With nearly unlimited media coverage on every possible subject everywhere we turn these days, we literally find out about major news events as they are happening. The same holds true for our fascination and knowledge of crime and serial killers. Thanks to the media, we seem to have a certain type of person in mind when we think of a serial killer: possibly a white male ranging in age from somewhere in his twenties to middle age, came from a broken home and was perhaps a loner, among other stereotypical characteristics. Dr. Maurice Godwin, an Investigative Psychologist and President of Godwin Trial and Forensic Consultancy, Inc., has consulted on well-known cases such as the Casey Anthony case and the DC Sniper case. He has also done extensive research on serial killers, compiling statistics of 107 American serial killers who murdered 728 victims, and separating fact from fiction.
The first myth is that there are very few African-American serial killers, when in fact, 17% of serial killers are African-American. This percentage certainly isn’t an overwhelming number, but does help to dispel this particular myth. Two other myths are that most serial killers are married and unemployed, when in fact, only 17% of serial killers are married and just over half (51%) are gainfully employed. Also, it seems to be common thought that almost all serial killers keep a “trophy” of some sort to remind them of their victims, and most also keep a diary. The reality is that only 24% retain some sort of trophy and 7% actually keep a diary of some sort. It is also thought that most have some sort of history of personal setback that drove them to murder, but the truth is that only 12% of those studied actually had this somewhere in their history.
These are just a few of the statistics that Dr. Godwin discovered in his research, which provide an interesting paradox between what the media reports and what is reality.