Serial Killers

Serial Killers

What is a serial killer?

  • Killing three or more people with a cooling off period in between (spree killers are different, there is no cooling off period between kills - ex. the recent tragedy in California, mass murderers are the same as spree killers)
  • Have an "MO" (modus operendi) - a trademark, something they always do, a characteristic or pattern that is repeated (ex: the story that the criminal gives the victim in order to gain entrance - such as being a plumber or cable repair person)
  • Could involve a "signature" - the psychological calling card, unusual characteristics that are repeated at several crime scenes (choosing only young women with blonde or light brown hair that is parted in the middle - Ted Bundy)
  • Their motivation is sexual or aggresive drives to exert power through killing (serial killers are almost always male, but there are plenty of exceptions to this rule, like Elizabeth Bathory)
  • Are difficult to investigate because they are often mobil and have extensive interstate highway travel, and generally there is little to no prior association with the victim
Types of Serial Killers
  • Organized Serial Killers
    • plan out the murder for months or years
    • offender is normally married, has steady employment, and is generally thought to be a good member of society.
    • Bring instruments of the crime with them (demonstrate planning)
    • Are highly intelligence and are knowledgeable about forensic evidence and law enforcement
  • Disorganized Serial Killers
    • Do not plan out crimes in advance
    • Are often unemployed and without transportation
    • Commits frimes spontaneously
    • Are more often of low intelligence or psychotic
Psychological Types
    1. Power Oriented - Tendy Bundy enjoyed watching terror of the victims
    2. Mission Oriented - feel as though they are improving the world by getting rid of undesirable people (ex: Green River Killer - Gary Ridgway)
    3. Visionary - kill because they are directed by hallucinations (ex: David Berkowitz)
    4. Hedonistic - gain sexual satisfaction from hurting people (Jeffrey Dahmer)
    5. Comfort - kill for financial gain like insurance benefits (Golay & Rutterschmidt)
    6. Disciple - kill under the influence of a charismatic leader (Manson family)
McDonald Triad
  • Most serial killers exhibit at least one of these behaviors
    • According to the FBI, 60% of serial killers wet the bed past the age of 12
    • David Berkowitz (the Son of Sam) set 1.412 fires but switched to killing because it gave him more excitement and TV news coverage
    • Keith Jesperson, serial killer from British Columbia who murdered more than 160 victims, started with dozens of cats and other small animals before moving on to human beings
  • TRIAD:  bet wetting, fire starting, and killing animals
Famous Serial Killers
  • Ted Bundy
  • Cleveland Strangler
  • David Berkowitz
  • Donald Harvey
  • Elizabeth Bathory
  • John Wayne Gacy (clown guy)
  • BTK Killer (Bind, Torture, Kill)
  • Zodiac Killer
  • Delphine LaLaurie (killer from American Horror Story, season 3... she's real!)
  • Dorthea Puente


THANK YOU SO MUCH for your willingness to be so flexible this week!   I know it isn't ideal to travel to a different room two days in a row, but I know you are awesome kids who can handle the disruption with ease!

Today... you are looking at SERIAL KILLERS.  It's a fairly easy day, that tests your ability to research a topic, and translate the information you find in a 1-2 page long overview of serial killers.  I am looking at your ability to translate information read into your own written ideas and connections.  This is NOT a test in your ability to copy and paste... its just you researching a fun, disgusting topic and putting it into a quick essay! Last grade of the year, and it's an easy A... all you have to do is read, write, make it fun and creative, and NOT cheat (or talk, because you know, Mrs. King's class have to take a final)


  • Read the information posted BEFORE you begin
  • Google to find 2 serial killers that interest you
  • Research these 2 serial killers, and copy all the links you use (Wikipedia is fine for this assignment)
  • Write a 4 paragraph essay that is 1-2 pages long, double-spaced, size 12... only heading is your name and SERIAL KILLERS
    • INTRODUCTION:  What is a serial killer?  *Synthesize the info given to you
    • SERIAL KILLER #1:  Explain who they are, what they did, how many people they killed, what was their MO or signature, what type of killer were they, what interesting factors are there... etc. and so on 
    • SERIAL KILLER #2:  Same as above
    • CONCLUSION:  What interesting information did you find out about serial killers?  Add this to the traditional concluding activities and you are FINISHED!
  • Turn it in:  This assignment is worth a FREE 30 POINTS just for actually DOING it individually!!! :)  YAY!