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Murder by Pushing: An Exploratory Analysis of Homicidal Falls From a Height

Ferguson, Claire, PhD; Sutherland, Tiffany, BA

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: September 2018 - Volume 39 - Issue 3 - p 192–200
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000386
Original Articles

The difficulty in classifying manner of death in falls from a height provides offenders an opportunity to avoid detection by having a homicide appear otherwise. Twelve fall homicides were qualitatively examined. Results showed that most homicidal falls occurred at remote outdoor locations, were planned by offenders who were in controlling intimate relationships with the victim, and were motivated by gain. Homicide was established using inconsistencies in offender's statements and the physical evidence, inappropriate postoffense behavior, evidence of planning, and improbable alleged victim behavior. Fall homicides pose unique challenges for investigators and may negatively impact on the criminal justice process.

From the School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Manuscript received November 8, 2017; accepted January 2, 2018.

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Claire Ferguson, PhD, School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology, 2 George St, Brisbane, Queensland, 4000, Australia. E-mail:

© 2018 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.