What is a serial killer? According to the FBI the definition of a serial killer is the following: The unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s), in separate events. Since the first famous case of serial murders, the one of Jack The Ripper, society got excited and hyped about the notion. Though serial murders sum up less than 1% of murders, it caused a huge interest in the subject. This definition is crafted after 30 years of different definitions used by law enforcement, clinicians, academia, and researchers. After analyzing all definitions a serial murder was thought to have the following characteristics: • one or more offenders • two or more murdered victims • incidents should be occurring in separate events, at different times • the time period between murders separates serial murder from mass murder

What drives a serial killer?

Over decades, researchers tried to identify common traits but in the end the conclusion was that serial killers are driven my multiple and different reasons and the only common characteristics that some serial killers had was sensation seeking, lack of remorse and/or guilt.


Though it is a common belief that serial killers follow similar patterns, this is far from the truth. This kind of killers are also not restricted to a certain age group, gender and race.


Research is very vast and complex. Some observations were made about why does someone become a serial killer. It is a combination of multiple factors starting with their own development, predisposition and their environment. • Predisposition to serial killing 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: – There is no generic template for a serial killer. – Serial killers are driven by their own unique motives or reasons. – The majority of serial killers who are sexually motivated, erotized violence during development, thus 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

Disclaimer: information for this article is provided by the FBI