The people who knew and loved Holly probably didn’t know it at the time, but their panic and gut-retching fear was justified.
Expert police detectives, academics, and clinicians who have studied cases of predatory abductor murderers found that:
- The murder of a child who is abducted by a stranger is rare. About one hundred such kidnappings occur in the United States in an average year.
- There is approximately one child abduction murder for every 10,000 reports of a missing child.
- Children abducted by a predatory kidnapper are almost always murdered.
- In 44% of the predatory abduction cases, the children died in the first hour.
- 78% of these children are dead within three hours.
- Virtually all children who are abducted by a predatory kidnapper are dead after 24 hours.
- The majority of children abducted are girls (76%) with the average age of the victim being slightly over 11 years.
- In 80% of predatory abductions, the initial contact between the victim and killer is within ¼ mile of the victim’s residence.
- In 60% of predatory abductions, the first report to a law enforcement agency is two hours after the child is found missing.
In the opinion of The Four of Us, the most important study of very similar kidnappings, assaults and murders of victims like Holly Piirainen is entitled Case Management for Missing Children Homicide Investigation. The research was conducted by the United States Department of Justice and the State Attorney General of Washington state and was published in 1997.
A second study by the same agencies entitled Investigative Case Management for Missing Children Homicides: Report II was published in 2006.
The second study took the additional step of analyzing eight hundred solved cases of child abduction/murder from across the United States. The study found that, in a vast majority of similar cases (76%), the victim was a female slightly over eleven years of age, came into contact with the abductor in 80% of the cases within ¼ mile of her home, and was an “average child” living a normal life with a normal family.
What kind of person would commit this type of crime?
These studies found the following characteristics described the “average” perpetrator of this rare crime:
- An overwhelming sexual motivation.
- Child pornography was a trigger.
- Almost two-thirds had prior arrests for violent crime (61%), with slightly more than half of the prior crimes (53%) committed against children.
- Certain narcotics such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and especially crack cocaine can drastically reduce the user’s inhibition against committing serious crimes such as kidnapping, assaulting, and murdering a child.
- An average age of twenty-seven, but the range in age varied from pre-teen to elderly.
- Almost always males.
- Predominantly unmarried (85%).
- Often unemployed (50%) or employed in an unskilled or semi-skilled job like day laborers, janitors, and construction workers.
- Lived alone or with their parents (50%).
- There was an almost equal chance of the perpetrator being known to the victim or being a complete stranger.
These two studies identified another characteristic of this type of crime important to police detectives: in 74% of investigations, the name of the killer was known to police in the first week of the investigation.