It is commonly heard that murderers (or other criminals) "always return to the scene of the crime".

Well, that's certainly false for all murderers. However, it is suggested that murderers do have a tendency to return to the scene of the crime.

Do a significant number of murderers pay another visit to the scene of the crime shortly after committing the crime?

  • Is this saying about all criminals or just murderers?
    – user11212
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 5:03
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    Do you have a notable source for this claim?
    – 410 gone
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 7:48
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    @EnergyNumbers: I'm sorry, I don't have a notable source. It is just commonly heard.
    – Saturn
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 19:00
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    I think the whole plot point for "Crime and Punishment" can be used as a notable source.
    – rjzii
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 19:05
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    I suspect that the answer is yes, but rather than because of any compulsion, people basically are creatures of habit and tend to go to the same places over an over. Most murders are spur of the moment events so it is likely that they happen in places the murderer normally goes. So chances are they will return to the vicinity of the crime at some point in the future.
    – Chad
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 19:11

1 Answer 1


My answer will only be partial, i.e. about serial killers.

The FBI "Crime Classification Manual" roughly divide serial killers in 3 categories: organized, disorganized and mixed.

While the organized serial killers are usually smart, plan their crimes beforehand, follow a precise and thorough ritual (and especially, use equipment they brought with them) and feel no regrets, the disorganized serial killer obey an uncontrollable urge, use weapons found on the scene and usually have regrets in the aftermath.

Because of afterthoughts, like regrets or fear to be discovered, the disorganized serial killers can return to the crime scene, hiding in the crowd. And an investigation method is to take pictures of the crowd on each crime scene, in order to search for persons appearing on several ones.

Quote of the indicated book, 2nd edition, page 220:

Postoffense behavior exhibited may be a change in eating habits and drinking habits (more alcohol consumption) and nervousness. He may also have an inappropriate interest in the crime, for example, by frequently engaging in conversation about it. Disorganized behavior may be evident in victim selection, crime scene, and forensics due to youthfulness, drug or alcohol impairment, external stressors (for example, fear of discovery), or lack of criminal sophistication.

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    If "Because of these regrets, the disorganized serial killers often return to the crime scene" is from the manual it should be quoted. If it is not from the manual then it will need to be backed up with some reference material.
    – Chad
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 18:54
  • Actually, my answer was incomplete. Regrets are not the only reason. I completed it and added a quote. Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 20:39
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    I like the addition of the quote I still think the claims about the planning and the reasons for returning to the scene need to be sourced. If you can I think you will have a solid answer
    – Chad
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 20:57
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    Organized killers can also return to the scene, especially before they think it has been discovered, to re-live the event or revel in their "work." Some also will do things to the body, post mortem, at a later time, if they can. Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 15:10

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