Revolution in Penology: " "Rethinking the Society of Captives "(2009), and "The Ethics of Total Confinement: A Critique of Madness, Citizenship, and Social Justice "(2011)." "Recent textbooks and reference works include" Ethics, Crime and Criminal Justice", second edition" "(2012), "Introduction to Forensic Psychology", " "third edition (2012), and "The Routledge Handbook of International Crime and Justice Studies "(2014). Arrigo is also the founding and current" "editor-in-chief of the "Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice". Arrigo is an elected Fellow of both the American Psychological Association (Psychology and Law, Div. 41) and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. He is also a past recipient of the Bruce Smith, Sr., Award (for distinguished contributions in crime and justice teaching and scholarship), sponsored by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences; the First Citizens Bank Scholars Medal; and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Division on Crime and Juvenile Delinquency of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Arrigo has served as a consultant to the Correctional Service of Canada, the National Institute of Justice, the National Science Foundation, and Savant Learning Systems. These consultancies have emphasized progressive social policy and practice, evidenced-based research and programming, and citizenship-oriented education and training.

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