WHAT IS SERIAL MURDER?
Serial murder has been defined as ‘two or more separate murders where an individual, acting alone or with another, commits multiple homicides over a period of time, with time breaks between each murder event’ (Geberth). Hickey simply defines serial murder as killing over time. Holmes and Holmes define a serial killer as “Someone who murders at least three persons in more than a thirty-day period. It has also been defines as one person killing another in the context of power, control, sexuality, and aggressive brutality” (Burgess et al) (Deborah, 2000)
FEMALE SERIAL KILLERS IN THE U.S.A
Female serial killers account for only eight percent of American serial killers but American females account for three-fourth of all female serial killers worldwide (H. Thomas, 2004). Of a total of about 400 serial killers identified between 1800 and 1995, approximately 16 percent were females- a total of 62 killers. Although this number is not an overwhelming majority, neither is it a number that can be ignored. Those 62 women collectively killed between 400 and 600 victims including men, women and children (Peter, 2007). At any one time it is estimated that there are between 50-75 serial killers operating in United States. Approximately 7-8 out of these are females, definitely not a number that can be ignored (Deborah, 2000). How are they different from male serial killers?
“Women tend to be more careful, precise and methodical than males” (H. Thomas, 2004). Male serial killers tend to use overt murder methods such as bludgeoning, stabbing, and strangling. But serial killers who are females typically use covert methods such as suffocation or poisoning in order to kill their victim. As a result women do not leave physical marks or evidence when they murder unlike their male counterparts. Hence, they can commit their crimes for longer periods of time without being detected. The average male serial murderer kills on average for 4.2 years before being caught, but the female averages 8.4 years before apprehension. The use of covert method to murder by women can be partly explained by how they are raised in their families where there are “clear, traditionally defined sex roles within the family unit”. They attract towards female dominated professions. What this means is that gender role indeed has an effect on the nature of violence by women and men (Deborah, 2000). Men track or stalk their victims, but women are more likely to lure victims to their death. Females abuse both alcohol and drugs; males are not likely to be substance abusers (Larry, 2011). A survey of known serial killers worldwide reveals that 41% of homicidal women kill for profit or greed, versus 14% of male serial killers (Micheal & John, 2008). Criminologists have found that beyond using covert methods to kill their victims in a “feminine” way, female serial killers are geographically stable. That means the women do not move from one place to another when they kill, unlike many male serial killers. Female predators remain in one locality and cloak their crimes by choosing very sick or helpless victims (Deborah, 2000). Who are the victims?
Many female serial killers kill at home and their victims have often been family members or intimates: husbands, lovers and...