WARNING

The pages of this site contain graphic photographs. These are of a criminal documentary nature and some are very disturbing. Disturbing means they might turn your stomach in several directions. Proceed at your own risk. You have been warned. I will not be held responsible for your stupidity.

The Mind of a Compulsive Predator

What Makes Them Tick?

This is the ages-old question that scientists, doctors, and law enforcement personnel have been attempting to answer for years. Truly, there is no set formula for what creates a monster. Most of us have by now run across the famed "homicidal triad" of enuresis (bed-wetting), arson, and animal cruelty. However, not everyone who wets the bed and is attracted to fire as a child will grow up to torture, maim, and kill people. Neither will the boy who shoots pellets at the birds in the backyard be destined to drop someone's larynx in the garbage disposal or parade around the house in a skin suit and heels. These are indicators of one potential only and not a concrete prescription for inevitable bloodlust.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, while these descriptors seem to be pretty straight-forward on paper, the simplicity of a typed list of behavior is misleading in context. This Triad is not your little brother poking at cats with a stick or playing with matches out of curiosity. The greatest indicators of future malignancy are compulsion and extreme exhibitions of this behavior: a child regularly tying firecrackers to animal body parts to see how they function afterward, how long it takes them to die, to hear their screams...while he calmly observes with a quiet smile on his face. It isn't a natural curiosity at that point, it is a compulsive sadism that calms rather than agitates or disturbs.

I have been studying the psychological workings of serial murder for twenty years and am no closer to a template than I was when I started. However, there are patterns to be found and enough of them that obvious categories begin to present themselves after careful observation. It is my hope that this site will be an opportunity for learning and a repository for information as complete
as is humanly possible.


Defining "Serial"

This may seem fairly obvious, but we shall establish a definition for this page that does not necessarily coincide with popular culture's take on killers. There are many books and websites that include many cases in their lists that you will not find in these pages. I do not include, for example, black widows and angels of death. Women who murder their husbands or boyfriends murder in series over the space of several years, that is true. However, the animal that has become known as the "serial killer" is not the same species of criminal. Serial killers commit more than three murders over a period of greater than a few months with a cooling off period between kills. The cooling off period and motivation are key to the definition.

Serial killers are motivated by elaborate fantasy constructs. Their murders are the result of built-up intellectual and emotional pressure that accrues over time because of the strength and compulsion of the fantasy. When this perpetrator murders, the kill relieves that pressure and gives the killer an opportunity to create additions to the old fantasy, which he has just actualized. New ideas become part of the construct and it takes time for the pressure of the updated fantasy to boil to the surface again. As the killer becomes emboldened by his ability to evade capture, the period required between kills becomes gradually shorter and shorter. The predator begins to adapt his behavior more easily to the increasing nature of his fantasies and his desire for action becomes more and more compulsive.

People who repeatedly kill spouses do not fit this very specific pattern of psychology. They are cunning and calculating, but they are not the same type of predator. The fantasy construct is not there, the cooling off period is non-existent, and the motivation to kill is entirely different, usually money. Money is on the standard list of motive for homicide, so these murders do not qualify for our definition of killer.

So-called mass murderers and spree killers will also not be found within these pages. Richard Speck, for example, killed a number of women in the same evening, and then he was apprehended. Speck was high at the time he broke into the women's room and was looking to rob them. Perhaps he was a serial killer in hiding, awakened by opportunity, but perhaps he would have never committed another murder during a robbery again. We will never know. Nevertheless, he is not included in my analysis because he is, and will remain, a mass murderer and not a serial killer.

On the other hand, there have been instances where people have been named as serial killers when the actual evidence of their involvement was suspect. Albert DeSalvo, I believe, is one of those people. There are serious questions as to whether he was the Boston Strangler, so I treat this case as unsolved...or unresolved, as the case may be
.


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