When looking at murder cases, detectives occasionally find that some charactistics and aspects of the crimes and killers are similar to those of others. Then, as time and investigations move forward, patterns sometimes begin to emerge, such as that the causes of death are identical (multiple stab wounds in identical patterns, etc.), physical locations of crime scenes are in close proximity to one another, and the timeframe matches the timeframes of other murders, such as the slayings always take place on Monday mornings, in or very near to a specific city park.
Victims are often of the same ethnic backgrounds, with the same hair color, size and body shape, and are potentially from the same or similar neighborhoods inhabited by those specific racial groups.
- single killer who acts alone
- killed at least two people at separate locations at separate times ~ FBI
Serial killers must be able to move about freely, without attracting attention while they’re “hunting.” Therefore, it’s a good indicator of the suspect’s race if the killings occur within a racially specific location—a blue man would stand out in a neighborhood occupied by green people. But a green man would not stand out in a neighborhood inhabited by a mixture of both green and blue people. Likewise, a blue man would also fit in nicely and could and would most likely go unnoticed as he moved about within the area. These details serve as clues that help police narrow the search field.
Forensic evidence in these types of cases often indicate that it is one person, a serial offender, who leaves the same types of evidence at each crime scene—same body fluids in the same places on a victim’s body, same type of bite marks at the same locations on a victim’s body, a specific brand of tape used to bind hands and feet, ropes, electrical cords, tool marks at entry points, same type of paper and ink used to write notes, same kind of items removed from the scene, etc.
Other factors that point to a serial killer/killing is the means in which they come in contact with their victims. Do they patrol certain areas to hunt specifically for prostitutes. Similar neighborhoods for tall women or men with blonde hair, blue eyes, and lots of tattoos?
Type of weapon used to kill could be a clue as to the background of the killer. For example, a suspect whacks his male victims on their heads with a shovel, and then uses a Burdizzo castrator, a tool for castrating bulls, to remove a couple of “takeaway trophies” from the body, well, there’s a good possibility that the murderer just may work in the cattle farming industry. After all, there’s not much use for a bull castrator in the everyday household.
How a serial killer disposes of the body could also point to his identity.
Do they always …
Transport the body to a location other than where they were killed? Do they conceal the bodies or simply dump them on the side of a country road, or within a specific area of the city? Do they bury their victims? Weight them down with bags of concrete and then submerge the bodies in a pond or lake?
Serial killers sometimes have multiple motives for committing murder. However, there’s often a primary motive for doing what they do.
- Mental Illness/psychosis
- Greed/Financial Gain
*This post is the first of a brief series of factual posts about serial killers and how to incorporate them into a work of fiction. Part two is coming soon.