ABSTRACT

Serial murder is deeply embedded in American culture, and serial murderers have become perverse icons in the United States, as legendary as other monsters known throughout history in cultural myths. Public fascination with serial murder is evidenced by widespread media coverage of serial murder cases; the popularity of the true crime genre and serial murder storylines in mainstream media; the existence of Web sites and fan clubs devoted to serial murder as well as particular killers; sales of T-shirts, trading cards, comic books, calendars, and action figures; and the assortment of serial murder artifacts that are housed in museums or exchanged by collectors. žis chapter establishes the cultural context of serial murder by examining the public fascination with the phenomenon, as well as representations of serial murder in American popular culture, and then explaining how culture “works” to influence thoughts and behaviors.