Talk:Serial killer/Archive 2

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Revenge as a motive[edit]

Could this be a motivation for a serial killer? For example, if someone was abused by corrupt police and killed cops, or targeted a specific group of people that had wronged him in his life would this fit the definition? Or, would this fall under the power/control category? Or would they be just a terrorist instead, trying to send the message that it's what'll happen to corrupt cops. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:36, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Tricky question. Depending on the time and importance, or lack of, to the killer a person like that could be labeled a serial killer or a mass murderer. An argument could be made that a serial killer doesn't really need motivation also. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:23, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

Any One Interested in Joining WikiProject Criminal Biography[edit]

If you are interested in serial killers and maintaining pages about serial killers, please fell free to join our project at Wikipedia:WikiProject Criminal Biography. It is our goal to make a comprehensive directory of all true crime related articles. Thanks. Jmm6f488 08:00, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

Recent serial killers?[edit]

It would be interesting to add a section for serial killers in recent news. For instance, Bruce Mendenhall, the possible serial killer arrested today. Wikipedia is great for quick collection of facts during breaking news/emergencies (ie VTech shooting), but before enough is available to make a page specifically for the person it would be a good location. Silverweed 10:54, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

yeah that would be really great Jmm6f488 20:24, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

Modern phenomenon?[edit]

Although the phenomenon of serial murder is popularly regarded as a modern one...

I would agree with this statement but have been looking for academic sources that state as much. It is a bold assertion and I'm curious if any contributors can provide some background on how/where/why and among whom this consensus was reached. Inoculatedcities 19:29, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

I was always under the impression that it's not a modern phenomenon. What is modern is the widepread reporting of serial killers, and advances in police work and communication that have allowed more serial killers to be identified. The thought of it being modern probably has a lot to do with politicians and activists in the 70s and 80s using the sensational stories of serial killers to promote their own agendas. A lot of laws --many of which had little to do with the serial killer they used as a scare tactic-- were proposed and passed because people played up on the idea of serial murder becoming increasingly more prevalent. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:34, 12 June 2008 (UTC)


The definition clearly lacks some kind of reference to a serial killer's psychological need to kill. How else can we differentiate between some one like Billy the kid (not usually thought of as a serial killer) and the Shipmans, Rippers...that this article is intended for? Malick78 16:49, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

  • This page offers the following basis for a more developed definition for our page:
"The British author John Brody first used the term in 1966, and the National Institute of Justice defined serial murder in 1988 as "a series of 2 or more murders, committed as separate events, usually, but not always, by one offender acting alone" (Newton 2000, p. 205). Another perspective is that of Steve Egger, who uses six characteristics in his definition of serial murder: (1) There are a minimum of two murders; (2) the killer and victim are unrelated; (3) the murders have no direct connection to each other and occur at different times; (4) the murders usually occur at different locations; (5) victims may have characteristics in common with earlier or later victims; and (6) the murders are not committed for material gain but for gratification based on fantasies.
Several of these characteristics are debatable. The material gain motive is more common with the female than the male style of serial murder, thus Egger's definition could be seen more as serial signature murder. Also, individuals such as Edmund Kemper, who killed his grandparents and mother, and Henry Lee Lucas, whose mother was his first victim, are generally classified as serial killers. The criminologist Eric Hickey states that most researchers define serial killers as having three to four victims, but also includes in his database of serial killers some individuals who "killed only two victims but were suspect in other slayings or in which evidence indicated their intent to kill others" (Hickey 1997, p.27). The problem with using a definition based strictly on three victims omits the two-time signature killer who has obsessive qualities and would be expected to continue to kill."

Basically this has a few superior things about it than our definition (taken from a half-arsed internet dictionary - not a great source for in depth insight), specifically the section I've made bold. It's not perfect but is better because it highlights the victims' similarities and the killer's psychological gratification. It's still an internet source, but heh, I don't have many books on the subject. Can we try and include some of this info? Otherwise the page includes gunslingers and other non-serial killers, as I've said before.Malick78 16:29, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

  • This is the same page but without ads so looks better, since some one complained it looked like 'spam' when I cited the previous version of the page in an edit. I'm very surprised no one is responding to my suggestion here, btw, since the whole page is ruined by the intro which is so wide-ranging to be useless - if the definition is someone who kills 3 people - then that includes soldiers, hitmen... This can't possibly be intended and therefore we need to underline that the killing is done for psychological gratificationMalick78 08:13, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
This new link is better, but it was important to cite that it was from an encyclopedia and not just drop a link. As far as your concerns about the definition, the psychological gratification end of things is somewhat debatable. Ther term serial killer has also been applied to individuals who kill for financial gain... what else would they be called? The actual definition also needs to include the cooling off period, otherwise we'd be talking about a spree killer or maybe even a mass murderer. DreamGuy 15:39, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

Although there are a number of similarities among serial killers, there are also a number of differences. If Drew Peterson turns out to have killed several people, including two wives, he would be differentiated from killers like Ted Bundy or killers like Henry Lucas. If he killed his two wives, the mother of one of them, a neighbor who was said to have hanged himself, etc, he would be different than the serial rapist/killers like Ted Bundy and the Hillside Stranglers. He doesn't enter into a troll phase or stalk a victim in the same way as the more ritualized serial killers. It is a long drawn out situation where he dates them, romances them, controls them, kills them. If it is a ritual, it is a different kind of ritual. Anyone who interferes with his long ritual can die. Another Illinois man killed a man he suspected of having an affair with his wife, and then much later killed one of his wives. He was always obsessed with the women in his life to that intensity. We need a more comprehensive understanding of the different kinds of serial killer. daviddaniel37 —Preceding comment was added at 19:14, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

  • thus appear to be quite normal and often even charming

I found this comment to be disconcerting because although this is usually true of the organized serial killers, it is not neccessarily true of disorganized serial killers. I really feel that it should be changed but I have no references and am not sure how to change it properly. So I'm not going to change it, but I think that it would be really useful to this page if someone did change it.

Want to Join the Serial Killer Task Force?[edit]

Jmm6f488 04:15, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

Fixed obvious juvinile vandalism... Andacar 16:00, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Racial Misinformation-False Spotlighting[edit]

Saying serial killers are more likely to be white males in the USA, because 73% of them are white (BTW, someone has already objected that the source for that figure is political and biased at best, and would conrtadict some of the statistics I have heard which would put it at less either way) My point is that about ~73% of the men in the USA are white, so that would just represent their statistical representation in the population, not make them more likely to be serial killers then african-americans, Hispanics, etc. So I took it out, otherwise, you must list each ethinic group's male USA population percentage among known serial killers (identified ethnic group but unknown offender as well possibly) since that figure 73% doesn't represent any notable likelihood or propensity among whites for serial killing since they are ~73% of the population of the entire USA to began with (not just serial kilers). The implication is thus false, and perpetuating a stereotype. In fact, for instance, statistically, African-Americans have a higher then average rate of serial killing then Caucasian males in the USA per capita (more above their population of ~13%). So lets get it right here. JohnHistory 07:09, 29 October 2007 (UTC)JohnHistory

External Links / SKDB[edit]

It has been a year and a half since I requested my site (The Serial Killer Database - www dot dot net) be added to the External Links section. I understand why it was denied before because I only had about 8 serial killers profiled at the time, but now I'm up to 62 serial killers and would like to ask for another consideration for my site to be included. I've worked very hard to keep it updated and I pretty much work on it daily. I will continue to add serial killers and update the pages I've already completed. Now I already know the Wikipedia editor known as DreamGuy does not like me, we had some big disagreements before and I know he would never personally allow my site to be listed. But I am asking all other editors here to please consider it. Thank you. SykoByte 05:58, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

  • I just had a look at your site and it is shallow, lacks depth and is puerile. There is little of value to the intelligent reader and I would therefore oppose it being linked to this article. Sorry.Malick78 09:08, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
    • I look at all you editors' Talk pages and all I see is conflict on what should and should not be added. You all constantly delete and revise what each other write. Basically nobody on here really seems to agree on anything. Plus most of the articles on here have errors and contradictions. Look at the page on Ted Bundy, on the side it says he was born in Glaisdale, VT, then in the article it says he was born in Hoover, VT.. then everywhere else on the net it says he was born in Burlington, VT. Atleast I put actual work into a website rather than sit on here all day making little tiny minor changes to incorrect-in-the-first-place articles all day, and a lot of articles don't even contain pictures.. which are very important to a good encyclopedic entry. Before you rip on someone else's work, take a look at where you are. Your soul purpose is to sit here all day and wait for vandals to come and mess with articles. Wikipedia needs to end this whole anybody-can-edit thing and start using their donations to hire intelligent people to create their articles. But go ahead and delete this because you know it's the truth. Is anybody on here not an asshole? SykoByte 14:45, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I don't have anything against you personally. I check links to make sure they meet WP:EL rules and are not a violation of WP:COI or WP:SPAM. Considering you were reported by other people for spamming this site in the past, and you agreed to not add the link, coming back and addig it again and pretending that people are removing it because they don't like you isn't really the proper way to handle things. I recommend reading those links which I just gave you an which I and others have provided for you in the past and which you claimed to have read. Then you will get an idea of what it takes to be listed here and the proper way to go about it. DreamGuy 14:34, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
  • You'll have to Google it because "DreamGuy" decided to remove the link (on a discussion page???)

I've seen all the arguments you've gotten into and you are well-known around here as a jerk. I think some action was even taken against you once for your down-right rudeness. Of course that's probably all deleted away now. I hope other editors don't bow down to your bullshit. You try way too hard to control Wikipedia. SykoByte 14:45, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

  • Sure, Dreamguy was out of order deleting the link on a talk page. However, your personal attacks are unnecessary. Also, if you think wikipedia is so bad, why are you here? Why don't you correct the mistakes you see? It seems to me, you are more interested in self-advertisement - hence putting this discussion section at the top of the talk page for it to be seen first, rather than at the bottom where it belonged chronologically. Malick78 08:10, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
We have a link that the guy is trying to promote, no reason for it to be here as live link, and anyone who wants to go look at the site still can just by typing the address into their browser, so it's not out of order to remove the link. It's called not rewarding self-promotion with a higher Google ranking. 14:06, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
    • I swear I did not mean to put it at the top to make you guys mad. I assumed all new postings were supposed to go to the top (on another page they did). I apologize for that. However DreamGuy has made many personal attacks and that is why I posted for ALL OTHER editors to respond. And I have made a couple small articles and fixes to Wikipedia entries. I'm not against Wikipedia, it's a great idea.. but I also believe some editors do not belong here because of their rudeness and their Wikipedia-Patrol attitude. My site is like a database. It wasn't meant to be encyclopedic. It's a site for quick facts and stats, photos, quotes and sources. I've had many compliments on how my site gets straight to the point of things without a lot of reading. I think it offers something different for people looking up serial killers. I could have copied and pasted these Wikipedia articles into my site (like I've seen other sites do) but that is not right. Instead I link to the articles in here and Crime Library. Both sites totally contradict each other but they are the two best sources on the internet. I just feel my site offers something different in this category and that is why I wanted it to be considered. I'm no pro at webdesign or graphics.. I'm self-taught in basic HTML and still learning a few things here and there. My site offers different information than what is in these articles, just like the other External Links on each page. By requesting it be considered, I wasn't expecting more rude comments. I'm not here to make enemies and I don't want to interact with DreamGuy at all anymore. I will try my best to ignore him. SykoByte 3:37, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
Please stop trying to call my enforcing the rules of this encyclopedia and bending over backwards to try to point these rules out to you (with links) so you can follow them and learn to make worthwhile contributions as "personal attacks"... To the contrary, you are the one who has made personal attacks. Please make an effort to learn to follow our policies here, and please don't go running around making false accusations every time you don't get your way. If you make contributions that improve this encyclopedia, then your edits will be welcome. If instead you use the site to try to promote your own personal website, then those edits will be removed. It's just how things work here. DreamGuy 14:06, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Needs Citations...Badly[edit]

This entire entry is in dire need of references, especially during the instances of argument. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Stev0supreemo (talkcontribs) 00:41, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. you're welcome to contribute. Anastrophe (talk) 04:48, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree. This entry is fraught with editorializing, non-scientific references, and inaccuracies. It is really too bad because a polemic subject such as this must attract a great deal web traffic. See the discussion on the medical profession "producing" serial killers for an example of how this entry needs improvement. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:05, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

Ernst Gennat[edit]

de:Ernst Gennat has been using the term "Serienmörder" (serial killer) in his article "Die Düsseldorfer Sexualverbrechen" (the dusseldorf sexual crimes) speaking about Peter Kürten. The article was published in 1930 in the "Kriminalistische Monatshefte" (criminal monthly zine) which is undisputed evidence. Although Gennat had been already developing the investigation methods that we know as "profiling" today one may assume that much of his work was unknown in the U.S. due to the interruptions of world war II. He even created a central database of major crimes that allowed him to spot serial killers in the Reich. The fame of Gennat's groundbreaking work is widely known in Germany due to the recent publications and media representation of profiler de:Stephan Harbort who has been researching historic documents about serial killers in Germany - mostly noting the difference of the statistic data and assumption that is used by the FBI on their records. The en-Wikipedia has nothing to say about that? Guidod (talk) 04:26, 31 December 2007 (UTC)


The second paragraph states "The term serial killer is widely believed to have been coined either by FBI agent Robert Ressler or by Dr. Robert D. Keppel in the 1970s (the credit for the term is disputed)." In the next paragraph it reads "The term serial killer is widely believed to have been coined by FBI agent Ethan Thomas." Huh? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:13, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

"Antisocial Personality Disorder but rarely psychopathy" -- Contradiction?[edit]

The article on serial killers says that "All serial killers suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder but rarely psychopathy". But the article on Psychopath says:

"The official stance of the American Psychiatric Association as presented in the DSM-IV-TR is that psychopathy and sociopathy are obsolete synonyms for antisocial personality disorder. The World Health Organization takes a similar stance in its ICD-10 by referring to psychopathy, sociopathy, antisocial personality, asocial personality, and amoral personality as synonyms for dissocial personality disorder."

"Psychopathy" and "Antisocial Personality" are synonyms. A person can't suffer from one but not the other.

I shall, accordingly, delete the phrase "but not psychopathy".

Agemegos (talk) 04:31, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

ED Gein[edit]

I could be wrong, but to my knowledge, Ed Gein was only ever convicted of murdering two people. The defnition of this article stated you needed to kill three or more people —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:20, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

  • The definition of serial killer is variable: some experts say 4 kills, most 3, some even 2 (especially if he seems they were likely to kill more and showed the psychological impulse involved). Furthermore, that he was convicted of just 2 is only of partial importance: if most reliable experts on the subject think he killed more and call him a serial killer - then we can quote them as such and he can be classified thusly. Malick78 (talk) 21:07, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Jason Voorhees[edit]

Should Jason Voorhees and Friday the 13th be listed under the serial killers in fiction section? He wasn't really a serial killer, just the "ghost" of a boy on revenge. Granted Freddy was the same but atleast his character was a serial killer in life.Feral Mind (talk) 06:35, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Medical profession producing serial killers?[edit]

The first sentence in the final paragraph of section "Types of Serial Killers" needs to be changed. It currently reads as:

"Arguably the medical profession has produced the most serial killers, primarily as doctors but closely followed by nurses."

This is confusing causation with correlation. It would be more correct to say that there is a possible correlation between the medical profession and serial killers, in that many serial killings were committed by doctors and nurses. It is incorrect to say that the medical profession has produced serial killers, because it is in effect saying that something about the training and/or culture of the medical profession changes people in such a way as they may become serial killers. It would be like saying the teaching profession or clergy produces pedophiles, or law enforcement produces corrupt individuals. It is more likely that corrupt people are attracted to positions where they can exercise their power, not the other way around.

My revision was undone by Hardyplant. I admit I didn't write my version very clearly. But, I suggest someone change the opening so that it doesn't say the medical profession produces serial killers. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:01, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

  • Actually, "medicine has arguably thrown up more serial killers than all the other professions put together, with nursing a close second" is a direct quote from the first line of this BMJ article. Our wording is hardly very different, just more formal and less colloquial. Basically, if disturbed individuals are in every profession, but medicine gives them the training to murder and get away with it, and fails to protect the public from such killers through lax safeguards, then - hey - it's basically producing killers. Just as priests not being able to have sex with adult women, makes them find others objects for their lust... So, neither is an unwarranted statement when all is taken into account.

The BMJ article does indeed say "medicine has arguably thrown up more serial killers than all the other professions put together" but this is not the main point of the article. In fact, this is only an introduction, and a citation in and of itself from a non-scientific book on serial killers. If one reads further, the BMJ article states, "The medical profession seems to attract some people with a pathological interest in the power of life and death". This is a more accurate description of the link between the medical profession and the phenomenon of serial killing.

It is inaccurate to make a statement of causation without adequate proof. It is only correct to say medicine has produced serial killers if the original source is a study that shows direct causation. Quite frankly, learning about medicine does not trigger the desire to kill in a person's brain. Rather, individuals with a fascination with the human body have a propensity to learn medicine, but with a select few, the fascination is pathological and existed prior to learning the skills. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:09, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

What does "visionary" mean to serial killer motives?[edit]

All of the other motives under that section are clearly defined, except for "visionary"; could someone add the definition? (talk) 03:58, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

Missionary section - poor example[edit]

Can't we come up with a better example for the "Missionary" section than Dr John Bodkin Adams? From the article on him, he was only a suspected serial killer - in which case, it's inappropriate to include him here. I've removed this example - the way it was phrased stated that he was a serial killer, whereas he was only alleged to be one (from the page on him). —Preceding unsigned comment added by CrocodileMisfit (talkcontribs) 08:55, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

  • I think he should be readded. All the main reliable sources on him say he was a killer (Cullen, Hallworth, Devlin (the judge in his trial!)) - the only reason why he is a 'suspected serial-killer' on his page is because of a couple of pedantic editors who couldn't understand that his trial was scuppered by the prosecution on purpose. According to the majority of experts though, he was a killer and is therefore validly included here. See here for more info. Malick78 (talk) 09:06, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
What sources call him a "Missionary killer"? Hardyplants (talk) 09:33, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Cullen does - the first researcher to have access to the police archives which were opened in 2003. See: Cullen, Pamela V., "A Stranger in Blood: The Case Files on Dr John Bodkin Adams", London, Elliott & Thompson, 2006, ISBN 1-904027-19-9
See Edward Cavendish, 10th Duke of Devonshire for a case where he is thought to have killed for non-monetary reasons. Btw, Shipman forged a few wills just as Adams did. Some monetary gain doesn't necessarily stop you from being a serial-killer (i.e. if you kill because of an urge, but also have the chance to take money - that doesn't stop the urge being the primary motivation). Malick78 (talk) 09:49, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Again I ask which source calls him a missionary killer? Killing for money is my argument, but your trying to put him in a category about ridding undesirable people. You need a source that says explicitly that he was a missionary killer, otherwise its original research and/or a synthesis of sources. Hardyplants (talk) 10:03, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

  • Cullen explicitly calls him a missionary killer (see above for book). On page 609, for example, she mentions that "The story of Mrs Hughes [a patient] and the Thurstons [who inherited] is instructive because it was a will he had altered without benefiting from it; but he had moved money to the 'more deserving' in his eyes." Ie, the rich Hughes died and he altered her will to give the money to the poorer Thurstons. Does that seem a reasonable example? Admittedly, he himself benefited in many cases, but again - he was more 'deserving' in his eyes than the dying patient. This is covered in a chapter called "The Justified Sinner". Malick78 (talk) 11:54, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
It seems you are drawing that conclusion your self, that is original research, lets abide by wikipedia rules and stick with what the sources say specifically instead of reading our own interpretation into them. Most thieves and many murders believe that they are more deserving that their victims, that does not place them in this group, they are not killing to make the world a better place, but to make them selves better (richer, happier, sexually satisfied or what ever). There are three good exsamples listed below. Hardyplants (talk) 19:43, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Here is a group of "Missionary killers" "the Zebra Killers", Ted Kaczynski (or the Unabomber) and Joseph P. Frankil. source [1] Hardyplants (talk) 10:56, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Cleanup in progress[edit]

This article has been selected by the Wikipedia:Version 1.0 Editorial Team for inclusion in Wikipedia 0.7; see the Serial Killer task force talk page for more info. I am doing a full cleanup (gm, punc, wiki, etc.) on the article; however, it still has considerable room for improvement/expansion. Please feel free to help. --*momoricks* (talk) 23:09, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

I finished the cleanup. This article's on its way to GA status; however, it needs more footnotes and examples. For instance, in the Motives section, Visionary, Hedonistic and Gain motivated have examples while Missionary and Power and control do not. The external links may be able to provide more sources. WikiProject Crime has a list of resources as well. --*momoricks* (talk) 02:32, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Connection to Autism[edit]

There is a strong possiblity between the sympotoms of Autism and serial killers. Most people with Autism are not dangrous, but there is a relationship. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:09, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

  • Please provide a reference. I found this with a quick search (see the second link down, a pdf file) - but it links Autism spectrum disorders with murder, not serial-killing specifically. So if you had a source that would be helpful. Malick78 (talk) 17:28, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
I did searches on Google (including Books and Scholar) and Yahoo, and from what I can determine, this is a fringe theory that hasn't been documented well enough to satisfy WP:FRINGE guidelines. momoricks make my day 13:01, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
I find this to be quite the fringe theory. It's quite easy to assign symptoms and diagnoses after the fact and to tie disparate abnormalities together to concoct an explanation. It's not a foregone conclusion that Asperger's and Autism are definitively linked, and extending this to say that because certain individuals displayed characteristics that can be found in a given disorder may mean they had the disorder is a stretch. I have issues with backward diagnosis, which is what the authors of the articles have done. It's quite easy to pick the disorder and find indicators that fit them, in any person. Essentially what they have done is highlighted some characteristics common to people with antisocial personality disorder, including the absence of empathy, to characteristics of organized killers and called it something. Because they started with constructs that are related to a disorder and found them in some killers also excludes a myriad of more predominant symptoms that other killers have that aren't being considered. Neither Dahmer or Kaczynski were diagnosed when alive, so the connection is clouded. I would suspect you could find as many symptoms in either that would fit just as well with a diagnosis of paranoia, depression, psychosis, or a plethora of other personality disorders (besides antisocial PD). In essence, some researchers looked at a handful of cases where someone with a developmental disorder happened to have committed a crime and have extrapolated that as a possible indicator that some sub-group of killers might belong in that category. Do developmentally disabled people commit crimes? Sure they do. Is it because they are DD? Here one must ask the question of how many people who are DD don't commit the crime. If the answer is a lot more than the ones who do, then there must be other mitigating factors that would account for the violence. Extreme caution should be taken before linking such things, if for no other reason than to protect individuals who are in the group whose lives are not connected to crime. Do DD people become violent? Some do, but it's much more related to a lack of learned coping skills or other diagnoses complicating the equation than it is to the fact that they are DD. If the researchers looked long enough, they were bound to find someone with Asperger's who committed a violent crime. They also had to eliminate a lot of individuals who did not. Serial killers are compulsive. But the compulsivity has an organization to it, at least at first, otherwise they don't survive in freedom long enough to become serial killers. The psychopathology involved with someone who is a serial killer is quite complicated and nearly impossible to sort into categories the way that a couple of left field correlation studies have done. My two cents. Wildhartlivie (talk) 16:32, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

Psychopaths vs. personality disorders[edit]

There are many personality disorders, not just Antisocial Personality Disorder. While some of the others are similar (but not that similar), the symptoms listed in the paragraph I've edited ("lack empathy and guilt, are egocentric and impulsive, and do not conform to social, moral and legal norms. They may appear to be quite normal and often even charming.") describe Antisocial Personality Disorder specifically, not personality disorders as a general subject.

The first sentence states that serial killers "tend to be psychopathic, meaning they suffer from a character disorder, such as Antisocial Personality Disorder." Here, I interpret that as "people with personality disorders are psychopaths." add the statement that "Psychopaths lack empathy and guilt, are egocentric and impulsive, and do not conform to social, moral and legal norms. They may appear to be quite normal and often even charming", I interpret this paragraph as saying "people with personality disorders lack empathy and guilt, are egocentric and impulsive..." Which would be undeniably false.

I am clarifying that the symptoms listed are symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder specifically, not of all personality disorders generally. Also, not everyone with a personality disorder is psychopathic.

CH52584 (talk) 01:41, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

I would have to comment that you didn't termed it correctly, that is your interpretation. I read no such broadness in the sentence. I would also have to ask if your changes reflect what the given source says or if they have changed the sentence from the the source's intent. What I read in your change is that serial killers have Antisocial Personality Disorder, rather than that the most prevalent form of personality disorder noted in serial killers is APD. Some have had others. I have reworded this in a way that I feel is more psychiatrically valid. I would have to also note that while serial killers exist world-wide, not every country uses the same DSM diagnostic criteria and may have other specific disorder categories. ICD-10 criteria for Dissocial personality disorder are congruent with Antisocial personality. Wildhartlivie (talk) 02:25, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree with the wording of this reference as referring to Anti-social not another disorder which playing devil's advocate here, one would see the referrence as inferring to the specific disorder the reader draws from it. However I am here to test Profiling of female serial killers, if not ALL serial killers. Without going into the depressing memories of long ago, I have all pre-requesites for being a killer but am not. And to further scare, but mean more to inform. My entire MO and targets and WHY I did it would be completely different then a "typical female serial killer profile" I have taken a completely different route in life then those who became killers but my travels did have me volunteering at a rape crisis center. Now I am not saying a lot, or a large majority, or all, but a noticable percentage over my two years there were recieving calls from young men who'd been raped by a woman. The gender stereotypes are changing. Just as not all serial killers are white or male, and not all serial killers even suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder, it is becoming evident that crimes of pure calculated hate and control are now no longer reserved to men. The sad thing is that there are no support groups or resources(i.e. public programs) to help these men. At most, my calls were spent trying to convince the guy to kill himself since admitting to others was not an option. And oh! Just in case you're one of the guys who says they wished they were raped...all victims had been sodomized not had intercourse with, though a small group of teenage boys(who are far more willing to seek help than a grown and especially physically strong male) experienced an older woman doing her best Mrs. Robinson speel and then drugged their soda or if they dared, beer; with GHB. Since the consensus bureau doesn't recognize collecting statistics on male rape, we have no numbers; and since no man has been able to come forward and not only report but testify, we have no arrests. I know you are asking where rape fits in with serial killings, but I say to you, as one who's seen the line crossed from abuse to... well it deserves a notation of some sort in there, sort of- serve as a warning? Purely conjecture on my part at this point. Oh and FYI to the person who first objected above...Ted Bundy suffered from Bipolar disorder, that's a chemical imbalance. Though there is a personality disorder opposite the genetic, it's Borderline Personality Disorder.--—Preceding unsigned comment added by Criminal Profiler wannabe (talkcontribs) 00:24, 3 July 2009

Make it neat[edit]

Serial Killers in Popular Culture and references are mixed up they should be made seprate Jon Ascton (talk) 16:07, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Someone just inadvertently removed the References heading. Wildhartlivie (talk) 16:13, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Article needs to be completely re-written from scratch[edit]

This is my first post; I have not yet encountered a Wiki article that I've found to be so obviously flawed, with so many bold statements backed by comparatively meagre and questionable evidence. My primary aim in this post is to draw others' attention to the article, and to raise awareness of its severe faults. I am perhaps inclined to do the re-write myself, at a later date. The first problem, as stated, is the lack of referencing, and the poor quality of many sources. Sources should be accredited scientific, peer-reviewed articles/journals, reviews, meta-analyses etc - to back-up precisely what I've just listed, and for more specific information and examples, see the Wiki page The sorts of sources used in this Wiki article veer far too strongly toward 'popular science'; semi-fact based and often sensationalistic books found in the 'Crime' section of the local bookstore. This is simply unacceptable. Far more statistical evidence, and academic and peer-reviewed data should be used to support any sweeping statements, such as all those found in the 'Characteristics' section. For example, it is unacceptable to state that, with regard to serial killers: 'The majority are single, white males'. Out of how many total? In what country? In which decade? If this is based on a study that has collated information on every serial killer, from the beginning of time, and in every country in the world, then a) a link to that study should be posted, b) the wiki article should explicitly state that so-and-so percentage of serial killers, in so-and-so country/countries, and between so-and-so time, are of so-and-so race/ethnicity, gender, and so on. This applies to every one of the gross generalisations, backed by scant evidence, in the 'Characterisations' section. Precisely what percentage are fascinated by fire-starting? Who on earth found the information on bed-wetting characteristics of serial killers, and how was it verified? What percentage come from unstable families? What percentage torture small animals? FURTHER, do the 'general characteristics' apply to ALL serial killers, or just to the 'majority single white males'? The single white males of unspecified time or geographic location that is. Terms that are utterly ambiguous should never be used in a Wiki article. Again, the 'Characteristics' sections contains pervasive use of ill-defined, imprecise and woolly terms, such as 'The majority are...', 'They are often...', 'They tend to...', 'It is common to find that...', 'Many are fascinated with...'. The extensive problems are not solely confined to the numerously ill-defined, factually dubious and poorly cited 'facts' reported on this Wiki article; the entire structure of the article is weak, the style is too naive, unscientific, and lacking in scholarly merit. The section on 'Female serial killers', for example, is indefensibly poor, for example writing that female serial killers 'a preference for elderly victims, and prefer to kill with poison', without any attempt to qualify that statement. Frankly, saying that 'Females derive their excitement by killing intimately, such as poisoning a husband or smothering a child' is offensive. Over and above (but not excluding) all the obvious problems relating to figures, data and facts - such as which female serial killers, verified by whom, and how many exactly are smothering children? - are the overriding assumptions in this statement, of a qualitative nature; enormous and irresponsible inferences of the motives and psychological states of mind of (unspecified) female serial killers, or women smothering children/poisoning husbands. This Wiki article is a testament to all that still needs to be radically improved in the Wiki mainstream; an article of this low-grade quality should not be published anywhere where it may be seen by a number of people wishing to improve their knowledge on a subject matter. It is unfortunate that an article of this quality is included on the Wiki corpus at all, it should be re-written entirely, and as soon as possible. My academic discipline is psychology, my university is the University of Cambridge; I write this from a qualified position as a statement of fact, that every aspect of this article from content, style, evidence and quality is found wanting. —Preceding unsigned comment added by VilliersB (talkcontribs)

Perhaps all of your points are valid, but let me suggest that before you embark on such a complete rewrite, you gain some experience in editing on Wikipedia, learn the referencing and stylistic policies and keep in mind that everything here is done by consensus. There are other editors who work on this page and you should seek their input before changing anything extensively. As a point, there are a large number of people on Wikipedia who have the same qualifications as you, and even more so. Don't be swayed by thinking your body of knowledge or education is greater than anyone else here. Wildhartlivie (talk) 23:07, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
In response to VilliersB:
  1. Wildhartlivie and I started working on this article after much of it had been written without inline citations and a long list of book sources. If you take a look at other articles, you will see that improper or lack of sourcing by editors is an ongoing problem. Because the Wikipedia community frowns upon deleting large sections of articles without replacing the content, articles often stay at low-quality status.
  2. While it still needs a fair amount of inline citations, the article does not violate the reliable sources policy, as they are reliable, verifiable, and written by third parties, most of whom are considered experts in the field of criminology. The sources that I have accessed provide information from various studies. Accredited, peer-reviewed journals are preferred but fairly difficult to access by a good number of editors.
  3. You are correct that the article needs a lot of work; it is currently a B Class article. Wikipedia articles reflect editors' interest and desire to put time into them. If you have the time and desire to improve this article, by all means do so; however, as Wildhartlivie suggested, please familiarize yourself with the relevant policies before diving in head first. momoricks (make my day) 01:08, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Complete rewrite[edit]

This is also my first post...

The "list of characteristics" "source" points to another source.

Robert K. Ressler.

I doubt Ressler made any such list and the source should certainly point to Ressler and the book and pages.

Having read Ressler I suspect that this is purely "quote mining" and taking things completely out of context... not to mention... even if this list were accurate it clearly only applies to the U.S.

A quick look at Wiki's "list of serial killers by number of victims" brings in to question a lot of the "characteristics". (especially the top ten)

I don't believe Ressler would describe such generalizations as "characteristics".

Here are actual quotes from Ressler from the X-files book of the unexplained... they are not quoting him, this is from a direct interview.

"In real life it is not known exactly what makes a killer. Statistically, neglect and maltreatment in childhood appear to play an important part."

And that is the only example he gives..."apear" being a key word.

"They are a lot different from one cuture to another" also says Ressler

He hardly sounds like someone who would make that list.

Here is a link to an F.B.I. page that disagrees with several "characteristics"

Here's more...

And remember a lot of the "statistics" come from a comparison of 36 serial killers... here is article mentioning that

This list needs to be removed... or directly sourced.Douglas1102 (talk) 03:37, 7 March 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Douglas1102 (talkcontribs) 03:22, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

I find it interesting that two new editors with no previous contributions have found their way to this page and posted similar rants within the period of several weeks. As with VilliersB, I suggest that Douglas1102 becomes familiar with Wikipedia policies and guidelines. Contrary to popular belief, the threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. I'm not going to repeat myself, so please take a look at the section above for more information. momoricks (make my day) 05:48, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Well... then verify, Ressler made no such list... and the source cites him. (frankly you're making as ass of him)

And I have no idea who the other first time editor is... but believe what you want.Douglas1102 (talk) 18:09, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Maybe the easiest way to get this piece of garbage list removed is to contact Robert K. Ressler.Dopplegangerr (talk) 20:04, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

You're kidding, right? The list is very well sourced, and, in fact, you keep calling it garbage but the only complaint you've had about it is something you admit yourself is accurate but doesn't push a conclusion you want to be there. DreamGuy (talk) 14:18, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

The list is garbage because it leaves the impression that white people are more likely to be serial killers than other races. The evidence does not support this. You will see on the Dr Phil site that the first characteristic has been changed. Apparently I am not the only one who sees the problem with this list.Dopplegangerr (talk) 14:27, 16 July 2009 (UTC)


If the sources by Ressler are questioned, then shouldn't someone take the time to verify them? If Kessler didn't provide the above list, then the quote should be deleted.

Also, you shouldn't accuse sock puppetry without evidence. The arguments of the two new editors and Dopplegangerr are, admittedly, quite similar. However, this could be because of 1 sock puppetry 2 the article is recognizably deficient in the areas mentioned.

From my perspective, saying that the majority of serial killers are white is a very bold statement, and it should be backed up by convincing evidence. Also, it should probably be qualified to what specific region/population/time period this claim belongs, again with convincing evidence.

I'm not saying the claim is true or untrue, just that it needs to be supported. Jjc16 (talk) 19:19, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

I've also never commented on an article on here, but this "definitive" list is decades old and is no longer considered relevant. The links above to the FBI pages give a more accurate explanation of the current thinking regarding serial murderers. Citing to a Dr. Phil website hardly seems reliable. I'm especially bothered by the idea that "overbearing mothers" are a shared experience of serial murderers. Psychology has a history of blaming various pathologies on mothers. These assumptions are now considered not only outdated, but flat out incorrect.

Moved here from article[edit]

The CBS television show Criminal Minds is centered on the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit and deals with a different serial killer in each episode.[1]

I moved this here from the article because I'm concerned that it's misleading. I currently don't have full internet access; however, I took a look at List of Criminal Minds episodes. While the majority of the episodes appear to be serial killer related, not all of them are, which I interpret "each episode" as conveying. I suggest rewording this in addition to adding more information, such as examples of several episode plots. Please remember: a reliable source needs to be provided for everything, including the statement that the show's main theme is serial killers, otherwise it can be interpreted as OR. What do other editors think? momoricks (make my day) 02:25, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

According to the CBS website, Criminal Minds "revolves around an elite team of FBI profilers who analyze the country's most twisted criminal minds". A Google search didn't find anything more specific, therefore I don't think this belongs in the article. momoricks (make my day) 11:15, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
It's a TV series so in my opinion there is usually production decisions made to make it 'more interesting but not definitely factual'. I agree that it should be removed until there are citations that are more precise about what the subject matter is. --CrohnieGalTalk 12:13, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

Opinions requested[edit]

The section about serial killers in popular culture here seems like trivia to me esp. the TV stuff. There should be enough WP:RS for the article without the need for such trivia. It just seems to open the article up for vandalism easier in an article that already sees too many vandals already. Am I missing a policy/guideline here about this? If so, would someone point me in that direction? Thanks in advance, --CrohnieGalTalk 13:05, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

The only official policy/guideline that I'm aware of is WP:TRIVIA, which is a style, not a content, guideline. The associated essay, WP:HTRIV, suggests grouping information that cannot be integrated into other sections into a section entitled "In popular culture". I recently added subsections in an attempt to organize the existing information. The view that this section should be removed because it invites vandals is similar to nominating a page for deletion for the same reason. This is discouraged because the act of deleting is actually what encourages vandalism. A look at the page history shows that the majority of recent vandalism is to the other sections. momoricks (make my day) 01:46, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, ok then can we agree that entries to this section be referrenced like they are now? There have been edits put in without refs which have been removed. Should this method be continued? Oh and you're right about it not being deleted because of vandalism, I was wrong to use that for a reason. Thanks, --CrohnieGalTalk 12:18, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

We absolutely do not need subsections focusing of different aspects of popular culture depictions. I would think that User:Crohnie is more correct to say it doesn't really belong there at all than to actively encourage the section to get filled up by creating new headings for all sorts of new lines of trivia. Instead of lists of random information we should have a short section noting the most notable fictional representations. We need only mention the ones that are so important that they are what people immediately think of when serial killers are thought of, not just ones that happen to have serial killers in them some where. I removed the Blair Witch Project, for example, as there is a killer in it by reference, but it is overwhelmingly about the legend of the witch (and a bunch of kids wandering around in the woods) and the killer is just window dressing. DreamGuy (talk) 12:51, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

DreamGuy said this a whole lot better than I did. I agree with what he is saying, thanks for clarily saying what I couldn't. --CrohnieGalTalk 13:04, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

I see the subheads were restored. I definitely will be removing them again, because they clearly do not belong. DreamGuy (talk) 15:57, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Fine with me. I'd rather spend my time and energy on properly sourcing the rest of the article anyway. momoricks (make my day) 06:40, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

Returned cleanup tag[edit]

I returned the morefootnotes tag because citations are still needed for information in the lead, Types of serial killers section, and Serial killers in history section. This is a controversial topic, and I think readers will take the article more seriously if it is fully cited. momoricks

momoricks 23:20, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

It is the wrong type of tag, though, at least to me. I will add an additional references tag to it in place of that one. Flyer22 (talk) 00:20, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Works for me. momoricks


Changed "gender" to "sex"[edit]

Grammar has gender; people have sex —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:44, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

Differences in cultures[edit]

I'm calling for a third opinion on this recent edit, as I think it fails Wikipedia standards quite dramatically, It is mostly original research/WP:SYNTHESIS of material, uses links to Wikipedia articles as supposed sources (we can't use those, and even there those don't say what the line the link is used as a cite for says), and seems to be to advance a POV. Focusing specifically on a comparison just between France and the US is bizarre for an article with a world view, and the stats are wholly unsupported. French serial killers are no different from US ones, just fewer than the US because of the population differences and perhaps less caught because of the earlier adaptation of DNA testing and so forth in the US. And I doubt the Odell book says what the line it is used as a source claims it does... I'd need a page number, as I have a copy and can look.

Based upon the quickness with which the info was put back and the terseness of the edit comment I think a back and forth between just me and this user won't get anywhere, so another person's input would be helpful.DreamGuy (talk) 22:21, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

I support DreamGuy's removal of this original research, which appears to be part of the class project mentioned by Melissaganus below. momoricks 01:39, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
I also agree to the removal for reasons stated if it's not been done yet. (Sorry it's early, haven't looked, yet!) --CrohnieGalTalk 10:05, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

List of serial killer characteristics[edit]

I'm removing the list of serial killer characteristics, because they are cited from Normally, I would put this up for discussion, but I think that it is self-evident that a television personality is hardly a credible source much less an expert one.

In it's place I am putting information from the F.B.I's website. Please feel free to add psychological or other law enforcement sources if they are credible and peer-reviewed such as the American Psychological Association or similar groups that operate on a consensus within the mental health or law enforcement professions. (talk) 22:30, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

An editor has returned the list, which has two sources: Dr. Phil's website and The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers. While they are not peer-reviewed journals, they both satisfy the source requirements. Please note that Dr. Phil McGraw is a former psychologist, although it's not always apparent on his show. :) momoricks 01:57, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Dr. Phil is a former psychologist who had his license revoked for improprieties with a female client of his. He is not legally allowed to practice psychology and is only allowed to give "advice" on his show because the California Board of Psychology determined in 2002 that he did not require a license because his show involves "entertainment," rather than psychology. Dr. Phil himself concurs with this opinion (ostensibly to avoid legal liability). I'm not familiar with "The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers" (on it is described as "lighthearted" and "amusing" with "useful tips" for finding "tourist attractions devoted to serial killers" and a review states that "this is not an encyclopedia that is meant as a real reference work of any sort" but that it is "a valuable source for juvenile cheap thrills"- hardly an academic text), but I do know that the list of characteristics presented in this article is in direct contradiction to that determined by a consensus of law enforcement and criminal psychology professionals. Since the term "serial killer" orignates from law enforcement and is not recognized within the field of psychology, I feel that is the more credible source. I'm posting the characteristics that you keep deleting here in hopes that editors that can tell the difference between science and entertainment will include it in the article proper (from

• Predisposition to serial killing, much like other violent offenses, is biological, social, and psychological in nature, and it is not limited to any specific characteristic or trait.

• The development of a serial killer involves a combination of these factors, which exist together in a rare confluence in certain individuals. They have the appropriate biological predisposition, molded by their psychological makeup, which is present at a critical time in their social development.

• There are no specific combinations of traits or characteristics shown to differentiate serial killers from other violent offenders.

• There is no generic template for a serial killer.

• Serial killers are driven by their own unique motives or reasons.

• Serial killers are not limited to any specific demographic group, such as their sex, age, race, or religion.

• The majority of serial killers who are sexually motivated erotized violence during development. For them, violence and sexual gratification are inexplicably intertwined in their psyche.

• More research is needed to identify specific pathways of development that produce serial killers. (talk) 09:23, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Explaining surge in new authors re: serial murder & related topics[edit]

I'm the prof who's responsible for a bunch of new wiki authors trying for the first time on articles like Serial Murder. A good friend, Dr. Trisha Stargel, has been teaching a criminal justice course this past quarter at Seattle University, and agreed to let me try out an idea I'd been wanting to do for a while.

I love the mission of wikipedia, and have been hoping for years that I could help get more people contributing. While most college profs are terribly down on using wikipedia (or any encyclopedic refs) for citations in research papers, we know lots of students (and profs) are using wikipedia as a great way to find some of the original source material to go look at. Instead of simply writing their research papers and forgetting about them as soon as they've gotten their grade, we pushed them to contribute something they'd learned back into the wikipedia world (for ~20% of their grade). None of them had ever edited wikipedia before, so we've got about 25 new authors all cutting their teeth in, of all things, topics associated with Serial Murder. The student writing about serial murders in France couldn't figure out where better to put his contributions. Our emphasis was on getting them posting, with an understanding that we could see it even if page editors had cleared it off for any reason.

I've had them complete a SurveyMonkey questionnaire about what they changed and how the experience has been for them, and I'd be happy to share their responses with you or anyone else who might find this a provocative idea. I would love to refine this type of assignment, give other students in other classes a similar assignment (but with more training - we barely gave them any instruction). I could urgently use a savvy wikipedia person (I'm still very much a novice myself) to advise me on how to refine this process... Any interest?

Thanks very much for your patience & understanding! --Melissaganus (talk) 06:28, 3 June 2009 (UTC)


Watch this. (talk) 15:56, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

Huh? DreamGuy (talk) 16:29, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

Racial characteristics – opinions please[edit]

This was recently added to the Characteristics section with a dead link to a Washington Post article as the source:

Although the common myth is that white males commit all serial killings, black people account for 13% of the American population, yet make up anywhere from 15 to 22 percent of convicted serial killers.

I found this New York Times article that provides similar information in a more neutral manner; however, before I do any editing, I'd like other editors' opinions regarding whether the information should be in the article at all. Is the newly added info useful or does it put undue weight on the minority of serial killers? momoricks 06:48, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

Hi, my personal opinion is the section carries to much undue weight to be mentioned. I was close to removing this myself. I really don't think racial profiling should be in the article. What would you suggest if we were to keep this in? --CrohnieGalTalk 11:48, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm in favor of removing it for several reasons: 1) if the info is kept, adding percentages for white serial killers and any other racial minorities, such as Hispanics, would need to be added to balance it, and 2) this information would be representative of the United States only. Until some ambitious editor wants to create a section about serial killers worldwide, The majority are single, white males is uncomplicated and generally accurate worldwide. momoricks 05:33, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
This is my thoughts too. I think it should be removed and just the simple sentence The majority are single, white males kept. Go ahead and do the honors. :) --CrohnieGalTalk 11:09, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Check mark 23x20 02.svg Done! momoricks 04:35, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

There are some very reliable sources pointing out this information, and i do think that it is potentially useful. Unfortunately the fact that some white supremacist sites have gotten ahold of it and misrepresent it makes it difficult to know whether the people wanting to add it are doing for POV reasons, or if the people wanting to remove it are doing so for opposite POV reasons.

My personal opinion is that a reference to Anthony Walsh's expert writing on this topic would be a good thing to have, as long as text with a NPOV stance can be agreed upon. Walsh is not a white supremacist and is not advocating any racist views, merely noting the statistics. He is also a widely respected author on the topic. I can see no good reason to consider his finding to be WP:UNDUEWEIGHT. DreamGuy (talk) 15:28, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

I think the statement "applies worldwide" CANNOT be proven by the citations made. Those making those statement are simply relying on the LACK of contrary citations. I will explain my suspicions as to why you won't find contrary citations. And from a logic stand point it is just as well supported as the "worldwide" claim. BOTH lack creditable authorities in Asia, Africa, and South America. Such conclusions made in Wikipedia are "original research" and within the few citations that make those conclusions are NOT backed up the research presented or cited (the US is NOT the world). Even authorities can make baseless claims beyond the extent of their research.
First you need to examine the background and locality of your authorities and citations. The simple fact is that almost all current serious authorities are based on studies of Europe, North America, Russia, South Africa, and Australia where in fact whites are the majority. LOL - the study of psychology (& thus serial killers) apart from religious doctrine or philosophy is also pretty much isolated to these white dominated continental areas. Although obvious this is of course an original research conclusion & Wikipedia only allows worshipped authorities. But it is a good short doctoral thesis topic that might lead to something useable in a Wikipedia citation.
Further the statistics are heavily skewed heavy by cultural reporting and handling of murders - let alone recognition and publishing of serial killer events. Much of the Orient would rather cover such deaths as accidents and even suicide because murder undermines the prestige of family and society in being able to prevent such events. South America has no problem with acknowledging murders in local gossip and even often the more liberal newspapers. But South America's own people will tell you investigation is usually a joke and often considered a matter of personal or family honor --- unless a foreigner is suspected to be involved. This is something Western academics should really research and publish about or better encourage their budding native counterparts to publish on. But of course diplomatically it is good way to be jailed or deported in the Orient.
It is probably more significant to note that serial killers are usually middle or upper class for their cultural environment because lower class killers often lack the means and mobility that provide repeat opportunity. Of course in much of the world that makes a point of publishing crime, this means white and male for strength to handle contingency violence. (talk) 00:18, 10 December 2009 (UTC)

Unattributed quotes?[edit]

The section on female serial killers is a bit of a mess. The second paragraph is put as a blockquote, but its source is unclear. The following paragraph (starting "Although no two serial killers are exactly alike...") reads as if it's been cut and pasted from somewhere: the final line is a direct quote, which is fine as it's attributed, but the rest of the section isn't, and if it's not plagiarism, it's original research. The fourth paragraph has a quote, but then some more stuff before the reference. In short, that whole section needs tidying up - if anyone has access to the reference works and can check which bits are direct quotes, that would probably be a good starting point ~dom Kaos~ (talk) 14:17, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

It looks like a bunch of content there was added by the students in that class mentioned above -- a lot ofbad content was aded, and I took a lot of it out, but that slipped through. Reverting back to an old version wouldn't fix all the problems, so better off just going through and removing a bunch of stuff by hand. DreamGuy (talk) 14:24, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
Okay, I've taken it back to this edit, but added a few of the bits that looked to be sourced. I updated the "citation needed" tags in the third paragraph, as I'm sure there must be citable sources for them and the final paragraph kind of hangs off it - but if anyone disagrees and wants to just delete paragraph 3 and reword paragraph 4, I certainly won't put up a fight ~dom Kaos~ (talk) 16:08, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
I attempted to combine or remove redundant information and rearrange it to keep similar information together. momoricks 03:10, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
That's looking good - nice one!  :-) ~dom Kaos~ (talk) 11:38, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
Maybe there's hope for this article yet. :) momoricks 00:10, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

I originally put the second paragraph in as a blockquote and did it again, because its source quote is found on Page 4 of this link, which seems to take information from here or at least only corresponds with it. Do you mean that the first source attributed to that blockquote is still unclear because part of it is Dr. Knoll "talking" and the other part of it is Dr. Knoll quoting a source, which means that the whole thing should not be quoted together?

If we are not going to blockquote it, then it should be reworded instead of left in as plagiarised text. Flyer22 (talk) 03:34, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Also, why did you add back "approximately one in every six serial killers is a woman" to that section without a valid source for it? I removed it months ago, because it was unreferenced, of course. Did you add it back because you feel that there is a good chance of it being referenced, even if it takes months or a year or two before it is? Flyer22 (talk) 03:46, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Flyer22, a look at the page history and this page should answer your questions. A group of new users descended on the article in early June and made a flurry of changes. It is possible these things were changed and overlooked during the subsequent reversions or when Dom Kaos recently reverted to an older version (see above). momoricks 04:25, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
I know about those edits, though. My questions to Dom Kaos are not about that. For example, those edits have no bearing on the fact that those editors left the blockquote and reference I added to it intact; it is Dom Kaos who took it out of block quote due to feeling that the source of the quote was unclear.
Regarding your removal of "for personal gain (such as money)" for a reason that female serial killers murder men, I point out that "personal gain" is not mentioned twice. The first says personal gain; the second says material gain. Personal gain could be about more than just money. Besides that, one or two other things are mentioned twice, and I see no problem with that (given the context in which it/they is/are mentioned). We should not leave it as "they tend to murder men" without the common reason for those murders. If you want, I could simply remove the "such as money" part in adding back "for personal gain." Although...material gain does not automatically mean money. Flyer22 (talk) 05:05, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for explaining the meaning. I missed the difference when I removed it. Returning "for personal gain" without "such as money" sounds good. With regard to your question for Dom Kaos, I'm not sure how often they look at this page. You might get a quicker response by asking the question on their talk page. Best, momoricks 06:00, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
LOL, yeah, I'd already addressed him or her about this on his or her talk page by asking that they respond here. Flyer22 (talk) 06:45, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Hi, sorry to be a little late to the conversation.
Apologies if I'm missing something really obvious, but I still don't see why the paragraph in question is a blockquote. According to Wikipedia's Manual of Style, blockquotes are used for direct quotations of more than four lines or consisting of more than one paragraph. The paragraph in question is

  1. not a direct quotation but a paraphrasing of the ABC News article and
  2. not long enough to warrant being in a blockquote.

It just looks as if a random couple of lines have come adrift and floated out to the middle of the page. ~dom Kaos~ (talk) 10:36, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for explaining your stance, Dom Kaos. I will soon reword that part of the section in a way that does not use the blockquote format. I am going to get some rest right now, though, but someone else can (of course) give it a try in the meantime. Flyer22 (talk) 10:55, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Okay, I just took care of what you pointed out. Since it is a paraphrasing, I only made slight changes to that paragraph when removing it from blockquote. I must state that I do not recall paraphrasing it like that; I remember it actually being a direct quote from Knoll, partly consisting of him quoting something else. That ABC article must have been updated/altered in some way (seeing as a bit from that blockquote is no longer in that article, though I do not see an update note there in the article). In addition, I point out that the blockquote was originally four lines. It only very recently became three lines when I removed the "An analysis of 86 female serial killers from the U.S. found that the victims tended to be spouses, children or the elderly" line from it and instead put it higher in that section.
All is okay there now, though. Flyer22 (talk) 18:25, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
It's looking good now. I've just re-read my previous comment and realise the line about the paragraph floating out to the middle of the page might have come across as a little snappy - my apologies if that's how you read it. It sounds as if those edits by the students messed everything up a little, and we're all left trying to straighten it all out. Regards ~dom Kaos~ (talk) 13:01, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
No, you did not offend me at all, Dom Kaos. Thank you for your input and cooperation. Flyer22 (talk) 23:06, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

Serial killer "memorabilia" issues[edit]

I noticed some issues with this portion of the "Serial killers in popular culture" section. The one citation appears to be for the John Wayne Gacy info only. I took a look at the Google limited preview of The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers and could not find the other info as worded in the article, although not all of the book pages are viewable.

A more pressing issue is the use of the term memorabilia, which redirects to souvenir, "an object a traveler brings home for the memories associated with it." I considered changing the term to collectibles but that term doesn't entirely work either, as it is defined as "typically a manufactured item designed for people to collect." The term "collectibles" in the Murderabilia article is a piped link to collecting, which works but kind of feels like cheating.

Any suggestions or opinions? It may be best to scrap that paragraph pending properly sourced, accurate information. momoricks 01:13, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

I think most non-fiction articles refer to memorabilia as souvenirs, at least this is what I remember for the term used of murderers who take objects from those they kill. I think souvenirs can be referenced for the proper term used for murderers who collect items from their victims but deletion of the section also works for me. This article needs a lot work and you and the other editors have been doing a good job trying to clean up some of the cruft. I see you also cleaned up the See also section again. I've been cleaning these sections a lot lately it seems with another editor who seems to want to make sure that this section is quite long with terms either already in the article or not really associated, ie FBI & others. I have found that a lot of the articles related to murder need the 'see also' and the WP:EL need clearing.
As for the other section, you can refer to your talk page because I brought my comments there for some reason, it should be deleted as mainly kind of an advertisement in a way. I also believe this was added by an editor who was trying to post his site info here to get people to go to his site which the editor also tried to write an article about which was deleted quite quickly as being an advertisement and/or SPAM/nor WP:notable. I went ahead and found the deletion comments. I maybe wrong that this was the editor since I haven't bothered to search the history here but I still think it's doesn't add anything useful to this article to have this info in it. If anything it's more Trivia and unnecessary. Of course this is just my opinion. Your thoughts or anyone else? --CrohnieGalTalk 11:52, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
I just removed it. I will paste what I took out incase anyone thinks it can be usable. I think the article is long enough that we don't need this as a filler or anything plus it's not referenced. But I'll leave it here incase anyone thinks other wise.

There have been a number of notable/reliable newspaper articles on the topic over the years (I have Google and Yahoo news searches flag any article with "serial killer" in the text, among many other topics I have flagged), so I'm sure this could be documented. I think it's semi-notable for the overall topic that there are collectors out there... gives a broader dimension to the whole understanding of the topic in society. But then murderabilia isn't confined to just serial killers, as there's also organized crime, one off murders, etc., so I don't know how directly relevant it is to this specific article as compared to others... though serial killers are probably the most prominent within it. I believe a sentence or two on the topic focusing narrowly on that end and linking off to an article to go into more detail would work. DreamGuy (talk) 17:00, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

DreamGuy, if you want to give it a go please go ahead. I would be interested in seeing you put together. I think it really is not needed though. The article is quite long and needs work. I find it to be a bit disorganized but it's too late in the day for me to actually think about doing anything. I'm just killing time right now. But please do if you are interested. I just removed it because it is written horribly and didn't fit in where it was at. --CrohnieGalTalk 18:15, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
If I do make any edits along those lines I'd start by making them to Murderabilia, which could use a lot of improvement (right now it's was obviously written by COI accounts behind sites selling serial killer art -- people reading would think all murderabilia consisted of paintings). It'd probabl be a while before I could figure out if anything belonged here. DreamGuy (talk) 19:20, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
Fair enough, I put that on my watchlist. Maybe in the morning I'll be able to help out a bit. --CrohnieGalTalk 20:59, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

To answer Crohnie's question regarding when that info was added: I didn't go through the entire page history, but I found the diff for one of my first edits to the article in September 2008. The info was there at that time [2]. That's a moot point now. I agree with improving the Murderabilia page then adding the link to this one along with related info. momoricks 11:09, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

New lede[edit]

I would like to suggest that the lede of this article needs a complete rewrite. Normally, the type of articles I edit would allow me to do this w/o much prior discussion, but this is not that type of article. Therefore, and instead, I'll just place here my suggestion for a rewritten lede.

The term serial killer is used both as a journalistic description of murderers, as well as a technical term in the science of criminology. While the general public may use the term to refer to any killer with multiple victims, the criminological definition is more narrow. By definition, a serial killer is a person who murders three or more people over a period of more than 30 days, with a "cooling off" period between each murder, and whose motivation for killing is largely based on psychological gratification.

Often a sexual element is involved with the killings. Such elements, being prurient, oftentimes receive greater media attention, and the public image of serial killers often involves sexual or other elements of the killer's modus operandi (ie, strangulation), or commonalities among the victims (ie, lovers in parked cars). For criminologists, however, the murders may have been attempted or completed in a similar fashion and the victims may have had something in common, for example occupation, race, appearance, gender, or age group, but such similarities are not a required element.

Needs work, I know, bit of OR in there, but the general idea is that there is a "layperson's" definition of serial killer that differs slightly from the criminologists. It appears to me that this article's lede attempts a careful technical definition while ignoring the arguably more common journalistic usage. While I agree that the technical definition is essential, I would like to point out that no real criminologist is likely to be coming to wikipedia to find the precise definition of this (or any other) term. Wikipedia is for us laypeople, the specialists really don't need it. Imho. Anyways, just a suggestion, I'm limiting myself to just fixing a minor flaw in the current lede. Eaglizard (talk) 19:00, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Before going over my thoughts about your lead (intro) suggestion, I point out that specialists and experts do come to Wikipedia all the time for knowledge. Plenty of specialists, experts, and other very intelligent people get some of their information from Wikipedia, though a lot of them will not admit to it; some of these people, as a lot of us here know, even contribute to Wikipedia articles. Heck, my user page even addresses the secret use of Wikipedia by some people. Flyer22 (talk) 19:50, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I suppose I should have said "experts don't come to WP for knowledge of their field", but now I'm not sure the difference. What I'm really getting at is simply that (I think) WP articles should hilight significant differences between common and technical usage of terms like this, and should do so right up front. The fact that people (foreign language speakers, in particular) at all levels of expertise use WP is a very good reason for this.Eaglizard (talk) 20:24, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Eaglizard, do you have at least one good source that can be used for the "layperson's" definition? While we're on the subject of definitions, it would be optimal to have an "official source", such as directly from an FBI publication or website or a scholarly journal, for the "technical" definition. Currently, I don't have full internet access, so I'll suggest a couple links for others to look at in the meantime. The external link Serial Murder: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators or Federal Bureau of Investigation - Freedom of Information Privacy Act may work. Also, this Seattle Post-Intelligencer series on serial killers may mention other sources of information. momoricks 01:58, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

The suggested lead above is not helpful at all, as it creates a distinction that does not exist (journalism term? no way) and is all around less accurate and less informative than the current lead. There is no layperson's definition, it's just people who don't know the definition using the word incorrectly. It'd be a violation of multiple policies to endorse that confused understanding as at all legitimate. That's like saying "cheif" is a layperson's spelling of the word "chief." DreamGuy (talk) 14:32, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

I agree with DreamGuy. A perfect example of media spreading misinformation is the recent Patrick Tracy Burris case in South Carolina. As you can see, the source headlines identify him as a serial killer, possibly to increase the sensationalism of the case. In fact, at one point, the local sheriff described him as fitting the FBI definition of a serial killer. When I read that news story I had to stifle a scream. The aspects of Burris' crimes are more like those of a spree killer, not a serial killer. momoricks 00:32, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
I have to agree with DreamGuy and Momoricks. Misuse of terms often annoy me. As someone who is always explaining the correct use/definition of the term Pedophilia to people, I can tell you that it is not at all helpful to let people think that it is perfectly acceptable to call an older adult sexual attraction to a 17-year-old "pedophilia" (as if 18 is some significant stretch from 17). We do, however, recognize in the lead (intro) of that article the other ways that the term pedophilia is used...due to those other ways being so prominent. Flyer22 (talk) 23:18, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
I think you've missed my point. Perhaps my example was not very good, but my intent was to highlight the common misuse of the term, to point out to the average reader that they probably use the phrase wrong. I did intend to argue with the established definition in any way, nor to establish a new one. Eaglizard (talk) 20:16, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
The best way to highlight that people have used the term incorrectly is to fully explain the actual definition with impeccable sources. People who have been using it incorrectly -- or have seen others use it incorrectly -- can immediately see what the real definition is and come to their own hopefully obvious conclusion. DreamGuy (talk) 16:02, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Anyone remember the conversations about Dr. Phil[edit]

[3] I remember a conversation questioning the WP:weight used with the source of this with Dr. Phil. He is still a TV show? How much weight do you think is needed for this list of 14 characteristics. More important though, is there another WP:RS for this sections? I haven't done a search myself yet but I will. I am just trying to remember what the problems were the last time this was brought up or at least get a feel from the editors here now how they feel about so much wieght being given to Dr. Phil? Please, I would really like to hear from the others here. Oh and the Webcite snapshot doesn't work and gives an error so I will be removing this ref. If you know how to replace the snapshot, please do as I do not know what this is. Thanks for your time, --CrohnieGalTalk 09:34, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

I think Dr. Phil is an odd source to cite for that. There is already a book cite on that claim, but other books making the same claims should be trivial to locate. DreamGuy (talk) 15:30, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Has anybody actually seen with their own eyes the book used as a source. I can't find it on the internet, and the current Dr. Phil list of 14 characteristics is different than what is posted.Dopplegangerr (talk) 20:38, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Crohnie, are you thinking of a conversation other than Racism or List of Serial Killer Characteristics above? I removed the archive url and date parameters from the Dr. Phil citation template. The original page link still works, so it should be easy to re-archive it if needed.
Here's some background: I added the list and sources in September 2008 when I was a newbie and trying to expand the article. Its contents are a compilation of the lists in Schechter and Everitt's The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers and the Dr. Phil webpage. As far as I remember, the lists are similar but not identical, so I tried to incorporate everything mentioned in both. The Google Books limited preview of the encyclopedia provides access to the second of the two pages on which the list is located. momoricks 02:03, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Inclusion of this racist piece of garbage is a disgrace. Many attempts have been made to at least footnote the 1st characteristic. All have been removed. We aren't stupid. We know racist brainwashing when we see it.Dopplegangerr (talk) 07:17, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Momoricks, YOU ARE A RACISTDopplegangerr (talk) 07:32, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

That comment is not only completely uncalled for and baseless but a violation of policy. You'll need to act more responsibly if you want to be taken seriously. DreamGuy (talk) 14:50, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

I take it back, but Momoricks IMO seems like a naive person who has been brainwashed.Dopplegangerr (talk) 14:45, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

Dopplegangrr, please comment about edits not editors. The verifiability policy states: "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—that is, whether readers are able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether we think it is true." The list is properly sourced and was added as a general overview to be changed or expanded with reliable, verifiable information. Proof of my attempts to keep the "Characteristics" section neutral can be seen above in "Racial characteristics – opinions please". Statistics about black serial killers were added to the article. I was able to find a source for that information; however, another editor and I concluded that keeping the information without adding statistics for white serial killers conveyed bias against black serial killers. Neither of us were able to research and add white serial killer statistics at the time, so the biased information was removed.
I, DreamGuy and other regular editors of this article are not here to discourage its expansion. We encourage it—as long as information added meets the reliability, verifiability and neutral point of view policies. The edits you have made to the article have been removed because they do not abide by all three policies. momoricks 18:24, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  • And certainly, no one in their right mind would ever use a name like "Dopplegangrr" for a sockpuppet. No, of course not. That would be stupid. Eaglizard (talk) 20:19, 16 July 2009 (UTC) Forget that, I was just trying to make a WP:POINT that accusation breeds accusation. Striking out my lack of etiquette. Eaglizard (talk) 20:40, 16 July 2009 (UTC)


It really is quite bad form to attack the person instead of the information. Don't name call. Don't accuse people of racism (a very subjective term) or brainwashing. Are you a licensed psychiatrist and have you personally examined momoricks for evidence of brainwashing? If not, then I think that you shouldn't say it.

I happen to agree with your assertion that the list should be better evidenced and sourced, possibly with footnotes. But, your use of emotionally charged labels is, IMO, counterproductive. Jjc16 (talk) 19:34, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

  1. ^ "Criminal Minds official website". CBS. 
  2. ^ Schechter and Everitt, p. 15