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  1. #1
    Calculusmadeeasy Calculusmadeeasy is offline
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    The History of Serial Killing.

    JTR allegedly claimed "men will say that I gave birth to the 20th century."

    For me, the 20th century has been the century of the serial killer.

    Here's a "dictionary definition":

    serial killer
    noun
    a person who commits a series of murders, often with no apparent motive and typically following a characteristic, predictable behaviour pattern.


    A symptom of a post industrial revolution behavioural sink?

    A symptom of increasingly liberal, and perhaps even decadent attitudes to sex?,

    A symptom, as some writers have suggested, of the relatively new phenomenon of literature being available to everyone?

    Or is it something that has always been around? It would seem that before the 20th century serial killers were as rare as hen's teeth.

    Across the water, a slew of serial killers appeared during the second half of the 20th century (Christie, Sutcliffe, Brady, Fred West, Denis Nilsen etc.) Germany also produced some notable SKs (Kurten and Haarman being the more ignominious examples). As did Russia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...serial_killers

    As you can see from the wiki-list, the 20th century produced 9 Russian serial killers.

    Intriguingly, the last quarter of a century has produced 13.

    Here's a serial killer by country list*:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ers_by_country

    Curiously, most African countries are absent. As is the ROI, which is intriguing.

    What are your thoughts on Ireland's absence ? Do you think it's simply down to Ireland being isolated, and having a small population, or could there be other reasons?

    Feel free to pore over the "serial killer by country" list given above. I'm assuming there's some relationship between population size and number of serial killers (Bell curve and all that malarkey). A cursory look suggests that the highest numbers are in developed nations such as the UK, Germany, Australia, and of course the US, which has it's own wiki entry:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._United_States

    Incidences in Muslim, and Scandinavian countries are low (the latter dispelling liberal sexual attitudes as being a cause).

    Discuss.

    *The list may not be exhaustive or accurate, so if you find a more exhaustive one, drop it in here please. I noticed that the Black Panther, Donald Neilson was included on the UK's list. I would have put him down as a post office robber who killed a few people, rather than a serial killer, but I s'ppose he fits the definition given above.
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  2. #2
    rainmaker rainmaker is offline
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    They've probably always been with us, but identifying them as a class of offender in their own right is a relatively recent thing.

    Linking offences was probably far more difficult in earlier times as well, and as linking and offence detection have improved it probably gives the illusion that they have increased.

    I'm no expert though and those are just personal theories.
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  3. #3
    Ardillaun Ardillaun is offline

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    Better detection accounts for the 20'th Century spike as any Neanderthal would tell you if they were still around.
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  4. #4
    statsman statsman is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ardillaun View Post
    Better detection accounts for the 20'th Century spike as any Neanderthal would tell you if they were still around.
    But, but, but, but the turning away from religion and the end of civilization as we know it, blah, blah, blah.
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  5. #5
    Prester Jim Prester Jim is offline
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    I think that there have always been serial killers, the uptick is mostly down to higher populations, better policing and statistics gathering and modern communications perhaps spreading ideas.
    In the distant past serial killers put on shiny armour and cut a tract of countryside for themselves gaining great glory and being called noble or even royal if they were very successful in their murdering. Now we are more likely to hold a greater value to life and a revulsion for those who kill.
    Look at the Philippines for a glance into that past in the modern world.
    Gilles De Rais would be one of the relatively rare examples of a serial killer who got caught but there are probably countless others who are remembered with pride or not at all in honour roles of the various empires, few of Genghis's mongol horde wouldn't fit the profile for instance.
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  6. #6
    Sister Mercedes Sister Mercedes is offline
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    The likes of Bundy moved from state to state and the authorities didn't link his crimes. Much less likely nowadays with better technology. DNA was also a huge breakthrough in that kind of crime detection.
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  7. #7
    ne0ica ne0ica is offline
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    I remember as a teenager I was interested in serial killers. But I got the impression that most of them were losers.

    For me the 20th century has been the century of democide the mass killings of people and political opponents by states around the world. Never in history has there been so many murdered by state terror. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
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  8. #8
    razorblade razorblade is online now

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    Usually loner weirdos sexual deviants who get, great satisfaction on the sufferings of their victims.
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  9. #9
    Calculusmadeeasy Calculusmadeeasy is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ardillaun View Post
    Better detection accounts for the 20'th Century spike as any Neanderthal would tell you if they were still around.
    We'll never know, but early man, like most animals was probably more likely to flee danger, then engage it.

    Mind you, there is evidence that Homo Neanderthalensis, Cro Magnon and Peking man were cannibals. However, it was probably part of a religious ritual, rather than acts of wanton cruelty.

    One does wonder if criminality has changed with society. Wells pointed out that the world has changed more in the 20th century than it did during the 6,000 years of recorded history. So perhaps, the criminal mind's tastes have changed with it?

    Whilst I would tentatively agree that the serial killer, in its modern format, has always been with us, I would hazard a guess and say that up until recently, most crimes were crimes of want, that is a desire for food, a desire to survive etc.
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  10. #10
    Ratio Et Fides Ratio Et Fides is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by ne0ica View Post
    I remember as a teenager I was interested in serial killers. But I got the impression that most of them were losers.

    For me the 20th century has been the century of democide the mass killings of people and political opponents by states around the world. Never in history has there been so many murdered by state terror. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
    I looked into the phenomena when I was a teen as well what struck me was how basically shallow and uninteresting as personalities the vast bulk of them were and came to the conclusion that they basically did what they did because they were so dead inside that they needed to go to those extremes to really feel something. That said I do think Ian Brady and Charles Manson (okay maybe he shouldn't be classed as a serial killer but he usually is) are genuinely fascinating.
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