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Brandi Kiker English 1103 Prof. Presnell 7 November 2012 Female Serial Murderers v. Male Serial Murderers As many people know, poor neighborhoods and high crime rates are directly related. Growing up in a poor neighborhood myself, I grew up around crime and always seemed to be in the middle of it somehow. There had actually been many murders in my neighborhood; some were five streets over where one of them was only three houses down. Now that I no longer live in that neighborhood and do not have to deal with the everyday crime that came along with it, I want to have a career to ensure that little kids are not exposed to such a horrendous crime, as I was. Since I wanted a career that would help catch murderers, I felt as if the best route to go would be to become a crime scene investigator so that I would be able to help collect the evidence and hopefully catch the murderer based off the evidence I had collected. Knowing that I wanted to get into this field since middle school I was very excited to find out that the high school that I would be going to was giving a forensic science class. Once I got to high school, I found out that I couldnt take the forensic science class until my junior year, which was fine with me because my interest would just continue to grow. Finally, my junior year of high school came and I got to take the forensic science course! The first major project for the class was to pick a serial murderer and make some kind of presentation about him. As everyone else was sitting in their seats, nervously awaiting their turn to present their project I was overly anxious to present mine; that was until the girl who sat in front of me asked to present her project first. At first I was somewhat angry because I had already asked the day before if I could go first but all


of my anger went away as she began to present her project, it was a woman! All that was running through my mind then was that I had no idea that there was ever such a thing as a woman serial killer, I didnt even know of a woman who had killed one person let alone multiple people. I was fascinated from that point forward that the female serial murderer population seems to be a kind of secretive thing. In my research, I have set out to find why it is that the female serial killer population is such a hidden and rare topic. I first thought that the females were not talked about a lot just simply because there are not a lot of them. The research I have found has definitely proved me wrong! As Michael D. Kelleher and C. L. Kelleher discussed in their book, Murder the Most Rare: The Female Serial Killer, The female serial killer population is an unseen of, unheard of population, and it has heightened many researchers interest in the differences and similarities between male and female serial killers, as it did mine. This research has surfaced the importance of female serial killers by comparing them to male serial killers. Comparing the males to the females is not only done by comparing the weapons used, motives, and number of females compared to the number of males but also the best comparison is the social and psychological aspects of the murderer. The social aspects of a serial killer include the offenders background; whereas the psychological aspects of a serial killer include their motives and modus operandi (way of killing). Research, done by Belea T. Keeney, a professor of Criminology, and Kathleen M. Heide, in the journal article Gender Differences in Serial Murderers: A Preliminary Analysis from the Journal of Interpersonal Violence helps show the main differences between the two populations. Their research has helped show that the past of a serial killer seems to shape them as a person, no matter male or female. The pasts of the males and females are usually quite similar to one


another, except when it comes to drug or alcohol abuse. The majority of the males were either physically abused or neglected as children and the majority of females were sexually abused, physically abused, and neglected. Keeney and Heide reports that more than half of the serial killer population had been physically or sexually abused, or neglected at least once in their childhood. There is usually no direct pattern to male serial murderers and drug or alcohol abuse; whereas when eight females were observed, all eight had at some point illegally used drugs or were alcoholics but only one of the females had actually murdered while under the influence. The motives of males are usually the most wicked and cruel things that you will ever hear about. Keeney and Heide discusses that the male serial killer usually likes to kill their victim to gain some kind of sexual pleasure or to fulfill some kind of fantasy that they have. Some males will start their fantasy and method of killing with stalking their victim, whether they stalk their victim for a short time or a long time, it doesnt matter; once he spots his victim, he doesnt leave them alone and keeps on hunting that one victim until he is able to get them. The reason that the males will stalk their victim until they finally get them is because when he has a fantasy he usually has a certain kind of victim in mind; such as black hair and pasty skin, and stick to the same kind of victim throughout their killing spree. Males will more than likely rape their victim before or after they kill them so the killing will involve torture to the victim. According to Keeney and Heide, male serial murderers have also shown a tendency to use a hands-on approach in killing by using knives, blunt objects, and hands to kill their victims. I learned in forensic science, that stabbing could also be a part of the males fantasy, to see his victim suffer, this is evident because in some cases the males had stabbed all of their victims the same number of times and usually stabbed the same region of his victims body. The fantasies of males are usually very unusual and unpleasant which leads to some gory and uneasy feelings; as Keeney


and Heide explain, Male serial murderers have often attended their victims funerals as a method of reliving the murder and as material for future fantasy experiences. They continue to explain, They typically returned to their victims graves, whether official or unofficial. On the other hand, female serial killers usually do not kill to fulfill some type of fantasy or to gain sexual pleasure, instead their motives are much more sensible. As Elizabeth Gurian, who has a Ph. D in Criminology, points out that the female usually kills her victim for an insurance policy or an emotional distress. A female serial killers victim will more than likely include a spouse for the gain of the insurance policy or the woman that her husband had an affair with. The female serial killer knows exactly who she wants as her victim without having to stalk them, however, she may have to lurk around her victims home for a day or so to see when the right time to strike would be. Since the majority of the time the female serial killer wants monetary gain out of her killings, she has to keep her killings more on the down low and try to cover up the murder. As shown in the research reported by the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics, the primary source of criminal justice statistics, she will usually keep her murder covered by killing silently which includes poisoning her victim or smothering her victim. Since the female serial killers method of killing is by poisoning or smothering her weapons usually include poison or something to smother her victim with such as a pillow. A female serial killers approach to killing her victim is very simple so therefore there is not very much evidence left behind at the crime scene. Keeney and Heide also points out, a male serial killer is not necessarily messier than a female serial killer is but they make more of a mess during their killing due to victim damage and torture to the victim. This leads to more evidence left behind at the crime scene by the male serial killer than that of a female serial killer. Since it is likely that a male serial killer will leave


behind an exceptional amount of evidence at the crime scene it is more than likely that he will be caught easier than a female serial killer who kills very carefully and barely leaves behind any evidence at her crime scene. In correlation to evidence left at the crime scene a male serial killer is easier to catch and figure out; their killing sprees last only about four years before they are caught whereas a female serial killers killing spree may last anywhere from eight to eleven years before they are caught. Before I did my research, I thought that female serial killers were not seen or talked about very much because I thought there were more male serial killers than female serial killers and I was not the only one who thought so. There have been FBI Agents who do not want to admit to there being such thing as a female serial killer. Joni Johnston, a clinical/ forensic psychologist and a licensed private investigator sums it up pretty well when she says, The term female serial killer was generally believed to be an oxymoron, just as I did before I took my high school forensic science class. Now that I have finished all of my research and pieced everything together, I have discovered that female serial killers are not heard of as much as male serial killers because females are not caught as easily because their methods of killing are silent, but still very deadly. In conclusion, there are not fewer female serial killers than male serial killers but females do have longer killing sprees than the males do. Therefore, female serial killers are smarter and more organized than male serial killers are.


Works Cited Gurian, Elizabeth. "Female Serial Murderers: Directions for Future Research on a Hidden Population."International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 55.27 (2009).EBSCO Host. J. Murrey Atkins Library. Web. 30 Oct 2012. Johnston, Joni. "Psychology Today." Psychology Today. (2012): n. page. Web. 30 Oct. 2012. Keeney, Belea, and Kathleen Heide. "Gender Differences in Serial Murderers: A Preliminary Analysis." Journal of Interpersonal Violence 9. (1994): n.pag. Sage Journals. J. Atkins Murrey Library. Web. 30 Oct 2012. Kelleher, Michael, and C.L. Kelleher. Murder Most Rare: The Female Serial Killer. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998. Web. United States. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Homicide Trends In The U.S.. 2006. Web. 30 Oct. 2012