A serial killer is defined as someone who has murdered three or more people over a period of more than a month, with a cooling-off period between murders. The motive is usually based on psychological (often sexual) gratification, though the motives may also include anger, thrill, money, and attention seeking.
America’s first serial killer:
H.H. Holmes confessed to have killed 27 individuals, including children. In 1893 Holmes opened a hotel which he had designed and built for himself specifically so that he could murder, and which was the location of many of his murders. The hotel was at one point dubbed Murder Castle. The home had halls and stairwells that went nowhere, his very own labyrinth so that he could kill. It had secret gas chambers, rooms that were built with blow torches so that he could incinerate his victims, he also had a huge bank vault where he’d lock victims for days leaving them to suffocate.
The actual number of victims of H.H. Holmes murder spree is widely debated still to this day.
All Serial Killers Are Isolated and Dysfunctional Loners
The majority of serial killers are not reclusive social misfits who live alone, despite really convincing depictions of them as such in the news and entertainment industries, they more often than not do not appear to be strange or stand out from the public in any meaningful way.
Many serial killers are able to successfully hide out in plain sight for extended periods of time. Many of which have jobs, families and are non threatening. In reality it is because serial killers can appear to be so innocuous, that they are often overlooked by law enforcement officials when investigating crimes that occurred near the killer.
Ed Kemper (the “Co-ed Killer”) socialized quite a bit was viewed as non threatening and friendly with police some officers were considered his friend, he even went out to the same bar police were known to frequent after the murder of his mother.
Serial killers look just like everyone else, so they can hide out in plain sight. It’s their ability to blend in that makes them very compelling to the general public. The not knowing if the person you are standing next to in Starbucks might be the serial killer Law Enforcement is currently searching for is what’s frightening.
Will Travel…To Murder
The idea of a roaming, homicidal maniac who travels all over to kill is another myth hyped up by the media, TV shows and movies. While Ted Bundy is a rare exception, he traveled and killed interstate the fact is that most killers don’t travel interstate to kill. Ted Bundy also twice escaped from police custody and committed at least 30 homicides – in the states of Washington, Utah, Florida, Colorado, Oregon, Idaho and California. That number some day could end up being more than 30 as bodies are discovered. Who knows.
He was articulate, educated, well-groomed and charming. Aside from other typical serial killers Ted Bundy was unique.
Unlike Ted Bundy, most serial killers have what’s called a comfort zone. They stick close to an area they are most comfortable picking victims from and then killing in. Usually it is close to home, work or a favorite place to go and hang out. It’s an area that they frequent quite a bit.
Serial killers sometimes return to areas they know like the town or city they grew up in to commit murder. Over time, serial murderers may extend their activities outside of their comfort zone but only after building their confidence by executing several successful murders while avoiding detection by Law Enforcement.
Serial Killers Are Men
This is one of my favorite myths about serial murders. Here is a list of a few unforgettable female serial killers:
~Nannie Doss – AKA The Giggling Nanny
Killed 4 of her 5 husbands, her mother, her sister, her grandson and her mother in-law
~Elizabeth Bathory – Better known as the Blood Countess
Bewteen 1585 and 1610, Báthory is believed to have tortured and killed nearly 650 girls – mostly teenage peasants.
~Jane Toppan – Jolly Jane
Jolly Jane a sadistic nurse confessed to 31 one murders
~Miyuki Ishikawa – The Demon Midwife
In the 1940’s she murdered roughly 103 children
Let’s not forget…
~ Aileen Wuornos
Between 1989-1999 she killed 7 men
Serial Killers Can’t Stop Killing
One of the biggest reasons that serial killers stop killing is a change in circumstances. The changes can be a new life like marriage and family, change in jobs, sexual substitution or other diversions.
The BTK killer Dennis Rader murdered 10 individuals from 1979 to 1991. He would send letters to the police and media detailing his crimes until sometime in the early 2000’s. He stopped writing until 2004, and was caught in 2005.
He told investigators that he used sexual diversions such as auto-erotic activities in the place of killing during his hiatus.
Jeffrey Gorton killed his first victim in 1986, the second in 1991 and he did not kill again until 2002 when he was caught. According to the FBI, Gorton engaged in cross-dressing and masturbation, as well as consensual sex with his wife between the murders.
All Serial Killers are Insane or Incredible Evil Genius Types
The truth is that most serial killers test from borderline to above average intelligence. It’s not like the movies or TV shows. Very few are found legally insane. The serial killer who is an “evil genius” is pretty much a Hollywood invention.
Do All Serial Killers Want to Get Caught?
This one is debatable. Some say yes while others insist that they get caught because as they build confidence in the ability to kill and get away with it they become careless and make mistakes. Sometimes I think this is true but I also feel very strongly that in a subconscious way, they ultimately want to get caught because they feed off of the idea they are known or are now famous.
If a serial killer goes to his deathbed without being known yet spent time leaving signs it was him or her committing the murders, or sent letters to the media or police to boast and describe the crimes, or has an unmistakable signature with killing and disposal of a body and we never learn the identity of the killer it has to be somewhat deflating and disappointing to the killers ego. For the killer this is the highest he will climb in his killing career ladder and as with most people when you hit the height of your career you want for people to know. I believe that hiding and waiting to be found or caught is a game to them. They won’t come right out and tell you who they are but deep down they want to the world to know because somewhere along the lines, no one really knew who they were and they didn’t pay attention this person in the way he or she felt they needed or wanted. Almost all of our actions and behaviors are driven by want’s, needs and desires.
Cristal M Clark