What makes a common person a Serial Killer? According to research, serial killers exhibit what is known as the 'Triad of Warning Signs in Childhood.'1
* Firestarting, invariably just for the thrill of destroying things
* Cruelty to Animals: Most children can be cruel to animals, such as pulling the legs off of spiders, but future serial killers often kill larger animals, like dogs and cats, and frequently for their solitary enjoyment rather than to impress peers.
* Bedwetting beyond the age when children normally grow out of such behavior.
One of society's more notorious serial killers, Jeffrey Dahmer explained that wanted to remove 'free will' from his victims so that they would stay with him. In his past, he suffered from abandonment and was afraid of loss and any social upheaval. Another one of his extremely displaced characteristics was that he suffered from low self-esteem. His parents divorced during his teens, and when he did go to college, he performed badly. Upon examination of three psychologists, Dahmer was found to be manipulative, resistant and evasive.2 Further studies of Dahmer revealed that he could not tolerate rejection or abandonment; and that control was the number one factor for him. One clue to his unusually sick behavior was that even in his relationships, Dahmer did not gratify his sexual partners - instead, Dahmer always expected to be pleased by them.
According to Pat Brown's Book, Killing for Sport: Inside the Minds of Serial Killers '...serial killers are of average intelligence....most have low level jobs and make poor decisions. ' And, '...it is exactly these poor decisions that get them in trouble on their jobs, in their relationships, and in their crimes.'
Based on studies, serial killers usually choose victims that they can easily overpower, such as persons having short height and low weight. Additionally, 'serial killing is not about sex at all, but about power and control and revenge on society.' 2
Ted Bundy, who murdered at least 36 women, was known for his expressed desire to acquire things. From theft, to the importance of social standing, he pined to break free from the working class from which he was born. Additionally, he 'needed' to possess expensive items as well. Per research, Ted came from a single-parent home, was a severe sexual deviate; and women threatened him. He felt the need to not only control them, but to incapacitate them as well. As a teenager, Ted Bundy became known for his violent temper.
But what do serial killers like Dahmer, Bundy and others like them have in common?
'Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Andrew Cunanan, David 'Son of Sam' Berkowitz, and Albert 'Boston Strangler' DeSalvo were ALL cruel to animals before they started hurting people.'6 Subsequently, killer teenagers Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold (Columbine HS), and Kip Kinkel were also known for their past history of animal cruelty. In the study from of 'The Care of pets within child abusing families,' presented by DeViney & Lockwood, 88 percent of the homes were animal abuse had occurred, children were also abused.
In conclusion, I summise this important literature from the San Francisco Chronicle commentary by Margo DeMello:
"...every time we hear of a young person abusing an animal, it is explained away by family and often authorities as a 'youthful indiscrection'...What the authorities and parents of these young men fail to realize is that their behavior may signal that something is wrong with these men, which could very easily escalate into something much worse. The evidence is not just anecdotal; numerous studies, including the 1998 work of Randall Lockwood and Frank R. Ascione ("Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence," Purdue University Press), have shown that children who engage in animal cruelty are more likely to commit more violent acts as adults. There is also a strong link between abuse of animals and domestic violence, with animal abusers much more likely to batter their wives or girlfriends as well...
Youthful violence toward animals is a very serious issue, and it needs to be taken seriously by not only animal advocates like myself, but by those who are concerned about violence in our society." - Margo DeMello, Ph.D.
? 2005 Animal Cruelty: The Key to Serial Minds
1. Wikipedia - Defining Serial Murders
2. Court TV's Crime Library - Criminal Minds and Methods (Serial Killer Myths Exposed)
3. Court TV's Crime Library - Jeffrey Dahmer
4. Illinois State Department of English - Bundy's Childhood(www.english.ilstu.edu/students/smdare/bundy/tedschildhood.html)
5. ASPCA: Fight Animal Cruelty: Kids and Cruelty
6. San Francisco Chronicle - Cruelty to Animals: A Warning of Possible Violence to Come (Margo DeMello, Ph.D.)
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