ABSTRACT

Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, “BTK,” the “Night Stalker,” and the “Green River Killer.” že names are familiar, the men infamous. Serial murderers have become perverse icons in the United States. žeir activities, minds, and backgrounds have been extensively studied by law enforcement personnel, mental health experts, academic researchers, and the general public. Americans devour media accounts, true crime books, and television specials featuring numerous cases of serial murder to gain insight into the characteristics and behaviors of murderers. Many eagerly await the next episodes of Dexter, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation to indulge in a fascination with these killers, test amateur profiling skills, and-it is hoped-learn ways to reduce chances of victimization. Yet, after decades of studies, serial murder researchers have been unable to answer every American’s most important question: Why?