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Examining What Is A Serial Killer Criminology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 1797 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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What is a serial killer? Many have their own ideas as to what a serial killer is, what they look like, and what kind of job they have or how they were raised or even where they live. In order for the reader to really understand the definition of a serial killer the research must pinpoint what makes a serial. Statistical data as well as demographic data will also be discussed so that it can show accuracy between profiles and stereotypes. Past studies and the articles under consideration mostly point out two major factors that result into causing the homicidal behavior. These factors are psychological aspects and disturbed family background. The studies that we are going to review have analyzed the serial killing attitudes using different approaches. Geographical Profiling, Decision Support System, Motives, Comparison of single and serial killers, Distinction between antisocial personality disorder and psychopaths, Demographics of victims, the White trash phenomenon and a criticism over generalities profiling are our studied approaches and findings. The psychological aspects include abnormal kinds of satisfaction that a homicide derives from abusive attitude. This satisfaction may be either of sexual nature or revenge or both. Other abusive activities such as indulging into drugs, alcoholism and minor crimes are also considered in the psychological aspects. A disturbed background at home includes split family, abusive parent or guardian, the circumstances that lead to staying at care. A child when goes through disturbed phases within family it is a big stimulus for that child to turn into a homicide. The children who live in foster care have a potency to engage into abusive activities in future when they leave care. The reviewed studies follow logarithmic and quadratic distribution, normalization parameter, literature review, integration approach, comparative approach, cinematic approach and profiling approach.

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Truth behind Serial Murder

Serial homicide, in its youngest form was known by the FBI as a lust murder (Egger, 1998). Still the question arises as to what is the actual definition of a serial killer. Another describes a serial killer as one that explodes in homicidal rampage (Egger, 1998). Then you look at law enforcement and what they say is serial murder is sexual attacks, the death of men, women and children committed by a male killer (Egger, 1998). Though there are many definitions to what a serial killer may be, one may have to look further in depth to really understand what the definition is. Here are some ideas to think about when defining this aspect. First, serial murder occurs when one or more individuals commit murder of three or more people over a period of time. Second, there is a cooling off period between each murder. This could be weeks, months or even years before they go after another victim. Third, there is usually no connection between the victim and assailant. Forth, Serial killings are usually different in geographic area and can move from one location to another. Last, but not least motives are not for material reasons, but for power and control (Holmes, 1998). As one may notice researchers have been studying and trying to create an iron clad definition to go by when establishing what a serial killer is.

Although as difficult as one may think this is, the above mentioned characteristics of a serial killer help Law enforcement further in their serial killer cases. In another attempt at defining a serial killer it was stated as any offenders, male or female, who kill over time with a minimum of three to four victims who have a pattern with their killing that can be associated with the types of victims selected or the method or motives (Hickey, 2002).

Ideologies of Serial murder

There have been numerous researches done in order to create many categories, types, and labels of murders. Some of these categories include biological, psychological, and sociological traits (Siegel, 1998). Other researchers have gone further in categorizing murders as brain disorders, passive aggressive, alcoholics, mentally retarded, and hysterical (Hickey, 2002). Other researchers in yet more categories such as the visionary type who hears voices, which tell them to act in horrible acts. Then there is the mission type who believes it is their duty to get rid of evil people in the world and example of this is Hitler. Some examples of what may be considered as evil are certain religions, ethnic groups and homosexuals. Next, is the hedonistic type which commits violent acts for fun. They kill for only the pleasure of it, there is no personal gain with this type. Last, but not least there is the power type who desires to be in control (hickey, 1997). An example of this is actually a movie called Saw where they get pure pleasure by setting someone up in a contraption that will kill them if they do not do something for the killer. The victim does what is expected, but in most cases they still die thinking that they were going to live. This is also where the background of bedwetting and animal cruelty begins (Douglas, 1999).

Males Serial Killers

The earliest documentation after the 1800’s of an adult male serial killer was Edward Rulloff, also known as the educated murderer, in 1846. It wasn’t until the 1900’s that we saw a dramatic increase (Hickey, 2002). A study done by D.K Rossmo in 1995 stated that males were involved in over 90% of serial murders. He found that the average age for a serial killer was around the mid-20. In his study he went on to show that 73% were white males, 22% were African American, 3% were Hispanic, and 1 % Asian (Hickey, 2002). The mobility classifying gets a little difficult for it differs for each serial killer. About one-third of male killers have killed people in multiple states. Over 50% of male serial killers stayed locally when committing their murders. Over 10% of serial killers use their own home (Hickey, 2002). Most victims however, are killed by a local serial killer. The victims of these serial killers can be categorized into three different targets. First, is the stranger. Next, which is the most targeted is the acquaintances, and last but not least is the family members.

The occupation of a male serial killer is very diverse. Jobs such as a plumber to a physician are common. Many known serial killers were in jobs you would never think of them being in given their nasty habits. A good example of this is Ted Bundy who was thought to have been a law student. Another was Bianchi who was a security officer and an ambulance driver as well. He over a seven year period held over 10 jobs (Egger, 1998). It is examples like these that show the assortment of backgrounds that these men share. It does not seem to be a factor as far as education goes. Some of these men never made it through high school whereas some did, yet they did not further their education past high school and a few did. In addition to this many also had a prior criminal history. Results were astonishing as the combination of offenses such as prison, mental hospital, property offenses, sex crimes, crimes on children, drugs, fire starting, homicide, and assault was 68% (Hickey, 2002).

Next, what we will talk about is the importance of the motives and methods of a serial killer, which a lot of researches see as the most important. Eric Hickey’s study illustrated that 41% of serial killers uses some fire arms. 42% of serial killers in his study used a combination of methods. Such methods that were used include 37% strangulation and 34 % stabbing. 26% used some bludgeoning, and 19% used firearms only. It went on to say that 13 % stabbed only. The last 2% used other means as their way of killing (Hickey, 2002).

Serial Killer Most Frequent Method

􀂾 Albert DeSalvo Strangulation

􀂾 Ed Kemper Shooting

􀂾 Carlton Gary Strangulation

􀂾 Robert Long Combination

􀂾 Kenneth Bianchi Strangulation

(Hickey, 2002; Egger, 1998).

Female Serial Killers

Many do not think of a female as being a serial killer, but contrary to that belief they do exist. Females are more often than not dismissed as being serial killers, because of the stereotype under which they fall. Researchers provide evidence to prove that they indeed are capable of committing serial murder. When fitting women to this profile it is hard because you think of your mom who is loving and nurturing. The last think anyone wants is to think that their mother could be such a thing as a serial killer. The public just doesn’t think of their mothers and sisters as having the capability of murder (Holmes, 1998). Unfortunately statistics show that 10 to 15 percent of American serial killers have been women (Jenkins, 1994). The FBI called Aileen Wuornos the first female serial killer after killing seven men by shooting them in the torso in 1989 (Egger, 1998). Females can be as cruel and uncompassionate as male serial killers (Abbot et al. 2001). Like the male serial killer there is documentation of female serial killers going as far back as the 1800’s. From 1826 to 1995 there have been a total of 59 cases of female serial killings. The number of victims killed within this time frame is over 834 (Hickey, 2002). Most of female serial killers seem to lead a normal average life. According to a study by Hickey, 32% of female serial killers have been homemakers, 18% were nurse or had been a nurse, and 15 % had a prior criminal record. Also like men the average were whit and around there early 30’s. As far as female serial Killers victims it seems that according to research they fall into the same three categories as men. In most of the other aspects women are pretty close to the same in their serial killings. However motives seem to be somewhat different of that of male serial killers. These are usually based on emotions, such as being physically abused, sexually abused.

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The many aspect of a serial killer that were discussed in this paper show both the sides of a male and a female serial killer and the many profiling behaviors of each. Our reviewed studies have analyzed the relationship of all these factors using various techniques. It is possible that many serial murderers are apprehended before they kill three or more victims required to qualify as such. Similarly, there are some who are detained for mental institutions and not directly answer for their crimes. Others continue to kill many more people to over the years without being arrested.


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