motives of serial killers;
The motives of serial killers are generally placed into four categories: visionary, mission-oriented, hedonistic and power or control; however, the motives of any killer may display considerable overlap among these categories.
- Visionary- Visionary serial killers suffer from psychotic breaks with reality, sometimes believing they are another person or are compelled to murder by entities such as the Devil or God. The two most common subgroups are “demon mandated” and “God mandated.”
- ‘Son of Sam’ is an example of a visionary killer. He claimed a demon transmitted orders through his neighbor’s dog, instructing him to commit murder.
- Mission-oriented - these killers typically justify their acts as “ridding the world” of a certain type of person perceived as undesirable, such as homosexuals, prostitutes, or people of different ethnicity or religion; however, they are generally not psychotic. Some see themselves as attempting to change society, often to cure a societal ill.
- Hedonistic - This type of serial killer seeks thrills and derives pleasure from killing, seeing people as expendable means to this goal. Forensic Psychologists have identified three subtypes of the hedonistic killer: “lust”, “thrill” and “comfort”.
- Lust - sex is the primary motive of lust killers, whether or not the victims are dead, and fantasy plays a large role in their killings. Their sexual gratification depends on the amount of torture and mutliation they perform on their victims. They usually use weapons that require close contact with the victims, such as knives or hands. As lust killers continue with their murders, the time between killings decreases or the required level of stimulation increases, sometimes both.
- Jeffrey Dahmer is an example of a lust killer, his increasing need for stimulaton was demonstrated by the dismemberment of victims, whos heads and gentials he preserved. He experimented with cannibalism to “ensure his victims would always be a part of him”.
- Thrill - The primary motive of a thrill killer is to induce pain or create terror in their victims, which provides stimulation and excitement for the killer. They seek the adrenaline rush provided by hunting and killing victims. Thrill killers murder only for the kill; usually the attack is not prolonged, and there is no sexual aspect. Usually the victims are strangers, although the killer may have followed them for a period of time. Thrill killers can abstain from killing for long periods of time and become more successful at killing as they refine their murder methods.
- In one of his letters to San Francisco Bay Area newspapers, the Zodiac Killer wrote “[killing] gives me the most thrilling experience it is even better than getting your rocks off with a girl”
- Comfort/Profit - Material gain and a comfortable lifestyle are the primary motives of comfort killers. Usually, the victims are family members and close acquaintances. After a murder, a comfort killer will usually wait for a period of time before killing again to allow any suspicions by family or authorities to subside. They often use poison, most notably asrenic, to kill their victims. Female serial killers are often comfort killers, although not all comfort killers are female.
- Power/Control - The main objective for this type of serial killer is to gain and exert power over their victim. Such killers are sometimes abused as children, leaving them with feelings of powerlessness and inadequacy as adults. Many power- or control-motivated killers sexually abuse their victims, but they differ from hedonistic killers in that rape is not motivated by lust but as simply another form of dominating the victim.
- Ted Bundy travelled around the USA seeking women to control.