Serial killers are not common, but they are fascinating because of the need to understand the phenomenon.
There is no one definition of a serial killer, but there are some defining characteristics that set them apart from other murderers.
Serial killers present serious issues for law enforcement, due to the tendency for serial killers to blend in easily and appear "normal."
There is no one exact definition of a serial killer, from a legal, historical, psychological, or sociological viewpoint.
"In the past thirty years, multiple definitions of serial murder have been used by law enforcement, clinicians, academia, and researchers," (Blackwelder, 2010).
"There has yet to be a universally accepted definition for serial murder," Nelson (2004)
Definitions have differed over time, and differ according to context and culture (Nelson, 2004).
B. Definitions of serial killer differ on the grounds of:
Minimum number of murders: in some cases is 2, in others 3, and yet others the minimum number is 4. These discrepancies that can make a difference in crime statistics and how to approach theories of criminology and psychology. Right now the FBI sets the minimum number of kills to 2 but that is not always the case; Nelson (2004) notes that many definitions require 3 or more kills.
2. Types of motive/motivation classification. Sometimes they are defined as sexually deviant: as in the "offender's behavior and the physical evidence observed at the scene will reflect sadistic, sexual overtones," (cited by Nelson, 2004). However, "all serial murderers are not sexually based. There are many other motivations for serial murders including anger, thrill, financial gain, and attention seeking," (Blackwelder).
3. Temporal and geographic characteristics of the crimes. Blackwelder (2010) claims, "Most serial killers have a very defined geographic area of operation. They conduct their killings within comfort zones that are often defined by an anchor point." However, some serial killers might move around due to their lifestyle choice.
4. Psychological characteristics of the killer, including predilection for sexual fetish. However, some experts believe that the psychological characteristics of the killer are not important at all; that what is important is the pattern or behavior. The term serial killer is "meant to describe the type of case as opposed to describing the type…… [Read More]
A lot of the serial killers recognize that killing these people are wrong, this is true because when they are finished with their crime, they find some kind of way to dispose of the body.
In the end, it is a scary fact is that the United Sates is the most leading serial killing country in the entire world. It appears that no other country can even match the U.S. It is obvious that new serial killers or cases seem to be popping up every year which can cause quite a bit of a panic from people. It is also a slightly scary thing that there are more serial killers running around that there are police that would actually admit it. . As Pat Brown makes the point earlier in the essay, serial killers actually believe that they cannot get caught. There is an arrogant side to all of them. Most of them like to show up to the crime scene and even at times like Jack the Ripper, like to toy with the police. It can be concluded that these killers want to be in control of the game and some of them actually want to be caught. To a serial killer this is all like a sport much like playing a game of hockey or tennis.
Works… [Read More]
Serial Killer Social Construction Theories
A serial killer can be defined as a person who kills more than four victims in a moderately short period of time usually 72 hours (Larson, 2011). Serial killings usually take place in different locations and have no connection with the preceding assassination. For a serial killer, substantial gain is not the drive for killing his victim. Instead, it is his craving of power and strength over the 'prey' that motivates him to take an innocent life (Giannangelo, 1996).
There are a number of theories that have been propounded in order to understand the origins, foundations and causes of the social construction of a serial killer. The first theory that needs to be discussed is the Social Process Theory. The childhood experiences of a serial murderer contribute significantly in his making into an atrocious 'animal'. The personality of a serial murderer is seriously affected by the early experiences of childhood. These experiences have a permanent, long-lasting impression on the individuality and behavior of a person. Children who tolerate and observe family violence are expected to reveal the same characteristics and behavior when they grow up. It is not necessary to be the victim of violence to become such a personality in the future. The viewing of family violence during childhood can also be a reason to develop a mentally-ill personality. Continuous denunciation in childhood by parents can be said as another reason why the future activities of a child reveal immoral and illicit mental condition (Larson, 2011). This theory can be justified by glancing over the life of Albert DeSalvo, a serial murderer of 13 women. He had an adverse childhood in which he watched his mother cruelly beaten by his father. He eye witnessed murders in his vicinity. Not only this, he was bought as a slave. The story of another serial killer named Henry Lee Lucas further justifies the Social Process Theory. This man had an ill-fated childhood in which he was raised as a girl. He experienced ruthless physical abuse as a routine. Such childhood experiences destroy the self-esteem and self-respect of a child and catalyze the development of…… [Read More]
Serial killers have struck fear in the hearts of people, yet the public remains fascinated and intrigued by the crimes perpetrated by these individuals. There are several theories and factors that have been attributed to serial killers in an attempt to explain their behaviors. Furthermore, by identifying the behaviors that are exhibited by serial killers, law enforcement professionals are able to gather information about these serial killers that will assist in the apprehension of the criminal.
In the majority of serial homicides, a motivating factor, in addition to domination and manipulation of a victim, is the sexual gratification and desire that is experienced by the serial killer. Serial killers murder individuals because they believe, and feel, that the act will fulfill them and they will continue to murder people as long as they can (Douglas 191). The definition of serial killer may be distinguished from that of a spree killer and/or mass murderer through variety of factors. Whereas a spree killer will murder a number of victims at different locales over a short period of time and a mass murderer will play an endgame strategy in which he or she does not expect to survive, a serial killer will hunt humans primarily for the sexual thrill that they derive from the act (14). It is not often that law enforcement officials and behavioral scientists are able to get a first-hand glimpse into the world of a serial killer at the time that the attacks are taking place (Arrigo 98). One of the factors that may prevent law enforcement officials and behavioral scientists from observing serial murders at the time they occur is the cooling off period often exhibited by the criminals perpetrating the crime. Because a serial killer commits murders on at least three separate and distinct occasions, the cooling…… [Read More]
This is in direct contrast to male serial killers, who more often select random, unknown individuals as their victims (Mouzos & West, 2007). In fact, it is estimated that around 70% of female serial killers select family members or someone who is dependent on them as a victim. An example of this is both filicide and infanticide, which are crimes most commonly committed by women (Aki, 2003, cited in Mouzos & West, 2007). In addition to this, cases of health care professionals murdering their patients are women in around half of all cases, both in the U.S. And other countries (Yorker et al., 2006). The majority of these cases have occurred where the female in question was a nurse, murdering either children or elderly victims in their care. The explanation of this pattern is not clear, given that there is little in terms of extrinsic gains achieved. There is also little in terms of qualitative evidence available with which to interpret these patterns.
It would appear that while female serial killers are very rare, they do differ significantly from their male counterparts. In response to this, classifications have had to be developed to take account of these differences. Most notably, there appear to be significant differences in motivation behind the killings, and also in the victims and methods selected. Despite this, there is a lack of information which allows for thorough analysis of patterns in these crimes. Silvio et al. (2006) suggest that there are a number of problems which hinder theoretical formation around female serial killers. This includes problems with the qualitative data which is available, predominantly brought about by a lack of access to these serial killers from which interviews can be conducted. Silvio et al. also suggest that there are reliability issues with much of the data available,…… [Read More]
This is often seen as the most important aspect to focus on. However, it has also been realized that societal and cultural aspects can also influence the development of the serial killer.
Psychological causes that are related to the psyche of the serial killer include the aforementioned Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). Genetic predisposition and makeup are also given as a formative developmental cause of this crime. However, psychological and genetic aspects are often inadequate to explain the development of the serial killer. While a convicted killer like Ted Bundy was subject to forms of psychological abuse as a child, yet one of the most notorious serial killers, Jeffery Dahmer, was "..., born to two parents who loved and wanted him. His child hood was a happy one. He loved animals, and did not have a bit of trouble. " However, "When he reached the sixth grade, there was a downfall, when he began to fear others. "(Creekmore)
This would suggest that there are other factors at play in the development of the killer, such as social influences and experiences. For example, one of the main features of this type of criminal is that the serial killer is an individual who does not conform to the common social norms and values in society. This in turn can be related to psychological aspects such as lack of restraint and internal control. Researchers such as Egger state that in most cases the serial killer is not mentally ill in any accepted medical sense but rather that they are sick in a different sense.
Though their crimes may be sickening, they are not sick in either a medical or a legal sense. Instead, the serial killer is typically a sociopathic personality who lacks internal control -- guilt or conscience -- to guide his own behavior, but has an excessive need to control and dominate others. He definitely knows right from wrong, definitely realizes he has committed a sinful act, but simply doesn't care about his human prey.
Egger et al. 5)
There has therefore been…… [Read More]
Serial Killers - Psychopathic Behavior
One of the most common challenges impacting society, is determining when a person is showing psychopathic behavior. In the world of healthcare, these signs can underscore someone who is a serial killer that will strike out at the most vulnerable patients. This is the case with Kristen Gilbert. She was a respected nurse, who was known for her professionalism. However, between 1995 and 1996 over 40 people died on her watch. This raised concerns about her involvement in these incidents. (Farragher, 2000)
After a lengthy investigation, she was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. It uncovered that Kristen was a very cold and calculating person. This led to her targeting veterans who trusted her and were unable to stand up for themselves. To fully understand the way the investigation evolved requires carefully examining the procedures, the role of the community, the levels of communication between stakeholders, the functions of different programs and the impact on the community / law enforcement. Together, these different elements will highlight the way the investigation was conducted and how various segments worked with one another to arrest her. (Farragher, 2000)
Describe the investigation. How did the investigators proceed? Was there any interaction between the killer and the police? How did investigators finally catch the killer?
The investigation involved law enforcement working with the administration, community, coworkers and friends. It started by examining the number of cases and how the cause of death occurred. At the same time, law enforcement looked at her criminal history and the number of complaints they received. This is showing how she has a violent side that is targeted at white males. These insights can be used to establish a motive and opportunity. Once this takes place, is the point surveillance footage will be collected to place her in the room at the time of death. Each incident will…… [Read More]
All of these killers had problem childhoods, often including sexual abuse. Almost all of them had some kind of psychological disorder, and many were declared criminally insane.
All the killers had a compulsion to continue killing. None of them stopped with one or two victims, in fact, the more they killed the more they wanted to kill. In addition, most of the male serial killers became increasingly violent and disturbed as they continued to kill. Authors Fox and Levin state, "It is commonplace for serial killers to increase the level of brutality as they get bored with less vicious behavior and as they grow more comfortable with murder. It is also not unusual for them to branch out to more respectable victims as they become convinced that they are smarter than the police and will never be apprehended" (Fox, and Levin 76). Most of the killers admitted to what they had done and knew how many people they had killed. Some almost seemed to take pride in what they had done. The only killer never to admit what he did is Randy Kraft.
Many of the killers firmly believed their victims "deserved" to die, somehow. Wuornos believed she had been "raped" and killed in self-defense, even though she worked as a prostitute. For some reason, Toppan and Terrell both felt their elderly charges would be better off dead, and Shawcross believed he was doing society a favor by murdering prostitutes. Kraft never admitted his murders, and so, he never took responsibility for the killings or said why he killed. They all tended to dehumanize their victims as well, and seeing them as deserving to die helped in this dehumanization process.
Most of the killers seemed like fairly normal middle class people. They held down jobs and some were homeowners. The women were dysfunctional throughout their lives, although…… [Read More]
Serial and Mass Murders: Forensic Psychiatry at Its Best
Forensic Psychiatry: Mass Murderers and Serial Killers
The status of Forensic Psychiatry has suffered ignominy regarding its ethical standpoint and pragmatic effectiveness for far too long (Arboleda-Florez, 2006). That it has at all been able to gain significance as a super specialty has been mainly due to the diligent and sustained efforts of a few scattered handfuls of them who chose to brave the convicts and study prison inmates. Today, the contributions of such forensic super specialists in the legal proceedings are proving to have a major influence in lawsuits involving mass murders as well as serial murders.
The journey of Forensic Psychiatric has greatly benefitted in medico-legal adjudications in recent times. From being able to cast an offender solely as a criminal to a mentally abnormal, as well as, that requires a different treatment than being simply banished from social life is an issue that has been highlighted and put across effectively (Arboleda-Florez, 2006). There have been four milestones that provided forensic science the status it has gained as of date. The first and foremost is the understanding by legal community that a mentally sick state of an offender is a possible cause of crime. The second and of far reaching consequence is that of declaring an individual legally insane, conclusively. These landmarks led to the formulation of treating the offender under medical supervision in a very different light as opposed to the other prison inmates. The fourth and most important development involved the societal outlook to such cases and acceptance of the terrifying illness (Arboleda-Florez, 2006).
Forensic Psychiatric practitioners have greatly benefitted as a result of recognition of the co-relation amid mental state and criminal impetus. On different legal planes and levels, the points of contention revolve around the ability to stand prosecution, legal insanity sanctions and the third, dangerous impulses. The ability of accused to fully comprehend the legal proceedings…… [Read More]
serial killers and feminism. The writer uses a book and a film to explore what the feminist film contributes to the understanding by society of serial killers. There were two sources used to complete this paper.
Very few things strike fear in the hearts of Americans the way that serial killers do. Serial killers place terror in the hearts of many because of their very unpredictability. They strike without warning and there doesn't seem to be a logical reason for the pattern that they choose initially. Once the pattern begins to emerge there is often a reason or pattern for the choices the killer makes in victims, but initially it seems like nothing more than a crap shoot and people are afraid of their strikes. For many years people have studied the patterns and lives of serial killers in the effort to establish how they are created. Other studies are conducted to discuss the pattern of the victims of the serial killers. Since the 1960's the women's movement has been in full force. The world has watched a metamorphic from housewife and helpmate to equality in the world between the genders. There have been several works published that have examined the feminist role, and reaction to serial killers.
In Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Carol J. Clover three are several examinations that produce some understanding about the feminist film theory and how that theory has contributed to the world's understanding of serial killers.
Clover writes the book as an examination of three different types of horror films. She discusses slasher films, occult films and satanic possession films. In addition she writes about rape/revenge films (Clover, 1992). Clover presents the idea that male spectators of the films often identify with the female victim heroes. When one watches a killer film one sees at least one victim become a hero. She fights with everything she has, she refuses to give up and she brings the killer to justice with her very anger and unending fight to survive (Clover, 1992).
Clover reminds the…… [Read More]
Female Serial Killers
Investigate criminal profiling used by the F.B.I. Of female serial killers and provide law enforcement with information on identifying them.
While it is a fact that a male serial killer would commit murders based on sex, in other words, sex related crimes, a female serial killer is a much more complicated and complex character, whose motivations in committing the crime of murder is manifold and range over a wide variety of reasons. In most cases, the female serial killer often goes unnoticed and goes on committing her crimes, undetected, over a great number of years. She is quiet, methodical, and is able to plan and execute with precision, so successful at remaining hidden that, in all the years of American history, there has only been a single female serial killer who was identified as a serial killer. In general, a female serial killer rarely, if ever, commits murder over some sexual motive, and her motives are generally subtler, and by their very nature, allow the killer to be hidden from the eyes and the arm of the law for many years. The female serial killer's victims are generally children or the elderly, since it is these people who can be overpowered easily by a single woman. (Kelleher; Kelleher, Female Serial Killers)
Within the age bracket of 14 to 55 years a female serial killer made her first killing. The archetypal female serial killer stated taking lives past the age of 25. The persons behind the killing those who were exclusively part of a team usually started with their deadly profession when they were less than the age of 25. The typical age of the serial killers was significantly different subject to her intention and procedure. Those women who were engaged as contract killers -Black Widow and Profit and Crime were in the killing for an amazingly extended period of time before they were held for killing that has been committed for certain other reason. The two types of Black Widow and Profit and Crime can be strongly linked. On the other end of the spectrum, a killer's professional long life was the categorization of sexual assertion. These executors of crime develop a propensity of killing over a small interval of time, usually took the life of their victims in a messy, and improperly thought manner. While women joined…… [Read More]
Female Serial Killers
The notion of female serial killers often appears as the minority of cases in the history of serial murder and serial killers. It's as if there is a part of society that refuses to believe that women are just as capable of mass murder as some of the more horrific murderers of our time. Still, while we may not, off the top of our head, be able to list as many female serial killers as we can male ones, it is but a myth that female serial killers are far and few between.
History is riddled with stories of female temptresses and murderers, like the legendary Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who murdered women for fun, then bathed in their blood to retain her beauty. There is also the story of the Black Widows of Liverpool; a group of women in 1884 who were deemed by the Home Office as "certain [to have] committed several other similar murders and there is reason to believe that crime of this kind is far from rare" (Brabin, pg1).
Nevertheless, society personifies the serial killer as being a male, save, perhaps for one or two notorious female serial killers that are still relatively new compared to Bathory and the Black Widow gang. Take for example, Aileen Wuornos who preyed on truck drivers at truck stops in Florida, or even more recently, Karla Homolka, one half of the deadly 'Ken and Barbie' murderers. "Women have been murdering serially for as long as men, though their victims are usually family members or acquaintances, and they most often choose poison over other means of disposal"(MacLeod, Chapter 1).
For society to equate murder, let alone serial killing to a woman, is probably the hardest thing to do. These days, media coverage almost 'desensitises' us against violent acts, and words like 'homicide' and 'multiple victims' seem to be an everyday occurance in our vocabulary. Nevertheless, women are still perceived as the gentler; more nurturing of the sexes, which may account for the difficulty we have in not only comprehending female serial killers but also recognizing them.
For example, many of us are…… [Read More]
Doss met third husband Arlie Lanning through the lonely hearts column. Lanning died of apparent heart failure, but the house, which Lanning had left to his sister, burned down, leaving the insurance proceeds for Doss. Before Doss left town, Lanning's mother died in her seat. Doss had gone to her sister Dovie's house, and, shortly after Doss' arrival, Dovie died in her sleep. Doss married fourth husband Richard Morton, poisoned her mother, and then killed Morton. Doss married Samuel Doss, and killed him four months after their marriage. Doss had taken out two life insurance policies on her husband. The doctor ordered an autopsy because of the life insurance policies, and the cause of death was determined to be poison.
When Nannie was arrested, she maintained an eerily cheerful demeanor for the public. She giggled and laughed, not showing remorse for her actions, or even seeming to clearly comprehend what she had done. She confessed to killing her husbands, her mother, her sister, her grandson, and her mother-in-law. She was charged with the murder of Samuel Doss, pleaded guilty to the crime, and received a life sentence. She was never prosecuted for the other murders. Nannie died in prison.
Nannie's story demonstrates several factors that link her to a serial killer. First, unlike Belle, Nannie's motives were not always financial; she did not always profit from her murders. Furthermore, she had a difficult childhood, raised by a stepfather who beat her and her mother. She was most likely the product of an unplanned pregnancy, since her mother was a single mother. Nannie reported receiving a head injury when she was a child, and she blamed it for her violent behavior. Furthermore, Nannie was known to have mood swings, which could have been indicative of a biochemical imbalance. Her father prohibited her from dating,…… [Read More]
There is a lot that we do not know about serial killers. There is a lot that we will never know, that no study, psychological evaluation or case study would ever be able to tell people. Criminal and behavior profiling is a start, but there will always be limitations and gaps in any research involving someone's mind, especially a mind as seemingly complex in nature as that of a serial killer. A lack of guilt, a lack of feeling and sensitivity and the ability to derive joy from the pain and suffering of another is the type of thing that psychologists will probably never be able to fully understand.
The next, and most critical step in the field of serial killer profiling may be a behavioral analysis. There are many different types of serial killers out there and only a further evaluation into the brains of different types of killers can even begin to shed a bit of light onto the inner wiring of such dangerous, unpredictable people. While it may be difficult to face the fact that not all killers are psychologically predisposed to being killers, it is the truth in many instances. Only further review and continued research can help drill down to the root and cause as to why those who kill others for sport do the things they do.
Works… [Read More]
Serial Killers have long fascinated the general public, not only because their crimes are so heinous, but also because they embody the extremes to which psychological disorders can take a person. In the name of psychological insight, the lives of serial killers are dissected down to the most minute detail in the hopes of understanding what factors contribute to making a 'monster'. The Crime Classification Manual defines serial murder as "three or more separate events in three or more separate locations with an emotional cooling off period in between the homicides." (Douglas et al., 1992). What motivates the serial killer is an area of much research. Whether we are any further ahead in our understanding of the psychotic personality is debatable, however. The question of environment vs. genetics is a matter of contention in the study of serial killers, as is the question of power vs. pleasure motive. By looking at such serial killers as John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz and Jeffrey Dahmer, we hope to gain a clearer understanding of the many influences in developing the antisocial, or psychotic personality. "Antisocial personalities feel little and fear little, and in extreme cases, the results can be horrifyingly tragic." (Myers, 2001,p562).
One of the main considerations that goes into the study of antisocial (or psychotic) personalities, is the question of causality. Is someone born to be a serial killer, or does the extreme (often abusive) environment of childhood shape them into what they will later become? Like most nature vs. nurture dichotomies, the answer appears to lie somewhere in between. While it is true that most serial killers suffered through an abusive childhood, there is evidence of a biological influence as well. Studies done with adopted siblings and twins show a genetic component in the prevalence of criminal behavior. (Myers, 2001). Furthermore, brain patterns differ between violent offenders and the normal brain, indicating some contribution of biology to the violent crimes carried out by serial killers.
Genetic influences help wire the brain. Adrian Raine compared PET scans of 41 murderers' brains with those from people of similar age and sex. Raine found reduced activity in the murderers' frontal lobe,…… [Read More]
Currently the DSM-IV refers to both these as antisocial personality disorder with the following criteria:
A. Pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15 as indicated by at least three of the following: 1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior. 2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure. 3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead. 4. Irritability and aggressiveness. 5. Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others. 6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain work behavior or honor financial obligations. 7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by indifference to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another
B. Individual is at least 18 years of age
C. The occurrence of the behavior is not exclusively during the course of a schizophrenic or manic episode
D. Evidence of conduct disorder onset before age 15 (Giannangelo 8)
There is also a similarity in the childhoods of serial killers. Many demonstrate early aggression toward animals and people. The literature is full of animal torture and killing in this stage, as well as forced sexual activity and incident of arson. These are all symptomatic of conduct disorder. Lack of remorse is also a prevalent element of this cadre and while few serial killers do admit some empathy for their victims, it is not enough to prevent them from killing again, hence also the similarity with addiction (Jenkins).
Causal factors for an antisocial personality include a possible biological predisposition (Andreasen, 1984, p. 252), childhood trauma (shared by the vast majority of serial killers), possible neurological factors in the control of impulsivity regarding serotonin levels in the brain, and heredity. Those diagnosed with antisocial personalities also share deep-seated doubts regarding their own adequacy (Havens, 1992). Most antisocials are men, again reflecting serial killer demographics. (Giannangelo 8)
While rare, this gender bias in serial killers is occasionally bypassed. Often falling into their own separate category, female serial killers are more often than not associated with therapeutic settings in hospitals or nursing homes. These are…… [Read More]
Dennis Rader (the BTK Killer)
Dennis Rader BTK: The Killer
Serial killers can be defined as people who murder at least three people in at least three separate occasions over a span of time mainly to satisfy themselves psychologically. While many of them suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder, they adapt and present a normal front to people around them - a state Hervey Cleckley refers to as 'mask of sanity'. Some of the murders may have some sexual aspect to them. The murders may have been executed in such a way that there was some common characteristic in them. This could be sex, occupation, race, etc. Nonetheless, the victim's and the serial killer's race is seldom the same (Vronsky, 2004).
It is not yet known who exactly coined the term serial killer. Many believe that Robert Ressler, an FBI agent, or Robert D. Keppel may have been the one who coined it. The term came to popular usage due to the infamous criminal activities of David Berkowitzin and Ted Bundy (Vronsky, 2004).
Dennis Rader, alias BTK killer, believed that he had reached an understanding with the Wichita, Kan., police lt. Ken Landwehr, who was then heading the task force that was then making attempts at catching him (Bardsley, Bell & Lohr).
Before Dennis was arrested, he had asked the police whether communications with them made through a floppy disk could be traced to him through any specific computer (Bardsley, Bell & Lohr).
Police's response was through a classified ad in a local newspaper. They told Rader that it would be OK to communicate through a floppy disk (Hansen, 2006).
The following weeks saw BTK send a floppy disk to a local TV station. Police traced the disk to a certain computer at Rader's church and it was discovered that Rader was actually BTK. Testing of DNA samples proved this. He had named himself 'BTK' which was an acronym standing for bind, torture and kill (Hansen, 2006).
The days that followed saw BTK put in custody. He had been the serial killer that had been terrorizing Wichita area from the 1970s. He had reportedly murdered ten people and vanished in…… [Read More]
Early Signs of a Serial Killer
While every serial killer is different, there are certain signs that tend to be common to them. Many of these signs are seen well before adulthood, some even as early as childhood. Some of the major signs include a tendency for aggressive behavior, a tendency to engage in sadist behavior, an obsession with examples of behavior linked to serial killing, and a lack of empathy for others. Each of these four major signs will now be looked at in more detail.
One aspect of behavior that is common to serial killers is a tendency for aggressive behavior.
Aggression is defined as "behavior intended to injure another person" (Seamon & Kenrick 592). This aggression can be physical, for example, in the form of hitting another person. It can also be non-physical, for example, calling someone a hostile name. Aggression often begins as early as childhood. At this stage, it is normally seen via the way that the child responds to problems. For example, a child with aggressive tendencies will often respond to stressful situations by acting in aggressive ways. This can include shouting, yelling, and hitting. This action can be directed at the person's parents, teachers, or at peers. As children get older aggressive behavior continues. In school, some individuals begin to bully other children, some intentionally hurt others by name-calling or by using physical violence against others. Any of these kinds of actions are a possible sign of the person becoming a serial killer. Another possible sign is linked to the idea that there is an opposite to aggressive behavior, which is known as prosocial behavior. Some individuals at the adolescent age will already have an idea of how their behavior is judged as being wrong by others. This can result in them choosing to hide or repress their aggressive tendencies. For this reason, there may be no obvious signs of aggression. However, the lack of prosocial behavior can still be identified. Prosocial behavior refers to behavior that helps develop social relationships. This is considered to be the opposite of aggressive behavior. One author notes that, "aggression and prosocial behavior represent opposite kinds of problem-solving strategies that are learned early in life. If a child learns one mode well he…… [Read More]
Thus, the justice system must clearly distinguish between mental illness and insanity. Psychiatrists and other professionals can aid judge and jury in making the distinction. Reserving the insanity plea for clear instances of psychotic breaks and other reasonable diagnoses would help prosecutors effectively try their cases.
Even if not deemed legally insane, a serial killer is certainly morally and ethnically insane. For all reasonable, non-judicial purposes, a serial killer is as insane as a human being can be. If someone who kills indiscriminately, systematically, and often with pleasure is not insane then who is? The lack of compassion for other human beings and the lack of emotion that characterizes the sociopath is one of the most chilling phenomenon of criminology. In the courtroom, a serial killer will not meet the definition of insanity even if labeled psychopathic. Therefore the definition of insanity depends on the context.… [Read More]