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Brewer, D. D., Muth, S. Q., Dudek, J. A., Roberts, J. M., Jr., & Potterat, J. J. (2014). A comparative profile of violent clients of prostitute women . Available at SSRN:

abstract     full article

To be effective and meaningful, offender profiles must be based on empirical comparisons of offenders and non-offenders' characteristics. Prostitute women have the highest homicide victimization rate of any population of women ever studied. Violent crimes against prostitutes tend to be difficult to solve and involve low clearance rates, which underline the need for accurate and actionable offender profiles.

We conducted a matched case-control study in which we compared clients who assaulted, raped, and/or killed prostitute women with clients arrested for patronizing prostitutes in the same jurisdictions and time periods. We identified client perpetrators of cleared (solved) prostitute homicides, assaults, and rapes in a national search of US media sources. Controls were men arrested for patronizing in the same time period and jurisdictions in which a case encountered his victim(s). We matched 5 randomly selected controls to each perpetrator. There were 118 cases with suitable controls.

Violent clients usually picked up their victims in the same areas where police arrested clients for patronizing. Cleared violent crimes against prostitutes involved long periods of time between the perpetrator’s (first) attack and his arrest (e.g., a median of almost 7 months for prostitute killers). The matched case-control analysis showed that violent clients and controls were similar in terms of age and distance between their residences and victim encounter/arrest locations. However, violent clients were less likely than controls to be white, be underweight or severely/morbidly obese, and drive cars (as opposed to other types of motorized vehicles). Violent clients were also much more likely to have a criminal history of violent, rape, and property offenses, and substantially less likely to have a criminal history of miscellaneous other (non-violent, non-property, non-sex, non-patronizing) offenses than controls. Men with a criminal history of violent and/or rape offenses comprise a pool that would include 40% of prostitute killers (47% of serial prostitute killers). In addition, meaningful proportions of clients arrested for patronizing in two jurisdictions had less money in their possession than the price they had agreed to pay for sex or carried weapons at the time of arrest, suggesting the potential for violence in clients’ interactions with prostitutes.

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