Kevin Bennett is Snarling

Serial Killer Psychology: Fact vs. Fantasy

June 05, 2023 Kevin Bennett
Kevin Bennett is Snarling
Serial Killer Psychology: Fact vs. Fantasy
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Dr. Bennett explores the fascinating topic of serial killers. Listen to him discuss his top 10 myths about serial homicide. 

**A podcast for curious & cool (but chronically stuck) over-analyzers, hosted by psychology professor Kevin Bennett. Don't get mad, get untangled!**

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The town of Raeford is a small community with no more than a couple hundred residents located about 30 miles outside of Jacksonville in North Central Florida, the city is home to the Florida state prison. The same prison where serial killer Ted Bundy was executed in 1989. 5 years earlier in 1980 for Robert Chappell. And Dave, Reichert investigators, working on the Green River. Serial killer case in Washington state, walked into the prison to sit down with Buddy, The body looks like it's linked to the other four and one was found on the bank, in the other five for the other Twin River. I think the chance cuz it's the opposite. At this point in the Green River case despite dozens of bodies turning up. The investigators still did not have any reliable leads around this time Bondi who have been following the case while sitting on death row reached out to Capital the offer help Bundy speculated that the killer might be going back to perform sexual acts on the bodies. He left behind It also said he went in the bathroom and then see that picture again. You could say that in this episode, we dive into the disturbing world of serial killers by exploring. Some of the myths and mistakes. We keep propagating about who these people are and how they came to be from Jack. The Ripper to, John Wayne Gacy to current unknown murderers. We've learned a great deal about the psychology of serial killers, but we still keep asking why Snarling, begins now. The doodler one of San Francisco's. Most well-known Cold Case, murders is back in the news, San Francisco. Police recently announced a possible victim. Number 6, The doodlers ammo for modus. Operandi is consistent and of Holly in the mid-1970s, he targeted gay men by posing as a Cartoonist who would draw sketches of his victims before sexual encounter followed up quickly, by attacking and murdering Them Bodies were off and dropped on area beaches and a local parks producing concern and panic among Bay Area residents, although he has not been caught. At least feel, they are getting closer to solving the case. This story is fascinating in part because it looks like the killer does not fit the stereotypical portrait of the American serial murderer that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, think Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam, Jeffrey Dahmer, Etc, Over the years, we have learned more about serial killers and their psychology. In this episode, we will have an honest and data-driven discussion about serial killers in modern-day America and you may come to the conclusion that what you know about serial killers. Maybe wrong. Number one, serial killer IQ is related to the murder method. Data from the Radford University, Florida, Gulf Coast University, serial killer database, a collection of thousands of Serial homicide shows that the highest average IQ scores, the killers in the bomb category, Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber held a PhD in mathematics and worked as a professor at University of California Berkeley, before he removed himself from the grid and move to a small cabin in remote, Montana murderers of average, intelligence favor poisoning while strangulation stabbing and shooting are the preferred methods for those with slightly below average intelligence. The lowest IQ scores are correlated with bludgeoning Let's talk about the Unabomber for a moment. Ted Kaczynski plead guilty to setting 16 explosions that killed three people and injured 23, others across the United States between 1978 and 1995 and April 1996. Authorities found, Ted Kaczynski outside Lincoln Montana in a very primitive 10 x, 14 ft cabin, it been living there since the 1970s and it showed The Rustic Hut was filled with explosive ingredients at 2 completed bombs journals and a coded diary from there, you railed against the effects of technology and eventually LED authorities on the nation's longest and costliest Manhunt He was given the moniker the Unabomber by the FBI because universities and Airlines were among his early targets. In September 1995, The Washington Post, and the New York Times agreed to publish his anti-technology Manifesto industrial society and its future. The manifesto was printed at the urging, the federal authorities after the bomber said he would desist from terrorism. If a national publication published his Treatise the Treatise, let his brother David and David's wife, Linda Pat to recognize his writing and turn him into the FBI. Let me just jump in here real quick. With a comment. I cannot imagine what it would feel like if you discover that someone Close to, You Was a Serial Killer, if you had undeniable proof, that your loved ones, are your romantic part of your family member, your close friend, that was actually a serial killer. What would you do? Would you turn that person in? Try to protect them for some reason? But that's exactly what Ted kaczynski's, Brother. David and his wife were, we're dealing with. They had to struggle with this reality that their brother was a serial killer and they decided to do the right thing and turn them in. Fortunately, and that will be a topic for a future episode. We will look at family members of serial killers and how they deal with the reality in some of those cases, they were instrumental in turning that person in leading to their eventual incarceration. Is empty. Hated the idea of being viewed as mentally ill and during his trial, try to fire his attorneys when they wanted to mount an insanity defense, he eventually pleaded guilty rather than let his attorneys precede. The Unabomber, kill computer rental store, owners, use scrutton advertising executive, Thomas Mosser and Timber industry. Lobbyist Gilbert Murray California, geneticist Charles, Epstein and Yale University Computer expert, David. Gelernter remain by bombs two days, apart in June 1993. In his personal journals released a trial by the government. At the request of victims, families, Kosinski described his motive as simply personal Revenge. I often had fantasies of killing the kind of people. I hate. I e government officials police computer scientist. The Rowdy type of college students who left their beer cans in the Arboretum etc, etc. Etc. He wrote 


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Number to, there's no such thing as a serial killer prototype. Many people would like to believe there is a prototypical personality profile for serial murderers. But just like so many other features of human psychology, there are variations in personality and nuances and behavior. That violate our assumptions all the time. It would be a lot easier to apprehend the perpetrators. If we could just crack the secret code but a one-size-fits-all formula simply does not exist. Number 3, not all serial. Killers are insane. Psychopaths. Insanity is a legal term. Only two, to four percent of serial killers are legally. Insane. Generally, speaking pleading insanity is a risky defense in court, because a defendant must demonstrate that they were unaware of their actions at the time of the murders and incapable of understanding the difference between right and wrong. Most serial killers are keenly aware of what they are doing. They know it is wrong, but they do it anyhow. Numbers for most serial killers are not highly mobile while it is true. That several high-profile serial, killers are famous for traveling across the country, in search of victims, most punts in a small, Geographic Comfort Zone close to home or work. Ted Bundy had known victims in Washington, Colorado, Utah, and Florida, but this is extremely rare even for serial killers, almost as rare as traveling. Serial killers are Place Killers. These individuals like America's first serial killer HH, Holmes, who killed his victims. After they checked into his bizarre, they constructed hotel near the 1893, Chicago World's Fair. Time to kill people in a single building, like a home hospital or hotel. Let's talk about HH Holmes for a moment in 1886, Herman, Webster mudgett, move to Chicago and took a job as a pharmacist under the name. Doctor hhhomes soon afterward. He apparently began killing people in order to steal their property, the house, he built for himself, which would become known as Murder Castle was supposedly equipped with secret passages, trapdoors and soundproof rooms as well as doors. That could be locked from the outside gas jets to asphyxiate victim and they kill them to cremate the bodies at the reputed peak of his career during the world's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, that's the World's Fair. He allegedly seduced and murdered a number of women, typically, by becoming engaged to them, and then killing them after securing control of their life savings much. It also required his employees to carry license. Policies. Naming him as beneficiary so that he could collect money. After he killed them, he sold the bodies of many of his victims to local medical schools. Tell 1893 budget was arrested for insurance fraud after a fire that is home, but he was soon released. He then concocted a scheme with an Associate than the potential to defraud an insurance company by faking potestas death after the tetzel purchased a $10,000, life insurance policy. He and mudgett travel to Colorado. Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas where they committed other acts of fraud. Along the way budget also got married return, the Missouri much, it was arrested for fraud and briefly jail in St. Louis while in jail, he met Marion hedgepeth a career Criminal Who agreed to help much it in the insurance scheme with potential. Meanwhile, the debt. So moved to Philadelphia and opened a fake patent office to Swindle inventors, after his release from jail budget, travel to Philadelphia and killed potetz. So he didn't convince the Texans Widow who have been aware of her husband's involvement in the insurance. That her husband was still alive later, giving her $500 of the money. He collected worried that some of the test was five, children might alert. The authorities, budget killed, three of them. Insurance investigators were alerted to the fraud by hedgepath and budget was arrested in Boston. Massachusetts in 1894, he was tried in Philadelphia for the murder of potetz home. It was sentenced to death. By hanging budget, ultimately confessed to 27, murders. He later increased, the total to more than 130. Those some researchers have suggested that the real number is seated, 200 mudgett, sold his story to the Hearst Corporation for $10,000. Let me jump in here with a quick book. Recommendation, if you are interested in HH Holmes, as America's first serial killer, as he's been labeled and you're interested in history than the book for you, is Devil in the White City. By Erik Larson, who is the master of narrative. Picture that's currently my favorite genre. If you're interested in the the history of h.h. Holmes, and how he came to Chicago and ultimately build his Murder Castle, and you're also interested in how the World's Fair of 1893 came to be and there's really an interesting history there. And so many important inventions and ideas were were brought to that Gathering just a great book Devil in the White City. Number five, not all serial, killers are less killers. Los Chiles practice erotophonophilia, a homicide in which the offender searches for sexual satisfaction by killing someone, the perpetrator gain sexual arousal, or gratification from the death of a human. Being many Infamous Killers fit into this category including Ted Bundy, Ed Kemper, Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer and Dennis Rader. The BTK or bind torture kill murder. This is dark disturbing, and fascinating for sure, but there are other categories of Serial homicide. Offenders can be motivated by the need for power and control or the need to carry out a mission connected with some philosophical political or religious platform, those who are known to have had psychotic breaks with reality. May be driven to kill by violent hallucinations such as murderous voices, 


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number 6, many serial killers kill alone, but not all About one in four, serial killers, have one or more. Killing partners. For example, Karla Homolka is a Canadian serial killer, who along with her husband, Paul Bernardo raped, and murdered at least three minors in Ontario between 1990 and 1992 including Carla's own sister. The early 1990s Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo committed multiple crimes against teenage girls in Ontario, Canada. The sexual assault and murder of three teams made them. One of the most notorious couples in Canadian history because of their middle-class Lifestyles. Tomoka was a veterinary technician in Bernardo was an accountant and their classic. Good looks depressed of them, the Ken and Barbie Killers after law enforcement, tied them to the crimes. However long before Bernardo attack teenage girls with the help of a mocha. He had acted alone committing a series of sexual assaults all over the city of Scarborough when biological evidence found on one of the teenagers, the couple attack together match semen collected from one of the victims of the Scarborough rapist investigators closed in, on Bernardo and discovered the secrets, he and his wife have been hiding In July 1990 twenty-one-year-old, Karla Homolka with the help of her boyfriend, twenty-six-year-old, Paul, Bernardo drugs or younger sister, Tammy Homolka, serve her, fifteen-year-old sister and me, love spaghetti lace with Valium, which she had stolen from the veterinarian's office where she worked as a vet tech Bernardo then briefly violated the team but stopped when she quickly regained Consciousness, several months later on, December 23rd 1990, the couple again drug Tammy who was unaware of the prior assault. Using eggnog spiked with Halcyon, reportedly, both, Bernardo and Homolka sexually assaulted Tammy while she was under its effects. The couple has their plan months. Earlier with Bernardo, became obsessed with his girlfriend's little sister. Number 7, serial killers have dozens of victims. Some do, but most kill fewer than eight victims. In fact, the number of victims per serial killer has dropped dramatically over the past seventy years in 1950, 38% of all. Serial killers had five or more victims today. The percentage of serial killers who have more than five victims is down to 13%. Then are many reasons for this, for example, better investigative techniques. DNA video surveillance, communication between jurisdictions, Etc. And he's all contribute to the apprehension of these individuals before they can a mass of scene body cows. 


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Number 8, most serial murderers killed for the same reasons. When serial offenders are finally incarcerated and interviewed, more than 60% report that they were motivated, simply by enjoyment financial gain, or some combination of the two. These prisoners will often Give A variation of the very unsatisfying answer. I just wanted to do it because it seemed like fun. Other motivations identified in the study were anger, avoiding arrest called, pressure and attention-seeking. Number nine, males. And females are equally likely to be victims about 49% of serial, killer, victims are male and 51% are female serial killers Target, one gender exclusively, While others like Richard Ramirez, The Night, Stalker seem to kill randomly his victim list included males. Females young people old people in various races and ethnicities it seems no one was spared Let me just jump in with a quick comment. You know, about the serial killer is dead that I studied and that I'm aware of, I didn't Richard Ramirez. The Night Stalker is one of the scariest because he seemed to attack Randall, and he would invade homes in the night when people are sleeping. So it seemed like no one was safe. And you know what? Start serial killers, it seems like you can avoid them if you're not their type, maybe you're the only kill females or vice versa or maybe they only attack certain occupations, and, you know, you're not that occupation. So you feel relatively safe, but with Ramirez, I think anyone could be attacked in and everyone felt very unsafe if you were in that geographic area of where, he was where you doing, most was killing. Number 10, two-thirds of victims are white, but black victims are over-represented. The victims of serial killers seem to track closely, the US Census population. Except when it comes to Black victims, while whites, make up, 62% of the population and 67% of victims black Americans, who represent 13% of the population. Comprise 24% of all serial, killer victims. Number 11, more than half of all serial killer victims are under the age of 30. Only 11% of victims are older than 60 years. This could reflect the fact that many serial killers pursue victims close to their own age. Number 12. Serial murder, varies by geography, Washington DC. As historically had the most serial killings per capita US states at the top of the list, with 5260, killings per 100,000 residents, include Louisiana, Alaska and Indiana. Number 13. Serial killers are not all white and male. In recent years, the majority of serial killers have been black, nearly 17% or female serial killers, very and race. Ethnicity religion, nationality age, gender social economy, status IQ and education. Number 14, the serial killer Peak was in the 1980s. Some researchers dubbed, the period between 1970 and 2000 the Golden Age of Serial killing the title. May be a little too cheery for many, but it does illustrate the whopping difference between this era compared to the ones before. And after there were more serial killings during the stretch of time that at any other point in American history, 


this podcast was recorded and edited by Kevin Bennett in the beautiful. Foothills of Western Pennsylvania executive producer and a Donia artwork by carbon Barnett. You can find Kevin on Twitter at Kevin Bennett PhD for email Facebook and other contact info head over to Kevin Bennett. Calm, that's Kevin Bennett with the dash in between If you are interested in more stories about psychology science and pop culture, check out my riding over at Psychology today just type Kevin Bennett Psychology today and your favorite search engine. As always, thank you for listening and please remember to be good. I said, be good. See you next time.