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.