Infamy or Obscurity: The Mind of a Serial Killer

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posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 01:44 AM
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Originally posted by JoshNorton
From what I know about him, he was a runt of a kid, who got bumped from one foster home to another, and generally never had anyone who cared about him. Got himself into juvie pretty quickly and never really had much chance or interest in taking the straight & narrow path. There's even good reason to believe that he intentionally self-sabotages the few parole hearings he's had because he knows he's better off staying in prison than trying to survive in the outside world.


I believe he actually requested not to be released on the very last time before he formed the Family. He had spent so many years inside, in one form or another, that he was completely institutionalised. It is quite sad really, he was completely brutalised by the system, as a child he was raped in Young Offenders institutes and that continued throughout his prison career - until he was released that last time. In order for Manson to have survived that 'lifestyle' he had learnt to be manipulative and it is this skill that served him best.

The Manson familiy, the women in particular, were poor little rich girls looking for a rebellion and Charlie was it. Add '___' and Charlie's prophetic lectures and they were basically in his thrall, to do with as he wished. There is obviously an element of choice, these men and women chose to believe in Manson, but as we know it is not that difficult to get young people to believe that violence is okay and the only fair means of expression in an unfair world. That above all else is Manson's 'secret'.

It is worth watching and reading what the Manson girls have to say for themselves now. There is a combination of shame, guilt, but most of all an embarassment at how easily they were led. This is supported in their own minds by Manson himself, if you've seen footage of his parole hearings, it must be amazing for those otherwise intelligent women to realise that the great charasmatic leader that they followed to murder was nothing more than a delusional whack job. Squeaky Fromme is an exception and has her own quite delusional pathology.




posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 02:27 AM
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The easy answer to the puzzle of the serial killer is a bad childhood. Although we do imprison or execute them, public opinion often still allows them to escape some of the personal responsibility for their actions. "Poor thing, he was abused. Not surprising he turned out that way.."

I'm here to tell you there's more to it than that. If there weren't, I'd be a serial killer. I'd prefer not to go into details for two reasons. One, it isn't really necessary and may upset or offend some people, and two I'm using my real first name here and I'm not that hard to find/identify if someone really wanted to. If you just HAVE to know, U2U me and I'll list the forms of abuse I survived. Let's just say I attempted suicide more than once, have been officially diagnosed with PTSD, tortured my mother's pet animals as a child, had a fascination with fire, and was a social outcast and loner from kindergarten on. I can't find it now, but somewhere I saw a list of "10 signs of a serial killer" and I had 8 of them. The two I missed were that I didn't wet the bed and I'm not male.

That said, I'm here to tell you that I've never in my life (and I'm 50 now) intentionally harmed a human being. Oh, I've pulled a few pranks .. once I had a 1/2 ton of fresh manure delivered to a guy's front lawn an hour before he was throwing a huge party. Yep, he ticked me off. But I've never even hit anyone other than to administer discipline to a child. I know how to use a gun and I'm quite good with one, but I've never actually even pointed a gun at a human being.

Why not? I'm not sure I really know. I have had thoughts about killing people, and in younger days even played out fantasies in my mind of killing someone. But I don't have it in me to carry through, I just can't really hurt anyone. I'm sure I could in self-defense, but I haven't ever been in that situation.

Violence was done to me, more than once, but instead of accepting it and passing it on, I chose to reject it and avoid it. And, barring mental illness, I believe that every other human being, whether abused or not, had that same choice and could have chosen not to commit violence or murder. I won't pity them and I won't excuse them.

However, I am still a loner and I don't - in general - like people. I'm basically anti-social, never have many friends, and even at 50 I struggle with social skills and 'fitting in.' I'm impatient, sometimes rude, and have problems 'connecting' with people or having long-term relationships. All things that are likely shared by some of the murderers you're discussing, but none of them are a good reason to go killing people.

By the way, I don't expect any pats on the back or anything like that. I'm asking you not to 'make allowances' for serial killers because they were abused, or neglected, or whatever. They didn't HAVE to turn to killing and violence regardless, and they should be held strictly accountable for their choices.

I'm sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people like me who suffered horrible childhoods and didn't turn out to be serial killers, so in my opinion a 'bad' childhood is no excuse for becoming a killer.

It would be interesting, though, to identify the factors and be able to figure out what does make someone a serial killer. Obviously we've identified some of them, but I also believe we're missing one or two, since not everyone who has all the factors we've identified becomes a serial killer.



posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 04:54 AM
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Originally posted by Heike
The easy answer to the puzzle of the serial killer is a bad childhood. Although we do imprison or execute them, public opinion often still allows them to escape some of the personal responsibility for their actions. "Poor thing, he was abused. Not surprising he turned out that way.."



Brilliant post Heike


You make the very important point and one I agree with entirely - choice.

Though you may have fantasised about acting on your 'hatred' or 'anger' you chose not to. And you realised that you possessed that choice as most do (there are notable exceptions and circumstances).

When I have studied serial offenders I make the distinction of feeling pity for the child in order to understand the adult. Unless those crimes began as a child I do not pity the adult themselves, at any point they are capable of reassessing those choices and of actively seeking to change (that doesn't extend to forgiveness, not my place to forgive, merely the ability to seek 'peace of mind').

You and I have a great deal in common as adults though our childhoods were vastly different judging by your account. I too made the choice to be a 'good' person, I could have very easily opted for the alternative. I was in no way physically abused, some retrospectively minor emotional trauma but that is all, but we have similar 'pathology'. I never hurt animals though, but I did wet the bed - so we work out even in the final score
I think that at the beginning at least, for many of these killers is that it is easier to be bad, being good takes effort and self-reflection - you internalised rather than externalise. By internalising you realise that your potential 'victim' is you and that by hurting them you are ultimately only damaging yourself further.

All the best and thank you for sharing your perspective it is highly important.

KT



posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 07:30 AM
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Haven't read all of this thread yet, but so far it's really interesting!

I was reading what LDragonFire was saying about how those killers must be mentally ill to do what they did right? Um, I was just thinking, what about people actually being evil, you know? Just wondering. Is being evil a mental illness? There are a lot of evil people who were actually very smart, you know calculating and all that. So I'm just wondering how this fits in??



Also has anyone seen the movie Conspiracy Theory with Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts and Patrick Stewart? I found Mel Gibsons character Jerry Fletchers theory about killers names interesting. There's probably stuff on ATS and the net about this theory, I suppose I should have a look, through search or Google. But anyway, what he was saying is notice how lone gunman always (?) have 3 names. But serial killers only have 2. Is that true? If it is, does it have anything to do with infamy or obscurity?

Edit: changed wording

Edit to add: I believe everyone has the ability in them to either become good or bad. I don't believe people are born evil or bad. But through bad peoples upbringing they can come to see the world through a different view than people who have had a more favourable upbringing. I don't think it necessarily means they have a mental disability or are mentally ill, they just have a different view of things. They just chose a different path in life, one that brings people suffering. It's called free will. I don't think it's right to think because someone isn't good, it means they're somehow mentally ill. I don't know, but it somehow seems like it just dismisses what they do too easily. Like there can't be more to it or people can't change. I think it's more to do with the soul and the choice people make.

I believe even the person with the hardest heart can change if they want to. It's a matter of choices and seeing truth. Being or becoming aware of truth and not being too proud to admit you were wrong and that you should change. To not be afraid and open your heart to love and not hold onto the negatives, and just let go.

I don't know if this makes sense to anyone, hopefully it does lol

[edit on 21/7/2008 by Sparkly_Eyed777]

[edit on 21/7/2008 by Sparkly_Eyed777]



posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 08:01 AM
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Originally posted by KilgoreTroutI too made the choice to be a 'good' person, I could have very easily opted for the alternative.

By internalising you realise that your potential 'victim' is you and that by hurting them you are ultimately only damaging yourself further.


Well there are so many factors at play. I think there are probably quite a few sociopaths operating just fine in our society that would not have a “moral” issue with killing for fun at all. It often has nothing to do with “choosing to be good”, more often it is about realizing that not being "good" can seriously @#$@ up their lives.

Of course if they don’t have a fetish for it, if it is not a strong need and obsession, it is easy to resist.

Self-preservation is probably the strongest deterrent. Those that do find the idea appealing typically realize it is a very dangerous endeavor, even if one gets away with it there will be elements of worry after the fact. They have to want it badly, and for whatever reason they decided to take the risks that come with choosing that path.

The stupid sociopaths without a sex fetish typically end up in prison for various crimes. The smart ones often end up doing quite well in business.


[edit on 21-7-2008 by Sonya610]



posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 08:15 AM
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Originally posted by Sonya610

Originally posted by KilgoreTroutI too made the choice to be a 'good' person, I could have very easily opted for the alternative.

By internalising you realise that your potential 'victim' is you and that by hurting them you are ultimately only damaging yourself further.


Well there are so many factors at play. I think there are probably quite a few sociopaths operating just fine in our society that would not have a “moral” issue with killing for fun at all. It often has nothing to do with “choosing to be good”, more often it is about realizing that not being "good" can seriously @#$@ up their lives.

Of course if they don’t have a fetish for it, if it is not a strong need and obsession, it is easy to resist.

Self-preservation is probably the strongest deterrent. Those that do find the idea appealing typically realize it is a very dangerous endeavor, even if one gets away with it there will be elements of worry after the fact. They have to want it badly, and for whatever reason they decided to take the risks that come with choosing that path.

The stupid sociopaths without a sex fetish typically end up in prison for various crimes. The smart ones often end up doing quite well in business.


[edit on 21-7-2008 by Sonya610]


Not all serial killers have a sexual motive, and when they do it is usually more than a 'fetish'. If you take a cross-section of serial killers you will find that in the majority of cases they felt deep remorse for their first attempt at 'acting out' their fantasy. Most report that they vomited or felt physically sick by the act of murder. They are also deeply fearful of 'getting caught'. They know it is wrong.

It is the complex construction of the fantasy that causes the compulsion, and it is the need to perfect that fantasy in reality that leads to repeating the offence. In almost all cases you can trace a 'refinement' in the pattern of killing. This is what the Behavioural Scientists look for and what they mean by 'signature'.



posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 08:40 AM
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Well there are so many factors at play. I think there are probably quite a few sociopaths operating just fine in our society that would not have a “moral” issue with killing for fun at all. It often has nothing to do with “choosing to be good”, more often it is about realizing that not being "good" can seriously @#$@ up their lives.


I'm pretty sure you're right about that. Back when I was a houseparent at a Boys' Ranch, I had a kid named Patrick who was a sociopath. No empathy, no compassion, no real understanding of why he shouldn't be able to do anything he wanted to do, and his only 'moral compass' was his own needs and desires.

I liked Patrick because he reminded me of myself at his age. High IQ, didn't fit in, loner, intellectual, loved to read, etc. So I tried to help him. I noticed that Patrick liked to play games, and that he was very scrupulous about following the rules. I asked him why, and he said "It's not a win if you cheat." Aha! A place to start...

So I taught Patrick to view life as a game that, if he wanted to win, he had to play by the rules even if they didn't make any sense to him. This he could understand, and he did also understand that there could be negative consequences to him for behavior that is against the law or even socially unacceptable. I taught him the same set of 'rules' that I taught myself as a child because other peoples' actions, motivations, and reactions often made no sense to me.

I firmly believe that killing another person would not have bothered Patrick in the least, "morally," nor would it have particularly upset him. He just didn't seem to be able to "care." But he was able to get the concept of playing the biggest game of all - life - by the rules, and last I heard he was a successful car salesman staying out of trouble.

[edit on 21-7-2008 by Heike]



posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 08:49 AM
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Originally posted by KilgoreTrout If you take a cross-section of serial killers you will find that in the majority of cases they felt deep remorse for their first attempt at 'acting out' their fantasy. Most report that they vomited or felt physically sick by the act of murder. They are also deeply fearful of 'getting caught'. They know it is wrong.


Deep remorse? Yes I have read that some have express sincere sounding remorse but I don’t think that is all too common. If their remorse was all that deep they would probably kill themselves, but instead they manage to get “over” their bad feelings and go at it again. Unless by deep remorse you mean they find Jesus in prison.

No doubt in many cases the first killing is a bit ugly, and not quite what they expected in their fantasies. It was a major adrenaline rush, they were probably scared when they did it, and in many cases they had to deal with the clean up issues, plus they were probably so nervous it was not nearly as much fun as they expected.

I am sure many deer hunters would have feelings of disgust in a similar situation. If they had never shot an animal or had to bleed/gut one, or even seen it done before, and they found themselves alone in the woods doing it all on their own for the first time. But feeling a bit disgusted and weak in the knees is not the same as feeling great remorse because it was wrong.

The hunter may feel a bit sick but that does not mean he has a real moral problem with killing deer. If he loves deer meat, if he loves hanging out in the woods waiting for prey to come along, he will often get over his sqeemishness and do it again.



[edit on 21-7-2008 by Sonya610]



posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 09:37 AM
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I think it also has something to do with lack of self control and considering the consequences. You know, to just say to themselves "Hey this is considered wrong. Why do I want to do this? Should I do this? What will happen once I do this? How will I feel? How will others feel?". But I suppose that people who are thinking of killing for the first time would be more inclined to think like that, and question themselves and their motives. But the serial killers, as they go on, that feeling of remorse and the little voice inside their head that tells them to stop, gets ignored to the point where it almost ceases to exist. And because they don't want to listen, they won't listen to reason or logic either, and so they lose their self control.


I think it has a lot to do with fear as well. I think that the more you let yourself get scared of or by something, the more likely you'll end up becoming obsessed by it. And I think maybe that's what happens sometimes. Like a sense of control, they feel if they do or become whatever they're afraid of, they won't be so scared of it anymore.

Maybe some of these killers just started having thoughts about these kinds of things, and they might've been scared by those thoughts, didn't see a way to make them go away, so they became obsessed.

And maybe they believed they were meant to be killers because of these thoughts. So they decided it was probably inevitable so they acted on them. I believe we all have the power to determine our own destiny, but maybe these killers just felt like it just couldn't be helped? Like they couldn't do anything about it?

Those are just my thoughts anyway


[edit on 21/7/2008 by Sparkly_Eyed777]



posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 09:58 AM
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Originally posted by Sparkly_Eyed777And maybe they believed they were meant to be killers because of these thoughts. So they decided it was probably inevitable so they acted on them.


Yeah honestly I think that is a real risk. They have the thoughts, often at a young age, and they may think it is their destiny.

I have know quite a few people that had sexual fantasies involving murder and the like (online friends, quite a few I met in real life) and I have always believed being isolated with those thoughts, thinking "I am the only one", could encourage some to go over the edge.

I actually believe that the internet may help in that regard. There are groups out there devoted to those interests, sheesh there are groups devoted to every bizarre interest, but in that specific case I think contact with other somewhat likeminded folks can have a positive affect on many.

Instead of thinking they are a rare monster, and no one understands and this must be their destiny, they get the chance to see other highy functioning, likeable people leading normal lives also think about that stuff. It can lessen their self-hatred, reduce the isolation factor, and hopefully keep some from going over the edge. Plus those groups are run by people that have been into that scene for many years and they do have pretty strict rules regarding decorum.



posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 10:16 AM
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Originally posted by Sonya610

Originally posted by Sparkly_Eyed777And maybe they believed they were meant to be killers because of these thoughts. So they decided it was probably inevitable so they acted on them.


I actually believe that the internet may help in that regard. There are groups out there devoted to those interests, sheesh there are groups devoted to every bizarre interest, but in that specific case I think contact with other somewhat likeminded folks can have a positive affect on many.


I agree. I think the internet can help a lot of people that have these thoughts. Take depression. Lots of people who suffer from depression say that finding out that others felt the same way and that they weren't the only ones, helped them a lot. They found out that the thoughts and feelings they had were common and not some isolated incident.

I think for potential killers to find out that they aren't the only ones having these thoughts would help them a lot. It would help them to see it's a lot more common than they think. That they're not evil but that they can be helped and that there are other choices, instead of giving in (which would would make them evil/bad).

But even if they give in, I still believe there is hope, there is always hope. And they can change if they truly wanted to.



posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 08:18 AM
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Originally posted by Heike
The easy answer to the puzzle of the serial killer is a bad childhood. Although we do imprison or execute them, public opinion often still allows them to escape some of the personal responsibility for their actions. "Poor thing, he was abused. Not surprising he turned out that way.."


I disagree wholeheartedly.

It could be argued that I am soft on criminals when it comes to what is a just punishment, as I would like to see more rehabilitative measures implemented, but I don't see how you think that serial killers are given a mulligan in the eye of the public.

While Bundy had a huge female fan base during his prosecution, he certainly wasn't victimized in the public. People were either disgusted, intrigued, or both. But sympathized with.. I don't see it.

What serial killer do you feel has been offered a freebie in the eyes of responsibility for their actions? I'm not familiar with any.



posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 08:53 AM
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reply to post by chissler
 


Well Son of Sam is certainly popular with the christians. He is now eligable for parole and I would bet some of his christian fans write in favor of him being released.

www.forgivenforlife.com...

I always found it interesting that Bush gave clemency to Henry Lee Lucas, I believe that was the ONLY death row prisoner he offered that too, and Texas fries a lot of people.



posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 08:59 AM
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Originally posted by Sonya610
Well Son of Sam is certainly popular with the christians. He is now eligable for parole and I would bet some of his christian fans write in favor of him being released.


Christians isn't the general public though. And even though I'm not well versed on this, I don't agree with the statement that he is popular with "Christians". I am sure there are individuals who happen to be Christians that are fond of him, but it doesn't go any farther than that.

I would find it ironic that a Christian group would be fond of him considering he was a member of a satanic group that intended on raising hell on New York city. I'm not entirely convinced that Berkowitz acted alone on his alleged reign of terror on the city over the years.

But in reference to Berkowtiz, I don't think the general public gave him a free pass due to his background.



posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 09:16 AM
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Originally posted by chissler
Infamy or Obscurity: The Mind of a Serial Killer

From what i have read on this subject, most of the well known cases involving serial killers end up infamous while commiting their crimes in relative obscurity. So they inevitably inspire that infamy through the by product of their behaviour(killing). Killing is often secondary in many of these cases due to the sexual nature of some serial killers MO, john Wayne Gacey, jeffery Dalmer, Ted Bundy, Moors, Fred West etc where control of the individual in persuit of sexual fullfillment is usually the primary motivating factor. killing is most often used to cover up these crimes,but untimately as victims are discovered and a pattern emerges the public begins to notice. This first stage of infamy, or the recognition that a serial killer may be among us, then escalates as the public, media and authorities then focus on these events, this stage is then followed by the facination with the individual found responsible for these crimes where their infamy becomes even more significant and then a matter of record, and so history.
Many of the above would have continued in relative obscurity, happily fullfilling their desires at the expense of other members of society.
I think we can put those that kill purely to get attention into a similar basket, that killing is secondary to the desire to be known or famous. What i find interesting is that ,while killing in one group is used to hide a behaviour and desires, it is also used a tool to highlite or make significant the desires and behaviour in another.
What i find most disturbing, and which i think you bring up in your post is that people who kill others(for what ever reason) may see the infamy and attention that results in these actions as a positive outcome. A positive outcome from actions generally viewed as horrible or evil.
Here is the most recent example of this that i have found.


Eight people were killed and five wounded before the shooter ended the horror by taking his own life. He left behind a note that read, in part, "Now I'll be famous."

source

What i also find interesting is that we have all experienced how the general population and mainstream media demonize these individual for their actions. Constantly speculting and painting these individual in a negative light, often dissecting their lives and filling in the blanks with innuendo, rumour and heresay in regards to these individuals, who they are and why they acted the way they did. Yet, we still see these same events taking place and often these individuals will find the attention or infamy as being good or a positive consequence.



Why do serial killers do what they do?
Sadly, we only get the answers after they are caught.

Great Post, given the culture of celebrity these days, you bring up some excellent points to discuss on this subject.



posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 09:20 AM
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reply to post by chissler
 


Well, you have an excellent point there, and I may have to concede it.

It's just the impression I've gotten from talking to people, watching TV specials about serial killers, and reading books. I've probably seen half a dozen of the TV specials, and it seemed to me like they always went into detail about the killer's lousy childhood and sounded sympathetic - or maybe it was just for the shock value, I don't know.

Taking another look at my own attitude and feelings, I think I resent what I perceive as the popular conception that childhood abuse made them serial killers. They may not get a mulligan, but for some reason I personally want everyone to acknowledge that nothing made them be murderers; with a few possible exceptions they chose to become murderers. And that's just my personal opinion of course, and I'm not even really sure why it matters to me. I just know I get annoyed every time I hear someone say "he became a serial killer because of his horrible childhood."



posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 09:21 AM
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Originally posted by chisslerI would find it ironic that a Christian group would be fond of him considering he was a member of a satanic group that intended on raising hell on New York city.


Did you look at the link? He has a book out. He has also appeared on the 900 Club and many other places. They apparently like him because he claimed he was a satanist and now he has seen the light etc...

It was the only example I could think of regarding a serial killer getting support from a mainstream group. Now of course they aren't forgiving him "cause he was abused" but because he was simply influenced by Satan.



posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 09:30 AM
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Originally posted by HeikeTaking another look at my own attitude and feelings, I think I resent what I perceive as the popular conception that childhood abuse made them serial killers.


Of course it did not make them serial killers, but often the abuse DID make them sadomasochists. If they did not have a sexual attraction to pain or suffering then they would not feel the need to committ the crimes.
And yes I know there are plenty of non-sadomasochistic serial killers, but a lot of them in fact are.

I have never really put that much focus on abused childhoods when it came to serial killers, having read a lot of biographies about serial killers I would not say that most of them emphasize childhood abuse either.

I think you maybe exagerrating the abuse factor a bit. I think it is more commonly used in defense of child molesters.



posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 09:34 AM
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reply to post by Heike
 


I see your point, but I think it might be an effort to pursue heightened awareness to the general public. Any effort that is made to justify such actions by these individuals is going to be met by resistance on my end. However, there is a difference between explaining and justifying. And I agree that regardless of our past, a decision is made along the way to act on certain impulses. We're all human and we're all capable of anti-social behaviours. On top of that, I'm certain we are all guilty of anti-social thoughts. But to act on these thoughts is what separates law abiding citizens from this group.

Some excellent, thought provoking posts being posted here. I'm finding it tough to keep up with everything that is being said and everything that I want to say.



posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 09:39 AM
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Originally posted by atlasastro
From what i have read on this subject, most of the well known cases involving serial killers end up infamous while commiting their crimes in relative obscurity.


I would have to disagree as well.

The B.T.K. and Zodiac went as far as publicly taunting local law enforcement and using media outlets as platforms to spread their terror. I'd disagree with the statement that they acted in obscurity through their years. Berkowitz, Ridgeway, DeSalvo... not everyone would recognize these names. But Son of Sam, Green River Killer, and the Boston Strangler are a little more common. If these individuals acted in obscurity, why were they publicly branded with such catchy names? The media pushed these individuals from obscurity to infamy with their catchy names.





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