Traits That All Serial Killers Have In Common

By Carole 1 year ago

1. Lack of Empathy

Image source: The Sun
One of the common characteristics of serial killers is a lack of empathy, with no emotional depth.  Andrei Chikatilo, shown above, definitely falls into that category.  This trait is common in both sociopaths and psychopaths, so it is present in the majority of serial killers.

2. Lack of Remorse 

Image source: Telegraph And Argus 
Stephen Griffiths modelled himself on the Yorkshire Ripper and it's safe to say that he, like so many serial killers, showed no remorse for his crimes.  That's one of the reasons they continue to murder.  Once behind prison bars, some inmates say they have started to feel remorse but we will never know for sure.

3. Impulsiveness

Image source: BBC
Many killers over the years have said that they wanted to stop, but couldn’t.  Dennis Nilsen, above, commented that he had no choice but to keep on killing.  Other serial killers have reported that the urge suddenly comes on and they have to act upon it.  They say it's out of their control.

4. Grandiosity

Image source: Insider
The Zodiac Killer, pictured here, loved to boast about his 'accomplishments'.  He's not alone as many multiple murderers acted in the same way.  They see themselves as being above the law and smarter than everyone else. By boasting, they can prolong the crime and continue torturing the victims' families.

5. Narcissism

Image source
: All That's Interesting
Grandiosity goes hand in hand with the murderer's inflated self-perception – or narcissism.  The majority of serial killers are obsessed with how they are perceived by the general public and the Press, as well as the police.  This is why they will sometimes attempt to control the narratives of their story.

6. Superficial Charm

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rce: ABC News
Rodney Alcala acted with a superficial charm, proving that not all killers exhibit antisocial behavior.  In fact, many serial killers have been described as being charming and charismatic.  Alcala faked this trait when he appeared on the tv show, '
The Dating Game
".  This was after he'd murdered four women already!

7. Manipulation

age source The US Sun
Dean Corll used his charm, just like other killers, as another manipulation tactic.  Once they gained the victim’s trust, it was easier for them to manipulate their potential victims into vulnerable situations that they otherwise might not have allowed themselves to be drawn into, in normal circumstances.

8. Addictive Personality

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urce: The Sun
Harold Shipman, like so many other serial killers, had an addictive personality, which meant they all had to keep on repeating their behavior, namely the murders.  While many of the population may possess some form of addictive personality, it's only the emotional shallowness and lack of empathy that may make a person turn into a killer.

9. The Macdonald Triad & Animal Cruelty

source: Boston Herald
The Macdonald Triad reports three specific behaviors in kids that suggest they may become violent as an adult, like Albert Desalvo.  These are bed wetting, abuse towards animals and fire starting.  The belief is that these display a lack of self control and empathy.

10. Lust For Power

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rce: USA Today 
Many serial killers, like Dennis Radar, desire power and dominance because it provides a sexual thrill and also because they lack these attributes in other areas of their life.  Individual motivations for murder will vary but a desire for power is one of the most common amongst sexually motivated serial killers.

11. Sensation-Seeking

source: All That's Interesting 
Serial killer, Edmund Kemper went through life without feeling any kind of emotion. Imagine looking at your partner or your kids and feeling nothing whatsoever, just indifference.  That's a trait of a serial killer.  Sensation-seeking is the act of engaging in dangerous and reckless activities just to feel
. It’s usually found in two types of people, drug users and serial killers.

12. Shallow Emotions

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ource: The Killer Blog
German serial killer Rudolph Pliel was convicted of killing 10 people and later took his own life in prison.  Like many serial killers, his emotions were shallow, to say the least.  Pliel compared his murders to playing a game of cards - both were his hobbies and there were loads around!

13. Lack Of Responsibility

Image source: Insider
I see myself more as a victim rather than a perpetrator
," said John Wayne Gacy, in a rare moment of admitting all the murders he committed.  He said he had always evaded responsibilities, choosing to put the blame for his actions on others who looked down on him.  This admission is often reiterated by killers.

14. Predatory Behavior

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ource: IMDb
Predatory behavior, as displayed by Aileen Wuornos, is a trait of many serial killers and has been compared to the aggressive behavior of predatory animals.  The only difference is that a serial killer kills because they think they need to, whereas an animal will do so out of necessity.

15. Fill An Emotional Void

Image source: Medium
Larry Eyler, like so many other serial killers, have an emotional void in their lives.  If they didn't receive much love and attention as kids, they emulate this trait as they become an adult. and become incapable of forming meaningful relationships.  Serial killers are often described as being emotionally vacant.

16. Organized Killers

source: Yahoo News
Karla Homolka was meticulous in planning and executing her murders.  Like other killers, they plan out every detail of their crime in advance and take caution not to leave any incriminating evidence behind. These killers hand pick their victims according to their obsessions.

17. Unorganized Killers

source: Crime Viral
Richard Chase made up a group of serial killers, known as unorganized killers.  They do not plan out their crimes beforehand and can be haphazard in their execution. Most often, they have a deep-seated mental illness that triggers their homicidal behavior.  In the absence of planning, they randomly select a crime spot.

18. Visionary Killers

source: KRON4
Herbert Mullin was a visionary serial killer who operated to satisfy his personal visions. These visions are larger than life and are delusions of an unstable mind associated with religious beliefs, ritualistic practices and participation in the occult.  The murders tend to be blood sacrifices.

19. Mission-Oriented Killers

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rce: CBS News
Joseph Paul Franklin was a mission-orientated serial killer.  Like others with this trait, they aim to kill a specific group or type of person, for the good of the country.  These killers are mainly linked to racist, religious and ethical extremism and carried out the murders in the 1970s.

20. Lust Killer

e source: Insider
Gary Ridgway, known as the Green River Killer, was a lust serial killer.  This trait includes tortures, rapes and mutilation of victims for their sexual gratification.  A handful of serial killers chose to copy this behavior from other 'famous' murderers as they thought it would make them famous.

21. Thrill Killer

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urce: iHorror
A thrill killer, such as Robert Hansen, kills for the pleasure of killing and satisfying their adrenaline rush through death threats, stalking and break-ins.  Hansen was known to have stalked and murdered at least 17 females in Alaska over a 3 year period from 1980.

22. Comfort Killer

Image source: Insider
Dr Henry Howard Holmes was a comfort killer.  The traits for this type of murderer are that the killings are for monetary or material gains.  This behavior tended to be during the nineteenth century and many of the murders were committed in small towns in Chicago.

23.  Most Serial Killers Are Men

Image source
: The Tab
Serial killers can be both men and women, even though female serial killers are pretty rare compared to their male counterparts.  Because of the meticulous documentation of modern day serial killers in the US, it is widely believed that serial killers are mainly white men.  However, this is not true, according to a 2006 study.  Richard Ramirez, the night stalker, is pictured above.

24.  Many Serial Killers Have An Above Average IQ

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Because of the forward planning of a murder and being able to commit a series of them without getting caught, it's no surprise to find that some serial killers have an above average IQ.  This is certainly the case for Karla Homolka who was very intelligent but ruthless, with an enhanced streak of psychopathy.

25. Many Serial Killers Can’t Stop Killing

Image source:
New York Post
It is widely believed that serial killers such as Franklin DeWayne Alix don't stop until they've been killed or caught by law enforcement.   This is true for many serial killers but in some cases, such as the Zodiac Killer,  the killer stops on their own accord without incarceration or the death sentence.

26. Do Serial Killers Want To Get Caught

Image source:
ABC News
Many people think that serial killers who are up to their necks in crime, get deranged and long to be discovered  to put an end to their killing spree. However, as case studies show, not all criminals long to be caught.  They take extreme care to escape the consequences of their actions and often get caught by accident.  This was so in the case of Rodney Alcala.

27. The Yorkshire Ripper

Image source: Yorks
hire Evening Post
Peter William Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, was an English serial killer who was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder 7 others between 1975 and 1980.  Most of the victims were prostitutes but not all.  He evaded being caught by sending police off the trail, by sending them a false tape of someone else's voice.

Ted Bundy

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urce: Insider
Perhaps the most notorious of male serial killers, Theodore “Ted” Bundy was charged with lust serial killing of an unbelievable 30 women, across 5 States, between 1973 and 1978.  He was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder and mania as he exhibited different appearances, names and criminal methods at different times.

Vera Renczi, “The Black Widow”

Image source
: Serial Killer Database Wiki
The most famous female serial killer, Vera Renczi or “The Black Widow” was a Romanian serial killer, born at the start of the 20th century.  She killed 35 men by poisoning them with arsenic.  She had many husbands and lovers, poisoning them all, one by one.  She even poisoned her children.

30. Serial Killers In A Nutshell

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ce: Science Says
Serial killers are criminals who commit more than 3 murders over a period of time. They act on motives drawn from anger, thrill-seeking, attention-seeking, financial gain, wanting to fulfil a delusional goal. fulfilling a delusional goal, etc.  Many have a history of abuse, neglect and mental health conditions.  They may be psychopathic and show no remorse.

31. They Focus On Themselves

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What usually goes in the mind of a serial killer - and most of them at that - is everything they want, and they feel. They're going to be wrapped up in their own heads on the inside, even if they don't show it on the outside. Every decision they make is with a focus on themselves.

32. And They Focus On The Power They Could Have Over Others

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A huge thing most serial killers want - and what can push a lot of them to kill - is the need for power. As well as focusing on themselves, they're going to focus on the power they want over other people - and the fact that victims being at their mercy gives them a lot of power.

33. Lack Of Sympathy

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While lack of empathy is the huge indicator for a serial killer, where they just can't understand other people's feelings or put themselves in their shoes, lack of sympathy can also be a hand-in-hand trait. They feel no sympathy towards anyone, and especially not their victims or the victims families.

34. Smooth Talkers

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A lot of serial killers are very smooth talkers, probably used to getting what they want through using their words, or even convincing people to do what they want. They could probably even talk their way out of suspicion of crimes by using the right sugar-coated words.

35. Completely Insincere

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With a false persona, charming words and a winning smile also comes complete lack of sincerity. Everything they say, even if it's the nicest, most complimentary thing on the planet, will likely be insincere. They may even pretend to feel bad about what they've done.

36. They Wear A Mask Even With Family And Friends

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One of the scariest things about serial killers is that a lot of them can be happily married with a family and friends, without any of their loved ones knowing that they're secretly a serial killer. Killers like Ted Bundy were famously married without the wife being any the wiser.

37. No Remorse

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Most serial killers will feel no remorse for what they've done - though in some cases, killers may have psychological problems where they don't fully understand what they'd done, or turn themselves in because they know they need to stop. But a lot of killers have shown zero remorse for their horrific crimes.

38. They Enjoy Gloating

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Not feeling any remorse is one thing - going out of your way to gloat about the horrible things you've done is another entirely. But some serial killers have enjoyed gloating and teasing the authorities about the crimes, about not being caught, and some also have tried to gloat to families of the victims, proud of what they've done.

39. A Lot Of Them Are Educated

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With some brutal and horrific killings, it's easy to think most serial killers are uneducated brutes who don't fully understand. But a lot of serial killers are highly educated people, and a lot of that education can help them with the way they commit crimes or hide what they've done, particularly in the way of chemistry and poison.

40. They Don't Do It For Financial Gain (Usually)

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It's very rare that a serial killer will commit their crimes for money - while you may know of much murder and violence with people like hitmen and mobsters looking for cash, serial killers usually do it for their own personal pleasure and the thrill of it - they do it for free.

41. They Had A Bad Childhood

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This isn't accurate for every single serial killer, but a lot of serial killers have very difficult childhoods, especially ones that might see them abused or being witness to abuse or violence. Some serial killers can have a perfectly good upbringing, though, with loving parents.

42. Most Likely With Divorced Parents

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Serial killers like Ed Kemper and Jeff Dahmer both had divorced parents. That doesn't mean divorce leads to serial killers, but it's been a factor in more than one serial killer that they had divorced parents when they were younger, so some have considered it a factor to be considered.

43. They Look Like Someone You Can Trust

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The person may not only look quite likeable and trustworthy, but this fake charm they give off can also have you trusting them easily - especially if the killer is an adult trying to lure a child, as some serial killers have done if they target children. A kind smile is sometimes all it takes.

44. And A Lot Of Killers Are Good-Looking

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Trusting someone easily can also happen if they're good-looking - which is an unfortunate fact. If someone doesn't look dangerous or 'ugly', it's more likely you're going to trust them and be charmed by them - as is the case with Ted Bundy. A lot of the time, serial killers can be good looking because their victims are people they've taken home with them, with the victims actually wanting to spend the night with them.

45. Figures Of Authority

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Another tragic fact is that a lot of serial killers can be figures of authority, which plays into the whole 'trusting them easily'. Some serial killers have been known to be doctors, for example. And a lot of one-time murderers have been police officers or lawyers, where victims might go with them willingly.

46. Their Ego Is Off The Charts

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Some serial killers are so egotistical that they can't keep their crimes to themselves, like having to write in a journal or write a letter to someone. Jack the Ripper was a serial killer with such a huge ego that he would taunt and bait the police, and celebrate what he'd done.

47. But Sometimes They're Never Caught

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Speaking of Jack the Ripper - one tragic fact is that sometimes this egotistical serial killers who boast about never being caught, will actually never be caught. Some killers are too clever that they manage to do exactly what they said out to do - and then get away with it.

48. No Guilt Whatsoever

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Some serial killers might feel regret over what they've done, but not guilt. They may think 'oh I wish I wouldn't have done that' in hindsight, but they won't carry guilt about the horrific crimes, or what the families might be feeling. It's common for serial killers who kill time and time again to never feel guilt.

49. Deceit Is Something They Know Well

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Deceit is just all part and parcel of who they, and what they do. They deceive their friends and family - if any - by acting like a good person. They deceive their victims when they want to trick them into trusting them. And they act deceitful when questioned by the police, acting as though they don't know anything.

50. Selective Memory

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Killers may also have an interesting relationship with memory. Some of them may remember every single name and face of the people they've killed - because they make a point of remembering it. Others may not even be able to tell you a single name, or recognize a single face from a photo, because they didn't think it important enough to remember.

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