Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters


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African-Americans comprise the largest racial minority group among serial killers, representing approximately 20 percent of the total.

Significantly, however, only white, and normally male, serial killers such as Ted Bundy become popular culture icons. Real-life serial killers are not the isolated monsters of fiction and, frequently, they do not appear to be strange or stand out from the public in any meaningful way. Many serial killers are able to successfully hide out in plain sight for extended periods of time.

Those who successfully blend in are typically also employed, have families and homes and outwardly appear to be non-threatening, normal members of society. Because serial killers can appear to be so innocuous, they are often overlooked by law enforcement officials, as well as their own families and peers. In some rare cases, an unidentified serial killer will even socialize and become friendly with the unsuspecting police detectives who are tracking him.

Serial killers who hide out in plain sight are able to do so precisely because they look just like everyone else. It is their ability to blend in that makes them very dangerous, frightening and yet very compelling to the general public. Reality: The roaming, homicidal maniac such as Freddy Krueger in the cult film A Nightmare on Elm Street is another entertainment media stereotype that is rarely found in real life.

Amelia Dyer

Among the most infamous serial killers, Ted Bundy is the rare exception who traveled and killed interstate. Bundy twice escaped from police custody and committed at least thirty homicides in the states of Washington, Utah, Florida, Colorado, Oregon, Idaho and California. Articulate, educated, well-groomed and charming, Bundy was truly atypical among serial killers in his cross-country killing rampage.

Unlike Bundy, most serial killers have very well defined geographic areas of operation. They typically have a comfort zone—that is, an area that they are intimately familiar with and where they like to stalk and kill their prey. Jack the Ripper provides the classic example of this geographic preference because he stalked and killed exclusively in the small Whitechapel district of London in the fall of The comfort zone of a serial killer is often defined by an anchor point such as a place of residence or employment.

Crime statistics reveal that serial killers are most likely to commit their first murder very close to their place of residence due to the comfort and familiarity it offers them. Serial killers sometimes return to commit murder in an area they know well from the past such as the community in which they were raised.


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Over time, serial murderers may extend their activities outside of their comfort zone but only after building their confidence by executing several successful murders while avoiding detection by law enforcement authorities. As noted by the FBI in its report on serial murder, the crime data reveal that very few serial predators actually travel interstate to kill. The major difference between these individuals who kill serially and other serial murderers is the nature of their traveling lifestyle which provides them with many zones of comfort in which to operate.

Most serial killers do not have such opportunities to travel and keep their killings close to home. Reality: The images presented in the news and entertainment media suggest that serial killers either have a debilitating mental illness such as psychosis or they are brilliant but demented geniuses like Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Neither of these two stereotypes is quite accurate. Instead, serial killers are much more likely to exhibit antisocial personality disorders such as sociopathy or psychopathy, which are not considered to be mental illnesses by the American Psychiatric Association APA.

An examination of psychopathy and sociopathy, and a discussion of the powerful connection between antisocial personality disorders and serial homicide is presented in chapter 4. How many of us are even remotely prepared to imagine our mothers, daughters, sisters or grandmothers as fiendish killers? For centuries we have been conditioned to think of serial murderers and psychopathic predators as men—with women registering low on our paranoia radar.

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Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters

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Female Serial Killers Are No Myth | Psychology Today

Murder is scary; who wants to claim it? Who wants to understand it? And just for the record, this denial is exactly why so many charming grandmothers managed to kill for decades without being suspected of a thing. I disagree with their stoic and deranged belief that the best way to rid themselves of their problems and to move forward in the world was to murder. But I acknowledge their sick drive to improve their circumstances. People kill for all sorts of reasons: anger, greed, malignant narcissism, petty irritation.

In the introduction to War and Peace , Leo Tolstoy brings up the case of Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova, a Russian serial killer from the s who appears in this book. But until then, we have to face the facts: there are, indeed, female serial killers. These lady killers were clever, bad tempered, conniving, seductive, reckless, self-serving, delusional, and willing to do whatever it took to claw their way into what they saw as a better life. They were ruthless and inflexible. They were lost and confused.

They were psychopaths and child slayers. But they were not wolves. They were not vampires. They were not men. Time and again, the record shows: they were horrifyingly, quintessentially, inescapably human.

Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters
Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters
Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters
Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters
Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters

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