Women Serial Killers

The number of women serial killers may amaze you.  At one time, females who engage in multiple murders were not recognized as the "serial" type although they do fit into the FBI's current definition of a serial killer.  Recent studies have revealed that there are more females who have engaged in serial murders over time than was originally recognized.

This misconception is due to myths and prior definitions about serial killers, for instance, that the majority of serial offenders are white males or that serial killing is sexually motivated.  Currently, the FBI defines serial murder as "The unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s), in separate events."

When using this definition the number of female serial killers throughout history increases substantially.  Along with the increase in identified serial murderesses, a new school of thought is brought about considering the traits and characteristics of serial killers.

True Crime: Stories of Women Serial Killers

Books, films and documentaries that feature true stories of female serial killers are very interesting.  Reading them and watching the films and documentaries are enlightening in regard to the differences between male and female serial murderers. 

From black widows to scorned or abused women, and from caregivers who view themselves as angels of mercy to heartless child killers in search of attention, the background and development of these murderesses contributes to understanding risk factors which may be beneficial in recognizing risk factors and preventing women who experience potential cause factors from turning in to serial murderesses.  

Characteristics and Traits of Women Serial Killers

In a recent article published by The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, the authors examined the means, motives and makings of female serial killers.  Their findings reflected that about 40% of these killers suffered from some form of mental illness, financial gain was the primary motive, and poisoning was the most commonly used method of murder. 

Characteristics of murderesses examined in this study revealed that female serial killers are "typically White, educated, have been married, and held a caregiving role".  Unlike male serial killers, the chosen victims of the majority of female killers were known to them or related to them.  Their conclusion reflected that more research is needed to develop a greater understanding of risk factors, i.e. the makings of female serial killers.  Increased knowledge in this area is thought to be beneficial in prevention of such crimes. 


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