Sapp, Allen D., Huff, Timothy G., Gary, Gordon P., Icove, David J.,
and Horbert, Philip. Serial Arsonists... Who Are They? The National Fire
and Arson Report. Volume 12, Number 3. September , 1994.
Abstract: This article is a reprint of "A Report of Essential
Findings From a Study of Serial Arsonists." Only portions of the study
are included in this article. To obtains the article in its entirety, contact
the U.S. Government Printing Office: 1994 - 301 - 178/85008.
The excerpts from the study printed in this article include: the study's
purpose, the research goals, a short list of important definitions, the
limitations of the study, the report format, and the summary and conclusions
of the study.
The main goals of the study were 1) to identify common characteristics
of arsons committed by serial arsonists, 2) to identify common motives and
characteristics of serial arsonists, and 3) to determine if serial arsonists
share characteristics with other arsonists.
This study was an exploratory study providing hypotheses about serial
arsonists and is not offering generalizations. It was not an experiment
because no controlled group was used in the research. Research was done
on incarcerated serial arsonists and therefore does not represent the general
The study provides its conclusions in the areas of attributes of the
serial arsonists, life history of serial arsonists, history of arsons by
subjects, characteristics of the offenses, and motives for firesetting.
A complete demographics breakdown of serial arsonists is provided in the
attributes section. Statistics regarding institutionalization and prior
criminal activities is included in the life history section. The history
of arsons by subjects provides the arson activities of serial arsonists
according to age. The characteristics of the offenses section provides
common traits found among the arsonists studied, including common methods
of entering, use of accomplices, and methods used to set the fires. There
were no obvious links between the target selections of the serial arsonists
examined. The conclusions regarding motives included a variety of different
reasons offered by the subjects studied. Most specific reasons reflect
the arsonist's lack of skills in dealing with the stress and problems with