Central New Mexico Community College
Criminal Justice 1001
April 12, 2015
Through the centuries there have been hundreds of documented cases of serial murder around the world but the term “serial killer” is moderately new. Up until the 1970s, serial killers were commonly called mass murderers by both the criminal justice system and the media. It wasn’t till the phrase “serial killer” was founded by former FBI special agent Robert Ressler who was also one of the founding members of Bureau’s Elite Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) in 1974. Serial killers have been acknowledged since the 1800’s but back then they were referred to as “murder fiends” or “blood thirsty monsters”.
There have been many arguments about what the proper definition of what a serial killer really is. The FBI’s definition is three or more killings, with three or more separate events, with three or more separate locations. With an emotional cooling-off period between homicides. FBI’s definition has been criticized because it ignores individuals who commit two murders and are arrested before they can commit more and individuals who commit most of their murders in a single location. Many people adopted the definition by the National Institute of Justice with its definition being a series of two or more murders, committed at separate events, usually but not always by one offender acting alone. The crimes may occur over a period of time ranging from hours to years. Often the motive is psychological and the offender’s behavior and the physical evidence observed at the crime scenes will reflect sadistic, sexual behavior. The FBI’s BSU has classified serial killers into two categories. Asocial-Disorganized, loner, withdrawn, acts cowardly and will usually knock the victim unconscious first. Will pick a victim by where they live, disorganized scenes, leaves evidence and no preparation to the murder. Nonsocial-Organized, more social, seems...