♫ My Favorite Murder ♫
March 8, 2017 5:21 PM   Subscribe

It feels like now, in 2017, it has been quite a long time since I have seen any news stories about depraved serial killers. Why is this? Surely there must still be some serial killers roaming free right at this moment, mutilating corpses and terrorizing neighborhoods? Are they gone, or are we just not hearing about them?
posted by a strong female character to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by tomboko at 5:25 PM on March 8


And, not so far away on Long Island.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:46 PM on March 8


In an episode of A&E's 'Killing Season' it was said that 70% of serial killer victims are female prostitutes. The FBI has determined that a large number of serial killers are truckers. I'm on my phone and can't do a lot of research, but here's a link to start with.
posted by LindsayIrene at 5:58 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


If you dig into this, you might get the impression that not frightening the tourists is more important than labeling somebody as a serial killer.

The thing about the teeth still bothers me.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:08 PM on March 8


As referenced above, A&E's Killing Season convinced me that serial murderers are still thriving but are mostly targeting the "missing missing," who are vunerable, unreported missing people who are never reported as missing because they aren't anchored to a particular person or community who would file a missing person's report, either because they don't care, aren't aware the person has disappeared, or are police adverse. Examples would include runaways, sex workers, & homeless people.

I also think with the advent of the internet serial killers have become more resourceful and better at covering up their tracks. In addition to the wealth of material about the big name serial killers (Bundy, Gacy, Dahmer, etc), which can teach someone what to do and not do, there are online communities that discuss these matters in depth and would provide ideas, resources, and tips that might not occur to a serial killer acting in a vacuum. Lastly, something that is explored in detail in The Killing Season is that a lot of connections between victims aren't made because the systems established for law enforcement to share information, especially involving crimes that cross state lines, are woefully outdated, inaccurate, and poorly maintained.

So, the tldr answer to your question is that, in my opinion, serial killers are far from an extinct phenomenon, but they are able to elude detection and therefore press coverage more easily because they are learning from their predecessors, exploiting gaps in law enforcement systems, and, perhaps most disturbing of all, connecting with each other and building a community that helps them commit crimes undetected. This is hardly reassuring, but I hope it is helpful.

P.S. I'm guessing by your title you are a Murderino, too, and, if so, stay sexy & don't get murdered! ;)
posted by katemcd at 7:12 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


Here's a 2015 story about a sex worker in WV who shot and killed a man who attacked her. When the police searched his car they found "what police are calling a "kill kit," which included four sets of handcuffs, an ax, a machete, bulletproof vests, knives, a box cutter, a large container of bleach, and a large number of trash bags."
posted by irisclara at 7:20 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Weird because of the Wikileaks I was wondering why the FBI isn't spying on people they think might be SK thru their phone & tvs. And then I thought maybe SKs are aware of that and modified their behavior. hmmm Because yes, i have noticed a slow down.

from Google search summary:
According to the Radford University Serial Killer Information Center, serial murders are on the decline. In the 1970s, there were more than 500 serial murders in the United States, and the 1980s peaked with just over 600. But the 2000s saw only 318, and only 73 so far in the 2010s.Sep 22, 2015
posted by cda at 7:39 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


This number-crunching journalist may have come up with an algorithm that statistically looks for serial killers falling through the investigative cracks.

Hint: kill people in different jurisdictions. Better to have several police departments each working on a murder than a task force looking for a serial killer.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:45 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


Katemcd's answer above definitely fits with the profile of Israel Keyes. He committed murders in different states, traveled in roundabout ways, planted "murder kits" underground years in advance of the crime and chose victims of different cohorts. He was arrested, if I remember correctly, for a young girl's abduction and murder in Alaska and confessed to the murders of a missing Vermont middle aged couple. He committed suicide in a jail cell shortly after his arrest, leaving the extent of his murders a mystery.
posted by pintapicasso at 8:37 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Keyes hinted that he had killed many more. Some guard accidentally (?) left something sharp in Keyes' cell and we'll never know.
posted by kerf at 9:19 PM on March 8


All kinds of violent crime have been declining for the past few decades. Is it possible the drop is simply real, and that serial killings have been dropping just like everything else?
posted by nat at 11:28 PM on March 8


In one of the umpteen murder podcasts I listen to, I can't remember which one, it was also posited that investigators have much better tools at their disposal now, so perhaps some people are apprehended before they can kill again.

There are really so many different factors that could be at play here. One of the fascinating commonalities of many of the really "famous" serial killers is that a lot of them suffered from traumatic brain injuries as children, perhaps as those kinds of injuries are better understood, people at risk from those kinds of injuries are given better medical treatment and interventions? Or, consider the famous Macdonald triad of symptoms. It's possible that children who exhibit these behaviors are flagged earlier in their lives now as needing services, as opposed to everyone just being like "that boy ain't right!" There are a lot of possibilities.
posted by cakelite at 8:22 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


There's still a lot out there. Depending on how you define "a lot". Your chances of being a victim of a serial killer are tiny, tiny, tiny, even if you are a member of the most vulnerable demographics.
From this recent-ish article "The FBI estimates that there are between twenty-five and fifty serial killers operating throughout the U.S. at any given time."

This message board (careful, use adblocker because of the adware) has a number of threads and discussions about past and present cases and serves as a pretty good catalogue of solved and unsolved cases.

Threads specific to The Killing Season

Current and past serial killer cases
posted by stagewhisper at 8:28 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]


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