Neuropsychological and Criminological Features of Female Homicide Offenders

Jaclyn M. Fox*, Michael Brook, Robert L. Heilbronner, Teresa Susmaras, Robert E Hanlon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Few studies have examined life history and cognitive characteristics unique to female homicide offenders. Understanding these characteristics could aid in risk assessment for extreme violence in this group of offenders. The current study utilized t-tests or chi-square tests to compare 27 female and 81 male homicide offenders on psychiatric, neurologic, criminal, and cognitive characteristics. Additionally, we explored the role of abuse history in female offenders through Kruskal–Wallis or Fisher's exact tests. Results indicate that in comparison with male counterparts, females are more likely to have history of mood disorder, borderline personality disorder, and abuse. Cognitively, female homicide offenders exhibit circumscribed cognitive impairment in verbal abilities and perform similarly to male homicide offenders across most cognitive tasks. Within the female offender group, history of sexual abuse is associated with higher rates of impulsive homicide and poorer verbal abilities. These findings provide preliminary evidence for distinct factors associated with homicide in women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-467
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • abuse
  • cognitive testing
  • female
  • forensic neuropsychology
  • forensic science
  • homicide
  • premeditation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics

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