Dennis Nilson stated "a mind can be evil without being abnormal". If this is the case, then what makes a serial killer tick? The definition of a serial killer is; a series of two or more murders committed as separate events usually, but not always, by one offender standing alone. (Brookes, 1988) Over the years, many murderers have been given this term. From the early days of Jack the Ripper, to the most recently publicized case of "the sniper", all have different motives and reasons to the crimes that they commit. Most of the serial killers suffer from mental illness/addictions or have had traumatic life experiences. This is not always the case though; some can also be racially motivated. The typical serial killer is a lower to middle class white male in his twenties to thirties. As children, they usually have a "triad" of symptoms which include bed wetting, playing with fire, and animal torturing. In one instance, Peter Kurten of Dusseldorf, Germany would have sexual relations with animals including pigs, goats, and sheep. While having sex with sheep, he would repeatedly stab them. In the past fifteen years, as narcissistic disturbance in general has been better understood, a relationship has been noted between pathological narcissism and serial homicide (Schlesinger, 1998). Serial killers' motivation to kill seems to stem from their underlying personality makeup. In studies, psychologists believe that there is a relationship between narcissism and aggression. Most serial killers are diagnosed borderline or narcissistic, even older cases that were reported in literature (Schlesinger, 1998).
Aileen Wuornos, born in Rochester, Michigan, was the daughter of teenage parents. Her father, a child molester and psychopath, left the family several months before Aileen was born. Her mother left soon after, claiming Aileen and her brother Keith were "crying unhappy babies," leaving their grandparents left to care for them.
At fourteen, she found herself pregnant, claiming her brother as the father. After the death of her grandmother from liver failure, although assumed murdered by Aileen's mother, Aileen dropped out of school and started prostituting cross country. Using many aliases, Aileen had many encounters with the law. Spanning from disorderly conduct to assault charges, she showed a steady progression of what was yet to come.
Her brother Keith died on July 17, 1976 of throat cancer, and Aileen was paid 10,000 dollars from his life insurance. She blew it all, and hitchhiking her way to Florida and married a 69 year old yacht club president. Lewis Fell and Aileen were married in 1976, and a year later the marriage was annulled. After many offenses committed in Florida, including serving 13 months in prison for armed robbery, Aileen met Tyria Moore. They remained close friends after a failed attempt at a relationship.
Aileen supported Tyria by prostituting since Tyria quit her job as a maid. Moving from one motel to another, they soon began to have financial issues. This made Aileen more and more desperate to earn a dollar. On November 30, 1989 Aileen murdered her first victim. He was a Palm Beach store owner by the name of Richard Mallory. She claimed that he violently raped her, making her vengeful against men. Aileen claimed this sparked a fuse for the rest of her murders. She killed six other victims, with only five being found. Aileen Wournos was found guilty and executed Wednesday, October 9, 2002 at 9:47 a.m.
John Allen Muhammad & Lee Boyd Malvo
Changing the stereotype of a typical serial killer were John Allen Muhammad & Lee Boyd Malvo, also known as "The Snipers". They were both African American men, who killed people at random. The victims were all different from their race, gender, and social & economic status.
Spanning many races, this crime was not racially motivated, but they planned to extort ten million dollars from state and local...
References: Malvo, L. B. (2005, Jan 2). Lee boyd malvo.
Retrieved October 31, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Boyd_Malvo
Muhammed, J. A. (2005, Jan 2). John allen muhammed. Retrieved October 31, 2006,
Newton, Michael. (2000). The encyclopedia of serial killers. New York, NY:
Schlesinger, Louis B. (1998). Current psychology. Developmental, Learning,
Personality, Social, Volume 17, 212-221.
The Beltway Sniper attacks (2005, Jan 2) Retrieved October 31, 2006,
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