Serial killers can be classified into categories according to their geographical preference, says Sean Mactire in his book, Malicious Intent: A Writer’s Guide to How Murderers, Robbers, Rapists, and Other Criminal Think. You might find this information useful when creating a believable antagonist. Or it might just be interesting information to file away for future use. Either way, here are the categories:
Territorial Killer: This guy stakes out a defined area (a city, a county, a street, a nearby park) and rarely deviates from his selected game preserve. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) believes 58 percent of American serial killers fall into this category, including 65 percent of all blacks and 44 percent of all female killers. Son of Sam fits into this category. In my current work-in-progress, my serial killer is roaming the streets of Seattle, picking up homeless teens.
Nomadic Killer: This baddie travels widely in his search for prey, driving law enforcement agencies crazy as they wander from one hunting ground to the next. Such was the case of Christopher Wilder, who hunted from California to New England, abducting women from shopping malls and killing them. According to NIJ, 34 percent of all serial killers are nomadic, with 34 percent of the black killers and 28 perfect of women killers among this group. The fun part of using the nomadic killer is you’re not stuck in one place for your novel. You can go anywhere you want, visit any city you want, and confuse the law enforcement good guys until the very end. Of course, you’ll have to plant enough clues and evidence to convict once your protagonist catches up with the antagonist.
Stationary Killer: This is the guy/gal-next-door-type of killer who crouch in wait for victims like spiders in a web. John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer are two of the most famous stationary killers. This killer prefers to commit murder in his or her home or place of employment (like clinics, nursing homes, hospitals…). While only eight percent of all serial killers fit this group, including a small percentage of blacks, NIJ indicates that the majority (28 percent) of these predators are women. Think of Kathy Bates from Misery to see how to use this type of killer in your fiction.
In my next post, I’ll discuss four motives in depth.