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Serial Killers

The phenomenon of occurrence of violent crimes and the act of murder stems from the ancient times. Currently, the problem of murders becomes urgent as they are becoming more widespread in the world. In specific, it is necessary to focus on one of the most dangerous types of crime, which is serial murder. The actions of serial killers are a sequential series of three or more crimes, which are have common specific criminological peculiarities. Serial killers have a wide typology; criminologists distinguish visionary, missionary, hedonist, and power-hungry types of killers. In fact, their characteristics and a number of particular features of their reasons and methods of killing are rather different. Thus, as criminologists always need effective methods of serial crimes investigation, the unique features of killers’ typology help them to follow the general investigation stages.

As it was previously mentioned, a number of crimes characterized by the similarity of a motive, time, situation, and the coincidence of victim personality characteristics is referred to as serial. The term “serial killer” appeared in 1976 and was first applied to the description of Ted Bundy; however, the wide dissemination of the term has acquired after the trial of David Berkowitz (Hickey, 2015). In fact, serial killers are separated from mass criminals, who kill a big number of people within a short time with periods of emotional cooling. On the other hand, there are also chain killers, who kill humans during a long time without periods of emotional cooling (Hickey, 2015). According to most of criminologists, a serial killer is a man who has made at least three separate murders for non-obvious reasons in more than 30 days. Most often, the victims of a serial killer are non-related people. In fact, the cruelty of these criminals is so monstrous that the public often remembers about them for decades and even centuries. Indeed, even Roman historians wrote about serial killers. For example, the historian Livy reported the epidemic poisoning which swept Rome in 331 BC (Newton, 2008). Besides, there was a famous Roman murderer with a name Locust, who created a school for poisoners, and had emperors using their services. In order to identify the specific patterns of serial murders, a detailed study of the nature of serial killers began in the XX century.

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There is plenty of useful typology and characteristics information about serial killers in criminology today. In fact, their classification is based on such criteria as sexual orientation, the area of criminal activity and preference for the victims’ age group. To the first type of the serial killers typology, the criminologists refer heterosexuals and homosexuals. The area of criminal activity shows if the crime was in the area in which they live or in adjacent regions. Thus, regarding the territorially features, criminologists allocate local and wandering types of serial killers (Hickey, 2015). The murderers of the first type commit crimes in a particular location, which is usually chosen beforehand and associated with their place of work or residence. In contrast, the wandering type changes the different locations to select their victims. Finally, for the preference of age, criminologists allocate pedophiles (who murder children), ephebophilies (who murder children and adolescents), and gerentophilies (who murder the elderly). Besides, there also are universal killers, and people of different sex and age could become their victims.

Furthermore, criminologists allocate four main groups of killers based on motivational characteristics. The first type is the “visionary” killer, and this type is not very widespread. This group of murderers commit crimes under the influence of visual and auditory hallucinations. Unlike the three other types of killers, these people are mentally unstable: they often have the visions or hear the voice of what they perceive as God or demons, which commands them to kill a particular person or a particular group of people. The second is the missionary type of serial killers. These murderers envision themselves as missioners who "clean" the society from the "evil spirits". Most often, their victims include prostitutes and homosexuals. The next type is the hedonist, the most popular and studied category of serial killers. These murderers kill because the process of murder gives them pleasure (Seltzer, 2013). Among the characteristics of this type of serial killers, there are often various forms of sexual perversion, dismemberment, necrophilia and cannibalism. In fact, the hedonistic type is divided into two subtypes. The first subtype of these killers derives sexual satisfaction from the sadistic manipulation of the victim and their corpse. They have clearly expressed all phases of the serial murder: firstly, these types of killers have a fantasy which cultivated a desire to kill, and secondly, they have a hunt for the "ideal" victim that had been formed in the previous phase. In fact, murderers enjoy the process of the murder and the moment of ecstasy after it. A great number of killers carries different parts of the victim's body to prolong their pleasure and collect “trophies” that would remind them of the exciting moments. In some time after their crime, these types of serial killers experience depression, frustration, and desire to commit new murders (Wilson, & Seaman, 2011). The second hedonist subtype also gets pleasure from killings, but with several other reasons. The obtaining of sexual gratification recedes here into the background. The main objectives of these killings are unusual sensations, danger, risk, and all other moments that cause the release of adrenaline and ecstatic state. For this subtype, murders become a drug, with its typical addiction and requests for continuation. The last type of serial killer is a power-hungry person, which in most cases is a man with low self-esteem and lack of love and acceptance (Seltzer, 2013). The killers of this type think that they deserve attention, and their murders are a way of self-affirmation, proof of strength and consistency. This type of murderer enjoys the humiliation and helplessness of the victim and his feeling of omnipotence and power. Therefore, all manipulations with a victim (including sexual) have the goal of demonstrating the unlimited power over another human.

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