When we think about serial killers, the most popular names come to mind, such as Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer; therefore, we imagine serial killers as being very troubled, psychopaths, hunting for their victims to torture them. The truth is, that serial killers motives vary. A lot.

Dr Aamodt, from Radford University/FGCU Serial Killer Database with his fellow researchers, analyzed thousands of serial killers compiling a list of motives serial killers murdered for.

The numbers show that the common assumption of serial killers killing mostly for lust, is debunked.

As you can observe in the graph above, reasons are different.

MotiveNo of serial killersPercentage
Enjoyment (thrill, lust, power)122448,44%
Financial Gain77230,55%
Multiple Motives1766,96%
Gang Activity742,93%
Avoid Arrest281,11%


According the the FBI definition of a serial murder, the numbers also include gang activities, for example.

We can see that most of the serial killers analyzed killed purely for enjoyment; while the second most common motive is financial gain.

If you’d like to see more statistics about serial killers, you can visit this page.