Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A New Class of Multiple Murderer: Gang and Contract Killers

Due to appear as a 'new idea in forensics', in support of Steve Daniels' proposal to create a new class of multiple murderer:

To date, the majority of criminologists protest the inclusion of gang killings and professional murders in serial homicide offender databases because these offenses typically occur alongside functional or instrumental violence.1,2 If killing is a means of conflict resolution, endorsed by others, motivated strictly by financial gain, the byproduct of provocation or is committed out of convenience, revenge or survival, the offender is often deliberately excluded from serial homicide offender research samples.1,3,4,5 Because these offenders have understandable, conventional and logical motivations6 they are erroneously viewed as being different than killers yearning to repetitively relish in causing death.7

Gang related murderers are often considered to be ordinary criminals who happen to kill more than one person due to extenuating circumstances.8 To most researchers, killing serially implies that murder must be the primary outcome of a killer’s quest towards psychological gratification9,10 and not used as a response to situational factors.11,12 It has been said that a significant aspect of the offender’s life is dedicated to the process of serial killing with an emphasis placed on fantasy, planning, predatory victim selection/pursuit and rumination.13 Most criminologists argue that gang members and contract killers do not engage in these activities (at least not in an overtly observable manner) and maintain the antiquated viewpoint that an offender must display a sexual component at the crime scene to qualify for a serial killer classification.14,15 To them, the terms ‘sexual murder’ and ‘serial murder’ have become indistinguishable over the years13,16,17,18,19 while they fail to acknowledge that the serial sexual killer is but one of many subsets of multiple murderer.20,21 Since criminologists have been overly restrictive in their narrow interpretations of what constitutes a serial killer, we have overlooked the evolving nature of serial homicide and ignored how serial killers are molded by real-world social conditions, cultural changes and external pressures.22,23

In 2014, authors such as Adjorlolo and Chan24 and Osborne and Salfati25 and Allely et al.26 are taking the field in new directions by deconstructing the long standing definition of serial murder, reimaging the “cooling off period” as time intervals and applying a large dataset to the study of neurodevelopmental disorders and serial homicide. Establishing another class of multiple murder is essential to the advancement of the science of serial homicide and would have the full support of the ‘Serial Homicide Expertise and Information Sharing Collaborative’.


1. Ferguson (2003) Defining and classifying serial murder in the context of perpetrator motivation

2. Culhane et al. (2011) Self-Reported Psychopathology in a convicted serial killer

3. Jenkins (1988) Serial Murder in England 1940-1985

4. Gorby (2000) Serial Murder: A Cross-national Descriptive Study

5. Trojan and Salfati (2010) A Multidimensional Analysis of Criminal Specialization Among Single-Victim and Serial Homicide Offenders

6. Jenkins (2002) Catch Me Before I Kill More: Seriality as Modern Monstrosity

7. Skrapec (2001) Defining Serial Murder: A Call for a Return to the Original Lustmörd

8. DeLisi & Scherer (2006) Multiple Homicide Offenders

9. Myers (2004) Serial Murder by Children and Adolescents

10. Myers (2006) The Motivation Behind Serial Sexual Homicide: Is It Sex, Power and Control or Anger?

11. Fox (2014) Extreme Killing 3rd edition

12. Hickey (2014) Serial Murderers and Their Victims, 7th edition

13. Brantley & Kosky (2005) Serial Murder in the Netherlands

14. Geberth and Turco (1997) Antisocial Personality Disorder, Sexual Sadism, Malignant Narcissism, and Serial Murder

15. Beasley (2004) Serial Murder in America: case studies of seven offenders

16. Quinet (2007) The Missing Missing Toward a Quantification of Serial Murder Victimization in the United States

17. Harbort (2001) Serial Murderers in Germany from 1945 to 1995

18. Kerr (2013) Sexual Homicide: Definition, motivation and comparison with other forms of sexual offending

19. Homant & Kennedy (2014). Understanding serial sexual murder: A biopsychosocial approach

20. Petee & Jarvis (2000) Analyzing Violent Serial Offending

21. McNamara & Morton (2004) Frequency of Serial Sexual Homicide Victimization in Virginia for a Ten-Year Period

22. Warf (2002) Heinous spaces, perfidious places the sinister landscapes of serial killers

23. DeFronzo et al. (2007) Male Serial Homicide: The Influence of Cultural and Structural Variables

24. Adjorlolo & Chan (2014) The Controversy of Defining Serial Murder: Revisited

25. Osborne & Salfati (2014) Re-Conceptualizing “Cooling-Off Periods” in Serial Homicide

26. Allely et al. (2014) Neurodevelopmental and psychosocial risk factors in serial killers and mass murderers