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Typical Characteristics of a Serial Killer

By Yona Williams    12/16/10

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When taking a look at the serial killers in the United States, there are general characteristics that seem to emerge after a profile is established regarding a murderer. However, not all serial killers will fit the following list of attributes. In this article, you will learn some of the typical characteristics that serial killers have exhibited once they've been analyzed.

Serial killers tend to be white males usually in their twenties or thirties. They often come from lower-to-middle-class families. Their family life is usually unstable, such as having an alcoholic mother or living with a stepfather that physically abused them.

A serial killers is often intelligent and generally fall into the "bright normal" range of an IQ test.
It's usually hard for a serial killer to stay employed and when they do land a job, they are often working at a place that is lower than their expectations.

As child, they may have issues with their parents. Some have been abandoned by their fathers, while others tried to live up to the expectations of a domineering mother.

In their family histories, there is evidence of criminal activities, psychiatric issues, and alcoholism.

Abuse is a common factor amongst serial killers – whether it is emotional, physical, or sexual. A family member almost always conducts the abuse. For example, Ed Gein, who was nicknamed the Plainfield Ghoul, was charged with the murder of two known deaths that he confessed to. As a child, his father couldn’t keep a job and was often full of alcohol when he physically abused his sons. His mother felt helpless against the union because of the family's deep religious beliefs regarding divorce.

A serial killer may have attempted to commit suicide at some point in their life.

As a child, they may have exhibited interest in fetishes, voyeurism, or sadomasochistic pornography. The same interests almost always continue on into adulthood.

Sexual identity and repressed feelings may also play a role in the mind of a serial killer. For example, John Wayne Gacy, who is credited with the deaths of 33 people had been married, but eventually openly admitted to his wife that he was bisexual around 1975. He started to spend many evening away from his home – returning in the early hours. His wife noticed that her husband was bringing teenage boys into his garage. She also discovered homosexual pornography. She decided to file for divorce in 1976.

More than 60% of serial killers have wet the bed even after they had turned 12 years old. Usually, the habit is not well received by parents who feed the insecurities the child already possesses. The effect is detrimental during the course of their development.

Many serial killers are fascinated with starting fires or were as a child.

Sadistic actions and torturing animals are some of the characteristics that serial killers commonly share.

As a child, the chances that a serial killer was teased in school or frequently bullied are pretty high.

Serial killers may start off committing petty crimes, such as fraud, theft, vandalism, or other offenses of the same nature.

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