Examining Four Types of Serial Killers

investigationThe term serial killer is defined by the act either of two or more separate murders, acting alone or with another, during a period of time with breaks in between each murder, or what has been referred to as a cooling off period.  They are a unique breed of individuals that make special efforts to elude detection from law enforcement.

It is not exactly known how many are practicing at any given time across the US.  The FBI has given an estimate of 200 serial killers roaming in the US at one time, but according Joel Norris, author of Serial Killers, he suggests that there are three to four times more. Norris also explains some psychobiological theories that could contribute to the complexity of a serial killer.

In my Emily Stone Thriller Series, Emily Stone goes up against a ruthless, diabolical and somewhat eccentric serial killer in my thriller Dead Game.  This serial killer Samuel uses his unique signature as a voyeuristic serial killer to commit his crimes.  I created Samuel to be a power and control and perhaps a bit of hedonistic type of serial killer. The lines are often blurred with the serial killers in my novels to make the killer more sinister and frightening.

In Dark Mind, the serial killer known to readers as Keo has a much different approach that would be considered to be a mission or visionary type of killer.

In my latest novel Dark Pursuit, the killer is driven by a mission with some visionary added. You can check out any of the novels in the Emily Stone Series to find out how I incorporated the four types of serial killers.

These are the four basic types of serial killers:

Power & Control

This type of serial killer experiences complete sexual gratification from the domination and humiliation of the victim.  This killer is a true sociopath and lives by his own personal set of rules and guidelines.  Many of the famous serial killers we have seen in history and in the media would fall under his type of serial killer.


This type of serial killer is compelled by voices or visions they experience and are considered psychotic.  These voices and visions compel them to kill certain kinds of people.


This type of serial killer feels a “need” or duty to kill certain types of people or “class” of people such as religious or racial groups or prostitutes.  This type of serial killer is not considered psychotic.


This type of serial killer makes a strong connection between personal violence and sexual gratification.  This type of killer can also be described as a “lust” or “thrill” killer.  This killer receives pleasure from the act and has eroticized the experience.  They generally take the time to torture or mutilate their victims. This type of serial killer is often portrayed in fictional books and movies.

I feel that these descriptions are a fair assessment of the types of serial killers, with the exception of some variations and combinations in certain instances.  There is no clear-cut definition or recipe of a serial killer. However, it gives us a reasonable description that begins to help law enforcement investigators to piece together the motivations and clues of serial killings.

Here are some honest, thought-provoking observations about serial killers made by professionals from:

Behavioral Analysis Unit-2
National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime
Critical Incident Response Group
Federal Bureau of Investigation

  • 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.


I would love to connect:



 Author Blog: https://authorjenniferchase.com/

Book & Crime Talk:  http://blogtalkradio.com/jennifer-chase

Books: Compulsion  Dead Game  Dark Mind Dead Burn Dark Pursuit Silent Partner

About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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8 Responses to Examining Four Types of Serial Killers

  1. Interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 4 Writing Websites for Researching Guns and More | The Writer's Guide to Weapons

  3. Pingback: Blog Post #4 – Psychology of Serial Killers

  4. beetleypete says:

    I have long been interested in why serial killers operate mainly in certain countries. The US seems to be the ‘world leader’ in numbers of serial killers, with the UK high on that list too.
    Thanks for following my blog, which is much appreciated.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Forensic Genealogy Finds the Killer: 3 Cold Cases Recently Solved #crime #coldcase | Author Jennifer Chase

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