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What Are Serial Killers? Essay

1185 words - 5 pages

Critical Thinking OneIntroduction to Serial KillersKaitlin WhitingerWhat is serial murder? According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the definition of serial murder is "the unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offenders in separate events with emotional cooling off periods." (Mueller) The offender is referred to as a serial killer. They are very organized and methodical, selecting their victims and planning carefully. This helps them to not get caught by the authorities for a generally long amount of time. They are not to be confused with a spree killer or mass murderer. Though these three groups have the fact that they kill a number of people in common, there are many differences. A spree killer, for instance, kills three or more victims in different locations, but only within a time period of a day at most. They also do not have what is referred to as a "cooling off period" like serial killers do. The term mass murderer often gets confused with the term serial killer, but a mass murderer is one who murders a large amount of people in one event or incident. An example of mass murdering would be school shootings. Their plan is to go out with a "bang" and take as many people with them as they can. Both mass murders and spree killers have the same motive. They kill in a spontaneous rage due to recent failure, rejection, loss or mental illness. Their tirade generally ends with being apprehended by or turning themselves into the police or committing suicide. This differs from serial killers due to their special efforts to avoid being caught. Therefore, as you can see, serial killers are their own brand. We know why spree killers and mass murderers kill and what brings them to it; what creates a serial killer?There is actually not only one type of serial killer and therefore not only one type of motive. According to Holmes and DeBurger, serial killers are divided into four broad types; visionary, mission-oriented, hedonistic, and power/control-oriented. These are not definitive or set in stone, and a serial killer can belong to more than just one type, but it helps to give an idea a broad idea of what a serial killer is.The first type mentioned was the visionary type. This set of serial killers murder because they believe that a voice or vision in their head from an entity such as God or the Devil commanded them to do so. These visionaries are often suffering from a form of psychosis, be it psychotic or schizophrenic, and experience breaks from reality. Ahmad Suradji from Indonesia was an example of this kind. He claimed that his father's ghost spoke to him in a dream, telling him to kill women and drink their saliva in order to obtain mystic powers. A more known serial killer was David Berkowitz, more commonly known as "Son of Sam". He claimed that his neighbor's dog talked to him and told him to kill.Mission-oriented types of serial killers feel that it is their meaning in life if to eliminate certain types of groups from...

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