The History of Serial Killing.

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Deleted member 45466

JTR allegedly claimed "men will say that I gave birth to the 20th century."

For me, the 20th century has been the century of the serial killer.

Here's a "dictionary definition":

serial killer
noun
a person who commits a series of murders, often with no apparent motive and typically following a characteristic, predictable behaviour pattern.


A symptom of a post industrial revolution behavioural sink?

A symptom of increasingly liberal, and perhaps even decadent attitudes to sex?,

A symptom, as some writers have suggested, of the relatively new phenomenon of literature being available to everyone?

Or is it something that has always been around? It would seem that before the 20th century serial killers were as rare as hen's teeth.

Across the water, a slew of serial killers appeared during the second half of the 20th century (Christie, Sutcliffe, Brady, Fred West, Denis Nilsen etc.) Germany also produced some notable SKs (Kurten and Haarman being the more ignominious examples). As did Russia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Russian_serial_killers

As you can see from the wiki-list, the 20th century produced 9 Russian serial killers.

Intriguingly, the last quarter of a century has produced 13.

Here's a serial killer by country list*:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_serial_killers_by_country

Curiously, most African countries are absent. As is the ROI, which is intriguing.

What are your thoughts on Ireland's absence ? Do you think it's simply down to Ireland being isolated, and having a small population, or could there be other reasons?

Feel free to pore over the "serial killer by country" list given above. I'm assuming there's some relationship between population size and number of serial killers (Bell curve and all that malarkey). A cursory look suggests that the highest numbers are in developed nations such as the UK, Germany, Australia, and of course the US, which has it's own wiki entry:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_serial_killers_in_the_United_States

Incidences in Muslim, and Scandinavian countries are low (the latter dispelling liberal sexual attitudes as being a cause).

Discuss.

*The list may not be exhaustive or accurate, so if you find a more exhaustive one, drop it in here please. I noticed that the Black Panther, Donald Neilson was included on the UK's list. I would have put him down as a post office robber who killed a few people, rather than a serial killer, but I s'ppose he fits the definition given above.
 


rainmaker

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They've probably always been with us, but identifying them as a class of offender in their own right is a relatively recent thing.

Linking offences was probably far more difficult in earlier times as well, and as linking and offence detection have improved it probably gives the illusion that they have increased.

I'm no expert though and those are just personal theories.
 

Ardillaun

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Better detection accounts for the 20'th Century spike as any Neanderthal would tell you if they were still around.
 

statsman

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Better detection accounts for the 20'th Century spike as any Neanderthal would tell you if they were still around.
But, but, but, but the turning away from religion and the end of civilization as we know it, blah, blah, blah.
 

Prester Jim

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I think that there have always been serial killers, the uptick is mostly down to higher populations, better policing and statistics gathering and modern communications perhaps spreading ideas.
In the distant past serial killers put on shiny armour and cut a tract of countryside for themselves gaining great glory and being called noble or even royal if they were very successful in their murdering. Now we are more likely to hold a greater value to life and a revulsion for those who kill.
Look at the Philippines for a glance into that past in the modern world.
Gilles De Rais would be one of the relatively rare examples of a serial killer who got caught but there are probably countless others who are remembered with pride or not at all in honour roles of the various empires, few of Genghis's mongol horde wouldn't fit the profile for instance.
 

Sister Mercedes

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The likes of Bundy moved from state to state and the authorities didn't link his crimes. Much less likely nowadays with better technology. DNA was also a huge breakthrough in that kind of crime detection.
 

ne0ica

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I remember as a teenager I was interested in serial killers. But I got the impression that most of them were losers.

For me the 20th century has been the century of democide the mass killings of people and political opponents by states around the world. Never in history has there been so many murdered by state terror. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
 

razorblade

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Usually loner weirdos sexual deviants who get, great satisfaction on the sufferings of their victims.
 
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Deleted member 45466

Better detection accounts for the 20'th Century spike as any Neanderthal would tell you if they were still around.
We'll never know, but early man, like most animals was probably more likely to flee danger, then engage it.

Mind you, there is evidence that Homo Neanderthalensis, Cro Magnon and Peking man were cannibals. However, it was probably part of a religious ritual, rather than acts of wanton cruelty.

One does wonder if criminality has changed with society. Wells pointed out that the world has changed more in the 20th century than it did during the 6,000 years of recorded history. So perhaps, the criminal mind's tastes have changed with it?

Whilst I would tentatively agree that the serial killer, in its modern format, has always been with us, I would hazard a guess and say that up until recently, most crimes were crimes of want, that is a desire for food, a desire to survive etc.
 

GDPR

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I remember as a teenager I was interested in serial killers. But I got the impression that most of them were losers.

For me the 20th century has been the century of democide the mass killings of people and political opponents by states around the world. Never in history has there been so many murdered by state terror. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
I looked into the phenomena when I was a teen as well what struck me was how basically shallow and uninteresting as personalities the vast bulk of them were and came to the conclusion that they basically did what they did because they were so dead inside that they needed to go to those extremes to really feel something. That said I do think Ian Brady and Charles Manson (okay maybe he shouldn't be classed as a serial killer but he usually is) are genuinely fascinating.
 
D

Deleted member 45466

But, but, but, but the turning away from religion and the end of civilization as we know it, blah, blah, blah.
Yes, thank you for your contribution. Now run along back over to one the RCC threads. That's where the rest of the Troll Squad are at.
 

ne0ica

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I looked into the phenomena when I was a teen as well what struck me was how basically shallow and uninteresting as personalities the vast bulk of them were and came to the conclusion that they basically did what they did because they were so dead inside that they needed to go to those extremes to really feel something. That said I do think Ian Brady and Charles Manson (okay maybe he shouldn't be classed as a serial killer but he usually is) are genuinely fascinating.
If I recall Manson didn't do any of the killing it was his followers. I remember when I was in the States a few years back watching one of his parole hearing on TV. Swastika on his forehead.
 

users

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H H Holmes was an American serial killer in the last decades of the 19th century
 

GDPR

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We'll never know, but early man, like most animals was probably more likely to flee danger, then engage it.

Mind you, there is evidence that Homo Neanderthalensis, Cro Magnon and Peking man were cannibals. However, it was probably part of a religious ritual, rather than acts of wanton cruelty.

One does wonder if criminality has changed with society. Wells pointed out that the world has changed more in the 20th century than it did during the 6,000 years of recorded history. So perhaps, the criminal mind's tastes have changed with it?

Whilst I would tentatively agree that the serial killer, in its modern format, has always been with us, I would hazard a guess and say that up until recently, most crimes were crimes of want, that is a desire for food, a desire to survive etc.
There is a book that came out in the 1970s that is still popular in hard core Deep Ecological circles called "In the Beginning was the End" which puts forward the idea that humans separated from the rest of the animal kingdom by starting out as these apes who discovered eating the brains of other apes increased their sex drive so started doing it all the time which lead to them increasing both in terms of reasoning intelligence and aggression as well.
 

GDPR

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I remember as a teenager I was interested in serial killers. But I got the impression that most of them were losers.

For me the 20th century has been the century of democide the mass killings of people and political opponents by states around the world. Never in history has there been so many murdered by state terror. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
Always happened. The difference is in the past, elites tended not to want to murder the ordinary populace in great numbers because (a) they lacked the means to do so and (b) they depended on them to keep the food chain going. However they were perfectly capable of carrying out vicious pogroms against either selective groups they wished to make an example of or people associated with a former ruling oligarchy they had displaced. To take one relatively mild example, the Tudors went through the Plantagenets like a dose of salts, because even third or fourth cousins might have a better claim (technically) to the throne and act as a rallying point for resistance.
 

ne0ica

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Do you think it's a modern phenomenon?
Mostly. Its always been there. But its a lot easier in modern times to cut yourself off from the rest of society. I tend to find a lot more weird people in America than say Europe. I think its because American society is so fragmented.
 

fat finger

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Here's a serial killer by country list*:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_serial_killers_by_country

Curiously, most African countries are absent. As is the ROI, which is intriguing.

What are your thoughts on Ireland's absence ? Do you think it's simply down to Ireland being isolated, and having a small population, or could there be other reasons?

Do not be so sure about Ireland failing to produce serial killers. One theory has it 'the troubles' were a convenient cover for a number of serial killers to carry out their murders. Don't forget also this interesting view on the identity of The Real Yorkshire Ripper
 

GDPR

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If I recall Manson didn't do any of the killing it was his followers. I remember when I was in the States a few years back watching one of his parole hearing on TV. Swastika on his forehead.
Well this is the thing- there was a Left wing to the "Hippie movement" but there was also a Right wing which is what Manson came out of. He still has quiet a few supporters out there. He married this girl in her early 20s a while back now called "Star" who got into through her involvement with Deep Ecology.
 


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