While everyone loves a good crime show such as: Law & Order, Prime Suspect, or an all-time favorite, Criminal Minds they are not very realistic when it comes to the cases they partake in. As portrayed on television, cases are easy to get to the bottom of and catching the killer is almost just as easy. Reality proves different for many serial killer cases.
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Each case is unique in its own because each killer has their own reasons and ways that they commit these crimes. It is very hard many times to distinguish who is a serial killer and who is not. As far as anyone knows their neighbors could be. There are a lot of misconceptions about serial killers and how they are portrayed.
A serial killer is defined as a person who has killed 3 or more people in more than a month with a cooling period between each killing. Serial killers have been around for thousands of years dating back to, but not limiting, the real-life version of bluebeard, a killer by the name of Henri Landru a French man who had been drafted to the army and married his cousin after discharge. Many years later he stole money from widowed women then began hunting other widowed women by advertising in a newspaper for a lonely woman. Started these killings in 1914 and was burning the bodies to get rid of them killing at least 11 women before being caught in 1919. A very famous England serial killer known even in today’s world, is Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper had been a serial killer killing 5 London prostitutes and mutilating their bodies, showing authority that the killer had some knowledge within the anatomy field. To this day, Jack the Ripper had never been identified.
There are many myths that come with serial killers mainly because of the Hollywood portrayal for entertainment which is not very accurately so, one being that serial killers are dysfunctional loners. Many had families, had been employed for lengthy amount of time, and all the way around was as normal as could be. Robert Yates had 5 children and was married, Dennis Rader the BTK killer had 2 children and was married and had served in the Airforce and had a job as a government official. A well-known serial killer by the name of Gary Ridgway also known as the Green River Killer had killed more than anyone had before of minimum of 71 victims but had only been convicted of 49. He would pick up prostitutes and runaways’ underage from truck stops and bars outside of Seattle, where he would rape and strangle the women by hand and sometimes using ropes as well then dumping the bodies near the Green River. He would contaminate the crime scenes by leaving gum, cigarette butts, and other litter to throw authorities off his track. He was finally arrested with the help of Ted Bundy. Bundy was already incarcerated when he was asked on help on how to catch the Green River Killer. He was caught after coming back to the gravesites and having sexual intercourse with the women’s dead bodies. He had been married 2 times previously while killing and was married for a 3rd time when he was arrested in 2001.
Another myth about serial killers is that they are all white males. There have been many people who have been serial killers and have not been white or even a male at all. Derrick Todd Lee was an African American who murdered from 1998 to 2003. He had an extensive criminal history ranging from peeping into women homes to attempted murder and stalking. DNA evidence linked him to at least 7 murders. Another male that was not white and was a serial killer was Charles Ng was a Chinese man who lied about his identity and joined the Marines in the United States and served time for stealing military weapons. After serving 3 years he helped another man abduct, rape, and murder people while videotaping the acts. Seven men, three women, 2 baby boys, and 45 pounds of bone fragments were found at the cottage where all the acts had taken place. There have been quite a few female serial killers as well. Aileen Wuornos confessed to killing 7 men from 1989-1990. She claimed self-defense and said the men tried to rape her as she worked as a prostitute, she shot them point blank range. Another Jane Toppan was a nurse in the 1900s and confessed in 1901 to killing 31 people by administering different types of medicine and chemicals.
A lot of people also believe that serial killers travel and work along the interstate. This is another myth. Many commit their crime within a comfort zone such as their home, work, neighborhood, somewhere familiar to them. Jeffery Dahmer is a perfect example of this. Dahmer was born in May of 1960 and committed his first murder in Ohio in 1978 and committing his second in 1987, ending at a total of 17 men all ages ranging from as young as 14 years of age to their 30s. He mainly killed poor African Americans, Asians, and Latinos. Dahmer is mainly famous for his cannibalism and his necrophilia. Dahmer was finally caught after a boy he was trying to murder had gotten free and was running down the street when the police had been notified. Dahmer almost convinced the police that it was a misunderstanding and returned the boy to Dahmer’s home until they spotted photos of mutilated bodies. When his apartment had been searched he had many photo albums, heads in the freezer, 2 skulls, and decomposing bodies in a 57-gallon barrel filled with chemical. Dahmer had survived one murder attempt by a prisoner and finally successfully murdered in 1994 by an inmate.
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