At a time when violent crime is dropping, one category of deceptively dangerous people -- serial killers -- is causing alarm from coast to coast with seemingly motiveless murders. These people are not creatures or animals who can easily be identified. Serial killers are hard to find and virtually undetectable until they start murdering the innocent. Like all evolved predators, they know how to stalk their victims by gaining their trust. "Serial killers don't wear their hearts on their sleeve. Instead, they hide behind a carefully constructed façade of normalcy." (Crime Library) Serial killers have been an integral part of American history and plagued this country for many years. With the hype and myth surrounding the phenomenon of serial murder, serial killers' crimes occupy a high profile category and occur at the end of the spectrum of normality. This paper will examine information on what a serial killer is and why they kill.
Serial murder is defined as the killing of three or more people over a period of more than 30 days with a significant cooling off period between the killings (Seltzer 18). This cooling off period is the critical factor that separates the serial killer from mass and spree killers. A serial killer usually emerges from the pain and suffering of a life riddled with abuse, neglect, hormonal imbalances, and other numerous situations. Serial murder is a disease. There are valid explanations that help society realize that these individuals experienced events so traumatic in their early lives that they have become dead to their surroundings and have attained no sense of moral autonomy (Levin & Fox 52). To truly understand a serial killer, society must put aside their media-born misconceptions and look upon serial killers with an unbiased attitude.