We live in a society obsessed with monsters. Think of all the television shows and movies in just the past two years featuring vampires, werewolves, and assorted creatures of the night. We like being scared, screaming in the middle of a crowded movie theatre and then awkwardly pretending it was someone else. The feeling that we can go home safe, believing that it wasn't real. But, monsters are real, and human beings can be the scariest of them all.
It's an unfortunate fact that real life is sometimes more twisted than even the worst horror writer can imagine. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than when discussing serial killers. While many people can understand, if not condone, a crime of passion or vengeance, it is different for those who kill, time and time again, for reasons that the common person, could not hope to understand?
Those familiar with the Criminal Minds series will already know that the FBI has spent a great deal of time and resources in tracking, capturing, and ultimately understanding serial killers. According to them, a serial killer can be classified as such if he (used loosely since there are female serial killers):
Has killed a minimum of three or four individuals
Has what is termed a "cooling off" period between kills
Generally kills for reasons other than profit
Typically chooses strangers as victims, although they may have some symbolic value, such as bearing similar features to the real but somehow unattainable target
Exhibits a sadistic need to overpower/dominate victims, often by means of torture.
These points help to distinguish a serial killer from spree killers or even mass murderers, since these two groups tend to lack a cooling off period. However, some experts have suggested the inclusion of a hybrid "spree-serial killer" category. This is because some serial killers have experienced prolonged periods of sequential murder without the expected "rest" in between.
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