Serial killers kill because of three patterns we see develop throughout their lives. These patterns are the development of youthful characteristics and habits, abusing events in their lives, and the final push. To be qualified as a serial killer one must murder more than three victims, one at a time, in a relatively short time period. The most common serial killers are white, heterosexual, sexually frustrated, young adult males with low self-esteem. Lester Ballard, the main character in Child of God, by Cormac McCarthy, displays these patterns as I have found it described in texts on serial killers.
The earliest warning signs of serial killers can be traced back to their childhood. It is believed that the mind of a murderer is charged with a turbulence of emotions stored from early childhood (Abrahamsen 18). When these often repressed emotions are activated, the mind, particularly when aroused or frustrated, becomes violent, and so it is that a person who may appear quite normal and well adjusted on the surface, becomes possessed by a mind that murders (Abrahamsen 18). The study of 36 incarcerated killers by Robert Ressler, Ann Burgess, and John Douglas, which can be found in their book Sexual Homicide Patterns and Motives, found many common behavior indicators in their childhoods. These behaviors include daydreaming, compulsive masturbation, isolation, chronic lying, bed wetting, rebelliousness, nightmares, destroying property, fire setting stealing, cruelty to children, poor body image, temper tantrums, sleep problems, display assault toward adults, phobias, running away, cruelty to animals, accident prone, headaches, destroying possessions, eating problems, convulsions, and self mutilation. This list has been created from many resources throughout my research. These behaviors are listed in descending order making daydreaming the most common. Many of these behaviors individually are expected of children. Some on the other hand, such as self-mutilation, cruelty to children, and convulsions, are not and are quite shocking to us. Lester Ballard displays many of these symptoms in the novel. For example as a child, Lester lost a softball and forced a younger boy to go get it by punching him in the face.
The top three most reported behaviors are daydreaming, compulsive masturbation, and isolation. Daydreaming seems like a healthy, normal phase in every child’s life, but this behavior actually makes sense for serial killers. The reason is that one of the most important components to the creation of a serial killer is fantasy. The killings are usually part of a complicated fantasy that builds to a climax at the moment of their deadly outburst (Serial Killer Info Polls). The creation of this fantasy starts as a child when the child is frequently left alone for long periods of time. This isolation bores the child and they resort to their minds for company. We can all...