Serial Killers

Title of Paper : Serial Killers
Grade Received on Paper: 90%

Before we can discuss what serial killers do, we must first define what a serial killer is. Some people
might place serial killers into the same group as mass murderers. This would be incorrect because they are
two totally different types of killers. While both of these individuals may kill many people, the difference
lies in the reason they kill and the period over which they kill their victims. An event or a build up of
circumstance triggers mass murderers and causes them to act. This may be the result of a stressful situation
or frustration either at work or in their private lives. For whatever reason, they may choose to use a weapon
and kill people that they feel are responsible for their problems. They may also kill total strangers in a bid
to get even with whomever or whatever they feel wronged them. Whatever their reason, they are usually
cooperative and quite often docile if they survive the episode. It seems that this one-time outburst of
violence, once enact!
ed, puts an end to any future events of this type for that individual. While the mass killer may kill many
people in one attack, when the attack is over, their mission is complete. The mass killer\'s victims may not
be chosen for any other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Serial killers are a totally different and more dangerous threat to society. They may not kill many people
at one time, but they may kill for many years without being detected. They are able to kill again and again
without being caught because they are careful in their choices of victims. They typically pick victims who
are vulnerable and unable to defend themselves such as children, the elderly or women. They also pick
victims who will not be missed by society, such as migrant workers, prostitutes, hitchhikers or
homosexuals. They may even pick victims based on specifics such as physical build or hairstyle.
Because of the fact that many serial killers may be mobile, similarities in crime scenes may go
undetected by law enforcement agencies. The nation\'s police departments often lack the modern equipment
and technology needed to track and recognize connections between cases. It is generally accepted that
many cases of serial murder have not been reported because of lack of evidence or the person murdered is
never noticed to be missing.
The U. S. has had more than 150 documented cases of serial killers since 1800. Retired FBI analyst
John Douglas believes that at any one time, there may be from 30 to 50 serial killers active in the U. S.
Good locations for serial killers include any city or area large enough to support prostitution, drug cultures,
runaway children or street people. They can and do operate successfully in rural areas.
Serial killers were once considered a rarity. Even though reports in Europe go back as far as the fifteenth
century, only a few were written about prior to the mid twentieth century. One of the most widely written
about was Jack the Ripper, who claimed only 5 victims in a three-month period. This would put him in the
bottom of the class by today\'s standards. During the past twenty years, serial killings have become more
frequent. We have even seen up to a half dozen of their cases on the news simultaneously. Cases such as
San Francisco\'s Zodiac Killer; New York City\'s Son of Sam; Atlanta\'s child murderer, Wayne Williams;
Los Angeles\'s Hillside Strangler; and Milwaukee\'s own, Jeffrey Dahmer. Many times, they fit into a
pattern, but sometimes there is no pattern. The phenomenon is world-wide, from England\'s Yorkshire
Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe\'s killing of 13 women prior to 1981, to Russia\'s Rostov Cannibal, Anderei Chikatilo,
who slaughtered and partially consumed at least 53!
men and women over a 12 year period prior to 1990.
It is hard to predict whether a person will become a serial killer. A set of childhood characteristics
believed by many to be symptoms of violent behavior has been named the "McDonald Triad". Named after
psychiatrist John M. McDonald, it speculates that three factors in a person\'s childhood may determine
violent behavior. These three factors