Serial killers are talked about quite often, especially if their name keeps coming up in the news. Serial Killers are people who kill multiple people (usually several), usually one by one. They make a “cooling off” period between their crimes; this may be anywhere from days to decades. Serial killers may work alone or with an accomplice/accomplices. Serial killers are known to have some of the highest body counts in the world, with their total victim count being more than 100 people.
There are several types of Serial Killers: Visionary Serial Killers suffer from psychotic delusions, believing they must kill certain types of people or for religious purposes. Hedonistic Serial Killers do it simply for pleasure, also called “lust murderers.” Missionary Serial Killers believe themselves to be doing something good for society by killing criminals or others they consider undesirable. Power/control Serial Killers get a thrill out of power over life and death of their victims, sometimes torturing them first. This type may also enjoy mutilating their victims’ bodies after death.
Social learning Serial Killers are most likely to kill based on past experiences. They mimic the behavior of “heroes” or authority figures in their childhood. This type is most likely to have a fractured or unstable family life.
Organized Serial Killers usually plan their crimes well in advance, stalk their victims, and carefully select each victim. Usually is socially adept and may be charming sometimes, but lacks empathy for others. Serial killers with this motive often commit murders for material gain as well as power/control reasons.
When discussing Serial Killers, it is important to study them from a sociological perspective. A Serial Killer is defined as an individual who commits more than three murders over a period lasting more than a month with time off between the crimes (Murderpedia, Serial Killer).
Serial Killers are often thought of as being from deprived backgrounds raised in abusive homes. Serial Killers are also most likely to be Caucasian men. Serial Killers often prey on prostitutes and may take photographs of their victims (Murderpedia Serial Killer). Many Serial Killers suffer from some kind of psychosis and nearly all kill for pleasure (Serial Killer Information Centre, Serial Killer).
There is a persistent belief that Serial Killers come from deprived backgrounds with abusive families, this was studied by two Canadian criminologists Maurice Godwin and Andre Bourque in 2010. They traveled the U.S interviewing Serial Killers, they found out that over half were raised in middle-class suburban areas with no significant signs of violence or abuse within the family.
Serial killers are one of the most fascinating types of criminals in society. Serial Killers: Minds Behind the Most Ruthless Serial Murderers by author and criminal profiler Mike Aamodt explains how serial killers think, and describes their tactics and motivations.
Different Types Of Serial Killers
The first step to understanding serial killers is learning about different categories or typologies that they fall under. The author outlines three distinct styles of serial murder: Visionary, Mission Oriented, and Hedonistic.
Visionary Serial Killers: These murderers suffer from psychotic delusions such as hearing internal voices commanding them to kill. They believe themselves to be another person or feel as though they have special powers. Because of this psychosis, many times these types of Serial Killers are found to be incompetent to stand trial and may even be found insane. These types of Serial Killers are the most dangerous because they cannot control their delusions.
Mission Oriented Serial Killers: Unlike the visionary, the mission serial killer has a logical reason for killing. They often select victims whom they believe share characteristics responsible for their problems (i.e., prostitutes or women who don’t use birth control). As is common with psychotic people who believe themselves to be doing good by ridding society of bad elements, these types of Serial Killers feel that society owes them something for all that they have given up to carry out the murders. Their reasons are usually very personal, but not necessarily realistic.
Hedonistic Serial Killers: Serial Killers motivated by hedonism feel they are entitled to whatever desires they might have, including murder. Serial killers in this category often do not limit themselves to a certain type of victim. Most Serial Killers commit their first kill during adolescence or young adulthood, which is when most people are trying to figure out how the world works and what their place is in society.
This makes it very difficult for Serial Killers to find “normal” relationships with anyone, much less members of the opposite sex. Serial killers also realize that society does not approve of their murderous impulses; therefore, according to Aamodt (2009), “[their] solution [is] killing as many victims as possible before [they] get caught” (15). Serial Killers of this type often feel powerless and inadequate and resort to murder as a way to compensate for these feelings.
Serial killers use many methods when murdering their victims: shooting, stabbing, suffocating, poisoning, and drowning. Serial killers may approach the victim directly or stalk them; once they make contact with the victim it is called an “approach”. If the killer spends time observing the victim it is called a “stalk”. Approaches usually end in an attack if an intended victim tries to flee or fight back. A Serial Killer’s behavior during all stages of their crime can provide clues about who they are and why they kill.
Psychology Of Serial Killers
One common question people ask themselves when hearing about Serial Killers is “Why would someone want to kill another human being?” Serial killers do not arbitrarily pick their victims; they choose people who somehow represent something the killer finds distasteful. A Serial Killer’s motivations are explained by looking at childhood, adolescence, and adulthood factors that help mold them into what they become as Serial Killers.