This research paper will discuss and unveil the mindset of serial killers with
the help of relevant case studies. This paper will comprehensively study the
history and stages of serial killers with
special reference to India. It will further discuss the factors responsible for
the formation of serial killers regarding childhood abuse, family background and
upbringing, socioeconomics, and other factors. This research paper will define
the motivation of serial killers such as fantasy and rituals, gratification and
control, and psychopathic tendencies.
It will also provide the behavioural
patterns of serial killers such as victim selection, cooling period and
signature behaviour. This research paper will discuss the case studies of the
most infamous serial killers all around the
world such as Ted Bundy, Cyanide Mohan, Auto Shankar and many more. Further,
this research paper will discuss the early signs of a serial killer. It will
also discuss the implications for prevention and interventions. This research
will compare and study the laws related to serial killers in India and the rest
of the world. This study will further analyse and compare all the
aspects discussed above with the Indian scenario and the foreign scenario, it
will provide a better understanding of what and how the mindset of a serial
killer works and it will elaborate on many of the cases that happened around the
world in different scenarios and upbringing. This research paper will provide
and explain a variety of factors that mould the mind of a serial killer.
A serial killer is a term awarded to someone who kills three or more people. The
number of murders varies from country to country, and authority to authority
such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation considers two or more murders as a
criterion. It is widely argued that the series of murders must take place
over a month and there must be a significant gap between the murders.
motive behind the serial killing is the psychological gratification of that
person. Gratification is a sense of happiness after achieving a desired goal.
Many factors are responsible for the transformation of a normal person into a
serial killer such as their family background, financial condition,
psychological, sociological, etc.
The main objective of this research paper is to analyze the need for a specific
law dealing with
serial killers. Serial killers are different from normal murderers as they
follow distinctive patterns and their signatures differ from case to case. There
is no separate law dealing with serial killers in Indian law. A serial killer is
different from a mass murderer in many ways, the easiest way to differentiate
between them is based on the cooldown period.
The serial killer often follows
ritualistic behaviour in their crime. On the other hand, mass murderers
typically kill multiple people in a single incident and a short period. The main
aim of these persons is to cause
widespread fear whereas serial killers perform the act to satisfy themselves.
This research paper will compare the laws regarding serial killers in different
countries and governments' stand in classifying serial killers from murderers in
other countries. Another main point that this research will discuss is the
motivation that leads these killers in a cyclical mechanism.
The victims of such
killers have something in common, such as Gender, age, race, qualification, etc.
Serial killers have been exploiting the fact that no specific law deals with
such crimes. They also take advantage of the loopholes in the Indian executory
and judicial system.
There are several objectives behind this research paper:
To analyze the motivations behind serial killings:
This research paper will analyze the intention that works as a driving force or reason that leads individuals to serial killings. Understanding the motive of serial killings will help to get insights into the mindset of serial killers.
To analyze the common behavior patterns shown by serial killers:
This research paper will also study the patterns and try to highlight the similarities in the behavioral patterns of various serial killers. By identifying these patterns, the paper will be able to develop the profiles and detection strategies.
To study the factors contributing to the development of serial killers:
This research paper will study the socioeconomic and childhood factors that can lead to the formation of a serial killer. It will also analyze the role of society and social inequality as contributing factors that shape a serial killer.
Serial killers are those individuals who commit a series of murders for some
time. The main motive behind those killings is self-satisfaction. There is no
specific definition for these individuals. Still, it is widely believed that a
person with 2 or more murders within a specific period of cooling down is
considered a serial killer. Serial killers commit a series of murders
with similar characteristics. Certain characteristics differentiate them from
other criminals such as motivation, modus operandi, lack of emotional
connections, etc. India is a diverse country
with a vast population and is not immune to serial killers. Serial killers have
terrorised the world for a very long period. The presence of serial killers can
be traced down to ancient times.
India has witnessed various famous cases of serial killers such as Psycho Raman,
Nithari brothers, etc that shocked the whole nation and showed the loopholes and
defects in the Indian legal system about serial killers. Serial killers exploit
these loopholes to delay or escape the
Therefore, it is essential to analyze the cases and suggest a
separate law that can deal with cases of serial killers. The new specific law
can help the system in dealing with serial killers effectively and efficiently.
Currently, the legal system relies on the provisions related to murder under the
Code, of 1860 which does not capture the adequate distinct motivation and nature
of the murders. This case study will study the prominent cases of serial killers
and identify the problems and issues law enforcement agencies face. This study
will further compare international laws and provide recommendations for forming
specific laws that can tackle the issues in the current
Serial killers have a very vast history which can be traced back to the year
114BC. Liu Pengli, the nephew of Han Emperor Jing was believed to be the first
serial killer in the world. He killed around 100 people before getting caught.
But the first modern serial killer is the unidentified killer "Jack the Ripper�.
He killed at least 5 women and is suspected of more in London in the year 1888.
The history of serial killers in India can be classified into 3 stages.
Stage 1: Before Independence
The era before 1947 had experienced some cases of serial killings but we have
minimal information due to improper system of records and lack of modern
forensics. However, certain cases of thugs such as Thug Behram had been
documented properly as he had a world record of strangling at least 931 victims.
Stage 2: After Independence (1947-2000)
This period is considered the golden age for serial killers. There has been a
significant increase in the number of serial killers since independence. Some of
the most famous cases such as the case of Raman Raghav, Cyanide Mohan, etc, take
place during this stage.
The advancement in media and communication also played
an important role in spreading awareness and reporting such cases of serial
killers which could not be done before independence. The era has also seen some
of the most infamous lady serial killers in India such as Seema Mohan and Renuka
Kiran Shinde, these two sisters were convicted of kidnapping thirteen children
and murdering five of them.
Stage 3: Present day (2000-2023)
The number of serial killers in India has decreased due to advancements in
forensics, media and other technologies. Some cases shocked the whole nation
such as Cyanide Mallika and Nithari Kand. The Nithari case plays an important
role in describing the need for a specific law that deals with serial killers.
The main accused in the case, i.e., Surinder Koli has been awarded 13
life sentences by the CBI special court. Improved forensic techniques, advanced
communication, and international cooperation have helped in more effective
investigations. On the other hand,
challenges like a vast population and limited resources still left a gap in the
existence of serial killers.
Formation of serial killers
A serial killer is a result of multiple factors related to his childhood,
society, environment, and personality. The motivation behind their action
reflects the complex nature of their criminal behaviour.
Let us discuss some of
the most significant factors that lead to the formation of serial killers:
- Childhood abuse:
Child abuse and neglect are considered one of the major reasons behind the
serial killers. Many studies have shown that many serial killers have
experienced some sort of
abuse and neglect in their early childhood. These experiences have a
long-lasting impact on their psychology and emotional development.
many forms of abuse that a child can face in his childhood such as physical,
sexual, emotional, etc. Some other independent events had harmed the childhood
of serial killers such as witnessing domestic violence and traumatic loss. A
traumatic loss can be defined as a loss of loved ones or traumatic events that
bring a feeling of grief or emotional loss. However, childhood abuse and neglect
cannot be considered the sole factor for the formation of serial killers.
- Family background and upbringing:
Family background and upbringing play a crucial role in shaping the personality
of an individual. For the development of serial killers' family background plays
a significant role. Dysfunction in
the family affects the environment in the house which affects the mental state
of an individual.
Many other factors affect the upbringing of the child such as childhood trauma
exposure to violence. The lack of empathy and bonding also hinders the feelings
and behaviour of an individual in society. The influence of genetics on the
criminal behaviour of an individual is the subject of debate but some studies
suggest that genetics can contribute to violent tendencies.
- Socioeconomic factors:
Socioeconomic factors within a society can play an important role in the
formation of serial killers. An individual can transform into a serial killer
for many reasons such as facing economic social isolation or discrimination may
lead them into the world of crime. Social inequality can promote crime as it
creates an environment where violence can become a way of asserting social
respect and control.
The lack of education and opportunities can also be
considered a breeding ground for a criminal. A person having a lack of options
for economic and social advancement may motivate him to opt for negative ways of
development. A person who feels socially marginalized can develop anger toward
society or some specific group.
- Other factors:
Various other factors can contribute to the formation of serial killers such as
the behaviour of friends and society, biological factors, cultural factors etc.
The chances of engaging in crimes based on the sole grounds mentioned above are
very low as these grounds work collectively.
Ted Bundy, was born on November 24th, 1946 in the town of Burlington, Vermont,
he was born to a woman named Eleanor Cowell when she was the age of 22 years
old, and His father was never known. In an interview with him, He said that he
hated his mother because she never told him the truth. He also told them that
the situation in the house made him extremely alarmed and alert to everything
and that made him anxious.
In college, Ted loved a girl who was a high-class lady by all manners and later
on, broke up with him saying he was not ambitious enough.
It can be seen that all the victims of Ted Bundy were young women that were in
the college years of their lives, He had a multitude of ways to rope them in
such as impersonating authority figures and leading them into his car where he
would just strike their head and kidnap them, then he had his way with them and
It can be noted that all the victims had an awestruck similarity to the women he
loved in his college.
His first victim was Georgann Hawkins who was an 18-year student who was killed
on June 11, 1974
Renuka Shinde and Seema Gavit, often known as the killer sisters, were famous
serial killers who terrorised the streets of Maharashtra with their horror.
The killer sisters' primary targets were unsuspecting minors who were either
unsuspecting or too unlucky to flee and fell into their trap. They targeted the
infants in densely populated areas such as temples or fairgrounds on occasion;
these grounds were favourites of the victims because they were thickly populated
and no one realised what had happened for a given period.
They kidnapped the children to force them to commit minor crimes such as
shoplifting, chain snatching, and pocket cutting; they utilised children as a
cover when committing these crimes.
They chose to steal large goods or more than a predetermined amount because no
accuse a mother and a youngster of thievery. Typically, children were used in
this manner, and if they complied, they would receive only a mild scolding and
ranting, but nothing too severe.
Those who refused to cooperate would face dire consequences, such as a
2-year-old being hung from an electric pole and another being brutally beaten
against a wall until he died, among other things. They were apprehended by
authorities on November 19th while attempting to kidnap
another youngster but were apprehended while doing so. The Killer sisters were
convicted guilty of 13 kidnappings and 10 killings and were eventually sentenced
to life in jail
Mohan Kumar Vivekananda, known as Cyanide Mohan was a primary school physical
education teacher from Karnataka. He targeted women who were looking to get
married and from the same state, he targeted two types of women the first were
those who were not able to pay for the dowry that usually was asked from them
and the second was the ones who
were unable to find a husband and were eager to marry. He was presented before
the court on the charges of luring women around the age of 22-35. He used to
offer to marry them without dowry. After marriage, he used to give them cyanide
pills and rob their jewellery. He was caught due to a case that happened in
2009, which involved his newly wedded wife Anitha, she left her home with gold
and some money.
After a long period without contact with her daughter, her
parents lodged a police complaint that their daughter was lured by a Muslim man
and was now missing. The FIR sparked violence in the region. After a long
investigation, the police found 20 cases of women across the state who were
similarly killed or missing with no news.
Later on, the police
connected all the murders to Cyanide Mukesh who gave these women cyanide pills
to kill them after raping them. All the pieces of evidence were presented before
the court which led to the death penalty which was commuted to life imprisonment
by the Honourable Supreme Court.
Raman Raghav, infamously known as "Psycho Raman� was a citizen of the city of
Mumbai. Police found multiple bodies at different intervals of time with almost
the same way of death and harm. So the Mumbai police started an investigation to
find the link between the 19 people who were attacked and 9 people who died.
They found out that all the killings took place at night
everyone had a wound to the head that was with a blunt object. Police arrested
Raman who at the time was homeless and was also jailed for robbery for 5 years.
Due to the lack of evidence to
convict him of the new crime that took place, the police did not have any choice
but to leave him be, then another round of killing took place that aroused the
suspicion of the police.
They found out with the testimonies of the ones who
were attacked and the ones who saw what happened all directed to a single person
who was Raman, police also found a set of fingerprints that matched Raman.
When the police went to arrest Raman, they found his muddy shows that showed
that he was present in the muddy area where the latest act took place, upon
further investigation they found out that his shirts had a trace amount of blood
on them which tested positive to the ones that
were attacked. With all this evidence the police arrested him for the murder of
9 people and grievously injuring 19 people.
Later on, when sentencing took place it was revealed that he had a disease
called "Chronic Paranoid schizophrenia� which turned the death sentence into a
life in jail.
After the whole incident, Raman Raghav was known as Psycho Raman and became
There are various motivations behind the act of a serial killer. There can be
several motivations depending on the circumstances in which a person is born and
brought up. Some of the common motivations observed in the most infamous serial
killers are fantasy, rituals, gratification, control and psychopathic
Lack of empathy and remorse
The most important element of psychopathy is a lack of empathy. Under the influence of psychopathic traits serial killers may start viewing their victim as an object rather than an individual with emotions and feelings. The absence of remorse helps serial killers commit heinous acts without any after-effect of such acts which a non-psychopath may feel.
Superficial Charm and Manipulation
It is usually observed that serial killers believe in superficial charm and in the ability to manipulate others. This belief in superficial charm helps them in overcoming the emotional trauma after killing an individual. On the other hand, the ability to manipulate others helps them gain the trust of their potential victims or evade the suspicion of law enforcement agencies.
Impulsivity and Thrill-Seeking Behaviour
Serial killers usually have thrill-seeking behaviour which is usually associated with psychopathy and impulsivity. Impulsivity is one of the most commonly observed behaviours with serial killers, though the reasons for impulsivity are subjective. Thus, impulsivity can contribute to an increase in unpredictability, which makes it a challenge for authorities to predict their actions.
Psychopathy is directly linked with instrumental violence. It is defined as aggressive or violent behaviour to achieve a goal. Serial killers with psychopathic tendencies use killing as a way of personal satisfaction, self-control or in a sense to show their power in society. A normal human being and a serial killer are distinguished by the instrumental nature of their violence.
Gratification and control
One of the most common motivations found in serial killers for killings is to see power and control in society. The act of murder is considered a symbol of dominance as they feel the power to control the life and death of their victims. The power dynamics provide them with a feeling of superiority in society making it an integral part of the psychology of such individuals.
Gratification through Violence
The act of killing has been seen as a paramount source of gratification for serial killers. The act of killing individuals is considered a sense of conquest or sometimes a release of frustration by serial killers. Understanding gratification is an important part of unravelling the mind of a serial killer.
Escapism and Fantasy Fulfilment
Many serial killers use the act of killing as a means of escape from day-to-day life. These allow them to escape from the pressure and disappointments of their life. The fantasy world formed by them by their crimes allows them to fulfil their desires and to have complete control over the victim. This mindset is closely linked with the childhood traumas faced by them.
Understanding of Profiling and Prevention
Understanding the importance of gratification and a sense of control as a motivation for serial killers is very important as it helps law enforcement agencies in developing profiles that can be used to identify potential suspects in predict their behaviours. Also, these motivations can be used to address the root cause and contribute to the early detection of such potential threats.
Thrill and Rituals
The ritualistic behaviour of a serial killer includes consistent patterns and routines linked with the commission of the offence. Rituals usually differ widely with the specific methods of victim selection, inquiry manipulation, etc.
Thrill-seeking mentalityThe role of the adrenaline-giving thrill plays a necessary role in motivating
the serial killer in their act of violence. These activities which give them
immense adrenaline and a feeling of thrill usually include the themes of
dominance, control, a sense of
accomplishment, and sadism. This sort of rush not only motivates them to commit
acts of violence but also helps them overcome the emotional damage after each
Serial killer shows different behavioural pattern that leads to the creation of
their criminal identity. These behavioural patterns include going through the
victim selection, cooling-off period, and signature behaviour
- Victim Selection
Victim selection is one of the most crucial aspects of understanding the
mindset of a serial killer. The pattern followed by serial killers in the
selection of their victims can help law enforcement agencies in profiling
and develop their strategies accordingly:
Victimology is the study of the relationship between the victim and the
offender. Victimology plays a crucial role in assisting the enthusiast and the
law enforcement agencies in profiling and preventing them. It can also help in
developing targeted policies that can prevent the transformation of an
individual into a serial killer.
- Geographic and Temporal Patterns
The geographic and temporal patterns assist them in a comprehensive analysis of
a serial killer. Serial killers usually set up their comfort zones or hunting
within a specific location. By studying the geographical patterns of serial
killers, enforcement agencies can narrow down the investigation area.
- Cooling of Period:
The cooling period for a serial killer is the gap between each murder. This
period is an essential component of a serial killer as it also differentiates
from other killers and mass murderers. This distinctive feature of serial
killers provides an insight into the psychology of serial killers. This section
will pay a significant discussion on the psychological aspect and motivations
and triggers of serial killers.
- Psychological Significance
The cooling-off period has its significance in the life of a serial killer. This
period reveals the psychological scenery and provides crucial information
regarding their emotional life, victim selection, and their motivation behind
the murders. This
cool down period helps the killers normalise their lives and allows them to
prepare themselves for their next victims.
- Motivations and Triggers
The cool down period of serial killers varies from case to case. This period may
depend on the trigger points affected by external factors such as media
attention, personal circumstances, etc. These intervals after each murder help
the killer stabilise and get back to their regular lives.
Comparative study: Laws for Serial killers in various countries.
Laws in India to Punish Serial Killers
In India, the Indian Penal Code covers all the crimes committed against the
state and of a criminal nature. The same code governs every act that a killer or
a murderer commits as defined in section 302 of the code. Section 302 defines
the punishment for murder that is either death or imprisonment for life. It can
be seen that in the whole code, there is not a single mention of any crime when
repeating what will be the prescribed punishment, as serial killings are nothing
but continuous or numerous murders by an individual or a group of individuals.
Because section 302 of the IPC only punishes for a single offence of murder�a
person can only be charged with one murder offence, not multiple ones�and the
fact that there is no specific provision for serial killers in India, it could
be assumed that although judges have the discretion to punish individuals more
severely than for a single crime, they are still unable to impose punishments
beyond those specified in the code.
Russian Laws Governing Serial Killers:
In Russia, the Russian Penal Code controls all crimes against the state as well
as criminal offences such as murder. It is defined in Article 105 of the Russian
Penal Code, which prescribes punishment for murder. There are two sorts of
murder in Russia: either:
- Common Corpus Delicti
- Qualified Corpus Delicti
The first one is where the punishment is for only 6 to a maximum of 15 years
of jail and nothing more but the second type of crime can be seen as aggravating
and the punishment for this type of murder/crime could be punished for 8 to 20
years in prison or even the death penalty.
It can be seen in the Qualified Corpus Delicti or Article 105 clause (A) defines
the qualified corpus delicti as the murder of two or more individuals so it can
be looked at as a more serious crime of murder of two or more people which is
serial killings in another word. It means that Russia like India does not have
any separate provision for serial killings but has added a single clause in the
main provision that can make a given sentence more severe than a single act.
Tanzanian laws on serial killings
According to the Tanzanian Indian penal code sections 197 and 198, These
particular provisions deal with the punishment of murder and manslaughter which
is given as the death penalty.
There are no specific provisions that deal with serial killers and a series of
murders in the Tanzanian law system.
In Tanzania, capital punishment is solely applicable for two crimes: murder and
treason; no other crime will result in the death penalty. As a result, no
legislation or regulation punishes serial killers on an individual basis.
Reading the paper permits us to recognize the many various factors that
contributed to the advent of serial killers. It emphasizes the tremendous effect
of childhood abuse, family history and socioeconomic status on the development
of individuals who later end up serial killers.
Childhood abuse and overlook have proven lasting outcomes on people�s
psychological and emotional well-being, dropping light on how these studies can
lead to competitive inclinations and highlighting the effect of dysfunctional
family environments with empathy and absence of dating and look emphasized.
The position played using socioeconomic elements which include poverty,
unemployment, and social inequality inside the perception of a capability
deceased succession is clarified, giving us a complete view of the effect of the
complex interplay of species chargeable for this phenomenon.
Furthermore, we can discover the complex motivations and behaviours exhibited by
using serial killers. Like how serial killers� motivations, along with delusion,
ritual, complacency, and psychopathic dispositions, encourage their crook
sports. Additionally, it describes the practices of serial killers consisting of
selective choice, cooling time, and signature practices By clarifying
those examples, the paper emphasizes the significance of enabling law
enforcement groups to broaden powerful identity and profiling strategies to
become aware of and arrest serial killers.
Reading about infamous serial killers like Ted Bundy, Cyanide Mohan, and Otto
Shankar presents precious insight into the complicated psychology and conduct
Lastly, we're able to see that there may be a need for precise rules tailor-made
to deal with the specific traumatic situations posed by serial killers. It
highlights the disparities in felony frameworks throughout one-of-a-kind global
places, emphasizing the ability loopholes within the judicial machine that can
be exploited by serial killers. This underscores the want for entire
criminal measures to deal with and mitigate the danger efficaciously posed with
the aid of manner of serial killers, thereby safeguarding communities and
improving public protection.
In essence, we will see a nuanced and complete exploration of the multifaceted
elements, motivations, behavioural styles, and prison troubles pertinent to the
phenomenon of serial killers, offering precious insights essential for
expertise, addressing, and preventing this complicated societal trouble.
Finally, we can recognize the need for formal rules designed to deal with the
unique demanding situations posed by way of serial killers. It highlights
variations in prison structures in distinctive nations and highlights capacity
loopholes in the justice device that may be exploited by using serial killers
This highlights the want for complete felony frameworks to efficaciously
manipulate and mitigate the risks posed by using cannibals to guard groups and
beautify public safety.
Specifically, we can have a look at nuanced and complete insights into
multidimensional factors, motivations, styles of conduct, and legal theories of
the phenomenon of serial killers, to provide insight needed to understand, deal
with, and prevent this complicated social difficulty
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Akshat Parashar