Friday, June 5, 2009

What Motivates a Serial Killer?

Why did Destiny Blande kill all those men?  I know I know.  The jury said she didn’t do it.  As though any of us believes that.  In order to look at the motivations of the Satin Strangler, we have to start with some traditional but perhaps controversial types of serial killers.  Grab a snack, sit down with your computer, and look for some of your favorites in the information that follows.

Visionaries: Psychotic killers that hear voices often fit this mold.  David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam, said that a demon speaking through his neighbor’s dog told him to kill.  Unfortunately David listened.

Missionaries: These killers are on a mission to change society in some way.  The Unabomber Ted Kaczynski is a good example.  In his Industrial Society and Its Future, later dubbed the Unabomber Manifesto, he declared that his bombs were to attract attention to the erosion of human freedoms caused by modern technology.

Lust Killers. They are motivated by sexual drive.  Kenneth Bianchi, aka the Hillside Strangler, and Jeffrey Dahmer, had some issues with this one, to say the least.

Power Seekers: They play power games with their victims, providing a feeling of control.  Ted Bundy, who confessed to more than 30 murders but is thought to have committed dozens more, might come to mind here.

Hedonistic/Thrill Killers. They just love what they do.  How many of you can say you love your job that much?  San Francisco’s Zodiac Killer and a long list of Hollywood characters found ways to make sport of it all.

Destiny Blande doesn’t fit any of these molds.

Dr. Steven Egger, Associate Professor of Criminology at the University of Houston at Clear Lake in Texas, and Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois at Springfield, defines serial murder as having the following 6 traits

Minimum of two murders
The killer and victim are unrelated
Murders occur at different times
Murders occur at different locations
Victims may share characteristics with the killer
Murders are for fantasy gratification rather than financial gain

In Serial Murderers and Their Victims (2nd edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1997), author Eric Hickey described the differences between male and female serial killers.  Female serial killers are more likely to kill husbands, relatives, or people in hospitals or nursing homes where they work; murder in one specific place; and poison the victims.  Most importantly, they have money as a motive, which means most female “serial killers” do not actually meet Dr. Egger’s criteria listed above.  Dorothea Puente, who had a terrible habit of killing her tenants for their social security checks, is a classic example of Hickey’s female serial killer but wouldn’t make Eggar’s cut.

If anything, Destiny Blande appears to be part Lust Seeker, part Power Seeker, and part Thrill Seeker.  Hey don’t knock the girl for having more than one source of inspiration.  She also behaves more like a male serial killer by taking strangers as victims and being geographically mobile.

Maybe these oddities are what make the Satin Strangler so frightening.  Maybe they’re why we’re so infatuated with her.  In any case, we just can’t get enough of her because we’re simply Crazy 4 Crazies.


This is post #48 in The Satin Strangler Blogs (TSSB).

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