Doc Bonn on Serial Killers
Serial killers hold the fascination of the public, whether in true crime news accounts of individuals such as Ted Bundy or fictional depictions such as the television shows Dexter and Criminal Minds or popular movies such as the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” or “Silence of the Lambs.” Serial killers seem so purely predatory and unremorseful that our society cannot help but display a macabre interest in them. Although
they account for no more than 1% of the approximately 15,000 homicides in the U.S. annually, serial killers receive a disproportionate amount of media attention due to the incomprehensible savagery of their deeds.
Significantly, serial killers differ from mass murderers or spree murderers. A mass murder can be defined as the killing of multiple people at a single location where the victims may be either randomly selected or targeted. A mass murderer is often killed at the scene of the crime; sometimes by his/her own hand. A spree murder is the killing of multiple people at different locations over a short period of time (the maximum duration is usually 7 days). The killer in spree murders often but not always knows his/her victims, and most often targets family members or romantic partners.
I use the following list of behavioral criteria to define serial homicide for the purposes of my research:
1. At least three murdered victims.
2. The murders take place in separate events, at different times.
3. The killer experiences an emotional cooling off period between murders.
The key distinction between serial killers and mass or spree killers is this emotional cooling off period in which the killer blends back into his/her seemingly normal life. The predator reemerges to strike again when the urge to kill becomes overwhelming. The duration of the cooling off period can vary from weeks to months or even years, and varies by killer. Dennis Rader or “Bind, Torture, Kill” (BTK) had 10 known victims over nearly 30 years!
There is some disagreement over the serial killer definition, mostly about the number of killings required. There is also debate as to whether organized crime hit-men should be considered serial killers. Doc Bonn argues that they are not serial killers because their motivation is purely business and their killings fulfill no emotional needs. Serial killers are driven to murder by urges and fantasies that they frequently do not comprehend.
Doc Bonn’s Research
Doc Bonn is currently researching and writing a popular book on the public’s fascination with serial killers titled, "Why We Love Serial Killers," published by Skyhorse Press for release in 2014. This book examines the social processes through which serial killers often become morbid pop culture celebrities. The book seeks to answer the following:
In order to help answer these questions, Doc Bonn is exploring the mysterious, psychopathic criminal minds of infamous serial killers. Ironically, and perhaps shockingly, this book proposes that serial killers may actually serve a function in society by clarifying the meaning of “evil” and setting moral boundaries—that is, by helping to establish the outer limits of what one human being can do to others.
Doc Bonn believes that it is quite natural for people to be fascinated by why serial killers commit their murders and for their grizzly exploits to become media spectacles. Let us know what you think about this topic. Message Doc Bonn on his contact page.
Who are the ten scariest serial killers ever captured?
Read HERE and see if you agree!
Long Island Serial Killer
Why the Long Island Serial Killer Holds Us Hostage The Cold Case Squad, Dec. 2011
Dating back to “Jack the Ripper,” who terrorized London, England, and the world in the 1880s, serial killers have captured our collective imagination while sending chills down our spines. Although they account for only a small fraction (perhaps 2%) of the 17,000 or so murders each year in the U.S., sexual psychopaths captivate many of us, in part, because of the unimaginable savagery of their deeds. There is currently an unidentified killer of ten people (including at least six female prostitutes) whose bodies, some dismembered, were found on the South Shore of Long Island, New York, between December, 2010, and April, 2011.
Hunt Is On for Serial Killer in Long Island Deaths
New York Times, Dec. 2010
Scott A. Bonn, a professor of sociology at Drew University in Madison, N.J., who lectures on criminology and serial killers, warned that finding clues could hinge on the state of decomposition of the bodies.
“If the bodies are too far decomposed,” he said, “you would not have that evidence.”
Why So Many Serial Killers on Long Island?
New York Times, Apr. 2011
Scott Bonn, a serial-killer researcher and assistant professor of sociology at Drew University in New Jersey, said the explanation was simple. Because serial killers often prefer to live in densely populated areas — for easy access to potential victims — it is not a surprise that three of them who specialized in sex workers had turned up over two decades in a place with a population of 2.8 million. “The odds that you would have these three guys in rural Mississippi in that time period are far less likely than in a densely populated area like Long Island,” he said.
Personality Profile of Long Island Serial Killer: Smart, Sadistic, in a Relationship
New York Magazine, Apr. 2011
The experts consulted had access only to the data that's been made public thus far, such as the fact that four of the bodies were prostitutes who advertised on Craigslist. Bonn explained:
“He has to be persuasive enough and rational enough that he is able to convince these women to meet him on these terms. He has demonstrated social skills. He may even be charming.”
Bodies dumped on Long Island beach all women, cops say as they hunt possible serial killer
New York Daily News, Dec. 2010
"Serial killers typically have some sort of a signature," said Professor Scott Bonn, who teaches classes in criminology and sociology at Drew University in New Jersey.
"Jack the Ripper, of course, his signature was the ripping of the bodies," Bonn added.
"So if the forensic evidence itself - depending upon the bones or flesh or whatever is left - if it allows for that sort of identification, that would be one way of using forensic evidence to link these murders."
Long Island Serial Killer's Victims Are Not Disposable
Forbes, Dec. 2011
“If you have not heard of this predator,” Bonn says, “it is probably because he specializes in killing sex workers, including prostitutes he contacts using Craigslist, a classified advertising site on the Internet. The ongoing investigation has received modest media attention and mostly in the New York area. However, if the killer was not focusing on marginalized members of society—that is, mostly female sex workers—this case would be a national media phenomenon.”
(read the complete Q&A interview at the link)