Serial Killers By The Numbers: 11 Facts About The Darkest Side Of Humanity

serial killers

Ever wonder what triggers a person to kill without the slightest hint of guilt? Investigation Discovery dives into the unstable psyche of the world’s most dangerous criminals in the special-edition 100-page publication Serial Killers. From John Wayne Gacy Jr. to the Zodiac Killer, as well as a few less notorious (but no less deadly) killers throughout the ages, this special issue features expert psychological profiles and analysis delivered by Candice DeLong and Michelle Ward in the way only Investigation Discovery can.

Below, we break down the facts about monstrous serial killers and their unfortunate victims. Get more information about the most infamous killers, including the ones the police haven’t caught, in Investigation Discovery’s Serial Killers, on sale here.

Courtesy - Wikimedia Commons

Belle Gunness Photo: Wikimedia Commons

65—Percentage of serial killer victims who were approached and then drawn in by a killer’s ruse or scam. Belle Gunness convinced men she would offer them sex and business opportunities.

8—Number of years women’s killing careers last on average, according to a 2011 study by criminologists, titled Lethal Ladies. In comparison, men’s sprees tend to last only two years.

12—Percentage of serial murderers who killed more than 10 victims between 1960 and 2006, according to an FBI study. Of the 92 killers the FBI included in its study, roughly 11 fit this category.

15—Percentage of serial killer victims who are stabbed to death, according to a 2014 Serial Killer

Henry Lee Lucas Image: YouTube

Henry Lee Lucas stabbed each of his victims Photo: YouTube

Statistics study by M.D. Aamodt. More than 40 percent of serial killers choose a less intimate method of murder and opt to shoot their victims.

8—Percentage of killers who murder for multiple motives, according to Aamodt’s Serial Killer Statistics. This killer couple’s motives: thrill and financial gain.

23—Percentage of female serial murderers who were considered “migratory,” according to Female Serial Killers by Peter Vronksy.

70—Percentage of serial killers who only prey on and kill strangers, according to Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters by Peter Vronksy.

42—Percentage of women serial killers who lure victims to their domain—residence or workplace—before slaughtering them, according to Peter Vronksy’s Female Serial Killers.

21—Percentage of serial killers who experienced definite or suspected head injuries in the past, according to a study published in June 2014 by Aggression and Violent Behavior.

Ted Bundy served as his own defense attorney during his Florida trial Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ted Bundy derived sexual pleasure while torturing and killing his victims Photo: Wikimedia Commons

81—Percentage of serial killers active between 1960 and 2006 who were motivated to kill for sex, according to an FBI study. Bonin is well within this figure.

50—Number of serial killers who are operating in the United States at any given time, according to the FBI’s report Serial Murder: Pathways for Investigations.

Learn more about serial killers here at CrimeFeed.

  • Mrs. Lovett

    If possible, I would like to know where the serial killers have gone? When was the last time one really hit the media, and how many have been active since the start of ISIS? I have a theory that those with such tendencies have migrated, because, under the Wahhabist rules of the Jihadists, such insults to human life are not only permissible, but encouraged.
    Also, the leaders of ISIS have had to institute ‘rules of slave rape’, indicating to me that even they had trouble with controlling the sadism being perpetrated against people considered fair game.
    I would really like an answer to this question, but am not a researcher.

    • Crystal Bearrington

      No, just no. Serial killers have been around forever, Wayyy before Isis. Research killers like Belle Gunness, Fish and HH Holmes. Also, They haven’t gone anywhere. There are 50+ serial killers lurking in the US as I type this. But, technology being what it is, they’re getting busted quicker. Someone who 20 years ago could’ve racked up a dozen victims may be caught after one or two now and never get the title SK. Also, the media chooses who gets the most attention. There are much worse SK out there than Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy. Just because you don’t hear about them doesn’t mean they don’t exist, some are being apprehended and it just doesn’t make National news.
      Seriously, this has Nada to do with Isis or jihad or any of that. It’s silly to make that imaginary connection. Serial killers are alive and well in the US, most are not Muslim, they’re not religious nuts. They have families, hold ordinary jobs, and look just like me and you. You could be sitting next to one at church, look up BTK.

      • Mrs. Lovett

        I agree with everything you said. I simply felt that such people would be attracted to ISIS, not on religious grounds, but because of their internal deficiencies. I would think a political ideology like radical Islam would be attractive. How many people, from western countries, have made the trip? They had a reason.

        • Meow

          I can see what you thinking here, but there are some differences between committing war crimes and being a serial killer.
          Serial killers typically seek to kill for a thrill or gratification. They are often sociopaths, which means they lack the ability to care about how their victims may feel and have little or no interest in social connection and belonging.
          A person getting involved in an extremist group that commits war crimes, such as ISIS, will often kill to fulfill a purpose or belief defined to them by this group which they subscribe to. A person in this circumstance is often seeking belonging and community. While they may also lack empathy for their victims, they view their victims as “lesser-than” and “belonging to an other” which allows the person killing them to disassociate from their victims. In this setting, you would likely find relatively intelligent people with severely narcissistic tendencies leading groups or followings. Many followers join out of fear or/and for what they believe is their own protection.
          To summarize, extremist groups would not likely attract the serial killer “type”. And if they did, society would label them as war criminals instead. Only if they began to pursue victims on their own accord, would they fit the definition of serial killer.

  • Serpentina

    There was a study on the rise in serial killings between the 1970s and plateaued in the late 1990s. If you go to the FBI stats it shows this. There have always been some form of serial killer, think Jack the Ripper- and it seems there are some very basic economic reasons for a boom in the killing. In the 1970s we saw some significant changes in manufacturing jobs and union membership. The middle class boom was over by Reagans second term. There was not another birth explosion until the 1990s since the baby boomer generation. We know the millennial generation was born within that time frame and the baby boomers and they have the largest demographic. The time between produced a lower birth rate and this can be for various reasons. Not being religious or political here, just stating facts. There were many deaths of reproductive age in the Vietnam War and many who returned did not marry or did not do so right away. The women’s liberation movement combined with Roe V Wade did indeed create an drop in the birth rate in the US, and many women were pursing careers and postponing children and marriage. Again, manufacturing and union jobs dwindled in that 20 years so there were an excess of single, unemployed men. Then we had the war on drugs which pushed addiction and dealing further into the shadows and prostitution spiked due to addiction and the poverty that was experienced in the inner cities first hit by loss of jobs. Then crack came calling. This drug caused violent death and psycosis, the children of addicts often suffered abuse and neglect. The rates of divorce increased. You take all of these basic things into consideration and you get a recipe for excessive violence, children who grew up emotionally unattended in potentially broken or abusive homes, men with no jobs, or maybe no wives and children to focus on, people with substance abuse, unchecked mental illness- and then it’s likely that the simple fact the we saw criminal investigation become more prevalent, which gave way to slasher films, we tend to see copycat incidents during waves of new technology, and then in the 80s the 24 hour news cycle. Perhaps there had been more unsolved or unreported crimes before this, maybe some files just were thrown out after going cold in small
    towns, and in the dawn of the Information Age pre computer, people were reported missing quickly, were put on milk cartons, there were interstate APBs, the missing and exploited children groups were formed, and Americans most wanted highlighted the emergence of criminal profiling and the FBI was front and center in investigatory technology. There was a definitive spike though even in the highly tracked times, right about 1987, and I believe the reasons stated were factors. As far as mass terror, that isn’t the same as serial killing. One is focused predation and another is completely different though both mentally defunct; their pathologies are different. One could use any sort of army or groupthink killing to discuss terroristic crime vs one person on another or a chosen string of sadistic killing. Totally different.