The term 'serial killer' was first used in the 1930s by a German inspector known as Ernst Gennat, however, most people give credit to the former FBI special agent named Robert Ressler for introducing the English term in the 1970s. According to the federal law, the term serial killing is defined as "a series of three or more killings, not less than one of which was committed within the United States, having common characteristics such as to suggest the reasonable possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors. This means that serial killers do not randomly kill anyone who comes in their ways, like mass murderers. Also they have a specific way of killing their victims.
If you try to understand the psychology of serial killers and think about some of the most notorious serial killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Jack the Ripper or Eddie Gein, you would note that there was a similarity in the way these people committed murders. They did not just kill anyone randomly, but all their victims had some or the other similarity, but they all in a way, were different types of serial killers with different reasons to kill.
Different Types of Serial Killers: Why do they Kill?
I was reading about some of the famous serial killers in the United States, Eddie Gein, Jeffery Dahmer, or the Angel of Death! Though they all are known for their absurd ways of killing, they were very different from each other in terms of traits or characteristics. For instance, while Jeffrey Dahmer had a difficult childhood, was separated from his mother and brother, and no interest in studies, Eddie Gein was too attached to his mother and was a good academic student.
Each and every one has a different story, each and everyone is a different killer. While some are extremely organized, like the Zodiac killer who was never captured by the police officials and still remains a mystery. On the other hand, some are highly disorganized, like Eddie Gein, who told a sawmill owner that a missing woman named Mary Hogan was at his farm. Mentioned below are some of the most well-known categories of serial killers that exist, and why do they kill?
The one who Kills for 'Lust'
These serial killers get immense sexual pleasure when they torture or kill others. These people kill only to obtain sexual contentment by fulfilling their sexual fantasies. The more they torture the person, the more they are sexually aroused. Sex is the primary cause of serial killings, which is why most of the victims of these type of murderers are within a certain age group, and generally have similarity in height, weight, looks and race. The example of this type of serial killer would be Keith Hunter Jesperson who killed a 23 year old Taunja Bennet. He confessed saying, "I killed Tanya Bennett... I beat her to death, raped her and loved it. Yes I'm sick, but I enjoy myself too. People took the blame and I'm free... Look over your shoulder. I may be closer than you think."
The 'Visionary' Serial Killer
You would find them completely insane... in fact they are completely insane because of the simple reason that they blame their killing habits to some voices or visions that they hear! Yes, these serial killers are psychotic in nature and believe that they are compelled to murder by the entities like Demon and God. A classic example of this would be the serial killer known as the Son of Sam, the real name being David Berkowitz who said he was possessed by a demon and that there are many 'other sons' out there.
The 'Profit Seeking' Serial Killer
These serial killers kill only to obtain comfort through material things which can give them a comfortable and a luxurious lifestyle. In order to stay away from the eyes of the law, these killers usually keep a gap between their killings, and then attack the next victim. Dorothea Puente would be the perfect example for this as she killed approximately 9 people in a span of 6 years for their social security checks. Studies also reveal that most of the female serial killers kill for comfort and material possessions.
The One who Kills for 'Power and Control'
Ted Bundy, the most notorious serial killer ever known said, "I want to master life and death." Didn't this statement represent the urge to possess power or take control! In fact, most of this type of killers kill because, they themselves lacked control of their lives in the past. Studies show that such killers were either abused as kids or were abandoned making them feel left out and powerless. Most of these killers also abuse their victims sexually, but not because of lust, only because it gives them a sense of control over them.
The One who Kills for 'Thrill'
These serial killers don't kill for money, or sex, or power, it is more of a recreational activity for them. The ability to be able to terrorize their victims and the entire neighborhood is something that brings a lot of thrill and excitement in their lives. One of the famous serial killer that has not been caught yet, the Zodiac, had written, "[killing] gives me the most thrilling experience, it is even better than getting your rocks off with a girl." The killers that kill for the trill are highly organized and invest a lot of time and research on how to become perfect at what they do.
So, what can be concluded after going through the different types of serial killers mentioned above? They are highly intelligent, which is why they managed to commit so many killings without getting caught for a long period of time. In fact, Ted Bundy had an IQ level of 140... wish he had used it for something better! Another reason as to why some people become serial killers can be associated with their disturbed childhood and teenage.
Most of the famous serial killers come from broken families or were abused physically or sexually during their childhood. The feeling of abandonment, frustration, wrath, and worthlessness makes them look for ways (consciously or unconsciously), wherein they can take it all out on others... the others being some randomly picked victims who have to face the consequences of them just being on the way of these killers.