Journal Published Online: 01 March 2000
Volume 45, Issue 2

Signature Murders: A Report of the 1984 Cranbrook, British Columbia Cases



Two females, Denean Worms and Brenda Hughes, were murdered in separate events in Cranbrook, British Columbia in 1984 within three months of each other. Terrence Wayne Burlingham was found guilty of both murders and he appealed. The Supreme Court of Canada granted Burlingham a new trial in the Worms case, but no evidence from Burlingham's confession nor the murder weapon could be used. The Crown counsel requested an evaluation of the two murders to determine if they were committed by the same person. The analyses of those murders revealed that they were linked by a personal “signature” of the killer. The murder cases reported here demonstrate a control-oriented signature. The killer used a .410 shotgun as his method of control and death, engaged in overkill of each victim by shooting them twice in the head, and left the victims in sexually degrading positions. Another signature feature was the absence of typical wounds to the victims which would be expected from a serial sex offender. All of these characteristics, in combination, accounted for this killer's personal expression.

Author Information

Keppel, RD
Washington State Office of the Attorney General, Seattle, WA
Pages: 4
Price: $25.00
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Stock #: JFS14715J
ISSN: 0022-1198
DOI: 10.1520/JFS14715J