It is only the truth to admit that serial killers are rather fascinating. The fact that someone could perform such unspeakable acts is so jarring that we can't help but feel a morbid enthrallment as we obsessively read about their despicable killings.
With the examples of Jigsaw from the Saw franchise, Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs, and Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, it appears to parallel the real-life belief that most serial killers tend to be caucasian males, mentally ill loners who kill far and wide.
Below is a list of common misconceptions about serial killers and the truth behind these widespread ideas.
Myth 1: All Serial Killers Are Caucasian
Serial killers can be any and all racial and ethnic groups, but for some reason the most popular cases tend to be with white, male serial killers, such as Ted Bundy. Unfortunately, many become popular culture icons.
While it is documented that serial killers are African American, Latino, and Asian, it seems that 20 percent of the total of serial killers happen to be African American, making them the largest minority group among serial killers.
Myth 2: All Serial Killers Are Men
As recent as 1998, a highly established former FBI profiler claimed that “there are no female serial killers.” But it is completely untrue that women aren't capable of performing insanely horrific and violent acts.
A person has the ability to kill repeatedly regardless of gender, as it is learned through socialization. While it is true that there are less female serial killers than male ones, a whole 17 percent of all serial killings are done by women.
Myth 3: All Serial Killers Are Evil and Cunning, or Mentally Ill
Dr. Hannibal Lecter is considered one of the most famous sick, yet intelligent serial killers. But most serial killers actually have more of an antisocial personality disorder such as sociopathy or psychopathy. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), these disorders do not fall under the category of mental illnesses.
Most serial killers actually do not suffer from such severe mental illnesses. Serial killers such as John Wayne Gacy and Dennis Rader were completely aware of just how illegal it was to murder someone. The two had more of an intense craving to kill and were able to ignore the legal consequences of their acts.
Myth 4: All Serial Killers Travel Wide and Even Move Around From State to State
Serial killers such as Ted Bundy are incredibly rare. While he may have killed his victims while traveling, a majority of serial killers operate within very specific parameters, as they tend to find it more comforting. An example of this is Jack the Ripper, who would hunt and kill in the small Whitechapel district of London in 1888.
A majority also tend to commit murder in the area in which they were raised, as they feel they know the area incredibly well. Most serial killers in general do not have the ability to travel, and therefore stay close to their homes.
Myth 5: All Serial Killers Are Loners
It is not true that all serial killers live alone and are strange misfits hiding from the world. Many do hide out for a little bit of time, but they tend to blend into society. They are employed, they have families, and otherwise seem incredibly normal. They can appear so normal and innocent, in fact, that they can get overlooked by police, and even their own peers.
Ed Kemper, the "Co-ed Killer" even became friendly with the police. This is why serial killers are especially frightening, as they know how to make themselves not look frightening at all.
This only reminds me to be on my toes, as you never know if you're friendly neighbor actually has some more sinister thoughts swirling in his - or her - head.
I think I'll be sleeping with the lights on tonight.
[Source: Scientific American]