Everyone wants to be a serial killer.
Dexter; Bates; Hannibal; Bateman. Ever since Macbeth skewered Duncan, popular culture has plumbed the lowest depths and craved the highest high score, romanticising, embellishing and serialising the serial killer. For every IRL ripper, slaying prozzies, there’s a fictional equivalent, despatching innocents with callousness and aplomb.
Our culture is a mirror of our fears and desires. When you gaze into that looking glass, what do you see? You see a man (for such beasts are invariably male) who is all the things you’re not. He’s decisive. He’s impulsive. He’s you if you weren’t such a goddamn pussy. But don’t feel bad about it: he’s all of us.
Where fantasy meets reality
If you’ve never dreamed of becoming a serial killer, you’ve never dreamed. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, though, why you’ve never crossed that line? Why do we leave the killing to our fictional heroes and real life anti-heroes?
Is it out of respect for the sanctity of life? Is it because such barbarity doesn’t belong in a civilised society? No, it’s because you’re scared. You’re scared of being caught and having to spend the rest of your life in jail.
The reality is that serial killers aren’t that different from you or I. They’re just better at embracing that whole carpe diem thing. We may talk about bucket lists and living life to the fullest, but killers are the ones who truly seize the moment and choke the living shit out of it.
We’ve established why we fetishise serial killers; watch their YouTube documentaries, absorb their biographies, laud their fictional counterparts. Now let’s consider what it would take to become one.
Are you ready to break really bad?
How to become a serial killer
If you’re thinking of becoming a serial killer, the first step is to avoid reading articles entitled How to Become a Serial Killer. Unless you accessed this page via a proxy, you’re destined to become a prime suspect the moment bodies start turning cold in your neighbourhood. If you clicked through from Twitter or Facebook, then sorry mate, you dun goofed.
Wikipedia defines a serial killer as “a person who has murdered two or more people over a period of more than a month with a cooling off period between the murders.”
Good serial killers don’t depend on luck though – they don’t need it. If you became a serial killer, you wouldn’t just be a run-of-the-mill lucky-until-his-luck-ran-out one, would you? Of course not – you’d want to be the best! The most lethal with the best nickname and the highest body count.
Speaking of nicknames, what would yours be?
Killing a bunch of people doesn’t make you a serial killer. Killing a bunch of people and having the media assign you a chilling moniker does. But why wait for the press to devise a sinister nick when you can preempt them by leaving a calling card at the scene of the crime?
The greatest art of all
People think that murder requires little more than a tolerance of blood and a complete lack of fucks to give. Actually, that’s only the start. Good serial killers have to be media savvy. They have to be slick publicity machines, bigging up their heinous crimes, taunting five-oh and trolling the victims’ friends and family.
That’s the thing about serial killing; once you’ve crossed that line, there’s no going back. If you’re going to become a monster, don’t just become any monster – become the monster, the one that haunts people in their dreams, shadows them in the streets and watches them in their beds.
Serial killer checklist
- Fiendish nickname
- Preferred victim
- Kill method
- Disposal method
- Calling card
- High score
- Other rituals
Let’s briefly go through these. When we’re done, you’ll have completed Serial Killing 101 and be ready to start thinking about your first victim. Isn’t this exciting?
David Berkowitz was the Son of Sam, Richard Ramirez was the Night Stalker and John Wayne Gacy was the Killer Clown. Other notable killers include the Chessboard Killer, Craigslist Killer, the Boston Strangler, the Angel of Death, the Acid Bath Murderer, the Axeman of New Orleans and the Zodiac Killer. (The latter two were never caught.) What’s yours gonna be? Choose wisely or risk being forever known as the Hammered With a Blunt Object And Rolled Up In An Old Carpet Killer.
Every killer has their preferred type. Easy targets include prostitutes, homeless and others who are unlikely to be missed or demur at being asked to step inside a lorry cab. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to ignore the fact that many serial killings have a sexual element to them, just as we’re going to ignore the killers who target children. If you were a killer, who would you target – racists? Paedophiles? Little old ladies? Taxi drivers? Corrupt politicians (i.e politicians)? There are fiendish serial killers and there are righteous serial killers, Dexters intent on ridding the world of evil. Which are you gonna be?
How will you kill your victims – by strangulation? With an ice pick? Poison? Handgun? If there’s one thing we’ve learned from playing Cluedo, it’s that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, or bash its brains in as the case may be. Altemio Sanchez aka the Bike Path Killer used a piano wire. Ahmad Suradji also strangled his victims – but only after burying them up to their waists. Robert Pickton fed his vics to pigs. If you’re planning to get creative, turn to fiction for inspiration; as Patrick Bateman will aver, there’s a lot of fun to be had with a length of drainpipe and a ravenous rat.
If you’re operating out in the field, you can pretty much leave your victims where they fall. Let the dog walkers of the world find them and the police handle the clean-up. If you prefer to operate from home, however, you’re going to need a way to dispose of the body. Bodies. Dennis Nilsen chopped his up and flushed them down the toilet – only to get caught when the drains started backing up. Whether it’s a bone saw and black bags or acid and an oil drum, you’re going to need a way to dispose of the evi. If all else fails, you can always eat them, washed down with a nice chianti.
The Zodiac Killer sent cryptographic ciphers to the local press (only one of which was ever solved). The Washington snipers left tarot cards at the scene of their crimes. In fiction, calling cards are de rigueur among serial killers. In real life, what will you choose? It doesn’t have to be a physical object; there’s nothing to stop you from starting a Twitter account and taunting the public or setting up a Livestream of your murders as they happen (proxies required). Use technology or use good old-fashioned blood and a paint brush; just make sure you use your head. Smart killers don’t incriminate themselves.
Why did you do it? For vengeance? Because of abusive parents? For teh lulz? From X-Factor to Hollywood, every artist has a backstory, a reason to justify the path they have taken. A reason for their success and an excuse for their failure. What’s yours?
If attaining the high score isn’t one of your life goals, you don’t deserve to be a serial killer. Just as school shooters compete to outdo one another, the raison d’être of serial killers is to notch a record body count before the po-po come calling. The benchmark has been set pretty high, but don’t let that deter you. After all, even the greatest serial killers were once novices.
The Chessboard Killer slayed as many as 60 victims; Colombia’s Luis Garavito attained a whopping 138. Here in the UK, Harold Shipman was convicted of 15 but may have killed up to 250. Aim for the stars; even if you miss you’ll still be a mass murderer.
How often will you kill – weekly like Richard Ramirez and the Washington snipers or sporadically – once a year or less? If you’re aiming for the high score, you’ll have to strike regularly or wipe out a helluva lot of people when you do break cover.
When will you kill – under the cover of night or callously in broad daylight? You may prefer to wait for a full moon or until your football team loses to your bitter rivals. Anything can be a trigger. What about location; will you operate in your own neighbourhood or drive way out of town?
From scarification of the bodies to arranging them in a specific manner, every set of killings has a pattern to it. The ritual is all part of the process.
We’ve covered what to do in order to become a serial killer. Now a few thoughts on what not to do. Notching a high score half a century ago was relatively easy; provided you weren’t seen at the locus, there’s a good chance you’d get away with it. These days, it’s a whole lot harder.
As one nation under CCTV, it’s impossible to cross the street without being recorded, let alone drag a heavy suitcase round the back of McDonald’s. Then there’s DNA. If you’ve been convicted of petty crimes in the past, your details will already be on file. Leave so much as a hair or a trace of a print at the scene and you’re donald ducked.
Thanks to advances in forensic technology, even familial DNA can be used to develop a profile. If you want to become a cold-blooded killer, you’d better make sure you have law-abiding brothers and sisters who’ve never been swabbed.
Serial killing is wrong, but if you must do it, make sure you do it right. No fuck ups, no mercy, no regrets. YOLO.
Follow @whisperednothin < Ed Uncovered, yo.
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