Serial Killer or Mass Murderer: Jack the Ripper

In earlier times authorities never knew how to differentiate types of murders that were happening. 'Over the centuries, there have been hundreds of documented cases of serial murder around the world, but the term 'serial killer' is relatively new. Up until the 1970s, serial killers were generally called mass murderers by both the criminal justice system and the media.' An FBI profiler came to realize that the profiles for these individuals were quite different and they should not be categorized together.

The term ‘serial killings' means a series of three or more killings, not less than one of which was committed within the United States, having common characteristics such as to suggest the reasonable possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors.'

It was particularly hard to come up with this definition when the media was painting a different picture of these murderers. It wasn't until the 1980s until the public started to become fascinated with serial killers. It was Jack the Ripper that really caught everyone's fascinations. Jack the Ripper used letters to involve the police and give the public something to talk about. He taunted people which made people crazy. No one knew who he was or how to stop him. The media used this to their advantage and used these murders to get more eyes on them. This allowed the media to paint their own pictures of the murderers and give them their own definition. This made it hard for law enforcement because more and more people came forward with people they suspected to be the murderer according to what the news has painted this person out to be.

Now that they came up with a guideline for what serial killers are they could now differentiate serial killers and mass murderers. A mass murderer does not necessarily have to be one person. It could be a group of people working together to commit murder. Mass murders are usually only done at one location killing a group of people. Many mass murderers end up killing themselves or committing suicide by cop. After research psychologists have come to find that mass murders are less likely to have mental disorders than serial killers. They also usually have different motives than serial killers. Mass murderers are usually motivated by anger. This is why they commit murder in one place killing multiple people rather than planning out killings over a period of time. They are so filled with anger that they do not really think about what they are doing. Most of them do not plan to go commit these crimes but rather do it at the spur of the moment.

Serial murderers and mass murderers are very different and both come with different motives and phycological states of mind. Authorities use these definitions and profiles of murderers to help them profile suspects to solve a case. The research on serial killers and mass murderers has come a long way and will continue to grow with each tragedy this world faces.     

07 July 2022
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