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Staring into the Eyes of a Serial Killer He is your neighbour! He is an old high school acquaintance! His is a well respected individual within your community! Well, what is he you ask? He is the most sinister an malignant type of criminal to walk the face of the earth. He is the serial killer!
The serial killer is your neighbour, he kills one by one while living a seemingly normal life in between murders. (Cahill 6) To be classified as a serial killer, an individual has to kill at least three people in separate murders with a cooling off period in between murders. Todays society has concocted wild misconceptions about serial killers and because of this the serial killer continues to remain a very misunderstood individual. Firstly, one of the biggest misconceptions relating to serial murder is that a serial killer and a mass murder are the same. The serial killer and the mass murderer are two completely different individuals. A mass murder is someone who will walk into a post office and shoot everyone, and the maybe even themselves. They kill several people in a matter of hours and there is no cooling off period or trademark to the killings.
While a serial killer kills several people over a period of days, weeks, months and even years. There is a cooling off period and the killer also commits each murder in his own signature style. The serial killer will also go through phases and cycles. Although the serial killer and mass murder are closely related they are very different, and should no longer be considered the same. Another misconceptions about serial murder is that there is only one type of serial killer.
The public refers to this one type of killer as a monster. Well, the public is again misinformed about serial killers. There is in fact four distinctive groups of serial killers. There is the Visionary motive types.
This is the group that is considered to be insane or psychotic. They often hear voices in their head telling them to commit the crimes. (Wilson 37) The second type of serial killers are the missionary-oriented motive types. This killer displays no psychosis to the outside world, this killer displays an urge to rid the world of what he considers immoral or unworthy. (Wilson 39) This type of killer will select particular groups to kill off, prostitutes for example. The third type of serial killers are the thrill oriented motive types. These guys are in it for the fun. (Wilson 39) They get a high from killing. The thrill killer is often thought of as the sadistic maniac (Dewitt 3) He is into the killing for the pure enjoyment and excitement.
The fourth and most common type of serial killers are the lust killers. For a lust killer, the amount of pleasure is in direct correlation with how much they can torture their victim. The more heinous their actions, the more aroused they become. (Wilson 40) This killer is in touch with reality and usually has or had some normal relationships. In most cases a serial murder is a lust killer. The lust killer is the individual that led most people to believe that their was only one type of serial killer. This is the most common of the four types of serial killers and is the most popular.
Thirdly, the serial killer is always without a doubt stereotyped as being a psychopathic maniac. Well, classifying all serial killers as being psychopathic maniacs is completely unjustified and without and doubt false. In fact serial killers are usually the opposite of lunacy, an are rather intelligent individuals. David Berkowitz who is better know as the Son of Sam. scored a superior level of 118 on an IQ test in 1960. John Wayne Gay was also quite intelligent.
He owned and operated his own contracting business and in 1958 he scored an amazing 134 on his IQ test. Also both Berkowitz and Gay were found by FBI psychiatric panels to be completely sane at the time of their crimes, and they were both tried as competent individuals. (Carpozi 23) (Deggans) Society has always associated lunacy with serial murder and this is not always true. Berkowitz and Gay escape the stereotype of lunacy relating to serial killers, and many more serial killers also do not fall under the psychotic category. Also, relating back to stereotyping the serial killer, todays society has come to terms to believe that if you are a serial killer you also are a social monster and that you must have been a loser, a loner, and a rebel. While these characteristics may seem correct in our minds, they really do only apply to a select few. John Wayne Gay was a close friend to the mayor of Chicago, he owned his own contracting business, he would dress up as a clown to entertain sick children at the hospital, and he would also plow his neighbours driveways whenever it snowed.
Now, does this sound like a social monster, or a loner? No, it sounds like a wonderful man, a caring man, a normal man. Ed Gein who is a renowned cannibal, necrophiliac, and murder used to babysit his neighbours children, and preform odd jobs for them for a very minimal fee. He just loved doing chores for people and he really wanted people to like him. (Askenasy 109) Albert Fish, along with a number of serial killers was married and had children.
Is it or is it not a common trait of a loner not to get married? It has been estimated that... about 89 % of heterosexual serial killers aged 25 to 35 have been married or had recently been divorced at the time of their killings (Cahill 87) Although allot of serial killers are divorced, they were once married and this totally rules out being a loner. The society that we live in today has stereotypes for everything. Serial killers just happen to be the victim of a very big stereotype and because of this they continue to be categorized as a certain class of people but they could vary greatly in their personalities. Furthermore, a serial murderer will always have a distinct victim and will always leave behind...
his signature... (Methvin) In 1888, the notorious Jack the Ripper murdered five prostitutes all in the same fashion. He would slash their throats, mutilate their abdomens and then he would take their kidney, uterus, or some internal organ as a souvenir. (Sudgen) John Wayne Gay murdered all homosexual boys by... gagging them with their own underwear, until they choked on their own vomit. (Deggans) While David Berkowitz killed pretty, young girls with shoulder length brown hair. He killed these girls using his. 44 caliber revolver. One explanation as to why serial killers only kill one particular type of victim is... general preferences... (Cahill 54).
Also, the reason why a serial killer will leave behind his signature is to leave every one puzzled and wondering who is this mysterious killer. The serial killer also loves to... hear about the crimes he has committed and hear how the media talks about him. (Dewitt) Finally, serial killers usually fit one distinct physical description. The common serial killer is usually... a white male between the ages of 25 - 35. (Wilson 91) The majority of the time the victims of a serial killer will be all white also. Although there is exceptions.
One exception is Jeffery Dahmer. Jeffery Dahmer... hunted all black homosexual men. (Rubin) This is only a typical description of a serial killer, based upon the majority of serial killers that were actually apprehended. A serial killer can be older, younger, a different race or even a female. Although there really is a rare amount of female serial killers. Psychiatrist Helen L.
Morrison says that... killing just isnt in their nature. (Methvin) Although there have been female serial killers in the past, the men have greatly out numbered them. All of the common traits of the majority of serial killers have been closely related. The background of a serial killer is usually the same as well. They come from broken homes with a lot of exposure to sex, drugs, and violence. There has been exceptions to some of these characteristics for a small amount of serial killers, but the greater part of serial killers fall right into the categories that were mentioned.
Through time the characteristics of a serial killer may change. His rough background may also change, and his physical appearance may just as well change. As for now the serial killer remains as the facts have stated them. He could possibly be anyone that you know, but there is always a few characteristics to give him away.
Todays society has continued to ignore all of the facts and have come up with this beast of a man. This is not always true and we should no longer be forced to believe so. The serial killer may always remain a very disturbed misguided, forlorn individual, but one thing is for certain, he will always continue to be the most misunderstood individual to inhabit the earth. Works Cited Askenasy, Hans.
Cannibalism: From Sacrifice to Survival. New York: Prometheus, 1994. Cahill, Tim. Buried Dreams: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer.
New York: Bantam, 1984. Carpozi, George. Son of Sam: The. 44 Caliber Killer. New York: Manor, 1977 Deggans, Eric. Gay, Killer of 33 is Executed. St.
Petersburg Times 10 May 1994: A- 6 Dewitt, Dan. Serial Killers Feed on Fears and Thrills. St. Petersburg Times 3 Jan 1995: A- 4 Methvin, Eugene H. The Face of Evil National Review 23 Jan. 1995: 7 Rubin, Mike. Serial Killer, Dahmer Beaten to Death.
St. Petersburg Times 29 Nov. 1994: A- 6 Sudgen, Philip. The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. London: Robinson Publishing Ltd. , 1994. Wilson, Colin. The Serial Killers.
London: W. H. Allen Publishing, 1990. 358
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