A serial killer is typically a person who murders three or more people, usually in service of abnormal psychological gratification, with the murders taking place over more than a month and including a significant period of time between them. — Wikipedia
The Brutal Fascination
There seems to be a fascination with serial killers. Even I am intrigued by them. So, what is it about them that piques people interest in them? Is it their crimes, the victims? The types of murders they committed.
The brutality of it all? For me, it’s trying to understand how another human being can be so devoid of emotions that they see other humans as prey. Chilling to think of, but to them, we are a means to their dark desires.
Serial killers are different in how they murder and the victims they choose. There has been a long-held myth that most serial killers are white, but they run the gamete of other racial groups in the United States.
Only twenty percent of most multiple murders fit the profile of a 20-something, white male, according to the Serial Killer Information Center, a project at Radford University that studied more than 4,700 mass murderers.
Most killers blend well into the population, ordinary folks doing ghastly deeds. They could be your neighbor, teacher, police, fireman, any part of society. These killers are not social misfits but are married, employed, and interact with their community, during and after their violent crime sprees.
H.H. Holmes: Known as America’s first serial killer, he murdered his victims in a hotel during the World’s Fair, anywhere between twenty-seven to two hundred victims to his name.
However, he was a respected doctor of his time. His patients had no idea that H.H. Holmes had a torture basement.
Age: 35 (1861-1896.)
Dennis Nilsen: Served proudly in the Royal British Army for over a decade. He ate and killed fifteen men; the only reason they found him was that the drain in his house clogged up from human flesh.
Dean Corll: Served in the Air Force and was a local businessman who handed out candy to the local neighborhood kids. No one suspected that he had been killing off young men from his community.
He killed and raped over thirty boys, and the number could be higher, we can’t know.
Age: 34 (1939-1973.)
Multiple murder is not limited to men. There are female serial killers. Motivations behind their killings, their motivities and victims vary just the same as their male serial killers.
Even they harder to recognize than their male counterparts, these females are no less barbaric, cruel, and violent. Women are most likely to use, poison, suffocation, shooting, stabbing, or drowning to slaughter their victims. Their reasons for killing can vary too, but most do it for power
A 2015 study published in The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology found that the most common motive for female serial killers was for financial gain and almost 40% of them had experienced some mental illness.
Another study by Peter Vronsky in Female Serial Killers, 2007, maintains that female serial killers today often kill for the same reason males do as a means of expressing rage and control.
He suggests that sometimes the theft of the victims’ property by the female “black widow” type serial killer appears to be for material gain, but really is akin to a male serial killer’s collecting of totems, souvenirs, from the victim as a way of exerting continued control over the victim and reliving it.
Many of their victims are spouses, children, and/or other family members.
Juana Barraza: Was a Mexican professional wrestler who was later known as La Mataviejitas, The Old Lady Killer, for the death of eleven elderly women, and most likely more.
Today, she is serving a 759-year sentence in a Mexican prison.
Elizabeth Báthory: Was a Hungarian Countess who went down as one of the most ruthless killers in European history. Between 1585 and 1610, Báthory is believed to have tortured and killed nearly 650 girls–mostly teenage peasants.
She was a cannibal and a sadistic killer. The Blood Countess—was forced to remain in her castle, in solitary confinement, for the rest of her life.
Nannie Doss: Recognized as a black widow in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after murdering five husbands. She also killed her mother-in-law, sisters, mother, and two of her children.
She used arsenic to kill her victims.
She was sentenced to life and died in prison for leukemia.
Even though male and female serial killers differ in their styles of killing, they have more in common than not.
Motives for both genders fall under four categories: visionary, mission-oriented, hedonistic, and power or control; many of these can overlap.
Visionary suffers from psychotic breaks with reality, sometimes believing they are another person or are compelled to murder by entities such as the Devil or God.
Mission-oriented killers typically justify their acts as “ridding the world” of certain types of people perceived as undesirable, such as the homeless, ex-cons, homosexuals, drug users, prostitutes, or people of different ethnicity or religion; many are not psychotic though.
Hedonistic this type of serial killer seeks thrills and derives pleasure from killing, seeing people as expendable means to this goal. Forensic psychologists have identified three subtypes of the hedonistic killer: “lust,” “thrill,” and “comfort.”
Power/control, the main objective for this type of serial killer is to gain and exert power over their victim. Such killers are sometimes abused as children, leaving them with feelings of powerlessness and inadequacy
Ted Bundy: is an example of a power/control-oriented serial killer. He traveled around the United States seeking women to control.
Documented serial killers span all types of racial groups; they range in intelligence and are of both genders. It’s a scary thought that we can’t tell them apart from the overall general population. The boogeyman exists but not like how we think.