May 10, 2015

"Female serial killers are more rare than their male counterparts, but they aren’t nonexistent; about one in six serial murderers is a woman."

"As a group, they are often overlooked and underestimated," writes Emily Anthes in The New Yorker.
The details of the women’s crimes differed notably from those committed by men. Nearly all of the women in Harrison’s study had killed people whom they knew, often targeting their husbands and children. Male serial killers, in contrast, appear much more likely to kill strangers. Whereas the most common motive for male serial killers is sex, female murderers were most often driven by money....

Harrison also found that many of the killers worked in caregiving roles, as nurses, Sunday-school teachers, babysitters, or stay-at-home moms....

One reason that female serial killers garner so little attention may be their modus operandi—targeting relatives, the elderly, or the ill, and using relatively inconspicuous weapons....

27 comments:

Terry said...

An angel's smile is what you sell
You promise me heaven then put me through hell
Chains of love got a hold on me
When passion's a prison you can't break free

Oh! You're a loaded gun, yeah
Oh! There's nowhere to run
No one can save me
The damage is done

Shot through the heart and you're to blame
You give love a bad name

rhhardin said...

There's no female Mozart because there's no female Jack the Ripper.

- Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae

rhhardin said...

Male serial killers want notoreity. They want to be a source of anxiety.

Wm. Kerrigan

He does not mention sex.

Coupe said...

...using relatively inconspicuous weapons...

Like a hatchet.

When she saw what she had done,
she gave her father forty-one


Whacks that is...

campy said...

Having their evil deeds swept under the rug is one of the many privileges females enjoy.

MisterBuddwing said...

As discussed here, the apparent general difference is, male serial killers tend to commit impersonal killings, while for female serial killers, it's totally personal. I guess that's why the concept of female serial killers doesn't loom so large in the national psyche - the thought of being murdered by a total stranger is apparently more disturbing than being done in by a relative or acquaintance for material gain.

traditionalguy said...

The old CNN extra channel runs back to back series on killers called Forensic Files that out ratings draws the CNN news. It has women killing their husbands every which way but loose. They usually use a poison or a staged suicide after taking out big life insurance policies.

The males all kill strangers for sexual expression gone haywire.

Mary Beth said...

When she saw what she had done,
she gave her father forty-one


They were at the same time, so she wasn't not a serial killer. Two aren't even enough to make her a mass murderer.

ThreeHeaded Throop said...

Someone I read once expressed an outlook which I can't quote from memory, but the sense of which was "if I'm going to be killed by anyone it should be by my mother". Or maybe if anyone has the right, etc. Something like that. This was in the context of a defense of abortion which made the sentiment entirely self serving although , on it's face, it's a morbid reflection on familial trust. My mother knows, even to the extent of when my last breath is drawn, what is best for me. For this reason it has always lurked as a fragmentary memory which I ponder the meaning of from time to time. I'm not certain I trust anyone, now that my mother is gone, as much as that. Her, yes. In some conceivable circumstance I would trust her judgement. Of course my mother was not a serial killer. If she ever killed anyone she did it only once.

Terry said...

In Roman society, before Rome became Christian, a father had absolute power of life and death over his children, male and female, even when they were adults.
Now that was a patriarchy.

rhhardin said...

Joining forces with detective Sherman Touhey (John Goodman) to track down a bizarre serial killer, he encounters a beautiful suspect (Ellen Barkin). Convinced of her innocence, Keller enters into a passionate affair, despite hard evidence linking her to the murders. Mounting suspense leads to a surprising conclusion as Keller finds himself caught in an undercurrent of deception, seduction and betrayal.

- I'm passing up this one

Victor Ulmer said...

Expanding on what rhhardin said, above; at http://privat.ub.uib.no/BUBSY/playboy.htm, Camille Paglia said: I feel that genius and obsession be the same thing. It is rare when a woman is driven by obsession. Similarly, it is rare when a woman is a genius. That's why I said one of my most notorious sentences, that there is no woman Mozart because there is no woman Jack the Ripper. Men are more prone to obsession because they are fleeing domination by women. They flee to a chess game or to a computer or to fixing a car, or whatever, to attempt to complete their identities, because they always feel incomplete.

MisterBuddwing said...

Joining forces with detective Sherman Touhey (John Goodman) to track down a bizarre serial killer, he encounters a beautiful suspect (Ellen Barkin). Convinced of her innocence, Keller enters into a passionate affair, despite hard evidence linking her to the murders. Mounting suspense leads to a surprising conclusion as Keller finds himself caught in an undercurrent of deception, seduction and betrayal.

- I'm passing up this one


SPOILER ALERT...

If it's any consolation, Ellen Barkin is not the killer in Sea of Love.

MisterBuddwing said...

Well, as long as we've turned to the subject of movies...

Back in 1980, when I was working for a modest newsradio station in Hartford, Connecticut, there was a drive-in theater on the Berlin Turnpike not far from where the station was located. Most of the time it seemed to be advertising a movie called Stone Cold Dead, which I had no desire to see (in hindsight, I wish I had, given how drive-ins have gone the way of the dodo and passenger pigeon).

In those antediluvian, pre-Internet days, there was no quick and easy way of finding out more about this obviously fine flick. But years later, I caught the ending of the movie on TV.

Stone Cold Dead turned out to be a low-budget Canadian police thriller in which detective Richard Crenna is trying to track down a sniper who guns down streetwalkers with a high-powered rifle; adding to the kink is the fact that the rifle has an SLR camera attached to the barrel so the killer can record the deaths.

I'd say "spoiler alert," but who cares. The killer turns out to be... a woman! Which I guess was the filmmakers' attempt at being shocking.

All this talk about male vs. female serial killers. To add to what I said before, I guess the overriding difference is, for female serial killers, the killings are a means to an end, whereas with male serial killers, the killings are the ends in and of themselves. As traditionalguy said, it comes down to sex. Maybe that's why female serial killers aren't thought of as serial killers per se.

JCC said...

@ rhhardin -

Pardon my ignorance. Who's William Kerrigan?

Any talk of serial killers should be predicated on the caution that we only know about the stupid ones who got caught, usually by accident. Everything else is wishful thinking or scary talk, based on whether or not you make your living writing about serial killers.

Crimso said...

"Any talk of serial killers should be predicated on the caution that we only know about the stupid ones who got caught, usually by accident."

"Smarter than the man in every way"

Deirdre Mundy said...

This one used Hoosier Hospitality to get to her victims: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belle_Gunness

adamsunderground said...

So they're denied notoriety because of sixism?

n.n said...

The semantic games are wearing thin. It's a human life from conception to a natural, accidental, or premeditated death. There are more female murderers and serial murderers in absolute numbers.

Spontaneous conception is a fantasy.

Viability is an amoral/immoral standard to rationalize abortion of unwanted and inconvenient human lives when they are uniquely vulnerable.

Pro-choice or selective-child policy is a wicked solution to a "wicked problem", that not only tolerates but promotes terminating wholly innocent human lives for light and casual causes.

adamsunderground said...

Parthenogenesis was the last concert tour before Phil Columns became lead singer.

William said...

Men are far more likely to be serial killers, but if a woman becomes a serial killer, she is far more likely to have her life story become a major motion picture. If she ends up executed, the star of that movie is likely to win an Academy Award. Thus I would counsel any woman who feels neglected and forgotten to start killing any Clinton campaign workers who knock on her door.

jr565 said...

We need more femal serial killers. They aren't adequately represented in the serial killer population according to population stats.

Step up ladies.

sparrow said...

Lovely Mother's Day post

MarkW said...

Reminds me of this:

My Grandma the Poisoner

http://www.vice.com/read/my-grandma-the-poisoner-0000474-v21n10

TCR James said...

Erratic Mass Media Coverage of Serial Killers: Women, Minorities Hardest Hit.

retired said...

An affirmative action program is needed!

Larry J said...

William said...
Men are far more likely to be serial killers, but if a woman becomes a serial killer, she is far more likely to have her life story become a major motion picture.


And the purpose of that movie will be to find a way to blame the woman's murders on some man in her life.