Psychology of Serial Killers-CTL Presentation

Psychology of Serial
Steve Christiansen & Rob Kissner
***WARNING-Graphic Photos
Presentation Learning Objectives
Definition of homicide
Three types murder
F.B.I. definition of serial killing
Who are serial killers?
The insanity defense
The M’Naughten rule
The ALI/MPC test
The irresistible impulse test
*Guilty but mentally ill (GBMI)
 Four major risk factors
Presentation Learning Objectives
Anti-social personality disorder
Key features of psychopathy
MacDonald triad of serial killers
Diphasic personality formation
Psychological signature of serial killers
Technology to help capture killers
Conclusion and questions
• The
killing of
Three Types of Murder
Criminal Homicide
First Degree
Second Degree
Felony Murder
F.B.I Definition of “Serial Killing”
“The term ‘serial killings’ means a series of
three or more killings, not less than one of
which was committed within the United
States, having common characteristics such
as to suggest the reasonable possibility
that the crimes were committed by the
same actor or actors”
(Title 18, United States Code, Chapter 51, and Section 1111).
Who are serial killers?
Average age 30 years old
95% male, 5% female (Why more men than women?)
73% white, 22% black, 1% other
Average or low IQ median IQ of 95 from sample of 174
serial killers
Fetishism-sexual attraction to a part of the body or
Partialism-atypical sexual interest in a part of the body
(armpits, breasts, buttocks, navel, hands and feet are
most common)
Necrophilia-sexual attraction to corpses
Varying degrees of psychopathy
– QUESTION-How do fetishes or partialism develop?
The Insanity Defense
• The legal concept referring to the
criminal’s state of mind at the time the
crime was committed. It requires that,
due to mental illness, a defendant lacks
moral responsibility and culpability for
the crime and, therefore, should not be
(Source: Forensic and Legal Psychology, 2012)
Test #1-The M’Naughten Rule
(Right-Wrong Test)
• M’Naughten Rule (1843)-at the
time of committing the act, the
party accused was unable to
distinguish right from wrong
because of a disease of the mind
(over 50% the states in U.S. use this test)
• Question-Why is this hard to prove in court?
Test #2-ALI/MPC Test for Insanity
(American Law Institute, Model Penal Code)
• ALI/MPC Test –also known as the substantial
capacity test, the ALI/MPC test states a person
is not responsible for criminal conduct if at the
time of such conduct, as a result of mental
disease or defect, he/she lacks substantial
capacity either to appreciate the criminality
(wrongfulness) of his/her conduct or to
conform his/her conduct to the requirements
of the law
(used by Federal Government and a few states)
Test #3-Irresistible Impulse Test
• The defense must show the defendant
knew his or her actions were wrong
and were unable to resist the urge to
commit the crime.
Interview 0 to 3 min.
GBMI-Guilty But Mentally Ill
• Defendant is found
guilty and is sentenced
to prison for a period
consistent with that
verdict. Defendant
receives treatment for
mental health issues
while in prison or is
transferred to a secure
mental health facility
(13 states currently use this).
Dennis Rader-BTK Killer
Interview 18 min. to 24:50
Jeffrey Dahmer
Serial Killer
Body dismemberment
• Killed 17 boys and men
• Received 15 life sentences
• Killed in 1994 by fellow
Dahmer Interview 0-4min.
The Four Major Risk Factors
Antisocial personality pattern
History of antisocial behavior
Antisocial attitudes
Antisocial associates
Nicole Simpson
Anti-social personality disorder
• A pervasive pattern of disregard and violation of the
rights of others, occurring since age 15 years old.
Deceitfulness and manipulative-lying, conning others
Impulsive or failure to plan ahead
Aggressive/irritability-repeated fights or assaults
Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
Consistent irresponsibility-work behavior/financial
– At least 18 years old
– Lack of remorse-indifferent to or rationalizing harm to others
– Behaves in a ways likely to be arrested
• Outward appearance of normal behavior
• Unresponsive to social control
– (Source-Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed.)
Key Features of Psychopathy
• Disregard for right and wrong; manipulative
• Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others;
superficial charm
• Using charm or wit to manipulate others for
personal gain or for sheer personal pleasure
• Intimidation, dishonesty and misrepresentation
• Hostility, significant irritability, agitation,
impulsiveness, aggression or violence
• Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse
about harming others
• Irresponsible work behavior
• Failure to learn from the negative consequences of
Organized Killers
Average to above intelligence
Disorganized Killers
Below average intelligence
Socially competent
Socially inadequate
Skilled work preferred
Unskilled work
Sexually competent
Sexually incompetent
High birth order status
Low birth order status
Father’s work stable
Father’s work unstable
Inconsistent childhood discipline
Harsh discipline as a child
Controlled mood during crime
Anxious mood during crime
Use of alcohol with crime
Minimal use of alcohol with crime
Precipitating situational stress
Minimal situational stress
Living with partner
Living alone
Mobility with car in good condition
Lives/works near crime scenes
Follows crime in the media
Minimal interest in the media
May change jobs or leave area
Significant behavioral change (drug or alcohol use)
MacDonald Triad of Serial Killers
Bed wetting (nocturnal enuresis)
(after age 12)
Cruelty to animals
Fire Setting
Diphasic (two) Personality Formation
• One phase is the fantasy life where the
child has complete control and then the
adult. This is the hidden personality that
dreams and fantasizes about killing.
• The other phase is the shell that walks
through the real world and has little
energy or effort committed to it.
The Psychological Signature
• Signature killers comprise the majority of
serial killers
• The signature is the psychological “calling
card” or “personal stamp” that he leaves at
each crime scene and what fulfills him
• The “signature,” crudely put, is “what the
killer gets off on” based on years of violent
dreams and fantasies
(Source: John Douglas, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2010)
The Signature
• The signature is often an
unconscious pattern that
may include:
– type of victim selected
– method used to control
the victim
– types of wounds inflicted
– any post-mortem activity
with the body
– body disposal or dump
Technology to capture
• REJIS-Regional Justice Information Services
• MULES-Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement
• NCIC-National Crime Information Center
• HITS-Homicide Investigation Tracking System
• AFIS-Automated Fingerprint Identification
System (Che Sims story)
Conclusion and Questions
• Serial killers are not born violent. They
become killers after years of fantasizing about
fulfilling their anti-social needs.
• The signature drives a person into a diphasic
personality formation, a public personality
that may seem very normal/friendly and the
“human hunter” personality to satisfy
deep psychological needs.
• There is no cure for serial killers.

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