Female Serial Killers

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Date Submitted: 11/13/2012 01:03 PM

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Female Serial Killers

The role of women in serial murders are often overlooked and underestimated in today’s culture. Furthermore, the psychology and criminology of female offenders are a rarely studied and talked about on the news or in prestigious journals. The word serial is defined as “forming a series,” (Patterson, 1989). The word murder is defined as “killing a human being with premeditated malice,” (Patterson, 1989). So the literal meaning of serial murders is a series of killings with premeditated malice. It is through this definition that female serial murderers should be examined just as thoroughly as their male counterparts. Through definition females commit serial murders as habitually as men however, many researchers disregard the female multiple murderer for two reasons because she, to their knowledge, lacks a sexually sadistic motivation (Seagrave, 1992) and females are typically viewed as being non-violent (Kelleher, 1998).

Female and male serial killers commit their crimes in vastly different ways and it would seem for different reasons. Most male serial killers have a brutal sexual motivation behind their killings. They are also more violent and less precise when committing their crimes. Through extensive research into the criminal mind of male serial killers it has been established that male offenders enjoy a rich and perverse fantasy life (Hazelwood & Douglas, 1980; Holmes, 1998; Prentky et. al., 1989; Ressler et. al., 1988). In their fantasies they are powerful. Through violence and domination they rule over the weak and humiliate their victims. The male serial killer usually fantasizes this way because in real life he feels powerless. Through torturing and hurting his victims, he feels better. (Hickey, 1997). The fantasies of the male offender are incredibly vivid. Research has shown that the more vivid the fantasy, the more heightened the sexual response is for the individual (Smith & Over, 1987).