As part of my Ph.D. research on criminal genius, I conducted 44 semi-structured interviews. One of the 44 subjects, in particular, stood out. This noteworthy individual claimed that he had killed 15 people. His story was particularly interesting because unlike most social research involving serial killers he claimed that he had never been arrested or convicted for his homicides. Compelled by his account, I met with this subject on five additional occasions, and gradually compiled his criminal life history. Ethical and legal considerations limited inquiry into several dimensions of this subjects life history, but over time, an interesting and richly textured narrative emerged. This article first describes the life experiences of this offender and then describes the methodological choices that shaped the research. Because criminologists almost never establish research access with offenders of this kind, his story articulated here in the form of a criminal life history is a valuable contribution to social science literature.
Genius, Elite, IQ, Crime, Murder, Interview, Life History, Self-Report, Access, and Ethics
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Recommended APA Citation
Olsen, J. (2004). Sipping Coffee with a Serial Killer: On Conducting Life History Interviews with a Criminal Genius. The Qualitative Report, 9(2), 192-215. Retrieved from http://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol9/iss2/2