People like me don’t come from films. Them films come from people like me.

— David Harker
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Why Do They Kill And Who Are Their Victims


“It was an urge. … A strong urge, and the longer I let it go the stronger it got, to where I was taking risks to go out and kill people – risks that normally, according to my little rules of operation, I wouldn’t take because they could lead to arrest.”

– Edmund Kemper

Where does this urge come from, and why is so powerful? If we all experienced this urge, would we be able to resist?
Is it genetic, hormonal, biological, or cultural conditioning? Do serial killers have any control over their desires? We all experience rage and inappropriate sexual instincts, yet we have some sort of internal cage that keeps our inner monsters locked up. Call it morality or social programming; these internal blockades have long since been trampled down in the psychopathic killer. Not only have they let loose the monster within, they are virtual slaves to its beastly appetites. What sets them apart?

Just as these killers rip open their victims to “see how they run” (as Ed Kemper put it), forensic psychiatrists and FBI agents have tried to get inside the killer’s mind. Traditional explanations include childhood abuse, genetics, chemical imbalances, brain injuries, exposure to traumatic events, and perceived societal injustices. The frightening implication is that a huge population has been exposed to one or more of these traumas.

Statistically, the average serial killer is a white male from a lower-to-middle-class background, usually in his twenties or thirties. Many were physically or emotionally abused by parents. Some were adopted. As children, fledgling serial killers often set fires, torture animals, and wet their beds (these red-flag behaviors are known as the “triad” of symptoms.) Brain injuries are common. Some are very intelligent and have shown great promise as successful professionals. They are also fascinated with the police and authority in general. They have either attempted to become police themselves but were rejected, worked as security guards, or served in the military.

The ages of their victims will vary greatly, depending on their particular “interests”. They don’t know their victims or have any particular hatred for them most of the time. Those victims never did anything to hurt them in any way…they are normally strangers to them. They don’t come from one social class or another…just as their victims. Like many normal people, they are often married, have children, and work. This is probably the most fearsome part of it all. The killer could be our husband, our brother or even our father.

Because of their psychopathic nature, serial killers do not know how to feel sympathy for others, or even how to have relationships. Instead, they learn to simulate normal behavior by observing others. It is all a manipulative act, designed to entice people into their trap. Serial killers are actors with a natural penchant for performance.