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Definitions Serial killer: A person who kills three or more people in three or more separate events over a period of time including an "emotional cooling-

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Presentation on theme: "Definitions Serial killer: A person who kills three or more people in three or more separate events over a period of time including an "emotional cooling-"— Presentation transcript:

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2 Definitions Serial killer: A person who kills three or more people in three or more separate events over a period of time including an "emotional cooling- off" period in between the homicides (FBI definition) Mass Murder : The USA Bureau of Justice Statistics defines a mass murder as "[involving] the murder of four or more victims at one location, within one event

3 The Serial Murderer: A General Profile One of the most disturbing features of the phenomenon of serial killing is that the murderers themselves seem rather ordinary -- at least on the surface. Often of average height, weight and appearance. They can seem calm and reasonable, polite and friendly Most are of good intelligence, though few are educated beyond high school or vocational school Usually middle- to lower-middle class

4 The Serial Murderer: A General Profile The great majority of serial killers are Caucasian and male. A small fraction have been women. About ten percent of serial murderers have been African American, although their numbers seem to be growing. Between two to three percent have been Latino, Asian, or Native American.

5 The Serial Murderer: A General Profile The thinking of these offenders is dominated by violent, sexualized fantasies of revenge and control, which often start in childhood. Emotionally, they are characterized by deep-seated frustration, fear, hostility, anger, lack of self-esteem, and depression. Many are loners and self-preoccupied.

6 John Wayne Gacy

7 Defining Serial Murder Serial murders are generally viewed by law enforcement to be sexual homicides Some argue that serial murderers should include any offenders, male or female, who kill repeatedly over time

8 Defining Serial Murder: The Number of Serial Killers The FBI estimates the number of offenders in any given year to be thirty- five, though it may be as high as or even more The number of identified serial killers has surged since the late-1960s

9 The Number of Serial Killers Difficult to determine due in part to:  Serial murderers are often active for a period of a year or more.  The pattern linking individual homicides may not be apparent at first to law enforcement.  The killings may occur in several different legal jurisdictions, which may hamper efforts at detection

10 Categorizing Serial Murders and Murderers The FBI identifies serial killers as:  “Organized" (those who carefully plan and execute their murders) or  “Disorganized" (those who kill spontaneously).

11 Categorizing Serial Murders and Murderers Other classifications are based on psychology, motive, or behavior. One typology divides serial killers into four "types":  Visionary - responding to voices or visions  Mission-oriented - those who see themselves as ridding society of certain groups, such as prostitutes or the elderly  Hedonistic - those who derive some form of pleasure (particularly sexual) from killing  Power or control-oriented - whose primary source of pleasure is not sexual, but the ability to control and exert power over a helpless victim

12 Categorizing the Killers: The Organized Killer  The hardest to catch.  Socially adept  Average in appearance, height, and weight  Dresses neatly  Prefers to use verbal means -- rather than force -- to capture his victims and very often succeeds.

13 Categorizing the Killers: The Organized Killer  Methodically planned murders  A sexual sadist whose main goal is to gain control over his victim through rape, other sexual assaults, and eventually murder.  Control over the victim is seen in the use of restraints, including rope, chains, tape, belts, handcuffs, chemicals, gags, and blindfolds.  Fantasy and ritual predominate in the organized offender.

14 Categorizing the Killers: The Organized Killer  Obsessive, compulsive traits surface in the commission of the crime.  The killer carefully avoids leaving evidence behind and often moves the body from the death scene.  During the commission of his crimes, he reports being calm and relaxed.

15 Categorizing the Killers: The Organized Killer  Comes from a relatively stable, lower- income family and is often the firstborn son  Inconsistent parental supervision.  Usually better-than-average intelligence, sexually active, and lives with a partner.  Follows the investigation of his crimes in the media.

16 Ted Bundy

17 Categorizing the Killers: The Disorganized Killer Typically, the disorganized offender: Is preoccupied with recurring obsessive thoughts Seems confused and distressed at the time of the crime. Fearful of people and has developed a highly-defined delusional system. Acts impulsively under stress. Is of below average intelligence and has a poor history of work. Frequently lives alone or with a parental figure and lives in close proximity to the site of his murders. Is socially inadequate and often incompetent sexually. May have pronounced sexual aversions.

18 Categorizing the Killers: The Disorganized Killer The disorganized offender: Commits crimes suddenly Leave the crime scene in great disarray; it has a spontaneous, symbolic, unplanned quality Generally, kills quickly in order to have control, catching the victim completely off guard. Depersonalizes the victim and specific areas of the body are targeted for extreme brutality. Overkill (the infliction of more injury than necessary to kill) and mutilation of the face are common. Generally performs sexual acts after death. These may include mutilation of the genitals and breasts, disembowelment, vampirism, or substitute sex acts such as the insertion of objects into the victim's body cavities.

19 Richard Trenton Chase

20 Categorizing the Killers: Team Killers Over one third of all serial murders are committed by teams Most involve two offenders, and some groups have as many as five One third of all team murderers are legally or blood-related (siblings, husbands and wives, lovers, even parents and their children) Women make up thirty-eight percent of these groups. Eleven percent have been African American

21 Categorizing the Killers: Team Killers Examples: Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono's "Hillside Stranglers" Henry Lee Lucas and Otis Toole Douglas Clark and Carol Bundy Charles Manson and his "Family."

22 Categorizing the Killers: Team Killers Without exception, every group of offenders has one person who maintains control of the other members, whether through coercion, intimidation, or other persuasive techniques. Nearly all of these "leaders" are men. Although women are frequently involved with serial murder teams, they generally are not the decision- makers or main enforcers.

23 Categorizing the Killers: Team Killers At what point does a person agree to murder victims? What enables someone to convince others to murder? It seems unlikely that some male and female offenders would ever have committed these crimes if they had not been exposed to group dynamics and the power of persuasion and manipulation. Some people who led groups of team offenders experienced a sense of power and gratification not only through the deaths of victims but also through getting others to do their bidding.

24 Ian Brady & Myra Hindle

25 Categorizing the Killers: Female Serial Killers Women represent only a small fraction of the total number of serial murderers who have been apprehended Since the 1970s there has been a notable increase in the number of female serial killers

26 Categorizing the Killers: Female Serial Killers Female serial murderers are usually white They are generally older when they start killing and tend to keep active over a longer time. They are as likely to kill within their families as they are to kill strangers. When killing within the family, husbands are their primary victims Twelve percent kill children only

27 Categorizing the Killers: Female Serial Killers The majority of these killers fall into two categories: “Black widows"  Women who kill their husbands, children, or other relatives. Nurses and caretakers  Victimize people over whom they have control  Elderly men and women, and especially babies, are their primary targets.

28 Categorizing the Killers: Female Serial Killers Women do not, as a rule, sexually assault their victims. Fantasy may play a role in their murders Female serial killers are generally less violent than male serial killers. Nearly half of female serial killers poison their victims Although some women do commit the brutal acts more commonly associated with serial murder, it is usually when working in tandem with men.

29 Aileen Wuormos

30 Categorizing the Killers: Roaming Serial Killers Only a minority of serial murderers travel widely in committing their crimes Half of all male serial killers are so-called "local" offenders, staying within the general area of their cities or counties and never carrying on their killing in more than one state Twenty percent of serial murderers are "place-specific," using their homes or places of employment as killing sites. Less than one third kill victims in more than one state Female serial killers are predominantly place-specific early half of all victims were murdered by local killers

31 Pedro Lopez

32 Family History and Childhood Trauma Childhood poverty was not a factor for most serial murderers. The majority of them report growing up in homes with stable, if modest, incomes. Over three quarters of convicted serial killers come from families with histories of alcohol and drug abuse. Over half had family histories of psychiatric disorders Half of their families had members who were involved with criminal activities, from selling drugs to murder. These were homes characterized by violence and neglect. Nearly all offenders experienced a high level of physical and psychological abuse from their parents and older relatives.

33 Family History and Childhood Trauma A majority were sexually abused as children, often by members of their families. Many were subjected to strict discipline and humiliating punishment. Seventy percent had to undergo psychiatric evaluation or confinement as children and teens. These troubled homes were further disrupted by divorce or separation and often by re-marriage. One third of these offenders grew up in a single location. Forty percent of serial murderers had lived outside of their family homes before the age of in foster homes, state homes, detention centers, or mental institutions.

34 Charles Manson

35 Childhood Behavior Common attitudes and behaviors of children who grow up to be serial murderers are: Rebelliousness Aggression Assaultive actions towards adults Chronic lying Daydreaming A sense of privilege or entitlement Compulsive masturbation and other autoerotic activities are also commonplace. These behaviors intensify with adolescence and ultimately become habitual by adulthood.

36 Childhood Behavior Cruelty towards animals and other children often sets the stage for greater abusiveness in the future. Arson and bedwetting -- when seen in combination with expressions of cruelty are believed by some experts to be crucial contributors to the development of a serial murderer.

37 Henry Lee Lucas

38 Sexual Fetishes Fetishism is the finding of sexual gratification through substituting objects for a sexual partner. In one survey of convicted serial murderers, seventy-two percent report having sexual fetishes. As young boys, many adult serial murderers report having had strong attraction to high-heeled shoes, female underwear, and rope. As adolescents and into adulthood, they take repeated sexual interest in these items. Eventually, these objects become part of the ritualized aspects of their murders. Some offenders remove the breasts of their victims and keep them as fetish objects. Others keep hair, teeth, heads, fingers, and sexual organs.

39 Jerome Brudos

40 Committing Serial Murder: The Role of Fantasy For both the organized and disorganized serial murderer, early fantasies combining violence and sex become more elaborate with time. By adulthood, they are the central feature of his life, the means through which he encounters the world and validates his own actions.

41 Committing Serial Murder: The Role of Fantasy For the serial murderer, early fantasies combining violence and sex become more elaborate with time. By adulthood, they are the central feature of his life, the means through which he encounters the world and validates his own actions.


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