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Serial Murder

NCJ Number
R M Holmes; J DeBurger
Date Published
164 pages
Based on extensive research and personal interviews with convicted serial murderers, this study provides an overview of the cultural background, social context, and characteristics of serial murder and its perpetrators.
The opening chapter reviews basic features of serial murder within the context of some descriptive data and concepts related to the border offense of criminal homicide. An examination of the general cultural context as a factor in criminal violence notes a core of norms and values that may reinforce violent behavior, although there is a generalized norm that prohibits such behavior. In classifying types of serial murder, the factors discussed are behavioral background, victim profiles, methods used, and location of the murders. Four types of serial murderers are identified: the 'visionary,' the 'mission-oriented,' 'hedonistic,' and 'power/control-oriented.' After considering the background and behavioral patterns of serial killers, aspects of developing a psychological profile of a serial murderer are discussed, followed by a profile of the 'lust' killer, a type of serial killer predominantly motivated by a quest for sexual gratification. Remaining chapters address obstacles to serial murder investigations; a case study of the serial killer Ted Bundy; the social impact of serial murder; and trends, issues, and the future. 200 references.


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