here are murders in this world every day. We read about them so often that we no longer have a sick reaction to the news, whether on television, in the newspaper, or on the internet – unless it affects us on a personal level. War, gang violence, and murders of passion are in the news every day with little reaction from the masses. We might hear about the depressed mother who murders her children (these stories are usually more interesting) but we find comfort, on some level, that post partum depression was responsible. Periodically, a story comes to light that there is a serial killer on the loose! The sad truth is that if the murders are directed at prostitutes, we have minimal interest; when they involve college girls, couples or someone we can relate to, the interest in knowing every detail is insatiable.
Well over a century later, the fascination of Jack the Ripper continues. Anyone who visits London can take the Jack the Ripper tour through the streets where this infamous killer once stalked, tortured and killed prostitutes. The fact that he was never caught keeps this story alive with ongoing assumptions and reasons for who was responsible. Movies, TV, books, and articles have all “captured” Jack the Ripper.
The hard truth about serial killers is that there are more of them than we know, and most will never be caught.
Let’s define what the FBI identifies as the traits and characteristics of a serial killer. For starters, the murders must be repetitive – they will continue until the killer is caught, dies, or is killed. A more concise definition is a person who kills more than three victims, during more than three events, at more than three or more locations, with a cooling off period.
Serial killers are driven by compulsions and fantasies which can lead to torture, sexual abuse, mutilation and necrophilia. The killing period decreases over time. This is explained by the theory that the murderer receives such excitement from the hunt and kills that the excitement wanes over the course of time. They want more.
Most serial murderers are male and take a “trophy” from their victims. The trophy allows them to relive their kill over and over again. There is an obscene amount of violence either during or after the murder, i.e. rape, etc. There is no motive for the killings, but a behavioral pattern is seen, i.e. only blonde women, only mothers, only men, etc. as well as the nature of how the killings are done, i.e. rape and stabbing, disembowelment, etc.
Throughout this country, many police forces have open murder cases that will probably turn into serial cases. There are killers who have only struck twice, a year apart. In these cases, it is almost certain the killer will not be apprehended unless caught in the act. It is not considered a serial until the third strike, and if the murderer kills in different cities, it is unlikely he will be found. The serial killer who randomly chooses his victims a year apart, in different locations, will probably never become known unless until he is caught in the act or dies of natural causes.