Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

William J Fremouw

Committee Co-Chair

Melissa Blank

Committee Member

Nicholas Bowman

Committee Member

Amy Fiske

Committee Member

Aaron Metzger


Using data obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), the present study examines two emerging topics in the field of murder-suicide research. The majority of murder-suicide perpetrators are male, so female perpetrators are rarely studied. First, the current study uses the largest known sample of female murder-suicide perpetrators to explore murder-suicide differences by sex. Second, motives from the recently-proposed perversion of virtue theory of murder-suicide are operationalized with input from the theory developer and analyzed. The perversion of virtue theory is compared to the predominant murder-suicide motive typology to evaluate whether it classifies murder-suicide incidents in a novel and meaningful manner. Variables relating to the perpetrators, victims, mental health, substance use, and weapon type are explored, with an emphasis on variables that are amenable to intervention. Conclusions regarding female perpetrators, the perversion of virtue motives, and murder-suicide detection and prevention strategies are discussed along with future directions for research in the field of murder-suicide.