Throughout the history of crime, there have been several serial murderers. These crimes are defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as multiple murders committed by the same individual. Serial killers can be distinguished from other types of murderers because they are often able to commit crimes without being caught. They are also characterized by their intelligence and charisma. The motivations of serial killers vary considerably.
One common trait of many serial murderers is impulsivity. While some are purely motivated by sexual compulsion, others are driven by money, thrill, and power. Sexually-motivated killers repeatedly target victims for their own gratification. Often, these killers are abused when they are children.
Other killers are motivated by criminal enterprise or ideological beliefs. Visionary killers attribute their crimes to a vision. Andrey Chikatilo murdered at least 50 people in the Soviet Union from 1978 to 1990. Some of these killers are considered to be “black widows” because they murder many individuals over a period of time.
Another trait of many serial killers is lack of remorse. This is a condition known as psychopathic personality disorder. Psychosis can include paranoia and auditory hallucinations. Psychopathic killers are callous to their interactions with the victims. In addition to committing multiple murders, these killers can be physically violent.
Serial murder is an extremely rare type of homicide in non-Western societies. However, it has become increasingly prevalent in urban areas. Urbanization provides anonymity and puts people in close proximity. It has been suggested that a rise in serial murder is related to the increase in crime in these areas.
Typical victims of a serial killer include prostitutes, homosexuals, children, and migrants. These types of victims tend to be in areas where the police are not as vigilant.
Serial murderers generally commit their crimes within a “comfort zone,” which is a geographical region that the killer is comfortable in. Sometimes, the killer will spiral out of this comfort zone to avoid detection.
A typical serial killer is mobile and charismatic. He or she may engage in drug abuse or alcohol abuse. Most killers are white males. Usually, they are 25 to 34 years old.
Unlike spree or mass murder, there is no cooling-off period for serial killers. This leads to arbitrary guidelines for the definition of these crimes.
Several books and films have been produced about serial killers. These films range from formulaic to critically acclaimed. Many documentaries are also made about serial killers. Such movies have fueled the popularity of the phenomenon. Some academics have criticized the popularity of the phenomenon as a reflection of the decline of moral values in Western society.
However, serial killings have raised a number of social issues. They have inspired numerous popular novels in the 20th century. At the end of the 20th century, serial murder cases received widespread media coverage. During this time, there were many lurid nicknames for the killers.
Some of the most popular serial killers were portrayed in Hollywood films. Among these was Jeffrey Dahmer. His story was portrayed in the film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2004). Films based on the life of Ted Bundy were also popular.