What are the different types of serial killers?

    A serial killer is usually defined as an individual that has murdered three or more people over a  time period of more than a month, with a process known as a "cooling off period" between the different murders. Their main motivation for killing is typically based on psychological gratification. Some sources disregard the "three or more" criteria, and define the term as "a series of two or more murders, committed as separate events, usually, but not always, by one offender acting alone" or, including the vital characteristics, a minimum of at least two murders. Often, a sexual element is involved in the killings, but the FBI states that motives for serial murder include "anger, thrill, financial gain, and attention seeking." The murders may have been attempted or completed in a similar fashion and the victims may have had something in common, for example, occupation, race, appearance, sex, or age group.Serial killers are not the same as mass murderers , nor are they spree killers, who commit murders in two or more locations with virtually no break in between.

    There are 3 main types of serial killers. Thrill seekers outsmart law enforcement and think of it as a game, they enjoy media attention, police pursuit, and evading the authorities. They send messages and keep records. Mission oriented serial killers claim that they are doing society a favor by eliminating certain people such as prostitutes. And last but not least, power and control serial killers enjoy the victim's terror, suffering and screaming.
 
Characteristics

The racial demographics regarding serial killers are often subject of debate. In the United States, the majority of reported and investigated serial killers are white males, from a lower-to-middle-class background, usually in their late twenties to early thirties. However, there are African American, Asian, and Hispanic (of any race) serial killers as well, and, according to the FBI, based on percentages of the U.S. population, whites are not more likely than other races to be serial killers. Criminal profiler Pat Brown says "serial killers are usually reported as white because the media typically focuses on 'All-American' white and pretty female victims who were the targets of white male offenders, that crimes among minority offenders in urban communities, where crime rates are higher, are under-investigated, and that minority serial killers likely exist at the same ratios as white serial killers for the population." She believes that the "serial killers are always white" myth might have become "truth" in some research fields due to the over-reporting of white serial killers in the media.

Other typical characteristics of serial killers include:

  • Low-average intelligence. A sample of 174 IQs of serial killers had a median IQ of 93. Only serial killers who use bombs have IQs significantly above the population mean.
  • Often, they have trouble staying employed and tend to work in menial jobs. The FBI, however, states, "Serial murderers often seem normal; have families and/or a steady job."Other sources state they often come from unstable families.
  • As children, they are often abandoned by their fathers and raised by domineering mothers.
  • Their families often have criminal, psychiatric and/or alcoholic histories.
  • They were often abused — emotionally, physically and/or sexually — by a family member.
  • They may have high rates of suicide attempts.
  • From an early age, many are intensely interested in voyeurism, fetishism, and sadomasochistic pornography. Fetishism, partialism, and necrophilia, are paraphilias which involve a strong tendency to experience the object of erotic interest almost as if it were a physical representation of the symbolized body. Individuals engage in paraphilias which are organized along a continuum; participating in varying levels of fantasy perhaps by focusing on body parts (partialism), symbolic objects which serve as physical extensions of the body (fetishism), or the anatomical physicality of the human body; specifically regarding its inner parts and sexual organs (one example being necrophilia).
  • A disproportionate number exhibit one, two, or all three of the MacDonald triad of predictors of psychopathy:
    • Many are fascinated with fire setting
    • They are involved in sadistic activity; especially in children who have not reached sexual maturity, this activity may take the form of torturing animals
    • More than 60 percent wet their beds beyond the age of 12. However, recent authorities  question or deny the statistical significance of this figure.
    • They were frequently bullied as children.
    • Some were involved in petty crimes, such as theft, fraud, vandalism, dishonesty or similar offenses.

      • Motives

        The motives of serial killers are generally placed into four categories: visionary, mission-oriented, hedonistic and power or control; however, the motives of any given killer may display considerable overlap among these categories

        Visionary

        Visionary serial killers suffer from psychotic breaks with reality, sometimes believing they are another person or are compelled to murder by entities such as the Devil or God. The two most common subgroups are "demon mandated" and "God mandated."

        Mission-oriented

        Mission-oriented killers typically justify their acts as "ridding the world" of a certain type of person perceived as undesirable, such as homosexuals, prostitutes, or people of different ethnicity or religion; however, they are generally not psychotic. Some see themselves as attempting to change society, often to cure a societal ill.

        Hedonistic

        This type of serial killer seeks thrills and derives pleasure from killing, seeing people as expendable means to this goal. Forensic psychologists have identified three subtypes of the hedonistic killer: "lust", "thrill" and "comfort".

        Lust

        Sex is the primary motive of lust killers, whether or not the victims are dead, and fantasy plays a large role in their killings. Their sexual gratification depends on the amount of torture and mutilation they perform on their victims. They usually use weapons that require close contact with the victims, such as knives or hands. As lust killers continue with their murders, the time between killings decreases or the required level of stimulation increases, sometimes both.

        Thrill

        The primary motive of a thrill killer is to induce pain or terror in their victims, which provides stimulation and excitement for the killer. They seek the adrenaline rush provided by hunting and killing victims. Thrill killers murder only for the kill; usually the attack is not prolonged, and there is no sexual aspect. Usually the victims are strangers, although the killer may have followed them for a period of time. Thrill killers can abstain from killing for long periods of time and become more successful at killing as they refine their murder methods. Many attempt to commit the perfect crime and believe they will not be caught.

        Comfort (profit)

        Material gain and a comfortable lifestyle are the primary motives of comfort killers. Usually, the victims are family members and close acquaintances. After a murder, a comfort killer will usually wait for a period of time before killing again to allow any suspicions by family or authorities to subside. They often use poison, most notably arsenic to kill their victims. Female serial killers are often comfort killers, although not all comfort killers are female.  

        Power/control

        The main objective for this type of serial killer is to gain and exert power over their victim. Such killers are sometimes abused as children, leaving them with feelings of powerlessness and inadequacy as adults. Many power- or control-motivated killers sexually abuse their victims, but they differ from hedonistic killers in that rape is not motivated by lust but as simply another form of dominating the victim.

         
         

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