Most of the serial killers we hear about, whether in movies or in real life, tend to be men. Most people cannot name 5 female serial killers, even including fictional ones.
However, there are enough serial killers of all genders for psychiatrists to study in depth - and the differences experts determined between male and female serial killers may surprise you...
1. Male Motive / Female Motive
Female serial killers kill primarily for financial gain. This is a very different figure to their male counterparts, who more often kill for power, dominance and sexual perversion.
2. Closer to Home...
While male serial killers typically target strangers, female serial killers almost always kill people they know - usually husbands, parents, children or other relatives. This ties in with point 1 - the quickest way to financial gain is to 'speed up' your inheritance.
3. The Nurturer Gone Wrong
Statistically, a female serial killer is most likely to work in a caring profession: a nurse / health worker, a teacher, a mother... logically, this is then where they source their victims.
4. Weapon of Choice
Most female serial killers use poison as a weapon. However, even though Sherlock Holmes considered that 'poison is a woman’s weapon,' the majority of poisoners are men, as a vastly greater number of male killers are arrested.
5. Fewer Killers - or Fewer Convictions?
Psychologists in the field record only 46 known female serial killers in the 200 years spanning 1800 - 2000. Does that mean there were only 46 female serial killers in that time... or is it because women who kill are better at evading capture?
6. Women Make Better Serial Killers
Experts in the field discovered that recorded female U.S. serial killers managed a killing 'career' of 8 - 11 years on average; much longer than the average male serial killer's timescale of just two years.
7. She's Actually... Pretty Normal
There are no 'trigger signs' to look for particularly - your average female serial killer is a young, middle-class, married, Christian. Psychology expert Prof. Marissa Harrison told Washington Post:
The profile we put together sounds just like your average person. … There is no way to tell.