Serial killer

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A serial killer is typically defined as a person who murders three or more people[1][2] over a period of more than 30 days, with a "cooling off" period between each murder, and whose motivation for killing is largely based on psychological gratification.[3][4] Other sources define the term as "a series of two or more murders, committed as separate events, usually, but not always, by one offender acting alone" or, including the vital characteristics, a minimum of at least two murders.[4][5] Often, a sexual element is involved with the killings, but the FBI states that motives for serial murder include "anger, thrill, financial gain, and attention seeking."[5] The murders may have been attempted or completed in a similar fashion and the victims may have had something in common; for example, occupation, race, appearance, sex, or age group.

Serial killers are not the same as mass murderers, who commit multiple murders at one time; nor are they spree killers, who commit murders in two or more locations with virtually no break in between. Coinage of the English term serial killer is commonly attributed to former FBI Special Agent Robert Ressler in the 1970s.[6][7] The concept had been described earlier, e.g. by German police inspector Ernst Gennat coining the same term in 1930.[8] Author Ann Rule postulates in her 2004 book Kiss Me, Kill Me that the English-language credit for coining the term "serial killer" goes to LAPD detective Pierce Brooks, mastermind of the ViCAP system.


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