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What Is a Serial Killer?

The killing of three or more victims over a period of more than 30 days, with a significant cooling-off period. The sexual nature of the crime, which may or may not be explicit, is perverse and sadistic and reflects an aggression that is particularly destructive, pathological and rooted in violent fantasies that are acted out on the victim” (Knight, 2007).

Coined by Robert Ressler, the term “serial killer” was used to replace the use of “stranger killings”. Ressler’s definition manifested two meanings for the term serial killer; on one hand it stood for a series of killings but it also brought up another point. Ressler’s definition brought about the idea of these killings being sexually motivated (Pakhomou, 219, 2004)

Many times serial killers are usually of at least average intelligence and sometimes, like in the case of Ted Bundy, they can have IQ’s over 124. Many times they are very wealthy and have very prestigious jobs such as doctors and in the case of Gary Heidnik, can be a very skilful stock marketer (Whittington-Egan, 2008, 323). Many times a sexual serial killer is extremely charismatic and can persuade their victims into which ever situation in which they please. An example of this would be Ted Bundy. Ted Bundy was a very good looking and charming individual who could easily persuade his victims to play into his game (Pakhomou, 220, 2004).

In a study done with 21 serial killer participants,to determine some demographics, it was found that 18% completed some college, 18% completed high school, 4% finished a 4 year college or more, and 60% did not graduate from high school. The study also looked at psychiatric evaluations of the 21 subjects. It was found that about 53% of the subjects had some sort of disorder, the most prevailing being Anti-Social Personality disorder, 36% of the diagnosed. 27% of the diagnosed either had a combination of ASPD along with another disorder, such as schizoid, bipolar, paranoia, and character personality disorder or just one of these diagnoses alone (Pakhomou, 221, 2004).

For more serial killer characteristics, this webpage gives a very good overview about similar characteristics serial killers

More Serial Killer Characteristics