Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of articles reviewing – and analyzing – the details surrounding the murder of Linda Malcom. The first article provides information on the known facts and evidence in her case. Read the second article to learn about crowdsourcing and how this tactic can greatly assist in solving cold cases. This article focuses in on victimology.
The charred remains of Linda Malcom were discovered in the master bedroom of her rental home on Apr. 30, 2008, in Port Orchard, Wash. Investigators quickly determined that Linda had been murdered, evidenced by the multiple stab wounds to her body.
Linda’s case has gone unsolved for nearly 15 years, but a renewed effort by AMU’s Cold Case Investigative Team, in conjunction with the Port Orchard Police Department, is seeking to uncover new leads and information.
Why Victimology is Important in Murder Investigations
According to Grand Canyon University, the practice of victimology refers to the study of a victim’s personal characteristics, lifestyle, daily activities and interactions with others. This includes their relationship status, residence location, career choice and extracurricular activities.
Analyzing a victim’s routines can provide information about their common activities and locations they frequent. Additionally, a detailed analysis of a homicide victim’s injuries – and the level of effort exerted by a killer – provides insight into the relationship between the victim and killer and the perpetrator’s motive. This particular subject will be explored in greater detail in a future article.
Understanding the “why” of a crime can lead to the “who.” The motive and attack method of the perpetrator provides clues about their identity.
There is always a reason a victim and offender cross paths, even if that reason is not inherently intuitive. If investigators can identify the motive – and reason two people came together in the same space – they will inevitably uncover clues that narrow the list of suspects.
No matter how risky one’s lifestyle may be, those risk factors never equal an excuse for murder.
Victimology as It Applies to Serial Crimes
The practice of victimology does not always focus on a single victim. For example, in suspected cases of serial homicides or carjackings, investigators often analyze crimes with similar attributes in a particular geographic area.
Serial predators commonly seek out victims of a certain demographic, often preying on a specific gender, age, race or perceived vulnerability. In doing so, they set a pattern that can be uncovered by investigators, which helps to predict future victim targeting and/or attack locations and potentially reduce victimization.
Examining Linda Malcom’s Lifestyle and Daily Routines
Linda was single, was never married and had no children. She lived alone in the same rental home on Sydney Avenue for approximately 11 years.
Linda had worked as a paralegal at three different law firms, including the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney’s office. At the time of her death, she was unemployed but was due to begin work – in the near future – at the local Social Security Administration office.
Friends and family describe Linda as outgoing and social. She enjoyed visiting local drinking establishments, playing cards and singing karaoke. Her drink of choice was usually wine, and she reportedly drank heavily.
Listen to Episode 03 of “Break the Case” about Linda Malcom:
Linda had several serious relationships with men through the years but none that ever led to marriage. She reportedly also had sexual encounters with women but no long-term relationships with any. In the months before her death, Linda told family members that she’d gone on a few dates with people she’d met through internet dating sites.
[Related article: Linda Malcom: Crowdsourcing Can Assist in Solving a Murder]
Applying Victimology to Linda’s Murder
Linda was well known in her neighborhood and at the local hangouts. Many people in the community knew where she lived and that she lived alone. Her killer probably already had this knowledge and was able to ascertain that Linda was alone and had no company on the night of her death.
It does not appear there was any evidence of forced entry into Linda’s home. This fact indicates that Linda either admitted the person into her house, the person knew where Linda’s extra house key was hidden or they found an unlocked door.
Linda was killed during a period of transition in her life. She was about to start her new job and was scheduled to move from her rental home to a townhome on May 1, 2008, a day or so after her eventual murder.
In the days leading up to her murder, Linda had made arrangements to move her belongings from one residence to another. She had asked several friends to help her pack and move. Her killer may have used this knowledge to their advantage – perhaps even offering to help Linda with packing, etc., and, as a result, may have obtained access to her home.
Although a victim’s actions and decision-making should never be a reason for their murder, some of Linda’s habits could be considered unsafe. Women who become inebriated in public increase their level of susceptibility. Offenders may observe the lower inhibition level of an intoxicated victim and exploit it.
Additionally, some people who utilize online dating sites have reduced levels of insight into the true identity and personality of those they “meet” in that virtual environment. Predators have been known to use internet dating sites to seek out and stalk victims.
The buffer of the online environment allows people with bad intentions to access a large number of potential victims without much effort. It’s possible Linda met such a person online and agreed to a face-to-face date that went awry.
Readers Are Encouraged to Get Involved with Linda’s Case
Readers who want to follow the renewed investigation into Linda’s case can listen to Season 3 of Break The Case, an investigative podcast hosted by Jennifer Bucholtz and George Jared. Readers may also join the Facebook group dedicated to seeking justice for Linda. Updates and topics for discussion are regularly posted by group administrators.
Anyone with information about the death of Linda Malcom can email our confidential tip line firstname.lastname@example.org or call Detective Walton of the Port Orchard Police Department at 360-876-1700. All tipsters are guaranteed confidentiality and anonymity if they wish. There is currently a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Linda’s killer.