New Report Highlights Views of Experts
On television and the silver screen, serial killers are usually white males and dysfunctional loners who really want to get caught. Or, they’re super-intelligent monsters who frustrate law enforcement at every turn.
According to a new publication from our National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime—entitled Serial Murder: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators—serial killers are much different in real life.
The report contains the collective insights of a group of experts from the law enforcement, academic, and mental health professions who took part in a symposium on serial murder. The symposium’s focus was actually two-fold: to bridge the gap between fact and fiction and to build up our collective body of knowledge to generate a more effective investigative response.
Here’s why that is so important: Serial killings are rare, probably less than one percent of all murders. They do, however, receive a lot of attention in the news and on screen—and much of the information out there is wrong. Yet, the public, the media, and even sometimes law enforcement professionals who have limited experience with serial murder, often believe what they read and hear. And this misinformation can hinder investigations.
According to the experts, there is no common thread tying serial killers together—no single cause, no single motive, no single profile. But there are some common "best practices" that they recommend for investigations:
As for serial killer myths, our group of experts had this to say about a few of them:
1) Serial killers are not all dysfunctional loners: some have had wives and kids and full-time jobs and have been very active in their community or church or both.
2) Serial killers are not all white males: the racial diversification of serial killers generally mirrors the overall U.S. population.
3) Serial killers do not want to get caught: over time, as they kill without being discovered, they get careless during their crimes.
So much for the stereotypes!