Serial killing is different from mass murder. Serial killing is when a person kills more than two persons in a different period of time where mass murder means killing a bunch of people in the same place and time. They call these murders as serial killing because there is a series of murders involved. Serial killers could be anyone like our father, mother, friend, husband or other closed people.
Though we may have noticed some difference in their behavior in some cases we may not have any clue that they taking the lives of many people. The gaps between one murder and the other may be a day, a month or even a year. According to the view of people, they portray a serial killer as an evil monster with unusual appearance, but actually, they are a normal human being with normal appearance. But we people fail to learn why they are involved in these activities.
To understand serial killers studying psychology is more important than studying criminology. Not all the serial killers but the majority of the serial killers has psychological reasons to do such a big crime. Our Indian law also doesn’t treat them any differently. When we try to find what was the reason behind those murders, we may get a response which is either silly or sexual based reasons.
Every human in this world has sexual and silly problems but what triggers them to kill a person? Are they really criminals or one among the people who have a mental illness? Why do they have such thoughts? What makes them kill the other person? Does every serial killer have the same mentality? How does our Indian law treat them? How should they be treated? These are a few common questions that pop in our mind which are unanswered. Our paper will throw lights on all these questions.
Who Is A Serial Killer?
Every serial killer drive to kill multiple victims may be unique, dependent on his/her history and experiences. There is no general definition for the serial killers. Serial killing is the rarest form of homicide. It occurs when an individual has killed more than two or three people who were previously unknown to him or her. There is always cooling off period between each murder. The serial killer can be defined in a simple term as a person who kills more than three people without any personal reasons. The above-mentioned definition has been accepted by both police and academic experts and provides a useful frame for reference.
This definition narrows the analysis of such crimes as it fails to incorporate with many similar characteristics of a serial killer. Serial killing is considered in relation to broad historical changes that have occurred over the past 400-500 years. The historical setting and broader social intimately tied with serial killing. When we go through human history there have probably always been an individual who engaged in serial predation. But in previous eras, it was not possible for an individual to be a serial killer.
Serial killing is a distinctly modern phenomenon. The recent social and cultural conditions to which criminologists can provide fresh insight by accentuating the broad institutional frameworks, motivations, and opportunity structures within which serial killing occurs. When it comes to public knowledge, the serial killer is a product of Hollywood productions. To heighten the interest of the audience’s story lines are created, rather than to accurately portray serial murder.
The pubic is captivated by the criminal and their crimes by focusing on the atrocities inflicted on the victims by deranged offenders. This lends more confusion to the true dynamics of a serial killer. This information also misleads law enforcement professionals from a different source. Professionals who are all involved in serial murder cases such as investigators, prosecutors, and pathologists may have limited exposure to serial murder.
Those professional experience may be based upon a single murder series and the factors, in that case, are extrapolated to other serial killers. Certain stereotypes and misconceptions take root regarding the nature of serial killer and their characteristics. Most of the serial killers are not reclusive, social misfits who live alone. We should remember that they are normal human with families and homes, are gainfully employed, and appear to be normal members of the community. They blend in so effortlessly and they are oftentimes overlooked by the law enforcement and the public.
Classification Of Serial Killers:
The serial killers can be classified according to their character and their behavior. Various criminologist, law enforcement officials, mental health professionals and social scientists have attempted to discover the true motive behind the serial killers.
They try to classify serial killers based on the typologies, which will gain information’s to further assist law enforcement officers in profiling and investigating cases related to serial killers. After making various researches the researchers have come up with a typology to determine the making of a serial killer.
According to the typology the serial killers are classified as:
What Makes A Serial Killer?
- The organized killer:These types of offenders lead methodical lives that are also replicated in the way they commit crimes. They are triggered to kill someone by their intimate relationship, finances or employment problems. These offenders are normal person, who is skilled in employment and they have average to a high level of intelligence and they are also being socially proficient. They always restrain victims and reflect a level of control in the situation. Usually organized offenders communicate or use a verbal approach with their potential victims before the violence. The victims are chosen by the offenders based on certain characteristics such as age, physical appearance, gender, hairstyle or even based on their hair color.
- Disorganized killers:These offenders are completely different from organized offenders. Disorganized offender’s crime scene and their characteristics suggest chaos and little premeditation before the offence. It may include evidence such as semen, blood, fingerprints or murder weapon. The offenders are incompetent to carry out or maintain social relationship or interaction and the disarrayed crime scene reflects this. This lack of intimate relationship may increase the chances of potential sexual or sadistic acts as a part of the murder.
- Mixed killers:These killers are the one who cannot be easily identified as organized or disorganized. Those who are falling under this category are said to have both organized and disorganized characteristics. Mixed killing may involve more than one offender. They always have some sort of planning and there are unforeseen events. The unforeseen events may include a victim resisting or offender escalating into a different pattern of violence. The offender leaves the victim’s body poorly covered. These offenders may be young and/or involved in drugs or alcohol.
Unlike normal people, serial killers are relatively charming. They appear to be one among us but they aren’t. Not only they have a motive to kill someone but they are manipulative and aggressive too. But what are the reasons behind it? How does a man transform into a serial killer? Now let’s see the causes of serial killers.
- A study has found that every serial killer has common emotional development issues and an above average intelligence.
- Pregnancy: Doctors say that a child in a womb could hear everything that the mother hears and experience few emotions that the other’s experience. If a woman is so stressed, depressed or any other emotion then the child also experiences the same. It may reflect in not only the child’s growth in the womb but also it affects its mental growth which may lead to many mental disorders.
- Infancy: It is the period of every human being to be given more attention and love. The first twelve months in our life is the period in which our basic emotions develop. The child should experience more affection and physical touch or else the child may experience many disorders in future. When we compare these theories to our real life, we could observe that most of the serial killers are adopted or abandoned children.
- Childhood: Most of the serial killers have experienced bullying and loneliness in their childhood. It is said that commonly they had dyslexia which makes them less concentrative in their studies. They have also experienced abnormal weight, height, etc. due to which they bullied and ignored by their peers. There are also serial killers who had experienced sexual abuse, harassment which leads them to any mental disorders.
- Parenting: The parents of the serial killers also ignored, bullied, shouted, etc. Their parents tend to be an alcoholic who drinks and forces their children to involve in the same activity. Some parents are workaholic who doesn’t check on their child properly and fails to give attention even if they try to contact. In the worst situation, few parents have harassed their children physically, mentally and sexually too.
- Chromosomes: Recent studies had proved that one’s chromosome abnormality can trigger them to become a serial killer. For example, if any person is born with one extra X chromosome or Y chromosome it may lead to abnormality.
- Fantasy: We people have our own fantasies but we know our reality but serial killers tend to live in their own fantasy every second. Their emotions are designed by their fancies. They are controlled by their imagination. They just follow their imagination and do whatever the fantasy orders them to do.
- Sadist: Few people are addicted to hearing the pain, sorrow, screaming, etc. Their emotions are mixed up. They would love to see blood. There are serial killers who have the habit of having sexual intercourse with a dead body of the person whom they killed. This is the extreme level of sadism.
- Mission: These serial killers are not psychotic. They would have missions which are mostly immoral and illegal. Their guilt and own pressure to complete the desired task leads them to do aggressive things.
- Lust: Sexual gratification is the main aim of these killers. Serial killers who kill for lust would like to have total control and dominance over their victims. So, to ensure that they have control over their victim they kill them.
Some serial killers are psychotic and some are not. Mostly their attitudes and motive depend on their parenting and childhood.
Laws In India
The concept of serial killers doesn’t have its mark in the Indian Code. The only sections to deal with it are Section 299 and Section 300.
Section 299 of The Indian Penal Code says:
Whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death, or with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offence of culpable homicide.
And Section 300 of The Indian Penal Code explains that:
“Except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or
(Secondly) -If it is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause the death of the person to whom the harm is caused, or
(Thirdly) -If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, or
(Fourthly) -If the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, and commits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.”
Culpable homicide and murder have only a thin line of difference. Generally, if a person kills someone, they will the have motive and intention to kill them. Motive leads to intention. A motive is a malicious mind which is the ultimate object. Intention refers to the immediate act caused. In the case of these serial killers, they will have the intention to kill those persons but there is no motive. It is said that mens rea is partially absent in their cases. Some have argued with this partial mens rea and Section 84 of The Indian Penal Code.
According to Section 84 of The Indian Penal Code:
“ Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who, at the time of doing it, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.”
But the same rule was absent in the Criminal Procedure Code and Mental Health Act of 1987. The Bombay High Court in the case of State of Maharashtra vs Sindhi Alias Raman, S/O Dalwai quoted that the medical insanity that the criminals have might not be the same insanity said in Section 84 of The Indian Penal Code. Though the insanity is same as quoted, these criminals are able to identify the consequences of the committed act. Though they do not have a guilty mind they knew that they were committing a wrong or illegal act. Automatically Section 84 of the Code doesn’t apply here.
There were many cases in India regarding serial killers. In the famous Auto Shankar case, Shankar and his associates were found guilty of six murders committed over a period of two years between 1988 and 1989. The victims’ remains were either charred or found within 12 homes.
In Joshi- Abhyankar case, four commercial art students have committed ten murders within January 1976 and March 1977. At times they have also robbed and drank alcohol. These are only two examples. In all the serial killer cases the killers are hanged or given life imprisonment. But in all these cases there was no question regarding psychopathy was raised.
To summarize the discussion above mentioned many factors plays an important role in the development of these serial killers. There has not been one sole factor or no one major factor for the development of characteristics of the serial killer, it is a combination of several factors and incapability to cope up with a healthy life. Even though the factors may be overlapping or independent but they do not guarantee each other existences and do not guarantee that the person with these characters will become a serial killer. One of the notable disturbing aspects of the serial killer is that virtually everyone is at risk.
Even a person who is cautious is not safe from the serial killer. There are various motivation theories are relevant to the exploration of a serial killer, but readers are not to place excessive explanatory on one theory. A continuous investigation would benefit from an interdisciplinary approach which allows for consideration of genetic, psychological and social influence upon the serial killer.