criminology, homicide victimization, horror stories, mass murder, Mensah Adinkrah, multicide, Murder & Crime Done Right, recidivism, serial killer facts, serial killings, spree murder, thriller, writing advice
murder and crime done right
In several blog entries for the near future, I’m going to share facts and stories from criminology class that might be helpful if you write mystery, thrillers and horror stories. For instance, thanks to many concepts, theories and cases I’ve learned in the last ten weeks, I’ve been able to flesh out the antagonists in my story. I’m confident that it’s all going to assist me in other stories as well.
FYI, on the very first day of class, our professor said, “This class is not for the squeamish.”
And yes, these blog entries are not for the squeamish either.
For those who happen to know that I’m majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism, you may wonder why I’m taking criminology. One, it fulfills the social science requirements for my degree, and two, I’m utterly fascinated with this kind of stuff. According to the syllabus, as a subject in sociology, “criminology is concerned with both why people break the law and how society responds to such lawbreaking.” Obviously the better we understand human behavior, the more likely we will have an easier time developing characters different than ourselves.
Before I get into today’s fun facts (serial killers), I’ll briefly talk about the class itself (which is pretty much my favorite class this semester). Our teacher is Dr. Mensah Adinkrah, who’s from Ghana, and he has done a lot research based on events in Ghana, Fiji, the United States and I think a few other places. While the course description says it’s about crime in the U.S., we cover phenomenons in other countries, like dowry murders in Pakistan and India, how marital rape is handled globally, and a month ago or so, we turned in this huge paper on uxoricide (husband murders wife) in Ghana.
serial killers (plus, a few other facts about homicide)
* Serial killing is defined as “the murder of one person or more in one event; after a ‘cooling off period’ which can be anything from weeks to years, the killer strikes again; this pattern is repeated again and again.”
– UPDATE (June 4, 2015): According to Dr. Adinkrah, a serial killer kills four people or more in total. However, the specific number is still up for debate among criminologists so technically they haven’t come to a consensus yet. Some say three or more, other four or more, et cetera.
* As much as the media wants to scare the crap out of us, take small comfort in the fact that serial killings make up only 1 or 2% of homicides in the United States each year. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a common event.
* Serial murderers often prey on strangers and drifters, teenage runaways and others whose sudden disappearance is unlikely to provoke immediate suspicion.
* They tend to kill people who fit a particular profile (females, people with a particular hair color/smell/etc., children, …).
– UPDATE (June 4, 2015): My professor informed me that this (check the last two bullet points) is one type of serial killer. The most important thing to remember is that a serial killer is a Mason; he or she could be anyone you know. Your neighbor, your handyman, the nice man who owns the grocery store two blocks away from your house. Either way, criminologists agree on the fact that no matter who the serial killer is to the public eye, during the “cooling off period,” they will go about their usual business as though nothing extraordinary has happened. Before striking again, they will plan the murder carefully.
* They rarely use guns and seek to kill by stealth and deceit.
* Not one-hundred percent whether this applies to serial killers, but it does to other murderers:
– Recidivism (person’s relapse into criminal behavior) rates for murderers are often lower than those for most offenders, however, not likely due to rehabilitation. It’s because of (1) “maturation reform” (they’re incarcerated for long periods of time and grow out of their criminal inclinations) OR (2) their original act involved a grievance with a certain individual; killing that individual eliminated that grievance.
* The most dangerous occupations for homicide victimization at work are (1) taxi cab drivers and chauffeurs, (2) police and other law enforcement officials, (3) hotel clerks, (4) garage and service-station employees, and (5) stock handlers and baggers.
There are many terms for different kinds of homicides, but I want to clarify three other big types that are just as bad as serial killings:
* Mass murder: Four or more victims are killed in one single assault (example: the Boston Marathon bombing).
* Multicide: Multiple victims are killed in one event, but through multiple strikes (example: the Colorado theater shooter).
* Spree murder: Four or more victims are killed and this happens in two or events within 24-hours to one week (example: Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting).