Murder Investigation Essay

Posted: November 30th, 2013

Murder Investigation Essay






Murder Investigation Essay

Criminal psychology is essentially described as a learning of both mental and behavioral aspects of a criminal. Hence, serial homicide psychology is essentially described as the study of the mental and behavioral aspects of a serial killer. A serial killer is described as an individual who commits specific murders because he or she is driven by a particular desire and urge to kill individuals. A serial killer is defined as such when he or she is involved in the murder of a minimum of three people.

In essence serial homicide is executed in manner that there is usually what is defined as a “cooling off” period between the murders with the intent of making the murders seem unconnected. The cooling off period is used by serial killer to strategize, plan and evaluate the public reactions of people in the society. The Federal Bureau describes that the mind of a serial killer is driven by several elements such as thrill, financial gain and the need of attention form the police as well as the society. The prey of a serial killer is usually unaware of the presence of a murder seeking their blood for various reasons. Majority of serial murders are usually executed in a similar manner, which makes tem easily linkable to the serial killer (Andrews & Bonta, 2010).

Essentially the motivation of murder by a serial killer is usually based on psychological issues. Hence, scientists as well as theorists seek to understand the functions inside the mind of a serial killer towards murder. In addition, the traits exhibited by a serial killer are not detailed within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of American Psychiatric Association does not define any behavior exhibited by serial killers as part of mental illnesses. Majority of the serial killers usually exhibit antisocial personality disorders, which are not entailed as part of mental illnesses within the DSM manuals (Andrews & Bonta, 2010).

Individuals with Anti-Social Personality Disorders (ASPD) usually have long histories of confrontation with the law and end up arrested by law enforcement officers (Andrews & Bonta, 2010). In addition, such individuals are also involved in physical confrontations with people they met in the various social settings. They are also descried as individuals with excellent oratory skills such that they are able to tell lies without notice from their listener. Some are also unable to stay in employment, as they tend to get hostile with other employees as well as the employer due to their confrontational behavior. Some psychologists regard psychopathic behavior as an advanced form of ASPD. Furthermore, they also view that psychopathic behavior is usually exhibited more in men than in women. Psychopaths usually have antisocial tendencies, which are more advanced because of the additional behavior, which they tend to exhibit, thus making them difficult to diagnose and eventually give treatment. The main traits exhibited are the lack of responsibility for actions as well the lack of remorse and guilt for their actions. They are also usually paranoid and suspicious of all activities around them as if they think that people around them want to victimize them.

Serial killers generally love the power and attention they accrue from holding and killing their victims. They essentially need the thrill and attention they accrue from holding their victims hostage and doing away with the victim by death. Majority of the serial killers usually have histories of neglect and child abuse leading to a need to seek attention in manners, which they know, through violence. Hence the means to vent out the anger emanating from a history of neglect and violence results in use of identical or higher levels of violence to seek and attention and vent out their anger. The media attention granted to the serial killers is usually a motivating factor for the killers. This is because they learn that their efforts are recognized, hence they seek to commit heinous acts to gain attention, while venting out their anger. Once a serial killer is involved in murder, he or she grows the need to commit more identical acts to satisfy the innate psychological needs, which might be emotional, physical or sexual. Majority of the serial killers are described to have a psychological disorder, which is the main cause for their antisocial and unstable behavior. Hence, their activities are usually related to one of more of the psychological disorders detailed in the DSM manuals for psychological disorders.

Some of most high profile serial killers in the world exhibited mental instabilities and obsession in their activities. For instance, Gary Leon Ridgeway alias the Green River Killer was charged and convicted of at least 48 murders of women. However, he confessed that he had killed more than double the number, which had been identified. Majority of the women he had killed were prostitutes. He was able to exercise such because as a serial killer he had the ability to lure the women with the promise of money for sexual favors. He gained the alias Green River Killer after the first five of his victims were discovered in the Green River. His main method of killing was by strangling and with the use of ligatures. This is an express indication of the lack of consideration and respect for human life. He used such methods to make sure that he that felt powerful as he took away the lives of the women that he killed (Waller, 2010).

Another infamous serial killer famed for his actions was John Wayne Gacy, who was a member of the Junior Chamber Of Commerce. He confessed about the murders of numerous people some of whom were not accounted for by the authorities. He was a respected member of society. However, he had an abusive relationship with his abusive alcoholic father. There were suspicion that he was a child molester and homosexual. This is an indication that previous childhood experiences might have had role in his killings.

Theodore Robert Cowell alias Ted Bundy was an infamous serial killer in the 1946 who was famed for his good looks. This enabled him to lure his victims with ample ease to their death. He used various approaches such as posing as a police officer, firefighter and other workers to gain trust from his potential victims. He was responsible for killing 40 women after raping them and eventually mutilating their bodies. He confessed to the murders. Eventually, he was executed. It is claimed that before he dumped his bodies, he applied make up to the dead woman and slept with them (Bartol, & Bartol, 2008).

Mass murder is essentially described as the act of killing more than four individuals at the same time or over a relatively short period. In addition, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) describes that mass murders are characterized by the time of occurrence, which separates them from the definition of serial murders or homicide (FBI Serial Murders Report, 2009). They usually occur during the “cooling off” period. Furthermore, mass murders usually occur in a specific location whereby all the victims are killed in a single location or a vicinity of a particular location. In essence, mass murder is defined as the intentional and indiscriminate murder of individuals by either individuals or organizations.

Serial killers when involved in the murder of large numbers of people, usually execute such plans in a longer period. Serial murders are usually instigated and executed based on psychological needs and imbalance by the serial killers. On the other hand, mass murders are usually aimed at execution of large numbers of people without discrimination of the victims. Hence, the difference between mass murders and serial murders are based on the selection of the victims.

Mass murders are at times based on killing of family, friends, colleagues and strangers based on an individual belief. Such events usually have motivating factors such as bullying, racism, loss of employment, lack of attention, discrimination and perceived alienation of an individual. Hence, a mass murderer executes his or her activities of killing people because of previous encounters and experiences with a targeted group of individuals. Mass murders are usually based on various contexts. Death of people a result of an act of war is by some in society considered as mass murder. On the other hand, others consider that mass murder amounts to death of people who do not have any reason to face such cruelty. They simply become victims of fate. Mass murders are also based on political contexts such as during the execution and murder of political supporters of a specific grouping. This is at times regarded as genocide based on the numbers of people executed in such circumstances (Geberth, 2006).

The definition of serial homicide from the Bureau of Justice Statistics defines serial homicide as an act that involves the murder of several individuals in separate events, which are separated by time but are executed in a similar fashion or signature. This gives definition to the serial killer. A serial killer and a spree killer usually have identical traits in the execution styles of their activities. A spree killer is described as one with the ability of hunting for the victims whereas the serial killer uses seduction and luring tactics to lure the victims to their demise. In addition, serial killers actualize their need to kill based merely on sadistic urges, which are essentially defined as psychopathic. Furthermore, their sociopathic and unsociable traits make them unable to interact and sympathize with others about their suffering. Hence, the lack of remorse is usually a trait evident in majority serial murderers (Waller, 2010).

In conclusion, serial killing is based on psychological instabilities and disorders of an individual. On the other hand, mass murders are usually executed at a specific moment. However, the two instances are identical in that serial killing and mass murder involve premeditation of such efforts before the actual execution of plans to kill large numbers of people. In essence, both perspectives involve taking the lives of people who are unaware of such preplanned events aimed at actualizing their demise.


Andrews, D. A., & Bonta, J. (2010). The psychology of criminal conduct. Albany, N.Y.: Lexis Nexis/Anderson Pub.

Bartol, C. R., & Bartol, A.M. (2008). Criminal Behavior: A Psychological Approach. New York: Pearson Prentice Hall.

FBI Serial Murders Report. (2009). Serial Murder: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators. Behavioral Analysis Unit: National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime. Retrieved from on March 9, 2010.

Geberth, V. J. (2006). Practical homicide investigation: Tactics, procedures, and forensic techniques. Boca Raton, FL: CRC/Taylor & Francis.

Waller, S. (2010). Serial killers & philosophy: Being and killing. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.

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