Serial Murder And Mass Murder

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Before we can take on the definitions of serial murder and mass murder, we must first understand what exactly constitutes murder. According to the United States Code-section 1111, murder is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought (4). With that said, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the term serial murder implies that there are at least three different murder events at three different locations, with a “cooling off” period between each event (Ramsland, 2009). Individuals who perpetrate the crime of serial murder are referred to as serial killers. The term “serial killer” was coined in the mid-1970s by Robert Ressler, the former director of the FBI 's Violent Criminal Apprehension Program. He chose the name “serial killer” because authorities in England called these types of murders “crimes in a series” (Freeman, 2007). John Wayne Gacy, known as the “Killer Clown,” who tortured, raped and murdered 33 men between 1972 and 1978 is an example of a serial killer. On the other hand, mass murder is defined as four or more murders occurring during a particular event with no cooling-off period between the murders. A mass murder typically occurs in a single location in which a number of victims are killed by an individual (2). An example of a mass murder would be the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh, in which 168 people were killed. While serial murder has a definition that contains certain
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