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Old 10-22-2006, 10:24 PM
Hugh Jass is offline
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Research Books for Mystery Writers


I've been working on a short story for a bit and seem to have written myself into a corner, from which I have not been able to research my way out of. Specifically, I am trying to find the kind of information found by criminal profilers. Specifics like a serial killer who does X at the crime scene would never do Y at the crime scene (For instance, someone who uses a knife to kill someone would never tie up the victim in that manner). Or the presence of X at a crime scene indicates Y.

In my case, I want the ME to be able to point to a couple of clues that are disparate, to indicate that the crime has been staged to look like the work of a serial or ritualistic killer.

Any clues or leads would be appreciated. If you like, I'll name the victim after you.
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Old 10-22-2006, 11:46 PM
Jaade is offline
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Do research on serial killers and have your killer follow the pattern but mess something up...have him or her do a copycat crime but leave out something not publicized..something only the police & the killer know about. A serial killer is going to follow the same plan nearly every time unless something happens outside his control.
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Old 10-23-2006, 01:06 PM
Hugh Jass is offline
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[QUOTE=Jaade]Do research on serial killers [QUOTE]

Well, yeah. I guess my question is where? I can't seem to find this specific information. Any ideas?
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Old 10-23-2006, 04:05 PM
Khadaji is offline
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There is the crime library online.

http://www.crimelibrary.com/

And I think it has a rival, but its name escapes me.
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Old 10-23-2006, 06:32 PM
Jaade is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh Jass
Well, yeah. I guess my question is where? I can't seem to find this specific information. Any ideas?
The crime library linked above will give a lot of confirmed information about particular killers and their crimes, victims, methodology and trials.

This website has a few well-known facts about serial killers: http://website.lineone.net/~tymaloney/info.htm

It looks like he's referenced a few books you might be able to find at the library. I didn't scour the site though and cannot vouch for the validity of all of the information.

This is important to know:

* A serial killer is someone who commits three or more murders over an extended period of time with cooling-off periods in between. In between their crimes, they appear to be quite normal, a state which Hervey Cleckley and Robert Hare call the "mask of sanity." There is often but not always a sexual element to the murders.
* A mass murderer, on the other hand, is an individual who commits multiple murders in a single event and in one location. The perpetrators sometimes commit suicide, therefore knowledge of their state of mind and what triggers their actions is often left to speculation. Mass murderers who are caught sometimes claim they cannot clearly remember the event.
* A spree killer commits multiple murders in different locations over a period of time that may vary from a few hours to several days. Unlike serial killers, however, they do not revert to their normal behavior in between slayings.

One place you can find that information is at http://www.answers.com/topic/serial-killer though it is also in criminology and psychology textbooks.

Your first premise may not be entirely plausible. It's kind of a stretch. It's unlikely that if a person does x, he would be unlikely to do y when x and y equal types of restraint or violence. What you may need to consider is that your serial killer will likely have a very particular pattern.

For example, Ted Bundy targeted generally college aged women. He was very good at gaining their trust because he was charming and good looking. He usually used very simplistic methods of picking the girls up - lost puppies (no kidding) and the girls' sympathy. He frequently wore a fake cast and pretended he needed help until he got the girls into his car.

It's widely accepted that serial killers are generally white males (at least if they are killing white people), between the ages of 19-40...I could have that a little off but that is not too far off, could be 18-35. That's all just based on who they have caught though...the Son of Sam, Ed Gein, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer. There have been a few women, most notably Aileen Wuornos. There's tons of info out there, but double and triple check the sources, it's not all accurate.
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Old 10-23-2006, 11:02 PM
Hugh Jass is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaade
Your first premise may not be entirely plausible. It's kind of a stretch. It's unlikely that if a person does x, he would be unlikely to do y when x and y equal types of restraint or violence. What you may need to consider is that your serial killer will likely have a very particular pattern.

This is exactly the conclusion I am slowly coming to. The premise was that a person is killed and the killer attempts to make it look like the work of a serial killer. The ME is able to relate to the detective the various ways the killer "got it wrong."

I may just be out of luck.

I appreciate the links, however. I will check them out.
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Old 10-23-2006, 11:32 PM
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It depends exactly what you are doing. If your killer is trying to duplicate a particular serial killer, then there could be discrepancies from that killer's normal pattern. But while there are overall general patterns, age, race, etc., for serial killers, specifics vary wildly from killer to killer.
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Old 10-24-2006, 12:00 AM
Hilarity N. Suze is offline
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I went to a Mystery Writers of America meeting where a woman who had studied serial killers talked. I got a couple of things from that:

(1) All serial killers are also psychopaths (or sociopaths, if you're coming at it from a sociological rather than psychological position)

(2) There are two kinds: Organized and disorganized, and they follow what you'd expect. Except that it's misleading because in both cases there is a ritual, the organized psychopath is just better about following it.

(3) Most psychopaths (in the US) are not serial killers, however a lot of them are politicians.

(4) As children, psychopaths tended to (a) set fires (b) wet the bed or (c) torture/ kill animals.

(5) If a person has a pet, that person is not a psychopath.

(6) If a person is not a psychopath, then that person is not a serial killer, although a non-psycho can be a murderer, even a mass murderer, and can attempt to make killings look like the work of a serial killer in order to hide the true reason for them.

So, for instance, a person could totally skew a profiler's work by the mere fact of having one or more pets, but could still be the killer, just using another plan.

The speaker has written books about it, although they are scholarly books. However, due to some stupidity on my part I took all these notes yet neglected to write down her name. I guess I would be the disorganized sort of serial killer, as in everything else. Except I have pets! Lots of them!
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Old 10-24-2006, 07:38 PM
Jaade is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh Jass
This is exactly the conclusion I am slowly coming to. The premise was that a person is killed and the killer attempts to make it look like the work of a serial killer. The ME is able to relate to the detective the various ways the killer "got it wrong."

I may just be out of luck.

I appreciate the links, however. I will check them out.
It's not hopeless. As I stated earlier, and Lok states, every serial killer has a MO (modus operandi). If possible, the killer will always follow this, especially an organized killer. Why can't you just have the person emulate a "well-known" serial killer but fail to follow the pattern that the police know he will always use. Say the killer always cuts a lock of hair, but the police have kept that out of the media so that if someone confesses falsely, they likely won't have that detail and the investigators can rule them out.
  #10  
Old 10-28-2006, 04:37 PM
Khadaji is offline
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I was at Borders today and say The Giant Book Of Murders on sale. They had several in the vein. I suppose because it is Halloween.
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