Serial Killers Share Several Traits


John Wayne Gacy

It is difficult for anyone to understand what goes on in the mind of a serial killer. Author Jack Rosewood, “The Big Book of Serial Killers,” wrote about 150 serial killers and the traits that most of them had in common.

Smooth Talking But Insincere

Many of us saw the movie about serial killer Ted Bundy. He was known as a charmer. He easily swept people into his web. Ann Rule, a former cop, was friends with Bundy, said his mask was perfect. She also revealed that “you can never be really sure about a person.”

Egocentric And Grandiose

Everyone has heard the name of Jack the Ripper. He always believed he could outsmart the police. He would often send taunting letters to the London officers. In one letter, he wrote, “I am down on whores. I shan’t quit ripping them till I do get buckled…I love my work and want to start again…the next job I do I shall clip the lady’s ears off and send to the police officers.” Jack was definitely one of the sickest of all serial killers.

Lack Of Remorse

Murderer Joel Rifkin was loaded with self-pity following his conviction of killing and dismembering at least nine women. While in prison, he was involved with mass murderer Colin Ferguson. They argued about whose killing spree was most important. Ferguson taunted Rifkin for only killing women. Rifkin responded, “Yeah, but I had more victims.” His accomplishments really made Rifkin proud.

Little, If Any Empathy

Andrei Chikatilo never had second thoughts about taking a life. Many of his murders were very torturous to his victims. He said, “The whole thing – the cries, the blood, the agony – gave me relaxation and a certain pleasure.” Chikatilo would then feast on a bit of genitalia of both male and female victims.

They Are Deceitful And Manipulative

John Wayne Gacy often portrayed a clown. He once said that clowns could get away with murder. Gacy refused to take responsibility for the 28 boys and young men he killed and buried beneath his house.

Few Emotions

Rudolph Pliel was a German serial killer. He was convicted of killing ten people. He later committed suicide while in prison. He compared his murdering people as a hobby comparable to playing cards. He told the police, “What I did is not such great harm, with all these surplus women nowadays. Anyway, I had a good time.”

Many Are impulsive

Some serial killers just have a need to kill. One such man was Tommy Lynn Sells. During his killing spree, he ended dozens of people’s lives throughout the Midwest and South. One day he saw a woman at a convenience store. He followed her home. He waited outside until the house went dark. He said, “I went into this house. I go to the first room I see…I don’t know whose room it is and, and, and, and I start stabbing.” The victim was a young son of the woman.

Poor Behavior Controls

UK killer Dennis Nilsen said, “I wished I could stop, but I could not. I had no other thrill or happiness.” Nilsen killed at least 12 young men. He strangled each one of them. After they died, he washed their body and dressed them before he disposed of them. He often burned the boys’ bodies.


Albert Fish was a masochistic killer with a side of sadism. In one situation, he sent a letter to the mother of one of his victims. He described for her how he cut, cooked, and ate her daughter. He even found his own death to be thrilling. He said, “Going to the electric chair will be the supreme thrill of my life.”

No Responsibility

In a rare moment of finally admitting to the murders he committed, John Wayne Gacy said, “I see myself more as a victim rather than a perpetrator.” He insisted that he had been cheated out of his childhood. He continued, “I should never have been convicted of anything more serious than running a cemetery without a license. They were just a bunch of worthless little queers and punks.”

Early Problems With Behavior

German serial killer Heinrich Pommerencke once said, “When I was a boy, I never had a friend in the world.” It seems he didn’t understand that you couldn’t make a friend with a person you planned to kill. The murderer began raping and murdering girls when he was a teenager.

Adult Antisocial Behavior

Gary Ridgeway seemed to specialize in the type he killed. His specialty was mostly prostitutes. He found hem to be easy prey. They were rarely reported missing, at least not right away. He said, “I don’t believe in man, God, nor Devil. I hate the whole damned human race, including myself…I preyed upon the weak, the harmless, and the unsuspecting. This lesson I was taught by others. Might makes right.” Ridgeway killed 48 women.

These men are really the kind of people I hope I never meet.