Crime Scene Staging: An Exploratory Study of the Frequency and Characteristics of Sexual Posing in Homicides

Vernon Geberth


Crime scene staging and sexual posing and/or positioning of a body in a crime scene are recognized homicide investigation phenomena.  Even though staging and sexual posing might misdirect an investigation if unrecognized, there are no reliable data on the frequency of occurrences.  The results of a survey administered to 46 trained homicide investigators indicated that while staging may be frequently observed at crime scenes, sexual posing occurs infrequently.  Of an estimated 44,541 homicide investigations, respondents indicated that sexual posing was present in less than 1% of the cases (n = 428). Results also indicated that most often sexual posing, in contrast to crime scene staging, was typically not carried out to mislead, but the offenders' motivation was more often based on a psychological need for sexual fantasizing or to satisfy anger at the victim. Homicide case examples are presented and discussed to elaborate on the characteristics of sexually-posed crime scenes.


Keywords:      Homicide investigation, sexual posing, crime scene staging, signature, criminal motivations, forensic science.

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ISSN 1942-7794