It was an urge… A strong urge, and the longer I let it go the stronger it got.

— Edmund Kemper
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Female Serial Killers – Kehler Typology


There are few researchers of female serial killers. The best book on the subject is by Michael & C. Kelleher (1998) Murder Most Rare NY:Dell. In it, the authors argue that the organized-disorganized typology constructed by Ressler, Burgess, and Douglass in Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives is inadequate. Instead, Kelleher & Kelleher suggest a different typology, one based on whether the female serial killer acts alone or in partnership with others. They, further, construct a nine-point categorization method (pp. 15-16) based around this acting alone-in partnership typology.

Acting in partnership – characteristics:

Killers of this type tend to be younger, aggressive, vicious in their attack, sometimes disorganized, and usually unable to carefully plan. They usually attack victims in diverse locations. They tend to use guns, knifes, or torture:

  • Team Killer – kills or participates in the killing of others in conjunction with at least one other
  • Question of Sanity – kills in apparent random manner and later judged to be insane
  • Unexplained – kills for reasons that are totally inexplicable or for unclear motives
  • Unsolved – a pattern of unsolved killings that may be attributed to a woman (or women)
Acting alone – characteristics:

Killers of this type are often mature, careful, deliberate, socially adept, and highly organized. They usually attack victims in their home or place of work. They tend to favor a specific weapon, like poison, lethal injection, or suffocations:

  • Black Widow – systematically kills multiple spouses, partners, or other family members
  • Angel of Death – systematically kills people who are in her care for some form of medical attention
  • Sexual Predator – systematically kills others in clear acts of sexual homicide
  • Revenge – systematically kills out of hate or jealousy
  • Profit or Crime – systematically kills for profit or in course of committing another crime

For more detailed description of each of these types, visit the next tab – Types