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A Study on Serial Killers
Or the detailed guide on the oddly intriguing topic of Serial Killers. This guide is not for the faint-hearted.
At the most basic level, a serial killer is an individual who has killed three or more people over a period of more than a month, with down time between the murders.
The FBI defines the term serial killing as “a series of two or more murders, committed as separate events, usually but not always by one offender acting alone.” Or, including similar characteristics, a minimum of two murders. They also state that a sexual element might be involved in the killings.
Most often, serial killings are based on psychological gratification. Motives might include: anger, thrill, financial gain, and attention seeking.
Serial killers are generally put into four categories: visionary, mission-oriented, hedonistic, or power/control. However, there may be overlaps.
Visionary serial killers suffer from psychotic breaks from reality, believing themselves to be another person or are compelled to kill by a higher power (the Devil or God). They are separated into “Demon mandated” or “God mandated.”
Mission-oriented serial killers justify their acts as “ridding the world” of a certain type of undesirable person. They see themselves as trying to right society, and thus try to cure it.
Hedonistic serial killers seek thrills and pleasures from the act of killing. They see their victims as expendable in order to find the release they need. Three subtypes include: lust, thrill, and comfort. Sex is a primary motive of lust killers, and does not matter whether the victims are alive or dead. They also mutilate and torture their victims at a close distance, using weapons such as knives. Thrill killers want to induce pain or terror in the victims, which then provide the stimulation and excitement for them. They seek the adrenaline rush provided by hurting victims. They are often professionals, able to refrain from killing for long periods of time in order to plot and refine their methods. They will try to set up the “perfect crime”. Comfort refers to the material gain that the serial killers get. Usually, the victims are relatives or close friends. Arsenic is often used. Female serial killers are most often comfort killers, but not all comfort killers are female. Professional killers (assassins/hitmen) may also be considered as comfort serial killers.
The power/control type of serial killers will want to gain control and domination over their victims. This might be due to an abused childhood, causing thoughts of inadequacy later on in adulthood. They also tend to sexually abuse their victims, but the act of rape is not motivated by lust, rather it is used as a mode of domination.
Childhood: Physical and sexual abuse, victimization such as neglect, prevalence of depression, substance abuse, family problems, behavioural disorders
Genetics: Nervous system feel less fear and anxiety than normal people, low arousal levels causes impulsiveness and thrill-seeking, reluctance to change behaviour
Environmental: Loss of parent, deprivation of love, nurturing parents are detached or absent, inconsistent discipline
MYTH: All serial killers are dysfunctional.
They reason that they are hard to find is because they can pretend. They often have jobs, nice families, married, and they might even have kids.
MYTH: Not all serial killers are white males.
The racial distribution of serial killers are the same as the racial distribution of the world.
MYTH: All serial killers travel and operate interstate in the US
That’s not true at all! Most serial killers set up a comfort area, which is a very distinct and definite geographic zone. Those who do travel around are: homeless, employed in interstate travel (truck drivers or military), itinerant (move from place to place).
MYTH: Serial killers can’t stop.
Sometimes an event occurs that will change the serial killer’s life. Triggers include: family activities and sexual diversions.
MYTH: All serial killers are genii.
Only in fiction! Many are borderline to above average intelligence. Also, very few serial killers are actually found legally insane.
On Writing A Serial Killer
1) Create a profile, like any other type of character figure out: age, gender, and name.
2) Determine what kind of killer they are, or what sort of combination. Stick to this. If they have a psychological disorder as well, research before starting.
3) Write about their past. Why did it motivate and trigger them to be this type of killer?
4) The profiles of their victims. Where do they pick out victims? Do they think before acting? Or, is it more thrill seeking and finding release? Does the killer only pick out a certain type of victims? If so, why?
5) How do they kill? Think about the methods and duration. How they dispose of the body is something to think about as well.
6) What does your killer do when he’s not thinking about killing someone? This is a very important question, because it’s not a 24 hour thought process. What do they do in their downtime? What occupation do they have? Do they have a family? How do they hide it from friends?
7) Write the other side, the view point of the law. Police officers, what do they think? Are they closing in on the killer, or do they have no idea? Remember that your killer might slip, or they might get bored and give themselves up.
8) How does the public react? What does the media say about the killer? Do their friends suspect, or are they completely oblivious?
Infamous Serial Killers
Ed Gein (the inspiration of Psycho)
I think that’s about it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.