Serial Killers Essay, Research Paper
In the past decade a creature known as the serial killer has captured the attention of America. About 70 % of the world s serial killers reside in the United States. Serial killers are the most sinister and malignant type of criminal. They account for one third of the murders in the United States. A serial killer is basically defined as someone who commits 3 to 4 murders, with a cooling off period in between, and the murders reflect a need to sadistically dominate the victim. Serial killers don t murder for profit, and the usually don t know there victim. Serial killers often choose victims who are vulnerable, for example prostitutes or runaways. Also their victims fit a certain stereotype. A serial killer will continuously kill and not stop unless he/she is made to stop. Or, unless an event occurs which stops the killer
Many serial killers have common personality and physical traits. In examining the killer s personality and physical traits we see that there are many similarities in these criminals, with the usual “there are exceptions to all rules.” Statistically, the average serial killer is a white male from a lower to middle class background, usually in his twenties or thirties. Extreme physical, emotional, or sexual abuse can be traced to most if not all known serial killers childhood. Some were adopted. There is also some correlation between behavior and aggression in serial killers. This means that as a child,
serial killers experience the same childhood difficulties. Nearly all serial killers have gone through one of the Terrible Triad . The Terrible Triad includes bedwetting, sadistic abuse of animals and pyromania. Many serial killers as children have been known to kill and abuse animals. The most popular choice of these animals is cats. They have been known to be thrown out of windows and sliced open, just to see how long they would live. Pyromania is another trait of young serial killers. They usually keep themselves occupied with this until boredom sets in and then move on to bigger and better things. Bedwetting is the last of the Terrible Triad . Sixty percent of all serial killers have wet the bed past the age of twelve. This causes great emotional pain. Brain injuries are common. Some are very intelligent and have shown great promise as successful professionals. They are also fascinated with the police and authority in general. They will either have attempted to become police themselves but were rejected, or worked as security guards, or had served in the military. Many, including John Gacy, the Hillside Stranglers, and Ted Bundy, will disguise themselves as law enforcement officials to gain access to their victims.
Serial killers exhibit a psychopathic personality, a hedonistic outlook on life and a pronounced lack of conscience. They are also called sociopath or are determined to have antisocial personalities. They do not suffer from mental illness but more likely a character flaw. They understand what is reality and know what they are doing is wrong and the difference between right and wrong. They simply just do not care. Psychopaths lack the vital component of the human personality that most others take for granted, conscience.
Either they have no conscience, or their conscience is too weak to inhibit the violence that they commit. Pure psychopaths kill without remorse. The minority among serial killers are the psychotics: They fail to perceive reality correctly; they tend to hear voices and see visions, or sometimes both. The murder is a symptom of their madness. David Berkowitz, the infamous Son of Sam, who ran amuck in New York City in the 70 s, is such a killer. Allegedly, his neighbor s dog told him repeatedly to kill.
Serial killers victims often fit a particular certain stereotype. Some victims remind the killer of someone who has cause pain in there lives in the past. Bundy
brutally murdered college-age women with long brown hair. Before his murders a women fitting this description broke off an engagement with him. Some victims just fit a particular type, for instance some killers like slim tall males, some have types very broad types, like all women. The victims are normally weaker than the killer. They must be able to dominate their victim. Serial killers are sadists; they find pleasure in torturing and even revive them at the brink of death so they can torture them some more. Yet some killers don t have a type and they just kill at random.
There are four basic types of serial killers, the visionary motive type, the missionary-oriented motive type, the thrill oriented motive type, and the lust killers. The visionary motive types are considered the insane or psychotic. They often hear voices in their head telling them to commit murders (schizophrenia). The missionary oriented motive type displays no obsession to the outside world, but on the inside, this killer has a
need to rid the world of what he considers immoral or unworthy. This type of killer will select groups of individuals to kill off, for example prostitutes or homeless. The trill oriented motive types are in it for the fun. They just find pleasure in killing people. These killers are the most sadistic of all the types of killers. They often kill more then the other types because they get addicted to the rush of killing. The last type is the lust killer. These killers kill for the pure turn on. They find sexual pleasure in torturing their victims, the more horrific their actions, the more aroused they become. This type of killer is in touch with reality and usually has relationships.
Another point of a Serial Killer is that their mind is constantly going through one of their seven phases. The first of these phases is the Aura Phase. This is the part where the killer daydreams about death and destruction. After awhile these demented fantasies usually have the urge to be acted upon. This leads into the second stage, which is the Trolling Phase. In the Trolling Phase the serial killer tries to find the perfect victim for their needs. They usually tend to look in schoolyards or lovers lanes or even red light districts. This might go on for hours, days, and sometimes even months, until the perfect victim will be found. This will begin the Wooing Phase. Serial killers usually act very debonair to get their victims to trust them. After the Wooing Stage comes the Capture Stage. This is where the killer reveals what he is. He may draw you into his car where there s no door handle for you to get out. This is disturbingly fun for them and is included in their sick sadistic game. Then comes the climax, the Murder Stage. They may just decide to kill you, but sometimes, they will decide to torture you to death, try to revive
you on the brink of death to torture you more (Scott). The sixth stage is the Totem Stage. This phase is where the killer will take a memoir of you. It might include your jewelry or clothes or even a piece of your body. After this, comes the seventh and final phase which is Depression. There is great emotional let down for the killer. They may even become so depressed as to attempt suicide. But sooner or later they will start day dreaming more and this whole cycle will keep repeating itself until the killer is either caught or dies.
Capturing serial killers is often very difficult. Serial killers do live normal lives outside their sadistic killing. Their normal characteristics are very common and are not usually linked to criminals. In the past decade criminal profiling has helped police tract these killing machines. There are 5 basic steps to creating a criminal profile. These steps are as followed:
1. Profiling inputs
The first stage involves collecting all information available about the crime, including physical evidence, photographs of the crime scene, autopsy reports and pictures, witness testimony, extensive background information on the victim and police reports. The profiler does not want to be told about possible suspects at this stage because such data might prejudice or prematurely direct his or her profile.
2. Decision process models
In this stage, the profiler organizes the input into meaningful questions and patterns along several dimensions of criminal activity. What type of homicide has been committed
(classifications, in short: mass murderers, spree killers and serial murderers)? What is the primary motive for the crime: sexual, financial, personal or emotional disturbance? What level of risk did the victim experience, and what level of risk did the murderer take in killing the victim? What was the sequence of acts before and after the killing, and how long did these acts take to commit? Where was the crime committed? Was the body moved, or was it found where the murder had taken place?
3. Crime assessment
Based on the findings during the previous stages, the profiler now attempts to reconstruct the behavior of the offender and his victim. Was the murder organized (suggesting a killer who carefully selects victims against whom he usually acts out a given fantasy) or disorganized (indicating an impulsive, possible psychotic killer)? Was the crime staged to mislead the police? What motivations were revealed by such details as cause of death, location of wounds, and position of the body? For example, as general profiling rules: (1) brutal facial injuries point to killers who know their victims, (2) murders committed with whatever weapon happens to be available reflect greater impulsivity than murders committed with a gun and may reveal a killer who lives fairly near the victim and (3) murders committed early in the morning seldom involve alcohol or drugs.
4. Criminal profile
Here, profilers formulate an initial description of the most likely suspects. The typical
profile includes the perpetrator’s race, sex, age (which is one of the toughest points to nail down in a profile because emotional or experiential age does not always match chronological years), marital status, living arrangements and employment history; psychological characteristics, beliefs and values; probable reactions to the police and past criminal record, including the possibility of similar offenses in the past. This stage also contains a feedback loop whereby profilers check their predictions against stage two-information to make sure that the profile fits the original data.
A written report is given to the investigators, who concentrate on suspects matching the profile – often, the police have already talked to a likely suspect but did not have reason enough to seriously doubt the suspect’s testimony. If new evidence is discovered at this stage, a second feedback process is initiated and the profile will be revised.
Profiling works because John Douglas and members of his team in the FBI’s Investigative Support Unit have spent countless hours interviewing hundreds of convicted serial killers, serial rapists and mass murders, learning about their crimes, motives, methods and personalities. This is the database on which they draw in making conclusions from what they view at a crime scene. This stuff isn’t just made-up or speculation. However it isn t it an exact science either, but though countless hours of research and interviews and has proven to be extremely accurate. Profiling does not produce a name. What it does produce is a detailed personality profile of a
perpetrator that investigators can use to focus an investigation and pare down the list of suspects.
A serial killer very often appears ‘normal’. He is very often the last person his neighbors or friends would think is a serial killer. Even those who are “different” than most people are capable of appearing normal enough to not be considered a serial killer at first. The sad fact is that there is thirty to fifty serial killers murdering at any given time and are currently 3 to 5 hundred killers at large in the United States today.