Do serial killers kill animals? (3 insights)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Do serial killers kill animals?” and study who serial killers are, how their brains work and how they treat animals in order to help understand the answer. 

Do serial killers kill animals?

Yes, serial killers often kill animals. The following are 3 insights into why serial killers kill animals – 

  • Practicing on animals.
  • Targeting the weak.  
  • Generalised deviance theory.

These 3 insights into why serial killers kill animals will be discussed in further detail below after taking a deeper look at who a serial killer is.

Who is a serial killer? 

A serial murderer is someone who murders three or more people, generally for abnormal psychological enjoyment, over a period of more than a month and with a large gap between them. While the majority of authorities establish a three-murder threshold, others raise it to four or lower it to two.

The most common reason for serial killing is psychological fulfilment, and many serial killings involve sexual interaction with the victim, but serial murderers’ motives can also include rage, thrill-seeking, financial gain, and attention-seeking, according to the FBI.

In a similar way, the murders may be attempted or completed. The victims may share characteristics such as demographic profile, appearance, gender, or ethnicity.

The FBI frequently focuses on a certain pattern that serial killers follow. Based on this pattern, vital clues about the killer’s identity and intentions will be revealed.

Despite the fact that a serial killer is a different categorization from a mass murderer, spree killer, or contract killer, there are conceptual parallels between the three. 

There is some disagreement over the precise requirements for each group, particularly when it comes to the distinction between spree and serial killers.

Types Of Serial Killers.

Although it is hard to fully categorise and comprehend each serial murderer, it is possible to examine their tactics and habits in order to better characterise the sort of criminal they are. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has classified serial murderers into three categories based on how they commit their crimes. Knowing which group a serial killer belongs to can help investigators better understand their crimes and how to bring them to justice.

The Medical Killer.

Despite the fact that this sort of killer is extremely rare, certain people have used the medical field to carry out their evil crimes. Because it is not commonplace for individuals to pass away at a hospital, this sort of murderer believes they are shrouded. 

They are typically knowledgeable people who know how to cover their crimes with care and deception. If a person looks to have died of natural causes, there will be no reason to assume foul play and seek for the perpetrator. 

Only a few physicians in history have been able to kill scores of individuals before others notice.

The Organized Killer.

This is the most difficult sort of serial murderer to track down and apprehend. They are typically clever and extremely well organised, almost to the point of being fastidious. 

Every element of the crime is meticulously planned, and the assailant takes every measure to ensure that no damning evidence is left behind. This sort of psychopath is known to observe potential victims for several days in order to select someone they perceive to be a good target. 

Once the victim has been picked, the murderer would abduct them, frequently using a ruse to win sympathy, and transport them to a new place where the murder will be carried out. When someone is killed, the offender will generally take steps to ensure that the body is not discovered until they want it to be.

A criminal like this is generally quite proud of what they regard to be their “job” and pays close attention to news headlines about their crimes. One of their motivational motivations may be to elude the cops who are attempting to solve their crime.

The Disorganized Killer.

These people almost never plot their victims’ deaths in any way. The victims they kill are almost always in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

When the chance arises, this sort of serial murderer appears to strike at random. They make no attempt to hide their crime and move around often to avoid getting apprehended. 

Killers who are disorganised frequently have low IQs and are antisocial. They don’t have many close friends or family members, and they don’t like to stay in one area for lengthy periods of time. 

These assassins are more likely to have no remembrance of their crimes or to admit that they were driven by voices in their brains or some other fictitious source.

What are these 3 insights into why serial killers kill animals?

Practicing on animals. 

Jeffrey Dahmer, the “Milwaukee cannibal” who mutilated 17 people three decades ago, began by chopping up dogs and cats and impaling their heads on poles. 

Ted Bundy is a notorious serial killer. David Berkowitz—along with a sizable majority of other serial killers—shares another trait: They practised on animals for years before turning their wrath on humans.

Ian Brady, the 1960s Moors killer who tortured and killed five children, boasted of killing his first cat at the age of ten, then went on to burn another cat alive, stone dogs, and chop off bunnies’ heads before turning his attention to people. 

Robert Thompson and Jon Venables used to shoot pigeons with air guns and tether rabbits to railway lines so they could watch them get run over – until they killed James Bulger, a toddler, in 1993.

The connection between early animal mistreatment and later violent and aggressive crime has been confirmed for decades, and some have suspected it much longer. 

However, a new academic study has shown further grim evidence of the psychological impact of watching animal cruelty on youngsters, prompting broad attempts to intervene and prevent those at risk of exacerbating the trauma by playing it out against both animals and people.

Romania was used as a case study to establish “the connection,” but the psychology of moving from watching or experiencing aggression to doing it is a global issue. 

According to numbers released by the Ministry of Justice last year, 13 convicted murderers, 22 child rapists, and 99 persons convicted or warned for child cruelty had also been convicted or cautioned for animal cruelty offences in the preceding decade. 

Animal cruelty was detected in hundreds of sex offenders and others convicted of violently harming others. “Animal cruelty was a greater predictor of sex assault than past convictions for murder, arson, or weapons offences,” Australian research concluded in 2002.

Animal maltreatment is strongly linked to interpersonal, human-to-human violence, according to the FBI. Serial killers usually torture or kill tiny animals from a young age, and males who abuse children or commit domestic violence frequently injure family pets. 

Targeting the weak. 

In a 2016 interview, John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriff’s Association, said, “If someone is abusing an animal, there’s a strong probability they’re also hurting a person.”

People who abuse animals go target someone they consider to be weaker, according to Dr. Chris Hensley, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

Many serial murderers experience rejection from their parents or someone they care about, whether it’s a perceived or genuine rejection. Instead of going after the person who rejected them, they’ll go for something lesser, which is usually an animal. It’s all about power.

Some study proposes a ‘graduate’ idea, in which killers start with animals and progress to humans later—and it’s usually someone they believe to be weaker than themselves, such as prostitutes, hitchhikers, or the elderly.

Generalised deviance theory.

Others believe that animal and human abuse begin simultaneously, which is known as the ‘generalised deviance theory.’ This is where a child may beat another child before returning home and smacking their pet.

Since 1980, the majority of investigations have demonstrated a relationship between childhood animal cruelty and adult interpersonal aggression. It is also recognised that it can occur simultaneously with a child or elder abuse. 

In a domestic violence situation, it’s fairly prevalent, especially if the victim’s animal is involved. There have been several instances of domestic violence perpetrators killing not just the person they are assaulting, but also their pets. 

It’s possible that the pet is seen as an extension of the victim. Children who commit acts of animal cruelty must receive treatment. It’s critical to concentrate on rehabilitation rather than incarceration.

Conclusion – 

This blog post aimed to answer the question, “Do serial killers kill animals?” and studied who serial killers are, how their brains work and how they treat animals to help determine if serial killers kill animals. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

People Who Are Violent Towards Animals Rarely Stop There. PetIndia.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.petaindia.com/issues/companion-animals/link/#:~:text=The%20FBI%20has%20found%20that,diagnostic%20criterion%20for%20conduct%20disorders.

Dalton, J. The link is established between serial killers and animal cruelty. (2019, August 2). Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/domestic-violence-animal-cruelty-abuse-neglect-murder-children-dogs-a9018071.html

Do all serial killers start off killing animals? Quora. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/Do-all-serial-killers-start-off-killing-animals

Watts, S. First They Tortured Animals, Then They Turned to Humans. (2018, January 3). Retrieved from https://www.aetv.com/real-crime/first-they-tortured-animals-then-they-turned-to-humans

Futterman, A. Are Kids Who Abuse Animals Destined to Become Serial Killers? (2021, March 19). Retrieved from https://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/are-kids-who-abuse-animals-destined-to-become-serial-killers

Macdonald triad. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2022, January 11). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macdonald_triad

Wade-Palmer, C. Serial killers who started on animals – the red flags that show murderous traits. (2021, June 19). Retrieved from https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/world-news/serial-killers-started-animals–24327756

COLD HARD FACTS ABOUT ANIMAL ABUSE OFFENDERS. National Coalition On Violence Against Animals, NCOVAA. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ncovaa.org/facts/

Melson, G. F. Do Mass Killers Start Out by Harming Pets? (2013, February 20). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/why-the-wild-things-are/201302/do-mass-killers-start-out-harming-pets

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