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Serial Killers Steven Bouton COM/220 April 22, 2012 Michael Wenk
SERIAL KILLERS “Hey, fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? French fries.” –James French. “These were his final words as being strapped into the electric chair. Puns aren’t usually
our thing, but pun + capital punishment = funny” (Cheesman, 2007). James French and other serial killers have certain characteristics, unlike normal people. The motives and actions of serial killer’s spark heated debates among researchers, scientists, and law enforcement officials. No one knows how many serial killers there were, are or will be, and why serial killers kill. The words “serial killer” was made famous in the 1970s by a man named Robert Ressler. Ressler is retired from the FBI, and he was the director of the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program. He grew up watching serial films as a child and the police in New England called crimes in a series “serial.” Ressler combined serial with the word killer when he noticed a murder pattern to form what would be forever known and feared “serial killers”. Ressler was a legend in his own right for his ability to identify and apprehend the most violent criminals the world has ever known. Understanding evil like no other, there is no one else more qualified to talk to about the subject of violent crimes and criminals. He has dedicated his entire life studying, capturing, and going to a place few dare to venture, inside the minds of the world’s most dangerous killers. “Considered a ground-breaker, and the expert on the subject of criminology, Robert Ressler provides chilling insights and fascinating accounts of criminals such as Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, and David Berkowitz” (International Forensic Education, 2005). Ressler captures the imagination and brings audiences deep inside the minds of serial killers. Who would be better at delving inside the criminal mind than the man who owned the term “serial killer.” To be a serial killer by definition, there must be a cooling off period between killings, and have killed at least three or four people. Serial killers are completely different than mass murderers who kill four or more people at the same time and location. Spree killers, much like mass murders,
SERIAL KILLERS generally kill in various locations in a narrow time frame. Serial killers are different than the rest because they typically work alone and they kill strangers with no motive. Serial killers follow a pattern with each victim they typically choose at random. The way they kill their victims tells them apart from other serial killers. Most times there is no motive for a serial killer to kill, but sometimes they do have motives. A complete sense of power would be an apparent motive to some killers. Other killers may have what is known as a missionary motive.
This is the motive of attacking the elderly, helpless, homeless, and the disabled in a belief that they are ridding the world of the weak and unwanted population. They feel this to be a great service. There are other killers who kill because voices in their heads tell them to kill. These killers are known as visionary killers and also by a more commonly used name of schizophrenia. These killers hallucinate and believe that a higher power or demon has commanded them to kill for a cause and sometimes from fear. The final motive known as the hedonist has three sub-categories which are gain, lust, and thrill killers. Lust killers are often times underdeveloped and kill for sexual pleasure. Thrill killers kill for the rush of adrenaline they feel moments before, during, and after the murder in which they get addicted to the feeling. Gain killers kill for financial gain and even for gaining a promotion from a job. Gain killers kill to benefit themselves in some way. Serial murder is widely viewed as a modern day, but in fact, the phenomenon of serial murder is centuries old that can be traced back even to America’s first serial killer. “America’s first serial killer is H.H. Holmes from the late nineteenth century” (Ramsland, 2012). Holmes was convicted of nine murders, confessed to 27, and many police investigators believe he may have murdered hundreds of people. In 1893, Holmes opened hotel that hosted visitors for the World’s Fair in Chicago. He began killing the guests that stayed at his hotel and was later discovered after police were informed by a hotel custodian that he was only allowed to clean certain floors in the
SERIAL KILLERS hotel. In 1896, he was convicted of murder and hanged to death. However, there “were several operating before him—as early as one hundred years before. The first documented rogues of this type were Micajah and Wiley Harpe, who slaughtered for fun and profit” (Ramsland, 2012). While H. H. Holmes may have been America’s alleged first serial killer, many more notorious killers would follow. Ed Gein was a serial killer who killed people between 1947 and 1957. “Known as history’s most inspirational killer, his character became a central element in many films, including Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Psycho and the character of Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs, among others” (Hasan, 2007). He became well known for the “House of
Horrors” when police caught him, they found him in a home with hanging corpses, missing heads, human jewelry, ski upholstery, hanging lips, and his own mother’s heart in a frying pan on the stove. Ted Bundy was a serial killer who killed people between 1974 and 1978. “Ted Bundy proved that even the devil can be attractive. Bundy was one of the most infamous serial killers in American history” (Hasan, 2007). Bundy was the handsome and charming type which made it easy for him to seduce young women and then rape and murder them once they were alone. He was believed to have started killing as early as 14. Bundy confessed to 40 murders and his addiction to pornography which he claimed led him to his crimes. Bundy’s most famous quote that sticks in minds because it is the complete truth which is frightening, “We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere, and there will be more of your children dead tomorrow.” John Wayne Gacy was another serial killer who killed people between 1972 and 1978. “He came to be known as one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history” (Hasan, 2007). Gacy killed boys once he tricked them into handcuffs he used in an act, once the boys were in handcuffs,
SERIAL KILLERS he would choke them to death. Gacy confessed to more than 24 murders before dying of lethal injection. His famous last words were none other than, “Kiss my ass”. Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer who killed people between 1978 and 1991. “This Milwaukee serial killer murdered boys of Asian and African descent. His murders were gruesome and involved torture, forced sodomy, dismemberment (removing their limbs), necrophilia, and cannibalism” (Hasan, 2007). Dahmer’s first murder was at age 18 after being released on good
behavior from fondling a 13-year-old boy. He went on to kill more but was caught after a would-be victim escaped to alert authorities. Before being beaten to death by a fellow inmate, Dahmer was held accountable for 15 murders. Before he was killed in prison, he was serving his 15 life sentences. Charles Manson is a serial killer, who killed people, and had his followers kill people in 1969. “Called the “most dangerous man” and the “devil,” Charles Manson was the terror of the 60s” (Hasan, 2007). Manson was a troublemaker from early on his life and forgotten about as a child. Manson manipulated people to follow him by being very religious and made his followers believe he was a prophet of sorts. Manson believed an Armageddon would occur and all Blacks would come to power and kill all Whites except his family known as the Manson family. After his prophecy failed to come true, Manson started having his followers kill people. Manson’s first murder was Sharon Tate and then the Labianca family. Before the California Supreme Court eliminated the death penalty, Manson was scheduled for death until his death sentence changed to life. He is still is still a prisoner at Corcoran State Prison. On April 11, 2012 “Notorious killer Charles Manson was denied parole today after a California parole board noted that he recently bragged to a prison psychologist, "I am a very dangerous man." Manson, now a gray haired 77, was denied parole for the 12th time. He is serving a life sentence for seven murders in the 1969
SERIAL KILLERS "Helter Skelter" killing spree in Los Angeles. "This panel can find nothing good as far as suitability factors go," said John Peck, a member of the panel that met at Corcoran State Prison in central California for the hearing, according to a pool report from the Associated Press” (ABC News, 2012). Manson Richard Angelo is a serial killer who killed people between 1986 and 1987. “Angelo was a killer with a different mindset from all others. He made the entire nation scared of hospitals” (Hasan, 2007). At 25 Angelo went to work at Good Samaritan Hospital. He worked the graveyard shift and would inject patients with an almost lethal dose of medication bringing them near death only to bring them back as a hero. Many patients died and Angelo was eventually caught when a patient was aware of his motives and hit the panic button in time. Angelo is currently serving 61 years to life in prison after he said to have killed 25 people. These are just some of the killers that have captured the attention of the world and used as
terrifying household names. Some believe not even murder can satisfy these types of people. With the craving is still there after a murder, it leads to serial murders in hopes of finally gaining satisfaction, and satisfaction they never find. Serial killers will continue to kill until they are caught by the authorities, commits suicide, or dies. Once authorities have linked an individual to a series of murders, routine steps would take place. The main objective would be to seize him/her as promptly and safely as possible. The routine steps in a homicide would be to investigate the area where the crime was committed, perform an autopsy on the body, and processing any finger prints for lab tests. When all this information has been retrieved and tested, it can be transmitted extensively through the nation’s database system controlled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for possible matches. While
those are routine steps taken in an investigation once you have something to go on, there is nothing routine or certain about the number of past, present, and future serial killers. Studies show there have been roughly 400 serial killers within the United States alone in the last century, and there have been victim numbers ranging from 2,526 to 3,860. It is impossible to know the number of active serial killers. Experts in the field guess that anywhere from 50 to 300 may be lurking, however, there is no evidence to support those claims. No researcher, scientists, or even government officials have ever managed to make a connection to serial killers. Many believe serial killers kill as a coping mechanism for day-to-day life. Other people believe these killers kills as an addiction of some sort, and kill to satisfy their addiction. However, no one has ever been able to prove these theories. While progress is being made to study the criminal mind of serial killers, mass murders, spree murders, and others, it is impossible to pinpoint the exact reason for these gruesome crimes.
SERIAL KILLERS Reference ABC News. (2012). Charles Manson Denied Parole After Saying He Is a 'Very Dangerous Man'. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/US/charles-manson-denied-parole-dangerousman/story?id=16111128#.T5TbpdW-zDE Cheesman, I. (2007-2012). The 11 Most Badass Last Words Ever Uttered. Retrieved from http://www.cracked.com/article_16354_the-11-most-badass-last-words-ever-uttered.html Hasan, N. (2007-2012). America's Famous Serial Killers! Retrieved from http://www.dirjournal.com/info/americas-famous-serial-killers/ International Forensic Education. (2005-2009). Robert K. Ressler, MS. Retrieved from http://www.educationforensic.com/advisors/bio_robertressler.html Ramsland, K. (2012). America's First Serial Killers. Retrieved from http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers/history/harpe_brothers/2.html