Serial killers have held the fascination of the public; we question how and why they commit the acts they do. A serial killer is characterized by varied motivations, behaviors, and psychological characteristics (Brantley & Kosky, Jr., 2005). Identifying the “why’s” behind the behavior of these individuals has proved both intriguing and difficult: there are many shared traits, though non solely attributed to serial killers. For example, most serial killers were abused as children (Holmes & Holmes, 1998a, 1998b); however, most abused children do not become serial killers. In order to understand serial murderers, we must be willing to research and understand the variety of causes behind their heinous and troubled acts. Following this is a discussion investigating the many factors contributing to the makeup of a serial killer within their biological, psychological, and sociological realities.
There are three identified types of “multicides”: mass murder, spree murder, and serial murder (Holmes & Holmes, 1998a, 1998b). Serial killers are as such due to the type of crime they commit—premeditated, ongoing, with three or more murders, with similarities in motivation and conduct between each, as well as periods of activity and “cooling off” over more than 30 days.