Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

James A. Black

Committee Members

Sherry Cable, Sam Wallace


The problem of criminal homicide has been extensively studied. A productive way to examine it has been through detailed analysis of homicides as criminal events. There are a number of characteristics that are common to all homicide events, such as background circumstances, participant characteristics, and interrelationships of offenders. However, murder-for-hire events contain distinctive interactive features that are not present in other types of criminal homicide, i.e. solicitor, hitman, and target scenarios and that have not received empirical attention. Using trial transcripts, news reports, pre-sentence investigations, and Tennessee Department of Correction records, 30 murder-for-hire events have been identified involving 60 individuals convicted of solicitation and/or conspiracy to commit murder or attempted murder in Tennessee. In this study, details about these murder-for-hire events are explored in terms of the following variations: race, age, and sex of solicitor(s), hitmen, and targets across events; method, place of occurrence, time, and type of interpersonal relationship among participants. The results are compared with existing information on these characteristics for typical homicide events. The data suggest that murder-for-hire events involve different offender-victim profiles from those found in typical homicides. Implications of these differences for causal explanations of homicide events are explored.

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