What Is A Serial Killer?
There are so many aspects and unknowns associated with serial murder that it makes it hard to define what makes a serial murderer, such as how many people have to be murdered and in what manner? Does the killer have to know their victims, how long do they have to wait in between their victims? In essence, what defines a serial killer?
According to Keeney and Heide (2000), the FBI defines serial murder as the killing of three or more people but not at the same time. The killer may wait any length of time between killing another person; the period in which they wait is know as a cooling off period. However, there are many other definitions, such as Eric Hickey's, which states that, to be considered a serial killer, a person, either man or woman, must, over a length of time, kill three or four people. (Keeney & Heide, 2000)
One aspect of the serial killer mystery that may lend a hand in helping define serial murder is: what causes a person to become a serial killer? A common explanation is that an abusive upbringing of a child may cause this child to mature into a dangerous and violent criminal.
Does Child Abuse Play A Role In Becoming a Serial Killer?
Those who turn to violence in their adulthood, such as in the cases of serial killers, often experienced abusive and neglectful childhoods. It is from these horrifying past experiences that a serial killers draws his/her own violence, which is, in turn, inflicted upon the killer's victims. According to Blair Sadler, author of Societal Consequences of Child Abuse (2001), children who have faced abuse are more likely to be arrested for violent crimes. Statistically speaking, 40% in fact. Sadler also states that these children will be burdened by these problems for the rest of their lives.
Black et al. (2002) also reported in their journal article, Behavior Problems Among Preschool Children Born to Adolescent Mothers: Effects of maternal Depression and Perception of Partner Relationships, that preschool children who are neglected at home, by young mothers, are more likely to display behavioral issues in social surroundings, like school. The article links these behavioral issues with maternal depression, and then tries to link maternal depression with the quality of the relationship between the mother and her partner, the results for this portion seem to be inconclusive. In other words, the article claims that young mothers who suffer maternal depression, whether it is caused by the relationship between the mother and her partner or not, are more likely to neglect their children, and that the children who are brought up in such environments tend to have more trouble at school, and similar places; so what is the reader to glean when the article states that more than one third of children display behavioral difficulties worthy of diagnoses? The article also contributes neglect to the attachment disorders faced by some children, along with the greater probability that these children will participate in substance abuse, and other problems, as teenagers.
Are There Other Causes Of Serial Murder?
Many approaches have been taken to explain the behaviors of serial killers, such the psychological approaches in which some serial killers are diagnosed as a psychotic or as a psychopath. Another approach is a biological approach that focuses on the idea that there maybe a genetic contribution to the serial killer's behavior. Other theories blame head injuries, or the failure of some life goal. Many of these approaches and theories share the idea that the murderer is trying to display dominance and power over his victim, this is demonstrated, in many cases, through sexual abuse to the victim.
So What is the Final Conclusion?
It is, at this point, probably most accurate to say that there really is no conclusive explanation as to what causes a person, man or woman, to become to violent terror. More specifically, perhaps there is no one explanation to the mystery; perhaps they are all valid and every one of them can lead to such extreme deviant behavior, even if the explanation seems unbelievable. On the other hand, maybe there is some combination of circumstances that no researcher has come across yet. For instance, John Wayne Gacy, the infamous murderer of at least 28 males, suffered from a number of these explanations. As a child he was beaten by his father, and later in life, many considered him to psychological issues. In addition, he tended to have blackouts after an incident with swing when he was eleven years old, and, as though to go along with those, he had heart problems. (Yapp, 186)