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Profile of a Serial Killer



You might like to think that, if you happened to glance into those scary peepers pictured above, you’d know immediately to walk (or run) in the opposite direction, but this prolific serial killer fooled many of his victims into doing otherwise.

Armed with a smile and often sporting a crutch or a cast so he’d appear helpless, Ted Bundy confessed to battering, raping, torturing and then killing nearly three dozen college age women in approximately a fifteen-year period, taking credit for the last one on that list as he was being marched to the electric chair.
Truth is, the self-proclaimed “most cold-hearted sonofabitch you’ll ever meet,” whose own defense attorney described as “the very definition of heartless evil,” deceived everybody he came in contact with. Even famed criminologist and bestselling author Ann Rule, who personally knew Bundy, didn’t suspect her charismatic associate until officials began compiling a first-of-its-kind database in an effort to pinpoint similarities from what few clues existed about an elusive killer slaughtering attractive young females across the Pacific Northwest.
A sadistic predator who derived profound sexual pleasure from “possessing” and abusing his prey while they were still alive and after their deaths, Bundy was the quintessential serial murderer, matching this criminal profile in every possible way. It’s also noteworthy to the current analysis that he too admitted to drowning at least one or more of his young victims.
It took nearly ten years after Bundy was put to death for a federal law to be enacted by the United States Congress which would, once and for all, attempt to provide a legal definition of serial murder. Titled the Protection of Children from Sexual Predator Act of 1998 it formally defined serial homicide as a series of three or more killings sharing common characteristics such as would imply they were committed by the same person or persons. These included the following stringent criteria:
• one or more offenders
• two or more victims
• distinctly separate events at different times
• a cooling off period between incidents 
The FBI itself identifies serial murder as ”the unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s), in separate events.” What’s more, in order to be officially considered a full-fledged serial murderer by the Bureau, one would have to commit at least three such homicides within a thirty-day period.
There is more than ample indication that serial killers have existed throughout time, but historians generally agree it was LAPD detective Pierce Brooks who first coined the term in the 1970’s. That being said, although serial killing appears a popular activity these days when viewed through the Hollywood blockbuster lens, according to the FBI and other crime experts, serialized slayings do not amount to even one percent of all homicides committed annually.
What FBI statistics can unequivocally confirm, however, is the popular notion that serial killers are mainly young men—over 90% are males from 25 to 35 years of age. But it is fast becoming pure myth that these are exclusively Caucasians, as many experts are now suggesting that other races are simply being under-reported because they are perceived by a biased public and press as “not smart enough” to plan and perpetrate serial murders successfully. Adding to this widespread misperception, authorities say, is the over-sensationalizing of white male serial murderers in the media because their victims are, almost without exception, young and attractive females.
Regardless of race, ethnicity or sex, The FBI's Crime Classification Manual divides serial killers into three basic categories: organized, disorganized and mixed, the latter classification reserved for those who exhibit a blend of both organized and disorganized characteristics. (For example, some organized killers gradually descend into disorganized killings as they amass more and more victims.)
Hollywood’s penchant for portraying these offenders as possessing devious brilliance in all aspects of their existence, and the public’s willing belief in the same, is also perpetuating a fallacy. With only a mean IQ of 113 for the “organized” brand of serial killer, that’s just slightly above an average intelligence, not by any means the kind of wiles considered to be at a genius level of, say, the Hannibal Lecter variety.
Organized serial murderers do plot their crimes intelligently, though, skillfully killing in one place and then dumping the body in another. Clever ploys like Bundy’s crutches, leg casts, and arm slings are also fairly typical means of luring a victim too, but this type of killer proves just as opportunistic as any other criminal when on the prowl, selecting the most vulnerable members of society to murder, such as drifters or the homeless or prostitutes, whenever their ideal target escapes their grips.
But, whether it’s an unsuspecting young woman or a down-and-out, whomever they ultimately choose, control is the key word for individuals who fall under this particular classification. That is at the root of their deranged behavior—the desire to power.
In that same vein, it’s not unusual for organized killers to acquire a replete understanding of forensic science and procedures so, once they’ve finished the grisly job they set out to accomplish, they can competently manipulate the crime scene and the corpse to hide their own tracks, eluding law enforcement officers while at the same time operating in plain sight of them.
Despite such painstaking efforts to avoid getting captured, these organized types are also the kind who take a great deal of pride in their “handiwork” and therefore crave and court attention to it with taunting notes and graffiti, some even boldly arranging victims’ bodies in certain poses as a sort of recognizable signature. Strange as that may sound, many such a killer has overtly sought glory in this way, perhaps, in sending their gloating messages to reporters and the police, paying homage to, and mimicking, a much more famous predecessor: 
Dear Boss,  I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good luck. Yours truly, Jack the Ripper”
Not quite as antisocial as his more disorganized counterparts, an organized serial slayer, when finally identified and brought to justice, almost always manages to shock the neighborhood he resides in, as well as his loved ones, colleagues, and closest friends. None of whom could have ever guessed in a million years that such a “nice” guy would be capable of performing such atrocities.
Disorganized serial killers, on the other hand, don’t tend to generate that big a surprise once they’re actually apprehended. Having a mean IQ of only 92.5 which, on the intelligence spectrum, rates somewhat below average, these are usually social misfits who display far more palpable warning signs of mental aberrations. This category of serial murder kills impulsively as the urge and opportunity strikes, and does so in a characteristically brutal manner with whatever weapon is available to them at the time. Extreme sexual violence, necrophilia, cannibalism, and in some cases skinning their victims (as with the Ed Gein murders, aka the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”), these bizarre acts are the norm and not the exception for this particular class of offender.
As to murder motives in general, aside from obvious mental disease and deeply disturbed thinking, all three classifications of serial killers have cited a host of prompts for their repeat offenses. These have been seen to overlap in many cases, particularly where organized and disorganized traits have merged, but they generally fall under the following separate categories: 
1. Visionary (e.g. hearing voices, etc.)
2. Mission Oriented, (e.g. religion-based or purging of “undesirables”, etc.)
3. Hedonistic (subsets of which include Lust, Thrill, and Comfort)
4. Power/Control (“achieving” greatness and dominance by brutalizing others)
While most of the male killers will claim to have acted upon any or all of those four incentives, or various combinations of them, hedonistic “comfort killing” is chiefly the domain of the roughly five-percent minority of serial murderers who have yet to be discussed in any detail here. Namely females who routinely kill with the object of inheriting from the deceased certain things of monetary value, like life insurance benefits, investment accounts, real estate, and other forms of transferrable property. Homicides of this nature require psychological cunning over physical cruelty in order to be executed successfully and, thus, are done with very little zeal and bloodshed—fast acting poison being the weapon of choice, usually.  And sometimes drowning.



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