I caused dreams which caused death. This is my crime.

— Dennis Nilsen
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Holmes Typology Part 2 – Motives


ACT-FOCUSED (quick kill)

  1. THE VISIONARY – hears voices or sees visions that tell him to kill (psychotic), the
    voices tend to be either God or the devil, legitimating the violence.
  2. THE MISSIONARY – goes on hunting “missions” to eradicate a group of people
    (prostitutes, Jews, etc.) from face of earth, seems like “fine young man” to neighbors.


  1. THE COMFORT-ORIENTED HEDONIST – takes pleasure from killing, but also gets
    some profit or personal gain from it. Females usually in this category.
  2. THE LUST-ORIENTED HEDONIST – associates sexual pleasure with murder, sex
    while killing and necrophilia are eroticized experiences.
  3. THE THRILL-ORIENTED HEDONIST – gets a “rush” or “high” from killing, an
    elixir of thrills, excitement, and euphoria at victim’s final anguish.
  4. THE POWER/CONTROL FREAK – takes pleasure from manipulation and domination
    (sociopath), experiences a “rush” or “high” from victim’s misery.
Characterisics of Process-Focused Serial Killers

GAIN KILLERS -This group of killers display the apparently rare (among serial killers) motive of financial or personal gain. For this type of killer the murder is often incidental and a troublesome event that moves them closer to their goal. Even though we tend to think of gain killings as something that happened in decades or even centuries gone by, the availability of firearms, and other weapons matched with the rise in bank robberies, mugging etc. leads us to think a new generation of serial killers is emerging.

LUST KILLERS – This is probably the largest section of serial killers. Sexual gratification is their main motivation. Their crimes almost always exhibit a certain element of sadism. Contrary to popular belief, lust killers – or any serial killers for that matter, are not opportunistic. The time and amount of planning that they go through before they commit their crimes is usually associated with very organized personalities. Lust killers tend to go through four phases.

* Fantasy: This is when the desire to kill manifests, often with the use of pornographic material. In this phase the killer may act out the crime over and over in his mind. This can last any amount of time, even years, before they are suddenly thrown into phase 2 and the fantasy starts to become a reality.

* The Hunt: It may be possible that during his hunt the killer has a very clear image of the “right” victim. Or he may favour certain locations such as woodlands or streets. Like the fantasy stage the hunt may take months or even years, and may even cover many hundreds of miles. The killer, after he has found his victim, may stalk them for a long time, memorizing their every move.

* The Kill: For the lust killer this is a very personal act. It is his only motivation. The lust killer would take considerable care to lure the victim into a place of apparent safety. Once alone with the victim the lust killer can make his fantasy real. A certain amount of overkill is often seen in this type of murder. Also seen is extreme torture, mutilation, even dismemberment. Necrophilia, blood drinking, and cannibalism are characteristic. This is the lust killers moment of ecstasy, and therefore many seek to preserve as much as they can by various means.

* The Post Kill Phase: For many serial killers the passing of the experience of the murder often leaves them feeling empty and depressed. Many often realize that their physiological torment was not relieved on a perminant basis. The Killer knows he will be forced to take more lives to get some temporary relief. It is during this phase that the killer will – if he is so inclined, write confessions to the police and newspapers. Unless the killer has been caught at this stage, it is inevitable that he will kill again.

THRILL KILLERS -The thrill killer is much the same as the lust killer, in so far as pleasure in the act of killing is the primary motive. What distinguishes the Thrill Killer is that even though sexual abuse may take place, sexual gratification is not his main motivation – but rather to experience a high or a buzz through the act of murder.

POWER SEEKERS -It is very difficult to distinguish power oriented killers from the larger group of lust killers. However, even though domination is often to the same degree, power seekers tend to be aware of their behaviour and have been able to describe their symptoms while under investigation. The most famous example – though fictional is Hanabel Lector, who killed to be like god.