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Common Motives of a Serial Killer I
Posted In: Information and Theories  12/16/10
By: Yona Williams

Not every serial killer takes a life just for the thrill. Some murderers have motives or feel psychologically compelled to kill. There are a handful of categories used to describe the motives of a serial killer. In this article, you will learn some of the common reasons for multiple murder and profile types that serial killers tend to fall under.


The first type of serial killer is a visionary – one who believes that voices are speaking directly to them and instructing them to commit murder. It is not uncommon for the killer to feel that God or the Devil (or another demon) has told them to commit a crime. Oftentimes, the killer is a schizophrenic and psychotic. The serial killer typically suffers a psychotic break from reality. The infamous "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz is an example of a visionary killer. He claimed that a demon transferred orders through his neighbor's dog that told him to commit murder. Berkowitz would go on to kill six and wound seven victims between July 29 1976 and July 31 1977.


A missionary serial killer believes that it is their duty to rid the world of what he or she perceives as an unwanted element. The type of person they deem undesirable differs for each killer, but common targets have been homosexuals, prostitutes, and people of varying religions or ethnicities. An example of a missionary serial killer is the infamous Jack the Ripper, who pinpointed "ladies of the night" as his victims. Charles Manson also targeted his victims under this sense that he wished to rid the world of a certain type of person.

Lust Killers

Achieving sexual gratification through their actions, which often involve sadism, is what moves a lust killer. The main reason for their killing is for sex and it doesn’t matter if their victim is dead or alive. Sometimes, a dead victim is one that best fits into the 'fantasy' they wish to live out. Killers under this category often use torture and mutilation as their means of murder. They typically enjoy being close to their victims when they kill, and often use knives to subdue, kidnap, or kill. They may strangle their victims. The need for constant stimulation could move a killer to murder more frequently and use different techniques to feed their increasing desires.

Kenneth Bianchi, one of the 'Hillside Stranglers,' chose women and girls from different races, ages and appearance because he was regularly looking for different ways to sexually stimulate himself. Jeffrey Dahmer is another example of a lust killer, who was in search for what he believed to be the perfect lover. He used drugs and alcohol to fuel his desires. Eventually, he began to dismember his victims and preserve body parts, such as heads and genitals. He also embraced cannibalism because he believed it would "ensure his victims would always be a part of him."


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