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What is a serial killer?

A serial killer is conventionally defined as a person who murders three or more people in a period of over a month, with a “cooling down” time between murders. For a serial killer, the murders must be separate events, which are most often driven by a psychological thrill or pleasure. Serial killers often lack empathy and guilt, and most often become egocentric individuals; these characteristics classify certain serial killers as psychopaths. Serial killers often employ a “mask of sanity” to hide their true psychopathic tendencies and appear normal, even charming.

Serial killers are distinct from mass murderers: while both kill multiple people, mass murderers kill many people at the same time and in the same location, in a single event.

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Notorious Serial Killers in Popular Culture

Clicking on the names below will uncover short biographies of each of these infamous serial killers.

Ted Bundy

Jeffrey Dahmer

Israel Keyes

Richard Ramirez

H.H. Holmes

John Wayne Gacy ("Killer Clown")

Charles Manson

Dennis Rader ("BTK")

Jack the Ripper

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