The common people are generally fascinated by the name of serial killers and
want to know more about them and their activities including what prompted them
to become a serial killer and their modus operandi. There are many factors
behind the development of a particular psychology which influences a normal
child to grow into a serial killer. Their poor childhood environment, devoid of
love early life, abuse and mistreatment during growing days, love for playing
with fire and destroying whatever they put their hands on, killing pets, bed
wetting, mental illness, chemical and biological disorder etc., although not
confirmed, all contribute towards the making of serial killers. The
utterances/last words of serial killers and names of some Indian serial killers
have also been incorporated in this article.
In the realm of crime, there exists a classification known as a serial killer.
These individuals engage in acts of murder, typically exceeding three, driven by
a craving for psychological fulfillment. In short, the murders occur
sporadically and vary in time with intermittent intervals. Experts argue that
murderers often possess negative psychological emotions, including sexual
desire. However, it should be noted that not all murderers exhibit these
inclinations. Rarely considered insane, most serial killers suffer from mental
disorders that drive them to commit crimes. One common psychological
characteristic they possess is extreme behavior.
These individuals, lacking sympathy with a disregard for societal rules and
traditions, harbor a desire for retribution, ultimately inciting fear and
violence amongst others.
Some individuals who commit killings may display signs of psychosis. They may
suffer from bipolar disorder or personality disorder. However, it's important to
note that only a small fraction of murderers can be considered ill to be deemed
What most murderers have in common is a lack of empathy, disregard for the
rights of others and antisocial tendencies such as a lack of remorse. Many of
them exhibit traits associated with psychopathy or antisocial behavior.
The planning of murders can be connected to personality disorders and studies
have indicated that these traits can manifest early as childhood. Research has
also established a link between neglect/abuse and long-term effects on the
endocrine systems. A growing body of evidence suggests that individuals who have
experienced trauma in their past are at a risk for engaging in violent behavior
compared to those, without such experiences.
Last Words/Utterances of Serial Killers
In order to delve deep into the psyche of some serial killers, let us first have
a glimpse of their utterances made on different occasions. The statements are as
- The sixth commandment � "Thou Shalt Not Kill" � fascinated me. I always knew that someday I should defy it � Reginald Halliday Christie, serial killer.
- I didnt want to hurt them; I only wanted to kill them. � David Berkowitz, the
"Son of Sam killer.
- It wasnt as scary as it sounds. I had a lot of fun � killing somebodys a funny experience - Alberto De Salvo, serial killer.
- I just wanted to see how it felt to shoot Grandma � Ed Kemper, a psychopath.
- "Killing became the same thing as having sex � Henry Lee Lucas.
- You dont understand me. You are not expected to. You are not capable of it. I am beyond your experience. I am beyond God and evil�. I dont believe in the hypocritical, moralistic dogma of this so-called civilized society - Richard Ramirez, an American serial killer and sex offender, named the
"Night Stalker" by the media claimed at his trial.
- I dont care if I live or die. Go ahead and kill me � Last words of Jeffrey Dahmer, who raped and killed 17 men and boys in the 1980s, was beaten to death by a fellow inmate on 28 November, 1994.
- Hurrah for anarchy! This is the happiest moment of my life � last words of George Engel, hanged on 11 November, 1887, he was one of the four responsible for the 1886 Haymarket bombing in Chicago.
- Hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could hang a dozen men while youre screwing around � last words of Carl Panzram, hanged on 5 September, 1930, infamous serial killer, arsonist, and rapist.
- I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul � last words of Timothy McVeigh, executed by lethal injection on 11 June, 2001, found guilty of Oklahoma City bombing killing 168 people in 1995.
- Turn up the radio and Ill go quietly � last words of Peter Manuel, who murdered and raped at least 7 people, hanged on 11 July, 1958.
- Kiss my ass � last words of John Wayne Gacy, who was executed by lethal injection on 10 May, 1994, raped and murdered 33 men in a 6-year-span.
- You sons of bitches. Give my love to Mother � last words of Francis "Two Gun" Crowley, murderer and criminal, executed in the electric chair in 1931.
- Id like to thank my family and friends and [attorney Edward] Pankowski for supporting me and all others who treated me with kindness. The rest of you can kiss my ass � last words of James Allen Red Dog, who was convicted of stabbing five men to death in the early 1990s and was executed by lethal injection in Delaware in 1993.
- Dont forget to show my head to the people, its well worth seeing � last words of Georges Danton, a modest and unknown lawyer, responsible for inciting the September massacres of prisoners in Paris that occurred in 1792, from Sunday, 2 September until Thursday, 6 September, during the French Revolution.
- Take your time. Dont bungle it � last words of H.H. Holmes, proven killer of no less than 22 peoples between 1891 and 1894. He was caught and finally executed on 7 May, 1896.
- I have murdered in vain. Nobody should become like me � last words of Kampatimar Shankariya, just before he was hung on May 16, 1979. His murder spree spanned from 1973-1974. Finally in 1974, he was caught and sentenced to death. With around 66+ confirmed victims, he was a scary figure, born in Rajasthan in 1952.
Characteristics of Serial Killers
They lack empathy for others and don't feel guilty for their actions. They can
be attractive and draw victims into their own web of destruction. They normally
suffer from childhood abuse or trauma. They apparently don't feel any remorse in
taking someone's life. Some people say they suffer from dissociative identity
disorder (DID), in which a person has two or more selves in their head (a good
self and a bad self), apparently unaware of one another.
They do not have or may
ignore the emotional inclinations to compare the pain and suffering of others
with their own and empathize with that pain. They seem to have little or no
ability to empathize with other people's pain and suffering. They normally have
a strong will, inspiring a desire to hurt and kill other people.
ignore the influence of society, which is important in the development of this
mental condition. They are insecure people who feel compelled to kill for fear
of rejection. Some of them feel elated that the police could not catch them
despite their numerous crimes. Mitchell H et al. found in their study that 36%
of homicide victims had been subjected to physical abuse, 26% to sexual abuse,
and 50% to psychological abuse (Mitchell H. et al. 2005).
In his book To Kill
Again, Donald J. Sears states that they often grow up in neglect, abuse, and
violence without their basic needs being met. Many researchers believe that
biological plausibility can explain the violent behavior of murderers. Mental,
genetic and chemical disorders have been linked to murder, Sears and Hickey
revealed the relationship in their book. Hirschi also developed the theory that
people commit crimes through social interaction.
There is reduced connectivity
between the amygdala (the area of the brain that responds to negative stimuli
and produces fear responses) and the prefrontal cortex, which explains the
amygdala response in such murderers. When the connectivity between these two
areas is low, negative activity from the amygdala does not translate into
negative emotion. This may explain why psychopathic offenders feel no guilt for
their actions and no remorse for their victims.
They believe that they can
eliminate the possibility of their again being humiliated, abandoned or hurt
like they were in their childhood by finishing off a loved one. They can be very
manipulative. One of the main factors that make it difficult to find murderers
is that they often go about their daily lives and hide behind their bad
lifestyles, making it difficult to investigate. Dr. Stanton Samenow, author of
Inside Criminal Minds, 1984 said that "Criminals do not think like responsible
Female Serial Killers
Approximately 15 percent of serial killers are female, and their motivations are
often different from their male counterparts. Female serial killers are less
sexually active and may be more motivated to kill for money. Women in particular
prefer unconventional methods, often using poison and other hidden methods to
kill. Sometimes the killers are joined by men as partners in crime.
Even in India there are cases of women serial killers. Notables include
Troilokya Tarini Devi, KD Kempamma, Renuka Shinde, Seema Gavit, Anjanabai Gavit,
Neha Verma, Simrin Sood, Jolly Joseph, Phoolan Devi, Shabnam Ali and Lala Wanh
to name a few of the female killers in India.
Indicators of Early Serial Killer Tendencies
People who later become serial killers often show early signs of violent
behavior. They have trouble controlling their energy and anger. Some people may
see traits of the "McDonald's Triad" described in 1963, which includes animal
cruelty, fire setting, and bedwetting. However, it should be noted that not all
killers have the history of undergone this trio. They have difficulty
controlling their emotions.
They do not respect the dignity and well-being of
others. Patterns of irresponsibility, lying, aggressiveness and failure to
conform to social norms are other signs that people suffering from antisocial
They tend to resort to violence over petty matters. They seek
stimulation through drugs or other behaviors. They have problems with their
social and family circles and prefer solitude. Many serial killers may suffer
from personal or other mental health problems. They can enjoy the suffering of
their victims. They experience neglect, abuse and lack of love during their
childhood particularly from their parents. They display cunny behavior and
intelligence to achieve their goals. They display personality disorder
characterized by innocence or sadness, negative behavior, disobedience, and an
inability to take responsibility.
They enjoy cruelty to animals and setting fire
to different things. Cats, dogs and other animals are provoked, tortured and
even killed by them and they don't have any remorse or regret at their actions.
The development of voyeuristic tendencies in childhood also shows the basis of
psychological traits. By surreptitiously observing others, they feel in control
of others. Mass murderers like Ted Bundy exhibited this behavior from an early
What Makes a Serial Killer?
The development of homicidal individuals is influenced by a combination of
biological and social factors (Raine, 2008). The interaction between genetics
and environment often leads to the emergence of bad behavior (Fox, 2017).
Harassment, trauma and violence from parents at a young age can cause a person
to have a negative personality (Raine, 2008). Studies show that there is a link
between child abuse and criminal behavior (Haggerty & Ellerbrok, 2011).
it is important to remember that not every child who is abused is a murderer and
not every murderer is abused as a child. Dr Berit Broggard (2018) has shown that
many of the most dangerous killers have a genetic predisposition to this
behavior. FBI profiler Jim Clemente describes the interplay of genetics,
personality, and experience that shape killers (FBI, 2021).
Various studies over
the years have shown a link between child abuse, trauma, family problems, and
homicide (Herrero, Delgado, & Garcia-Mateos, 2017). Studies have investigated
the link between murderers and psychopaths because many of their behaviors are
similar to those of psychopaths (McGreal S., 2018). These traits include lack of
remorse and emotion, impulsivity, behavior, and self-awareness (Martens WHJ,
2014). It has been found that there is a relationship between mental health and
crime (Fox B. et al., 2017).
If negative histories and early abuse exist among murderers, it should be
recognized that these conditions are not the only factors that cause different
patterns of mental or behavioral disorders. In today's society, the pressure to
succeed can be overwhelming even for well-educated people. For people who
already have mental or emotional problems, this stress can have an impact on
Some frustrated people take out their frustrations and
disappointments on celebrities they admire. Beatles fan Chapman tragically
killed John Lennon in 1980 to forever associate his name with the famous
musician. In conclusion, the development of a serial killer involves a complex
interplay of biological and social factors, including genetic predisposition,
childhood upbringing, and psychological well-being.
Analysis of the Serial Killer Edmund Kemper
Edmund Kemper was a notorious serial killer who had a difficult childhood, with
his mother often locking him in the basement and abusing him emotionally and
physically. She feared that he would molest his two sisters. When he went to his
father at the age of 14 for better treatment, he also rejected him. Later he
started living with his grandparents who too abused and neglected him.
age of 15, he killed his grandmother and then his grandfather because he was
afraid of his reaction. He also killed his mother. Between May 1972 and February
1973, he killed six female hitchhikers and brutalized them after they were
killed. He would then cut off the victim's head and had posthumous sex with the
severed body (Bonn S., 2014). Necrophilia, cannibalism and dismemberment of dead
bodies were his characteristics.
Shooting and hitting with a hammer were his
mode of operation. He lived in California, USA. In November, 1973, he was
awarded life imprisonment. Kemper tried twice to commit suicide while awaiting
trial by slashing his wrists, he failed both times. Three prosecution
psychiatrists found him to be sane during trial which began on 23 October, 1973.
He slaughtered his own pet cat with a machete and stuffed the remains in his
closet, which his mother found, when he was thirteen.
According to his account
in several interviews, his mother's constant needling and humiliation disturbed
him a lot and precipitated his anger. His intelligence quotient was 136, which
is very high, and from young age he displayed sociopathic behavior. His mother
Clarnell apparently suffered from borderline personality disorder which
culminated in her rages and abuse against her son.
Kemper tortured and killed
animals and indulged in bizarre sexual rituals with his sisters' doll and once
said that in order to kiss his teacher he had crush on he would have to kill
her. By shooting both his grandparents while staying with them in California,
Kemper started his criminal life as a teenager, a crime for which he was
incarcerated. He later killed and dismembered six female hitchhikers in the same
city. However, after murdering his mother and one of her friends he turned
himself in to the authorities.
Indian Serial KillersThe names of some infamous Indian serial killers are given below:
- Amarjeet Sada (2006-2007) started killing at the age of 8. He killed 3 children and after killing the third child he was arrested and taken to the juvenile home. He was released from a juvenile correctional facility in 2016.
- Mohan Kumar (2002-2009), also known as Cyanide Mohan, was at first a primary school teacher. He used to propose marriage to women who could not find a suitable husband due to dowry and killed them for stealing jewelry. He killed nearly 20 women and was sentenced to death in 2013.
- KD Kempamma (1999-2007) aka Cyanide Mallika killed 6 women in 8 years. She would befriend female temple devotees and give them cyanide with holy water and then confiscated the victims' jewelry. She was the first woman serial killer to be sentenced to death in Karnataka.
- Renuka Shinde & Seema Gavit (1990-1996), sisters, kidnapped 13 children and killed 5 of them. The purpose of kidnapping the children was to use them to steal other people's belongings in crowded places. They would later kill the kidnapped children. Both were convicted by the court and are now serving a life sentence in Yerwada Jail in Pune.
- M. Jaishakar (2008-2011), was involved in 30 rape, murder, and robbery cases. He used to kidnap, rape, and kill women. He was also involved in other murders. After a failed escape from the prison in Bangalore Central Prison, he killed himself by slitting his own throat with a shaving blade. He was suffering from mental illness.
- Darbara Singh (April-October 2004) kidnapped, tortured, raped, and killed 17 children after kidnapping 23 of them. He was arrested in October 2004 and died in prison in 2018 while serving a life sentence.
- Thug Behram (1790-1840) was suspected of killing 931 people by strangulation with a ceremonial handkerchief, but was accused of killing only 125. He was hanged for his crime in 1840.
- Devendra Sharma (2002-2004), ayurvedic doctor turned murderer, killed several taxi drivers in 2 years for stealing their cars. He also admitted that he was involved in at least 50-100 murders and that he dumped the bodies in the Hazara canal for crocodiles to eat. He was sentenced to the death penalty in 2008.
- Raman Raghav (1965-1968), also known as "Psycho Raman", confessed to killing 40 people in the 1960s, most of them living in the slums of Mumbai. He was not given the death sentence due to mental illness and was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment. He died in prison custody of kidney failure in 1995.
- In the Nithari murders (2005-2006), wealthy businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his accomplice Surinder Koli allegedly raped and murdered more than 19 children. All the victims were strangulated to death, as revealed by Surinder Koli, who told that Pandher was not aware of his crime, adding that he would rape the victims before taking them to his personal washroom for dismembering. Most of the victims were young girls. Both were sentenced to death.
Serial killers create a sense of fear and thrill in the minds and spurs people
to read and know more about them. What actually goes into the minds of a serial
killer, though still not confirmed, researchers, psychologists and neurologists
etc., have found out a pattern in their psychology, development and activities.
New insights into the psychological and neurological aspects of the behavior of
serial killers hold promise in identifying future killers and preventing them
from committing grave sins.
Proponents of treating the serial killers are well
advised to pay heed to the opinion of a psychiatrist who said that there is no
effect of counselling and educating a serial killer as this will only lead to
the creation of an educated serial killer.
- What can neuroscience tell us about the mind of a serial killer? By John
Parrington, April 19th 2021, https://blog.oup.com/2021/04/what-can-neuroscience-tell-us-about-the-mind-of-a-serial-killer/
- The Minds of Serial Killers, Posted by Aamuktha Yalamanchili, December 23, 2022
- Inside the mind of serial killers � are they born to kill?, Posted by imperialbiosciencereview, July 9, 2021, Luciano Marinelli,
- Serial Killers, Reviewed by Psychology Today Staff, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/serial-killers
- Top 10 psycho killers of India, Shashank, https://gobookmart.com/top-10-psycho-killers-of-india/Top
10 Psycho Killers of India
- Early Signs of Serial Killers, Crime Museum,
- In the minds of murderers, By Paul Roland, Arcturus Publishing Limited, London,
- 10 Notorious Serial Killers in India Who Had Created a Reign of Terror. By Sanskruti Pujari, April 1, 2021
- 10 Most Dangerous Indian Serial Killers Whose Tales Send Shivers Down The Spine,
- Are Serial Killers Born or Made? Burcak Unal, June 11, 2021
- What psychology tells us about the minds of cold-blooded killers, 08 June, 2023, Mumbai, Ainie Rizvi, Mid-Day, https://theiacs.org/are-serial-killers-born-or.
- Biology, childhood trauma, and murder: Rethinking justice, International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, May-June-2006, Kathleen M. Heide, Eldra P. Solomon
- 35 Serial Killers and Their Horrifyingly Creepy Last Words, https://thoughtcatalog.com/katie-mather/2015/08/35-serial-killers-and-their-horrifyingly-creepy-last-words/
- 40 Serial Killers' Creepy Last Words (2023 Update), By Cam Russo,
- India's Most Dangerous Serial Killer: Kampatimar Shankariya, 15 December, 2019,
- Tales Of 10 Female Serial Killers In India That Will Horrify You, By Ronjinee Chattopadhyay On Feb 17, 2022,
- Murderpedia, Juan Ignacio Blanco, https://murderpedia.org/male.K/k/kemper-edmund.htm