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The Key to Raising a Perfect Serial Killer

Serial killers are known for being inhumane, notorious, horrifying individuals who kill purely because it brings them a certain sense of, well, do we really know what type of feeling a murderer gets after they committed arguably the worst crime? Different serial killers have different motives and senses of comfort they get when they are taking the life of another person, and many do not know or understand the four different types of murderers, or where their motives come from. A lot of it starts from when they were young, and how they were raised. A lot of different traumas and haunting personal experiences can drive someone to become a certain type of serial killer. There are perfect childhoods that can raise a perfect type of serial killer.

The first and most popular type of murderer would be serial killer for power and control. The article “Serial homicide for Power and Control” by Scott A. Bonn, describes why these types of murderers are driven to take the lives of others. The primary motivation for a power and control murderer is simply the joy they get from the entire process of the murder; these murderers choose to prolong the process for their own pleasure. They find it sexually arousing to stalk, capture, and torture their victim, but find it most satisfying when they finish the homicide, because it helps show an expression in the power, they hold over their chosen prey. Murderers find this final step so powerful because they are able to choose under which circumstances, they can torture and kill their victim. To assert their power in a different way, they also tend to rape their victims. Not because of the sexual arousing’s mentioned before, but because this gives them another outlet to feel a certain sense of control and dominance. Lastly, these types of murderers tend to keep souvenirs from their crimes to remind themselves of the achievement they accomplished. The memorabilia they keep helps fuel the killers’ fantasies, and they often give their memorabilia to family members or a partner to display their trophy in a non-cholent, yet public way. As an example, the famous serial killer Ted Bundy once took a necklace from a victim and gave it to his wife. He also took pictures of his victims after he murdered them. When asked why he did such a thing, he responded with: “When you work hard to do something right, you don’t want to forget it.” The FBI classified these types of killers as to have stone-cold psychopathic tendencies, because they are meticulous planners and tend to be charming, charismatic and intelligent. Ted Bundy grew up shy, which led him to become a severe target for bullying while he was in grade school. Explaining why he wanted to assert his power over others. He went on to create normal relationships in college, and was very favored amongst the ladies because of his flirtatious and endearing personality. Yet confessed to 28 murders, but is assumed to have been responsible for hundreds of deaths.

The second type of murderer is called a visionary murderer. Scott A. Bonn states in his article “Visionary Serial Killers Are Driven By Inner Demons” that these killers commit murders because of imagined internal or external voices that are perceived to be real. These killers are mainly suffering from a mental illness, most commonly being schizophrenia. These murderers usually experience some sort of psychotic break that leads them to go crazy and commit such a crime. In many other cases with the other types of murderers, they more commonly have a specific demographic that they like to murder. An example of this would be blonde, short, females. But visionary murderers have their agendas synchronized to whatever their mind is telling them to do at that specific moment. Visionary killers are classified as “disorganized” by the FBI because of their impulsive tendencies, there is almost always no pattern to their killing. Many murderers that fall under this category have claimed that another entity has taken over their body when the murders were committed, usually being “God mandated” or “demon mandated.” David Berkowitz is known as a classic example of a visionary serial killer. Berkowitz shot thirteen people in New York City ranging between 1967-1977, also known as his reign of terror. After his murders and prior to his arrest, he wrote letters to the local police station that stated Satan was ordering him to kill. In the article titled “David Berkowitz” found on Wikipedia, it is found that Berkowitz had a troubled childhood. He was above average in intelligence but was known to be difficult, spoiled, and a harsh bully. He was also associated with petty larceny and arson in his younger years. Berkowitz was also put up for adoption at birth, and never knew who his birth mother was until he was 17. When he was able to connect with his birth mother and speak to her for the first time, forensic anthropologists called that his “primary crisis” and believed it shattered his sense of identity. This shattered sense of identity led researchers to believe this is why Berkowitz committed murder.

The second to last killer is titled a pragmatic mission killer. In the article “Understanding Pragmatic Mission Killers” by Scott A. Bonn, it is stated that these murderers have a diabolical purpose. They believe that their killing is mission oriented and by committing this crime they are improving the world based off of their standards. These murderers usually target large specific groups that do not fit what the killer believes, this can include people of a certain religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Missionary murderers are classified as clinically insane and they’re murders are planned out, quick and concise. They truly believe that each victim is selected for them to kill, and that the victims are grateful to have been selected to get their lives taken. One example of a missionary killer is Joseph P. Franklin, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. Franklin was convicted of homicides that included two black men who had been jogging with a white woman, and an interracial couple. Franklin explained his wrongful doing by saying this statement to the press, “Race mixing is a sin against God and nature… I feel it is my duty as a servant of God to protect white womanhood from injury or degradation.” As we can see, the targeted group of people in this case was men of color with a goal to protect white women, and his reasoning was that it was a sin against his God and his religion.

The fourth and final kind of killer would be considered the hedonist lust killer. With the other types of murderers, sex is a motive for half of all serial killers. But a hedonist lust murderer is the only exception, sex is their primary and only motivation to their killing sprees, whether their victims or dead or alive. For this type of murderer, sex and killing is not the only thing that can solve the need for these murders. Some may actually drink their victim’s blood or resort to cannibalism. One example of a hedonist murderer is the well-known killer, Jeffery Dahmer. Dahmer fantasized greatly over the perfect lover. He wanted them to be beautiful, submissive and eternal. Whilst trying to find the perfect partner, it led him to murder and cannibalize 17 males between the years 1978 and 1991.  Dahmer’s murders started strictly off of sexual stimulation, but the more he murdered, the more he experimented with. Leading him to then partake in experimenting with cannibalism as well as drugs. It is said that he ingested human flesh of the victims he believed he was in love with, so that he can keep his secret lover forever. When Dahmer experimented with drugs, his purpose was to try and make his victims into living zombies with drilling a hole inside of the victim’s head and pouring acid and other chemicals into their brain. In the article “Hedonist Lust Killers Must Feed Their Insatiable Hunger” by author Scott A. Bonn, Dahmer is quoted when he talks about his own motivations as a hedonist lust killer. Dahmer himself claimed the following: “I wanted to see if it was possible to make—again, it sounds really gross—uh, zombies, people that would not have a will of their own, but would follow my instructions without resistance.” He also stated that lust and control in sexual situations were his main drive when murdering someone. When growing up, Dahmer always had a desire for killing. Since 13 years old he had been having thoughts about killing men and having sex with their corpses, these thoughts took up two-thirds of his day. He used to dissect roadkill with his father and put the animals he murdered up on display in the woods by a propped up wooden stick.  But Dahmer’s main motivation was sexual arousing’s, not making it surprising when he was diagnosed with the personality disorder called necrophilia; the sexual attraction to corpses. Dahmer was also severely bullied in school. In the article “Did Jeffery Dahmer Have Seizures, Did He Have Aids?” by author Shraman Mitra, it is stated that Dahmer got bullied in school and only had a handful of friends. He was starved of attention at home and also in school, which gave him the idea to fake seizures to get others to notice his presence.

Childhood trauma paved the way for a lot of widely known serial killers to begin their murder sprees. Researchers have noted that a lot of the most known serial killers came from childhood trauma, or a shaky home. FBI profiler Robert Ressler, had interviewed 36 convicted murderers, in the interviews he conducted he found out about the murderers’ histories, motives, as well as their psychological and behavioral characteristics. He found that all murderers he interviewed had a traumatic childhood involving specific types of abuse. 40% of the murderers he interviewed were physically beaten or abused, while the other 70% had witnessed abuse growing up. Proving that some of the most notorious people to walk the Earth, became the way they are because they were not given enough care in the most vital years of their life.

Robert Ressler is a very prominent researcher and source in the article, “Serial Killers and Child Abuse: Is There A Link?” by Fiona Guy. The following quote Ressler stated sums up a lot of what fellow researchers and readers think about this counterintuitive topic: “Let me state unequivocally that there is no such thing as the person who at age thirty-five suddenly changes from being perfectly normal and erupts into totally evil, disruptive, murderous behavior. The behaviors that are precursors to murder have been present and developing in that person’s life for a long, long time – since childhood.” Along with Ressler, researchers from Radford University in Virginia, Mitchell and Aamodt, continued to further the studies in 2005 about the relation between an abusive childhood and a tendency of serial killing later in life. Mitchell and Aamodt focused their studies on the different types of abuse that these serial killers can encounter, and the probability that related their actions to their backgrounds. The groups consisted of physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse and neglect. After collecting data that compared the general population compared to the serial killers, it is found that serial killers are six times more reported physical abuse during childhood compared to the rest of the general population. The biggest difference between the general population and serial killer population fell underneath the psychological abuse category. When it came to the general population, the rates of psychological abuse were only 2%. But the serial killer group studied was 50%. This shows us that childhood abuse is strikingly more widespread amongst serial killers versus a normal population.

Although abuse can be the direct source (a retaliation against the encounters of their own violence), of serial killers committing their actions, it also can be the first step in a three-step process. This three-step process includes 1.) the inflicted abuse, 2.) the mental illness resulting from the abuse and 3.) the murder tendencies/actions. So not only can child abuse drive children to have violent tendencies and eventually reenact that abuse onto other people, they can also receive mental illnesses because of this abuse, which can cause their actions to be even more savage in the long run. All starting at the root, that being child abuse. In the article “The Dark Psychology of Serial Killers: Unpacking the Factors Behind their Brutal Behavior” by author Dennis Relojo-Howell, Howell states that child abuse can lead to mental disorders including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), narcissistic personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder. All of these mental disorders increase the probability of a child becoming a serial killer. PTSD increases the violence in a child due to an uneasy and unsafe feeling depending upon different settings and/or situations. Personality disorders also play a role in a serial killer’s development. This includes ASPD, which is characterized by a severe lack of empathy, and an urge to get involved in illegal activities. Personality disorders often cause people to disengage from reality and connect with forms of violent behavior to cope. Sometimes, the abuse that children grow up with do not have to be personal to their physical or mental well-being. Social and environmental factors also can take a toll and encourage the psychological development of a killer. Growing up around violence, whether that be in the home or community, or even watching violent media such as tv shows, video games or movies have been linked to an increase in violent behaviors starting at very young ages. The exposure to violence at a young age makes children think that these actions are normal. Growing up with this sort of mental state that makes children believe it is okay to intentionally inflict pain on others on a day to day, can only get worse as they get older.

In psychology, there is an ongoing argument that discusses nature vs nurture, and which one has more of an influence in who we are as people. Nature is the genetic and hereditary factor that goes into one’s personality. While nurture are the external variables, that include: childhood experience, family life, social surroundings, etc. When it comes to the mind of a serial killer, we need both 50% nature and 50% nurture to create a murderer. According to Dr. Adrian Raine in the article “From Abused Child to Serial Killer: Investigating Nature vs. Nurture in Methods of Murder” by author Nicole Davies, those with a specific variant of the enzyme monoamine-oxidase are more prone to displaying severely violent behavior if they have had an abusive upbringing. Or those who suffer from mentally illness in general may have more violent actions. But those who have this gene or a mental illness does not mean they are born to be a criminal; it goes hand and hand with their personal environmental factors. Both of these work together to shape a violent person, or a murderer. For example, murderer Richard Ramirez suffered from adolescent deviant behavior. This mental disorder includes antisocial behaviors, antidisciplinary tendencies, delinquent likelihood, and unlawful and self-harming/suicidal actions. Not only did he suffer with a mental disorder, he also suffered severe personal traumas whilst growing up. He endured many beatings from his father, and also had a cousin who would murder women and show Ramirez pictures of deceased bodies. Both of these leading Ramirez to romanticize acts of violence and murder. Ramirez’s case only proves Dr. Adrian Raine’s theory that nature and nurture go hand and hand to create a serial killer.

Although a rough childhood cannot be an excuse to commit a murder, it can be the reason for one.  The topic discussing child abuse and its link to serial killers is a popular and debatable topic. For example, some researchers believe that childhood abuse alone can drive someone to become a serial killer, but another researcher may lean towards a side that claims there needs to be more influences than child abuse to have someone go on a killing spree.

The article “Did an Abusive Childhood Turn Albert DeSalvo Into the ‘Boston Strangler’ Serial Killer?” by author Elena Ferrarin, discusses altercation between whether or not DeSalvo’s actions were influenced by childhood abuse or strictly evil intent. To give a little bit of background, DeSalvo is the alleged ‘Boston Strangler’ who confessed to the murderers of 11 women between 1962 and 1964. When DeSalvo was being interviewed about his times as a boy, it was stated that both his mother and his sister had wished he was dead multiple times. Also, how he and his brother would have to stand in front of their father every night to get hit with a belt, he also once had his father hit him with a metal pipe. Moreover, he had witnessed his father knock out his mother’s teeth and break her fingers. And lastly, his father had sold both him and his two sisters for nine dollars to a farmer, without their mother’s knowledge, leading her on a six-month chase to find her children. However, besides all of the cruel and unusual punishment DeSalvo had experienced, the co-author of an article called “The Incidence of Child Abuse in Serial Killers” chooses to believe that an abusive childhood is not enough to yield a serial killer. Co-author Aamodt states, “If you go through one thing in life-you’re abused, but everything else is pretty stable- it’s not going to have as much effect in terms of you becoming habitually aggressive or violent.” He believes that what builds up to a serial killer is like a point system. Aamodt again states, “But when you are abused and you have neurological damage, from substance abuse, or injury, or because you are exposed to lead, each of those things happened are building up points.” Although DeSalvo did not abuse substance at the time he committed his murders, and it is not confirmed whatsoever that he suffered from neurological damage from drugs, injury, or lead exposure, yet they choose to believe (with zero evidence,) that his childhood abuse could not have been the only factor for DeSalvo’s murder spree.

A murderer that is proven to have zero drug use or neurologically damage, but suffered from child abuse is a man named Carl Panzram. Panzram was an American serial killer, rapist, child molester, arsonist, and robber. He confessed to twenty-one murders, but is suspected to have killed more than one hundred men in the United States alone, and multiple more in Portuguese Angola. He also admitted to more than one thousand cases of rape against strictly males. Panzram grew up on a farm and was one of seven children born. Him and his six other siblings were forced to work on the farm for long hours starting at a very young age. That was until a law was passed that made it illegal for Panzrams’ parents not to send the children to school, this law was called the “truancy law.” The children would go to school during the day and work on the farm all night, causing them to get just two hours of sleep before the following school day started. The abuse Carl and his other siblings encountered ranged from being chained up to being starved as well as severe neglect. As he grew older, his father ended up abandoning the family and his older brothers left him as well, one of them being because he had passed on. Panzram was not very liked by other children; he was a liar and a thief by the age of six and his crimes and personality only got worse as he got older. Due to his love for criminal activity starting at such a young age, his mother decided to send him to the Minnesota State Training School, also known as Red Wing. What went on within the halls of this training school also had an influence on what made Panzram the brutal murderer we know him as. Red wing was not only a correction school, but it was also a place where the boys in their “care” were brutalized and raped. One of the buildings on campus was called the “Paint House.” It got its nickname from the mere fact that the boys walked out of there covered in black and blues from getting beaten by the correction officers. After a year had passed the teachers released Panzram from the school, naïve enough to think he was a changed boy. What his mother found out was that he had not changed, his brothers than took on the role of beating him at home since his teachers were not there to do so. Panzram soon enough convinced his mother to send him back the correction school again, it wasn’t long before he pulled a gun on one of his teachers and in response to his own action, dropped the gun and ran away to become a hobo and ride the trains. That decision ended up being a huge mistake, this choice led Panzram to be gang raped twice on the trains by other men, breaking down his sense of morality even more than before. During his times of abusive from when he was born to his late teens, he was never involved with any drug that could have made him suffer from neurological damage, nor was he in injured in a way that could have caused him neurological damage. He was named America’s most cold-blooded serial killer and the meanest man who ever lived, all because he was raised surrounded by abuse and being a victim of abuse.

So, the next time you see a younger child, whether this may in route to school or if they are your neighbor, give them a smile. Children are amazing at masking what goes on at home when they are in public. Their home environment can be raising them to become the next Ted Bundy, or Jeffery Dahmer. Be careful how you treat children, because a small comment you may make today, can be the reason that same child takes your life in 10 years.


The Tragic Story of a Boy who was Abused and Became a Monster | by Sam H Arnold | CrimeBeat | Medium

Carl Panzram – Wikipedia

Did an Abusive Childhood Turn Albert DeSalvo Into the ‘Boston Strangler’ Serial Killer? – A&E True Crime (

Did Jeffrey Dahmer Have Seizures? Did Jeffrey Dahmer Have AIDS? (

Serial Homicide for Power and Control | Psychology Today

Visionary Serial Killers Are Driven by Inner Demons | Psychology Today

Understanding Pragmatic Mission Killers | Psychology Today

Serial Homicide for Power and Control | Psychology Today

Hedonist Lust Killers Must Feed Their Insatiable Hunger | Psychology Today

David Berkowitz – Wikipedia

Serial Killers And Childhood Abuse: Is There A Link? | Crime Traveller

The Dark Psychology of Serial Killers: Unpacking the Factors Behind their Brutal Behaviour | Psychreg

From Abused Child to Serial Killer: Investigating Nature vs Nurture in Methods of Murder – Psychiatry Advisor

The incidence of child abuse in serial killers | SpringerLink

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