Sunday, September 23, 2012

Serial Killers



I’ve always been fascinated with the subject of serial killers. I’m most interested in “why” they do what they do; what causes a human being to become a monster? It’s a question of nature vs. nurture. Was it the fault of their upbringing and/or society or were they “born” to be serial killers?
The more I read about them as I did research for my mystery novel, Mixed Messages, the more intrigued I became. This week, I’m going to give a brief overview. Then, each week for the next four weeks, I’ll write about one of the classifications (with examples) of serial killers:
·       Visionary  killers
·       Mission killers
·       Pleasure (Hedonistic) killers 
·       Power/control killers
Keep in mind: there’s a difference between mass murderers and serial killers. Mass murderers kill their victims all at once. They choose a killing field and attempt to take as many victims as possible. They do not hunt, torture and then kill their victims. Serial killers do. One definition of a serial killer is “someone who commits three or more murders over an unspecified period of time.”
It’s virtually impossible to distinguish serial killers from the rest of society. They look just like you and me (yes, there have been many female serial killers) and they are everywhere. The FBI can’t give us actual statistics; no one knows for sure how many are out there, targeting their next victims. Estimates run anywhere from twenty to thirty to the thousands!
There are three predatory types:
·   territorial killers who hunt within a specific area
·   nomadic killers who travel extensively on their killing sprees
·   stationary killers who prefer to commit murders in their own homes or places of employment
Serial killers are categorized as “organized” or “disorganized.”
·   Organized killers are the most difficult to identify and capture because they’re highly intelligent. They plan each and every detail, often stalking their victims for long periods of time to determine the best time to strike.
·   Disorganized killers are usually of lesser intelligence and don’t plan their attacks in advance. Their victims are usually people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Most serial killers have a “preference.” For example, Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler, was sexually obsessed with the elderly. Some serial killers take “souvenirs” from their victims: a lock of hair, a piece of jewelry or a body part and many serial killers have bizarre fetishes like Ed Gein (pictured above), the role model for Hitchcock’s Psycho, who collected corpses for a variety of sick purposes.
Until next week, be wary of strangers and people you know. Remember, anyone could be a serial killer – even the boy next door.

16 comments:

  1. Oh no! One more thing to worry about! My neighbors are kind of strange.

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    1. Yes, William. Be careful. Be very, very careful! :)

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  2. I remember several years ago there was a special about serial killers on television. There was one man they interviewed that made me get up and go lock the doors. There was something about his eyes that I'll never forget. It seemed, even though he was on TV, that he was looking right through the viewer (me, in this case). In my lifetime I've only met one other man with those same eyes, and I kept my distance.

    Excellent subject, Patricia. If one can base it on books and TV, there are a lot of people who are fascinated by serial killers.

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    1. Marja,
      You're right. There are tons of books and TV shows about serial killers.
      I'm wondering who the serial killer was that made you go check the locks on your doors. In the next four weeks, I'll be writing about some of them. Maybe you'll recognize one. You'll have to let me know.

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    2. I might recognize his photo, but I don't recall his name. I remember he'd killed a large number of people, and yet I'd never heard of him.

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    3. I'll be curious to see if he is one of the four serial killers I'll be writing about in the next few weeks.

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  3. My goodness, Patricia!

    You know SO much about serial killers. I thought I knew a lot about serial killers, but you've got me beat. Look at your blog. Do you see how organized you are? Are you sure YOU'RE not a high IQ organized serial killer? Huh?

    I would like to weigh in here with my humble opinion. I think there's a possible genetic proclivity (nature), but I believe there is also a very strong environmental piece (nurture-- or lack of it). Many serial killers have suffered tremendous physical, emotional and sexual abuse. in fact, I think you'd be hard pressed to find one with a lovely childhood. Many have suffered countless blows to the head, which causes brain damage.

    Many of the male serial killers were sexually abused by a parent, frequently their mothers or female caregivers. The female serial killers, I don't know so much about, but I'd guess they were sexually abused, too, probably more likely by male family members.

    The disorganized serial killers are lower IQ, as you have said, and sometimes suffering from other mental illnesses in addition to their murderous urges.

    Of course we are fascinated by serial killers! You will probably feature the case of the high-ranking Canadian fighter pilot who collected and posed with his panties and bras and lingerie scavanged from his female victims, all neatly catalogued and color-coded. WOW!

    And, btw, my neighbors on both sides are most certainly SKs. If I disappear, look to the east and west of me for the answers. The guy behind me only butchers grand old trees in the prime of their tree lives, so he probably won't turn his chain saw on me.

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    1. Let's hope your neighbor doesn't turn his chain saw on you or anyone else!
      Thanks for the comment. Be sure to come back next week for the next installment.

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  4. Marta has a valid point. You do seem very organized. Seriously thanks for the great tips. In my upcoming thriller I would say that my killer does have preferences. I'll be watching this series.

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    1. Madison,
      So, are you and Marta afraid of me because you think I'm a serial killer - just because I'm organized? :)
      Trust me, if you knew all I have to do right now, you'd realize that I thank God he gave me my organizational abilities. My Mom broke her hip this weekend and, in the next few weeks, those abilities will be tested to the limit!
      By the way, I haven't killed anyone - yet!

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  5. An interesting start to what promises to be an intriguing series. Bring it on, Patricia. We're all locking our doors and pulling down the shades while we wait for the next installment.

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    1. Thanks, John! My doors are locked and my mini-blinds are closed.

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  6. Pretty darn scary, Patricia! The closest I came to writing about a serial killer was in Angel Lost--and the story didn't really focus on him. I guess I missed a bet by not exploring his psyche. Excellent post.

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    1. Thank you, Marilyn! It is a fascinating subject.

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  7. Lock up, load up the shotgun & turn out the lights. Well better leave the lights on so you can read your favorite mystery authors while you wait. Thanks for education on subject.

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