Serial killer database shows bizarre drop in serial killers since 1980s

Serial killers have declined in number since they peaked in the 1980s, the world’s leading serial murderer database has shown.

In the 1990s, Michael G. Aamodt, professor of forensic psychology at Radford University, began giving his class a task: to create a profile of serial killers, including a timeline of their murders, their history of life, basic demographic information and information about their crimes. In the beginning, projects were stored in a drawer, then added to the class website years later. Eventually, the information was transferred to a database – and it became a full-fledged project to update and maintain the most comprehensive database of serial killers over the years.

Using the FBI’s definition of serial killers (people who unlawfully kill two or more victims in separate events), researchers from Radford University and Florida Gulf Coast University documented killers around the world, with some pretty interesting findings.

For example, the United States is the country with the most serial killers, with 3,613 since 1900. This represents 67% of serial killers in the world, for a country with 4.35% of the world’s population. The second closest is England, with 167. Japan (137), South Africa (123), India (121) and Canada (119) are the only other countries with more than 100 killers in series were identified by the database.

Since records began in 1900, approximately 11% of serial killers have been female, with the percentage of female serial killers decreasing over the years compared to males. Prior to the 1930s, about a third of serial killers were female, down to about 6% since 1980. Female serial killers were more likely to use poison than male serial killers and to kill for financial gain as the main reason. Male serial killers, on the other hand, were more likely to kill for their own pleasure, and more likely to do so by shooting or strangling their victims. Victims of female serial killers are more likely to be family members than male serial killers who tend to kill non-family members.

Breaking down the crimes further, the database contains some other pretty grim facts. This includes information on whether the serial killer ate their victims (about 1.8% of male serial killers did, compared to 1.3% of female serial killers), whether necrophilia occurred ( 3.4% of male serial killers have done so, compared to 0.4% of female serial killers). ) and whether they drank the blood of their victims (0.7% of male serial killers and 0.4% of female serial killers).

One odd thing the data shows is the decline in murders by serial killers in the United States since the all-time high in the 1980s: 404 victims in 1987 alone. During the 1980s there were 150 serial killers who had killed two or more victims and 104 who had killed three or more victims.

There has been a steep decline since then, with 138 serial killers killing two or more victims in the 1990s, and 89 killing three or more. Fast forward to 2010-2018 (the last year with complete data in the database at the time of the last update) and there were only 43 serial killers in those years who killed two victims or more, and 23 who had killed three or more. .

The researchers attribute this decline to several factors. Part of the drop could be because better detection by law enforcement (e.g. insurance fraud) means serial killers with financial motives are less likely to go through. unnoticed and therefore are either caught before meeting the definition of a serial killer or put entirely on killing for financial gain.

There has also been a decrease in opportunities for seasoned serial killers and would-be serial killers looking for their first victim.

“Stricter parole policies have put fewer potential serial killers back on the streets,” the team writes in the 2020 report. “Since 1950 in Unity[d] In the United States, 16.8% of serial killers in our database killed again after being released from prison for a previous homicide. This figure, combined with the fact that 79% of American serial killers spent time in jail or prison before their first murder, supports the relationship between longer prison sentences and a decrease in the frequency of serial killers.”

Opportunities have also diminished since the decline of hitchhiking.

“There is a decrease in the availability of high-risk targets for serial killers. I.e. there are fewer people hitchhiking, offering rides to strangers and walk to school,” the team continued. “Some of the biggest decreases in serial killer victim types from 1980-1999 to 2000-2017 are: hitchhiking, mall kidnappings, and motorists with disabilities or good Samaritans.”