How come serial killers in USA kill so many people

In Australia, the worst serial killers are John Bunting and Ivan Milat. Bunting killed 12 people and Milat at least 7, but both of them have exceptional circumstances as to why they were able to kill so many (Milat killed backpackers before mobile phones, Bunting killed unemployed people that in general nobody really cares about, = no reporting). But in the US, there’s hundreds of serial killers (not mass murderers) with body counts of 20+. How come the U.S authorities are so much worse at stopping and finding these serial killers than Australian police?

The most prolific US serial killer was Gary Ridgeway and he killed prostitutes, which society tends not to care about. Ted Bundy targeted college coeds but his good looks & charisma fooled a lot of people for a long time.

It could be the other way around… Maybe the U.S. is better at discovering ALL of the murders serial killers commit? And maybe other countries only discover some of those murders?

Or… Also in the U.S., police are said to “clean their desktops” when a nasty crook comes along. Blame everything on that one crook. They like to close all those open cases. Maybe that is happening?

I think a lot of South American serial killers would give North America a run for its money. Specifically three Columbian serial killers: Pedro Lopex killed between an estimated 110-300+

And Luis Garavito killed a confirmed 138 and possibly 300 or more.

Daniel Camargo Barbosa also raped and killed up to 150 girls:

Where are you getting hundreds of serial killers in the US with 20+ body counts? On this Wikipedia list, I count 10.

It just sounds better to use hyperbole like, “hundreds”.

They wouldn’t be much of a serial killer if they only knocked off one or two, now would they?


Yeah… I’m going to need a cite for those numbers. I count only ten serial killers with (known) body counts over 20.

Gary Ridgway
Ted Bundy
John Wayne Gacy
Dean Coril
Juan Vallejo Corona
Wayne Williams
Ronald Dominique
Earle Nelson
Patrick Kearney
William Bonin

Further, selection bias also plays a huge role here. How many Australian killers escaped notice and are still at large? How many potential serial killers were caught on their first attempt? How many people did they actually kill, compared to the ones that were proven? What are the populations of the areas the various killings took places? Any attempt to measure the effectiveness of law enforcement has to take all of these things into account.

First of all, the premise of the OP is wildly wrong. There are far fewer known serial killers with high body counts in the US than he alleges.

However, some of the known killers have higher counts than those in Australia. This might be expected just because the US has 13 times the population of Australia, and so would have a greater absolute number of killers with access to a greater number of victims.

The killers with really large numbers of victims have been in Third World countries where the police are often corrupt or incompetent, and likely to devote little attention to the disappearance of poor children or women.

Harold Shipman is arguably the most prolific ever and not American.

Yeah, but when the difference is only 10, it’s easier to dismiss for reasons like the US has more than 10 times the population of Australia.

Serial killer pride?

I’m a little ashamed that our US Serial killers are such underachievers. South America, China and India are all outperforming us :mad:

We don’t have dingoes to blame it on.:smiley:

If you include the medical professionals who murdered on the job, which are listed on that page, then I count 13. 14, if you want to count Steven Massof, but I don’t want to derail this thread with an abortion debate.

Yeah, but do you really want to dig up 500-year-old cases?

Maybe it’s because our serial killers are smarter than Aussie serial killers. :stuck_out_tongue:

Ignoring older, sadistic killers who simply racked up the numbers due to police incompetence or apathy…

One analysis I read said that the problem producing modern serial killers is a lack of social conditioning. Typical human social development consists of social interaction with extended family and the community, mixing generations and age groups. Plus, in poorer societies, children have a role and responsibilities from an early age - i.e. older sisters end up being babysitters and surrogate mothers in a large family. The suggestion was that in the last half-century or more, this socialization has disappeared. The typical serial killer who finally cracks and goes to shoot up or blow up a school or theatre, or keeps to himself and finds victims to murder one by one - these are the type of people who are permitted by social circumstances to sit in a basement rec room, not interact with their peers or family, solitary or with another like-minded individual and stew in their own thoughts without “adult supervision”. As one comment said, “adolescence is a lesson in being human, and some people don’t get it.”

It also tends to explain why the majority such problem offenders seems to be from small families of relatively good income. Someone in a ghetto or poor neighborhood does not have the luxury of solitary space, nor do they have the luxury of having any needs provided for without work.

As to why the higher body counts - “The USA is 15 times the size of Australia”. It’s also more fragmented, the States model is more like 50 independent countries. I would point out that someone like Bundy went cross country and it took a while before someone noticed that killings in different locales fit a given pattern, Perhaps the “low-count” serial killers stuck to one area, making their pattern more obvious as it was the same law enforcement encountering the evidence?

And again, for a long time targeting prostitutes and the margins of society (loners, migrants, runaways, those with less connections to mainstream society) meant it was less noticed and the police paid less interest to the problem. The Robert Pickton murders (50+ women, mainly prostitutes and junkies from the seedier area of Vancouver, BC - it was a scandal when it broke that the police basically ignored a great deal of evidence since it seemed they couldn’t be bothered to investigate. He simply made sure there were no bodies to trigger the investigation.

You didn’t mention where you read that analysis, but it’s considered to be incorrect by the FBI and the National Center For The Analysis Of Violent Crime.