Social Construction of a Serial Killer

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Final Essay

Final Essay: Social Construction of a Serial Killer

By: Kristin D. Cole

Professor A. Major

Deviance and Violence

The social construction of a serial killer can consist of many different behaviors, thoughts, and actions that play out over time. A serial killer in my opinion is one who acts out on his or her impulses. Impulses that are usually made up of fantasies that the individual cannot separate from reality. Most serial killers come from abusive homes and experience traumatic events throughout their lives. I believe that due to these events and abuse serial killers can detach their self emotionally from not only their victims but from what society deems normal. “A large number of serial killings are motivated by sexual urges, and with female serial killers, a large number of the killings are motivated by financial gain” (Hickey 1997, p. 27).

There are many different theories and thoughts they may help to explain serial killers and there murders more in depth. For instance the social structure theory, a theory that focuses on individual’s socioeconomic standing. This theory explains that poor people commit crimes to try to further their financial gain along with their economic standing. I think that this theory explains a lot of criminal acts that occur. I do not think that this theory pertains to every serial killer since it has been shown that most serial killers are not motivated by financial gain. I do however think that it explains quite a bit about our female serial killers. Since a large majority of female serial killers are motivated by financial gain this theory falls right in place.

One female serial killer that comes to mind is the “Black Widow” or Lydia True blood. Lydia was from Pocatello, Idaho and at the age of nineteen met and married land owner Robert C. Dooley. The couple shortly after being married welcomed a baby girl named Lorraine. Everything seemed well until the death of baby Lorraine, soon after her death Lydia’s brother in law who was living with them died as well. Then in October 1915 Robert suddenly died as well from what was believed to be Typhoid. Two years after the death of her baby girl, brother-in-law, and husband Lydia married again. Within a year and a half her then husband William McHaffle died from what was thought to be complications of influenza.

Being the quick mover that she is, Lydia at the age of 25, married again. Harlan C. Lewis, husband number three died four months into the marriage from what was suspected to be complications of gastro-enteritis. Next, would come Edward C. Meyer a ranch foreman from Pocatello, Idaho. Unfortunately, for him he would only survive with her for one month. Thankfully after four dead husbands someone finally took notice and tested the body where they found traces of arsenic. After they discovered that Edward was poisoned the rest of the bodies were exhumed and tested as well. All came back with the same answer, poison, even the body of her dead baby girl. Authorities went to arrest Lydia but she was long gone, living in Hawaii with her fifth husband Paul Vincent. Lydia was taken into custody and found guilty of all of the murders. She was sentenced to 10 years to life in prison. All of her killings seemed to be motivated by financial gain. Lydia took out life insurance policies on each and every one of her victims. With each husband her social status increased and so did her finances. This was a case where a girl that came from nothing used murder as a tool to get where she wanted to be. Even though the social structure theory does not cover all serial killers there are the exceptions. (Hickey)

Another theory that is looked upon to explain serial killers is the social class theory. The social class theory is the thought that most serial killers fall into two classes the upper working class and the lower working class. Leyton, the author of “Hunting Humans,” then states...
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