A killer is a person or thing that kills something or causes it to die. This can be done either intentionally or unintentionally. It can also be done for a variety of reasons including self-defense, hunting, and war. An intentional killing is called murder while an unintentional killing is referred to as homicide. There are many different types of killers including serial killers and hitmen.
A serial killer is a person who commits multiple murders over a period of time. A serial killer can be either transient or geographically stable. Serial killers can be categorized by their motivation. These include visionary, mission-oriented, hedonistic, and power/thrill. Visionary serial killers attribute their crimes to visions or voices that direct them. Mission-oriented serial killers seek to eliminate a specific group of people such as prostitutes or young women. Hedonistic serial killers derive pleasure from the act of killing. Power/thrill oriented serial killers derive pleasure from feeling in control of helpless victims.
In a criminal case, a serial killer is someone who plans and executes multiple heinous murders while avoiding detection by law enforcement officials. In most cases, serial killers will stalk their victims before killing them. Upon finding a potential victim, they will usually wait for several days before picking them up. During this time they will take all necessary precautions to ensure that no incriminating evidence is left behind. After a successful murder, they will often leave the body in an area where it can be easily hidden.
Another common trait of serial killers is their predilection for using a variety of weapons. In addition to guns, they will often employ knives and axes in their killing sprees. They may even utilize explosives, although these are less common than other methods.
While there are some notable exceptions, most serial killers are mentally healthy and do not have a history of psychiatric illness or drug use. Moreover, serial killers are rarely determined to be incompetent to stand trial and their lawyers do not make a successful insanity defense. This is largely due to the extremely narrow legal definition of insanity which is unlikely to be interpreted as psychopathic by most judicial systems.
The number of victims that is considered to be a serial killing varies among academics and researchers. While some prefer a higher number of victims, others believe that a lower number would allow investigators to devote sufficient resources to the investigation without overwhelming them.