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Profiles in Terror - The Serial Murderer

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 44 Issue: 3 Dated: (September 1985) Pages: 29-34
R M Holmes
Date Published
6 pages
Following a discussion of the sociocultural context of violence, including the influence of the media, this paper presents a typology and profile of the serial murderer.
Serial killers may be transient or geographically stable, but can be categorized into four major types according to motivation. The visionary type attributes his crimes to visions or voices directing the killing. This type could be termed psychotic. The mission-oriented killer sees his goal as eliminating an identifiable group of people such as prostitutes or young women. The hedonistic type kills for the pleasure derived from the act of killing. Finally, the power/control-oriented type derives gratification from exerting control over a helpless victim. While each of these types and their crimes have distinguishing characteristics, a general profile of serial killers indicates they are generally white males from 25 to 34 years old. They are charismatic, intelligent, and mobile. They generally kill in ways that involve contact with the victim. Initially their killings may be elaborately planned, but later they kill more in panic or frenzy. Many were abused as children and many abuse alcohol and drugs. 14 references.