January 17, 2014 – Week 2
Lecture: The Criminally Insane: Serial Killers and others
Reading: Murdering Holiness P. 76140
Lecture “Serial Killers In the City”
Common characteristics between serial killers and mass murderers:
• 1) multiple victims: usually 3 or more
• 2) for the most part, the killer is male
• 3) generally the victims are strangers, although mass murderers are more closely connected to domestic homicides, or involve people the killer knows.
Differences between serial killers and mass murderers
• 1) Most important difference is that mass murderers are either apprehended by the police, killed in a resulting shootout with police, or commit suicide soon
after the killings occur.
• 2) mass murderers engage in a public display of violence.
• 3) the killer does not attempt to escape detection.
• 4) mass murderers kill in a short space of time.
How many victims?
• About 3,800 spread over 18001995
• Average number of victims per year:
Serial Killer Victims:
• Residents of urban areas (cities) and places with larger populations
• Usually women, esp. women alone and including prostitutes
• Often children, or those weaker than them
• 50 percent victims are African American
Who are the serial killers?
• Overwhelmingly male
• Often welladjusted, with positive social outlook or successful economically
Elliott Leyton, on identity of serial killers:
“Single murder is the province of the truly disenfranchised the poor, the uneducated, those without legitimate opportunities, who respond to their situation
with outward explosions of aggression. Serial killers are
generally none of these things. They are generally white, and gainfully employed with reasonable expectations of success.”
From a biological point of view some may argue serial killers have a chemical imbalance in their brains or by studying genetics extra chromosomes are
usually found in people who are killers. There are also more personality types that are more prone to this behaviour. Serial killers are more common now
Belle Gunness (18591908) • 28 April, 1908
• Fire destroys Gunness home. 3 children & one adult (Gunness) perish.
• Potential suitor (boyfriend), Lamphere arrested as suspect.
• But: where were Belle’s other suitors?
Because she is a women her actions are hard to explain and its hard to think of her as a serial killer. She is known as an women who takes care of her
children not a killer. Her house burned to the ground and the bodies of her children were found in the basement, and the suspicion of this crime fell on one
of her suitors Lamphere. She was a widow and in the weeks leading up to the fire she launched several complaints that lamphere was bothering her. He was
a suspect and was arrested. Afterwards authorities had second thoughts because a farmer came to town looking for his brother and had money for guness
because she was advertising looking for a husband.
Authorities looked into her property and found 13 bodies in her backyard, butchered, and one of them was her 18 year old daughter, a woman and the other
11 bodies were Norwegian men. She would steal their money and then kill them. Investigators stopped digging after they found 13 bodies that were hard to
She married and lived in Illinois and her children died in mysterious circumstances, and her husband died and their business and home was burned down.
All of this gave her insurance money to collect. She then married a man named peter in April and he died in December of that year and she was awarded
with another insurance policy.
Because nobody could see a woman as committing murder, burning houses and children she kept getting away with all these crimes, and this lead people to
see that women are not just people that are homemakers but could be seen as killers. Nobody really knows what happened to her if she was really burned in
her house or not, or if she was actually responsible for these killings. Greed and money and economic independence are the basic motives for these killings,
but others suspected she also had an accomplice in these killings. Not the typical template of a serial killer.
The Whitechapel murders – Jack the Ripper
• Mary Ann Nichols, 43, (31 Aug, 1888).
• Annie Chapman, 48, (8 Sept, 1888).
• Elizabeth Stride, 44, (30 Sept, 1888).
• Catherine Eddowes, 46, (30 Sept, 1888).
• Mary Jane Kelly, 25, (9 Nov, 1888).
In 1888 London was the largest city in the world but also divided the west end was full of palaces and shopping and the east end was were the poor and
working class lived. This neighbourhood included Whitechapel and was almost like a different country. It was accessibly to the west end but was separated.
the murders occurred in whitechapel and raised awareness to all of London.
The bodies of all victims were discovered by people going to and from work. The first victim was discovered behind a stabled at 4 in the morning and he
throat was severed by deep cuts and her abdomen was also cut. This is jack the rippers first killing. This caught local attention and after the autopsy it
captured the attention of people nationally.
The second woman had deep cuts on her throat and abdomen and her uterus was removed, it was surgical sexual mutilation and was highlighted in the
press. They all happened between the hospital and local slaughterhouse.
They were anticipated an explanation and similarities between the killings.
All 5 victims were prostitutes and were economically marginalized in society and these murders ignited the discussion of prostitution in London and if it
should be regulated or legalized. These murders also exposed the police as not great people because they were under pressure and weren’t considered
able to protect people.
Elizabeth wasn’t as mutilated and nothing was removed which indicated the killer was interrupted. But Catherine was killed after her and was cut and body
parts were removed. People didn’t trust doctors at this time and these killings made their suspicions run wild.
There was also literature created based on these killings which included a book called jekill and hyde which indicated a person that had a dual personality
that was a doctor and a killer. This led to the notion that society believed this killer was a male doctor. This character became attractive and entertaining, and
this person also reflected their city a safe and dangerous side, normal and unnormal. The last victim was Mary Jane Kelly and she was killed in the same manner accept her mutilation was far worse and after this case the killer just stopped.
This case has never been solved and there are many theories. In investigations the police focused on usual suspects and conducted searches. There were
only searches in the whitechapel area no searching was conducted in the higher class area of London.
Vigilance committees were formed and brothels were closed forcing more danger for prostitutes.
This resembles the serial killer Robert Pickton who killed mostly prostitutes in Vancouver a large city, and killed them in the poverish area of that city. The
victim killed 50 women over 20 years.
Happened in Chicago in the 1890’s which was a large city at the time. Very developed and a major transportation area. Chicago had large rail and stock
yards and had a reputation as a large and busy city that wasn’t very sophisticated.
Chicago was redesigning the city and constructing new land marks and buildings. They used Christopher Columbus as their theme and this event and
attracted a lot of visitors. They wanted to top the Eiffel tower and created the first faris wheel.
Henry Holmes – became teaching at age 16 and ended up at the medical school in Michigan. In 1886 he changed his name to Holmes and moved to
Chicago. When he arrived Inglewood was in the middle of development and he was hired at the pharmacy ther