CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

FBI kills serial murder profile

WASHINGTON - Hollywood's serial-killer stereotype - an anti-social white guy unable to stop murdering - is nothing but a Tinseltown tall tale, the FBI concludes in a new report.

"There's no one-size-fits-all profile," said Mark Hilts, chief of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit. "Don't get caught up looking for Hannibal Lecter."

After analyzing the views of 135 law enforcement, academic and mental health experts, the FBI's behavioral profilers determined "there is no generic profile of a serial murderer."

The only traits most predators have in common is they tend to be control freaks with a total lack of remorse for taking innocent lives, the 71-page FBI report determined. It also said their motive to kill is usually simply "because they want to."

The bureau zinged the media for its infatuation with such murders, beginning with Jack the Ripper, who taunted London cops in the 1880s.

The study blamed moviemakers for perpetuating the myths - even though the FBI cooperated on some films it now criticizes, including "The Silence of the Lambs," which made Hannibal the Cannibal famous.

As a result, FBI agents called in to help solve cases sometimes deal with local cops who assume the carnage is the work of leather-masked fiends with genius IQs, bureau officials said.

Contrary to popular belief, serial murderers often build careers and families even as their body count climbs, such as "Green River killer" Gary Ridgway, who snuffed out 48 prostitutes. [Mark Godsey]

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