Monday, December 16, 2002

Serial Killer Fun Facts...from the New York Times. reg. req.

This appeared after the disgruntled white guy turned out to be two black guys....

Some Highlights:

Serial Killing's Squarest Pegs: Not Solo, White, Psychosexual or Picky

The middle-aged man and the teenager were footloose traveling companions on a fathomless mission of horror. For three weeks, investigators say, they killed — callously, wantonly, ceaselessly, driven by a logic known only to themselves — and thus qualified themselves for inclusion in the macabre fraternity of the serial killer.

....If anything is clear in that roll call of malevolence, it is that all serial killers are their own story, with their own idiosyncrasies and twisting plot lines, their own tumble of complexities. Ted Bundy is not Jeffrey Dahmer is not John Wayne Gacy. The only true common denominator among them is skill at bringing about death.

The Team Killer

The fact that there are two of them sets them apart. Serial killers are usually loners, who strike without accomplices or companions, propelled by their personal demons and objectives. Several experts estimate that no more than 10 to 28 percent of serial killers are teams, although some of the pairs qualify as among the most infamous of all criminals. The Hillside Strangler, for instance, was actually two cousins, Angelo Buono Jr. and Kenneth Bianchi, who were convicted of kidnapping, raping, torturing and murdering young women in Los Angeles in the late 1970's.

Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo, a Canadian husband and wife known to friends as Ken and Barbie, were accused of raping and murdering young girls. Mr. Bernardo was convicted of two murders, while Ms. Homolka pleaded guilty to manslaughter and testified against him.

Leonard Lake and Charles Ng acted as partners in turning the fortified bunker that Mr. Lake had built into his house near Wilseyville, Calif., into a grisly torture chamber where at least 25 people were thought to have died, their suffering recorded on videotapes made by the killers.

In team killings, according to students of serial killers, one member usually dominates.

Mr. Muhammad seemed to hold considerable sway over Mr. Malvo. Though apparently unrelated, Mr. Malvo called Mr. Muhammad father and is said to have adhered to a rigid diet of crackers, honey and vitamin supplements he insisted upon.

The Race Factor

He would be white. That was the consensus of many experts who furnished educated guesses on the sniper's identity before the arrests. Serial killing, they said, was a white man's game.

Both suspects are black.

There have been few studies of the race and ethnicity of serial killers, but the handful that have been done suggest that black serial killers occur in roughly equal — or even slightly greater — proportion to the number of blacks in the population. These studies estimate that between 13 and 22 percent of American serial killers are black.

But the cases so indelibly imprinted on the public consciousness by Hollywood and book publishing are generally white killers like David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam killer; and Jeffrey L. Dahmer, the Milwaukee killer of men and boys.

Most serial killers, black and white, kill within their race. This was true of Wayne Williams, who killed at least five black children in Atlanta in the 1980's, and Henry Louis Wallace, who killed nine young black women in Charlotte, N.C., between 1992 and 1994. Cleophus Prince Jr. was unusual in that he murdered six white women in San Diego in the 1990's.

The sniper suspects are particularly atypical in that the police believe they killed whites and blacks.

In one trait, however, they are unmistakably the usual suspects. They are men. As few as 5 percent of serial killers are thought to be women. Women who kill tend to choose family members and acquaintances as victims, and they usually use poison. There are exceptions, like Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute who shot truck drivers along Florida highways in 1989 and 1990.

The Nonspecialist

White. Black. Men. Women. Young. Old. The snipers killed them all. It did not seem to matter.

Almost always, though, serial killers specialize, and by now the categories of choice are familiar: prostitutes, children, young women, gay men, hitchhikers.

John Wayne Gacy preyed on young men and boys. Ted Bundy trafficked in young college women. David Berkowitz selected couples necking in parked cars.

Random killers are rare.

The Speeded-Up Timeline

The timing was strange.

Most serial killers begin slowly, tentatively, almost testing the waters of death. With success, their confidence builds and they begin to speed up the death count. Generally, though, there are pauses between killings that can last days, weeks or years.

The snipers, the authorities say, turned that protocol on its head. They began with a burst of violence, gunning down six people in just over 24 hours, and then followed that explosion with a series of single killings that slowed in frequency as time passed.

The Childhood

Are serial killers made or born?

Criminologists still know little about what makes these killers kill.

Some experts cite a so-called homicidal triad — fire setting, bed-wetting beyond an appropriate age, and animal torturing — that frequently shows up in the backgrounds of murderers. Other experts say physical or sexual abuse in childhood may also be a factor.

Many serial killers interviewed by researchers after they were convicted have described parents who were brutal, neglectful or, at the very least, difficult. What is clear, experts agree, is that few serial killers suffer from major mental disorders like schizophrenia.

The Motives

Why kill? Why kill again and again?

Various profilers and researchers try to divide motivations into broad classifications. Dr. Fox settles on five: power and control; profit; revenge; terror; and loyalty.

This is just a taste of the many full-filled factoids in the article....A must read...