Ritual Dreams Releasing Early

Ritual Dreams was formatted and ready to go in record time. And after sitting on it for a day or two, I realized it was a problem. I hate sitting on books. Sometimes, I think I have impulse control issues. After a day of not making progress on any of my works in progress, I realized it was because I was anxiously anticipating the release of Ritual Dreams…

So, I moved up the release date. Instead of releasing on Malachi’s Birthday (April 1), it will release March 22. That is all. Back to work.

The Glamorized Serial Killer

The serial killer in literature is an interesting thing. Recently, a reader shared an opinion article that writers like myself were glamorizing serial killers. But I beg to disagree. I don’t think most fictional crime writers think about their serial killers after the book ends. And of all the literature I’ve read featuring serial killers only two stand out in my memory.

The first is Hannibal Lecter, because Anthony Hopkins brought that role to life. The book version of Hannibal is interesting, but he isn’t as appealing as the version played by Sir Anthony. And if you doubt that, watch the movie Manhunter from 1986. It is based on Harris’ first book Red Dragon. Hannibal Lecter is played by Brian Cox. I remember it so well, I had to Google it to figure out the name of it.

The second is Alton Turner Blackwood the killer in What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz. But I don’t remember him because he was scary or glamorous, I remember him because Dean Koontz had him demonically possessed into being a serial killer.

As for the serial killers in D&R (there have been more than 14 of them at this point), I don’t remember the names of any of them except the one from Ritual Dreams. Did you catch that? Even though I am currently writing Anonymous Dreams, I can’t remember the name of the killer even as I write this post. This is partly because I have a terrible memory and partly because in D&R the serial killer is a device. They exist solely so Aislinn, Gabriel, Xavier, Lucas, and Fiona can do something beyond sitting around having conversations over cups of coffee. Well, that and people enjoy reading serial killer thrillers/horror.

I think most writers are like me. Their serial killers are devices to give the story a plot, not a creation meant to make serial killers seem cool or glamorous. However, I will say if every fictional serial killer was below average intelligence and had trouble functioning in society, the serial killer thriller genre would quickly die away.

Modus Operandi & Signature

Since time immemorial, people have been killed by people they know. The statistic for it is very high, something like 97% of all murder victims are acquainted with their murderer. It might even be higher. This is why when someone is murdered police talk to family, friends, and even acquaintances first and foremost.

There are only two types of killings that don’t fall into this; serial killings and contract killings. Even with drive-by gang related shootings, there is an acquaintanceship between killer and victim.

Even when there is a known serial killer on the loose, a stranger killing is still rarely anyone’s first thought. And unless there’s a signature, it can be difficult to connect serial kills. It’s about more than MO. It’s about more than details not released to the public. Especially, as we move away from the era when everything we knew about serial killers came from the lips of Ted Bundy.

We now know that modus operandi isn’t as constant as we once believed. As a matter of fact, serial killers often change their MO and their signatures. Of those that didn’t, we have Zodiac, BTK, and Richard Ramirez (the Night Stalker). But this was done for a reason. These were all police taunters. They wanted the police to know which kills were theirs and we could be wrong about Zodiac.

Zodiac claimed a higher body count than the police and FBI attributed to him. Catching killers like BTK have shown us a great deal we didn’t know about serial killers and estimates have been revised for Zodiac in the last two decades. Because it is possible that Zodiac was killing in multiple locations, using multiple modus operandi (this includes weapons and manner of death), and it is quite likely he didn’t sign every kill, like we originally thought.

Oddly, serial killer signatures aren’t much different than Nom de Plumes, pen names for authors. I know a half dozen authors who have multiple pen names. Each name is for a specific genre. When you think of it that way, it seems plausible that a serial killer would have multiple signatures, one for each type of killing. Sticking with Zodiac as our example, Zodiac did not sexually assault any of his victims and he shot them. That was what was looked for in the Zodiac killings, along with letters to the press and his infamous crosshairs marking of the circle with the cross through it.

If Zodiac wanted to rape and kill, he could have. If he didn’t want it associated with himself, well that’s easy enough. Stab the victim or strangle them. Don’t send a letter to the press. And don’t carve the crosshairs anywhere.

And suddenly, viola, you have Jane Doe killed by an unknown person, but even though Zodiac is killing couples in this area of California, she can’t possibly be a victim of Zodiac, because Zodiac doesn’t rape them, he doesn’t strangle them, he’s attacked only multiple victims such as couples, and he really likes to read about himself in the press and he hasn’t claimed responsibility.

Another lesson learned from serial killers of the 1990s and 2000s. Gary Ridgway (Green River Killer) and Dennis Rader (BTK), both changed how they killed on different occasions. Ridgway was known to strangle his victims. But when a hitchhiker turned up near the Green River dump site, beaten to death, she wasn’t immediately linked to the other Green River killings, because the Green River Killer strangled his victims and they were almost all known prostitutes. After Ridgway was caught, he confessed to killing the hitchhiker and he had more details than could have been gleaned from news accounts of it. Dennis Rader once taunted police by sending in the driver’s license of a woman who had been murdered, but it hadn’t been attributed to BTK. The murder had been considered too different from BTK’s other kills.

This flexibility to change MO and signature, was once believed to be impossible. It was once believed that a serial killer had to do these things in this exact manner, as if it were some kind of compulsion. Understanding that it isn’t, has changed how we look at serial killers and their victims. It has also resulted in our realization that some serial killers may have been much more successful than we thought. Applying it historically, it makes us wonder, isn’t it reasonable to think that perhaps Jack the Ripper didn’t stop killing in Whitechapel? Maybe he got tired of the gruesome gory kills. Maybe he refined how he killed. Whitechapel was an area where murder was fairly common. If he decided to stop butchering his victims, it is very likely he continued to kill and they just weren’t “Ripperesque” enough to be attributed to him. The same could be true of Zodiac and several others. Which makes that 37 Zodiac chillingly scrawled on one of his notes, seem plausible or perhaps the word is probable.

True Crime – Cold Case

I have watched a lot of true crime lately. To cut down on expenses, we got rid of cable and started using Hulu live. It’s about $70 a month less, which is nice and we still have DVR capabilities. And since I can watch it on my phone or tablet, I’ve had a few days where I ran shows like Unusual Suspects as background noise while working.

One of the things that surprises me every time, is when they have cold cases. Not the solving of cold cases, but the shock to the family of the killer. Several cases I’ve watched recently took decades to solve and the killer was young at the time (sometimes a mere teenager).

To some degree, I’m used to serial killers having full lives after killing people, but it still surprises me when it’s just an average run of the mill killer. I know that sounds weird, but people who only kill once, really aren’t psychologically built for the long game. They aren’t sociopaths or psychopaths.

These crimes are often crimes of passion; violent, rage filled killings. Not plotted or planned, like in the case of serial killings. Yet, these killers even though they only killed once, go on to have families.

Then suddenly 20 or 30 years after the crimes, the police show up and arrest them thanks to advances in forensics. How shocking for the spouse or any children.

And then the awkward explanations… and the gut wrenching decisions. Can you stand by a husband who raped and murdered his neighbor when he was 17 or 20? But he’s never even yelled at you? Honestly, you’ve never met that man that did that terrible thing. The man you know has always been the perfect husband and father.

I feel sorry for these people; the spouses and children. It must feel like stepping into the Twilight Zone. In one moment, everything you thought you knew changed and your life became nightmarish. And the questions: How could they be married to a murderer and not know it?

Changing the Course of the World

Sometimes, the history of the world is changed in just a matter of moments or by the actions of a single person. I was given to think about this one New Year’s Eve when I played a trivia game with some friends. A strange occurrence that lasted only minutes nearly condemned famed explorer Christopher Columbus to death at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition. Some of his crew were not as lucky as he was and were put to death or tortured to death.

Columbus sailed west from Spain in 1492 and ended up taking the most direct route to the Caribbean that he could have. This is not a well traveled route these days because there is an impediment that lays in the way. The Sargasso Sea is the only sea in the world bordered not by land, but by water only. It sits in the Atlantic Ocean near the Caribbean. It is bordered by strong jet streams and currents and is the habitat of many animals because of its unique feature. It is so named because sargassum seaweed free floats in mass quantities in the Sargasso Sea. There is so much there that ships get stranded there.

All three of Columbus’ ships became mired in the seaweed of the Sargasso Sea for several days. They were at the mercy of the sea and the winds. On the second or third night that they were stuck in the Sargasso a curious thing happened. A glowing object shaped like a menorah rushed out of the water and hovered over the sea for a handful of minutes. It was such a startling happening, that Columbus put it in his captain’s log as did the captains of his other ships.

Upon returning to Spain, some of Columbus’ men told people about the flying menorah and Columbus’ log book was confiscated. And he was dragged in front of the Spanish Inquisition. Records of his questioning can still be found in the files of the Spanish Inquisition.

Eventually, a well respected monk that had traveled with the ships came to Columbus’ aid. He went before the Inquisition and supported Columbus’ statement of the facts. Unfortunately, the testimony of the monk was not enough to save all the members of the crew that were brought before the Inquisition.

Columbus was eventually given the chance to redeem himself by giving money to the Church. The problem was not that Columbus saw a UFO but that he described it as shaped like a menorah.

And so, Columbus was nearly executed for heresy because he described a UFO as a menorah. One has to wonder what we would be taught about Columbus if things had not turned out in his favor.

Put Another Brick in the Wall

Several of my blog posts of late have dealt with historic walls and yes, it was leading up to this post. The US government has entered a partial shutdown because neither Republicans nor Democrats in congress really want to fund the border wall. I could have taken a cultural look at the efficiency of walls, but chose the militaristic side for a specific reason.

Here’s the deal, the border wall between the US and Mexico will not stem the tide of illegal immigration from Central America. It won’t even stem the tide of drugs, people trafficked for sex, or illegal guns. There are two main reasons pouring 30 billion into a border wall is basically flushing money down the toilet. 1) desperation doesn’t care about physical obstacles and most of the immigrants nowadays are from areas of Central America where violent conflict, corrupt governments, and poverty rule the land. They are desperate to settle anywhere but where they are. 2) There is an army constantly working to defeat all security measures put in place by the US to secure the border between the US and Mexico.

In the decades before the Black Death swept through Europe, there was a devastating famine on the continent. Tradesmen built a freaking tunnel under the walls of Paris to get inside where they hoped richer citizens would pay them more for goods… even though they knew the famine was affecting the cities just as much as the countryside. A similar thing happened in Medieval Moscow, citizens tunneled under the walls of Moscow in order to search for food and money during the famine. Desperate people are willing to do whatever it takes to relieve their situations. People spent 40 years crossing the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane season in what amounted to row boats to escape Cuba. No wall will ever keep the desperate out.

I focused on the military aspect more than the cultural because Americans seem to forget there is always an army working to defeat every security we put in place; those are not armies of immigrants, they are well paid and usually well trained mercenaries hired by the Cartels. Most Cartels are large, well funded, well oiled machines that churn out drugs and slaves to be sent out for consumption. And as long as there are Cartels in Mexico, no border wall will keep them from moving their goods into the US. This means at this very moment, Cartels have plans prepared to deal with a chain link fence spanning the 1,954 miles of the US/Mexico border.

In other words, before the wall is even built, there are plans to undermine its capabilities. That is literally no different than accidentally securing the gates of Rome after the Vandals have gotten inside. And the Cartels have people on the inside, people who are US citizens whose sole job is to ensure that the Cartels continue to have access to the US.

No border wall is going to stop them. And if we can’t secure it from the armies of the Cartels, we can’t secure it from illegal immigrants. A breached wall might as well not exist. Because the Cartels already use Drug Tunnels to move people if the money is good enough. Even if we build it with reinforced concrete, it won’t matter to the Cartel. No wall in the history of the world has ever been known as effective. Even the Berlin Wall which was one of the more effective was defeated by desperation.

Wouldn’t that 30 billion dollars be better spent here in the US to fund the ATF, DEA, FBI, ICE, border guards, Homeland Security, and any number of other defenses that actually work? And defeating the Cartels is more important than trying to stop illegal immigration. But as history shows us again and again, there is no wall that can be built that is big enough to deter an army of any size. So other solutions must be explored because our border wall is already compromised.

The Annual Mothman Festival

I learned earlier this week that every year in September, Point Pleasant, West Virginia has a Mothman Festival.  I also learned that Point Pleasant has embraced this cryptid’s mythology and there is Mothman merchandise (not associated with the Debra Messing/Richard Gere movie).  

In 1966 and 1967 saw a massive amount of Mothman sightings in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, not all encounters were terrifying.  There are stories from some that claim their encounter with the Mothman provided them with a premonition about a tragedy striking them or their families.

It was this idea that reporter John Keel capitalized on when he wrote the book The Mothman Prophecies that was used as the basis for the film of the same name.  

The book and then the movie granted the sleepy and dying town of Point Pleasant with a revenue source!  Thousands of people flock to Point Pleasant every year to see where Mothman made his most prominent appearance.  

I hope to go and I feel like I need a Mothman statuette, I saw one of the Mothman museum gift shop’s website, but the little statuette was not available for purchase on the site.  

The collapse of the Silver Bridge is an integral part of the Mothman story.  Mothman isn’t native to Point Pleasant, he has been reported in many locales across the globe, usually before a tragedy.  I even found accounts of a mothman like being in Pripyat, Ukraine in 1985… the year before the meltdown of Chernobyl.  And in 2017, reports started to surface that people were reporting a Mothman like creature in Chicago, IL.  A cryptozoologist has reportedly gathered more than 100 sightings of the creature from Chicago, IL which started in September of 2017.  As of yet, no disaster has befallen the city, unless you consider Chicago’s rising crime rate a disaster of the same magnitude of the Silver Bridge and Chernobyl.  

Later this week or next, I hope to do a post on Mothman sightings prior and post 1966/1967 in Point Pleasant.  Until then, just know that September 20 and 21 2019, if you are near West Virginia, there will be a Mothman Festival you could attend.  (I do secretly hope that if I make it Loren Coleman has a booth).  

The Case of Samuel Little

Until a few days ago, Gary Ridgway, also known as the Green River Killer was considered America’s most prolific serial killer.  In 2001, he plead guilty to 48 counts of first degree murder.  Those were the cases that could be proven.  He was suspected of 71 murders.  Earning the dubious recognition of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer… Until the case against Samuel Little was released to the public by the FBI and Texas Rangers.

Little is 78 years old, brought into this world in 1940.  In 2010, he was arrested in a homeless shelter in Kentucky and extradited to California for drug trafficking charges.  California is one of the states involved in something called Mandatory DNA Submission.  Every inmate in the California penal system has their DNA swabbed for comparison with open cases in California.

In many instances, the DNA is also sent to ViCAP, the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program.  Samuel Little’s was, after it was found to match unidentified DNA associated with the murder of three women in California.

That right there, makes him a serial killer.  As he stood trial for those three murders, his DNA was sent to ViCAP and found to match a murder case out of Odessa, Texas.  The State of Texas sent someone to interview Little and Little began to confess.  It would be his confession that would send him vying for Ridgway’s infamous epitaph.  As it stands right now, he’s confessed to 90 murders.  More amazingly, he remembers dates, names, descriptions, and details from each town he committed a murder in.

Now, once before, we’ve seen the work of a prolific confessor in Henry Lee Lucas who confessed to more than 200 murders.  The difference is Lucas didn’t remember “details” about the crimes and in many instances, law enforcement was able to prove he was in another location at the time.

That may not be the case with Samuel Little’s confessions.  Law enforcement, duped once by Henry Lee Lucas, has been careful about investigating Little’s confessions.  The FBI is working diligently with local law enforcement agencies across the country to verify details from Little’s confessions to open cases.  Details that may indeed make him the most prolific serial killer in the US.

According to a press release from the FBI dated 11/28/2018, they have found enough evidence at this point, to believe that Little is indeed telling the truth.  For the record, Little has even served time for violent assault in Missouri and stood trial for murder in Florida.  And he was convicted of the three murders in Los Angeles, California.  

Little is the most dreaded type of serial killer to law enforcement.  He’s traveled extensively throughout the US.  Even ViCAP has difficulty connecting murders across state lines.  And Little doesn’t appear to have a signature.

He’s a sadist with violent sexual fantasies and his myriad of crimes aren’t limited to murder, he’s also committed crimes of rape, assault and battery, and attempted murder.  Most of his murders involved physical beatings followed by strangulation.  But not all of them…

Profilers as well as ViCAP works better when a serial killer sticks to an MO, Little didn’t.  And he didn’t “sign” his kills like the Boston Strangler did.  This means Little didn’t only beat and strangle his victims, he has confessed to using other methods to kill.  And he didn’t cut off the pinky finger of every victim to take as a trophy or their driver’s license.  

Furthermore, Little didn’t just kill prostitutes like Gary Ridgway.  Little was more opportunistic, taking both high risk victims like prostitutes and low risk victims like soccer moms.  

All of this means that Little will be studied for a long time by serial killer hunters, because of how much he deviated from what “serial killers are supposed to do”…

It’s really quite scary when you think about it…

What Accosta’s ban from the White House Really Means

No US president has ever said being president was easy and most would say it isn’t fun.  They have to answer some very tough questions put forth by the press and the American public.  Reagan had the Iran/Contra scandal, George Bush Sr. had the Gulf War, Clinton had Lewinsky, Bush Jr. had Iraq, Obama had the Affordable Care Act.  They all answered questions about it.  They didn’t love every reporter that sat in the gallery of a press conference.  And they certainly didn’t love every question.

However, not once do I ever remember hearing a President respond by telling the reporter it was a stupid question or by calling the reporter stupid.  Most have accepted that’s the way it goes in a country with free press and free of speech.  Yet, President Trump continues to act like the White House is the stage of the Apprentice where he can say and do anything he wants and no one is going to tell him any different.

When I first heard President Trump had banned Jim Accosta from White House press conferences, I shook my head, the tantrum had finally happened.  Tomorrow or the next day, Accosta would be back asking the president questions he didn’t want to answer.

Then the days dragged on and the ban become a more serious and real problem.  This is the action of a despot, a dictator that doesn’t want the people to know what he’s up to.  Especially, considering he banned CNN while talking about how much he loved Fox News.

I’m seeing parallels between this behavior and the behavior of leaders like Vladimir Putin, who despite being elected democratically, still only talks to state sponsored media.  State sponsored media is the very antithesis of our founding principles of free speech and free press.   Something that requires free access by members of the press that supports both conservative and liberal news oriented organizations.

And while I thought the replacement of Accosta with a different White House reporter was the answer, so far, President Trump has done nothing but belittle these reporters.  Calling them stupid, calling their questions stupid and racist.  And he gets away with it.  Why should he stop until only Fox News is left in a position to report on events in the White House?  When Fox News becomes President Trump’s state sponsored media outlet and everyone else is wrong, fake, false, and subversive?

Love or hate him, it’s hard to deny that President Trump is setting it up to enforce a state sponsored media similar to what they have in Russia.  Of course, if you point this out to him, he’ll point out how stupid you are for bringing it up.

No one has demanded he like every reporter or every question that gets asked of him, that’s unrealistic.  But is it really so hard to act like a person and deal with those he doesn’t like as if he were attempting to be an adult?  If you told everyone they were stupid or that was a stupid question every time you got asked something you didn’t want to answer, how long would you keep your job?

Serial Killers, Industrialization, and Urbanization

Recently, I published a post about serial killers having always existed in the course of human history.  I had a reader disagree with me, stating that as far as they could tell, serial killers were the result of the urbanization that happened during the Industrial Revolution.  Here’s my rebuttal and why I think they have always walked among us.

Urbanization was not a result of the Industrial Revolution.  Since civilizations began to form on this planet we have had urbanization.  I did agree with one thing they said “crime is a side effect of urbanization.”  Yes, yes it is.

We look back into history for codified penal codes and the first is always the Code of Hammurabi.  We all know it, a justice system built upon an eye for an eye.  It was written by the king of Babylon Hammurabi and set down on a large chunk of stone as well as smaller scrolls.  The difference is, we’ve found the large stone, but only fragments of the scrolls, which appear to have been delivered to magistrates outside the capitol city Babylonia.

It makes sense.  The stone was carved approximately 3,700 years ago (best guess based on source materials talking about it).  We don’t know if the stone was carved first or the scrolls, but safe money would be on the scrolls.  This means that mesopotamia may have had a crime problem.  A problem with not just crime, but uniform punishments for crimes.  Hence the creation of the code.  In one of my early civilization classes, we were told to look at the punishments listed first on the code, because those are probably the most prevalent (i.e. the biggest problems).  If my memory is correct, the first two deal with theft and murder.

Best estimate for the population of Babylonia in 1700 BCE is 200,000 residents.  That would make Babylonia an urban center…. and if my professor was right, we know they had problems with murder or Hammurabi would not have made it a priority to address it.  And as a human being, I tend to agree with my professor.  I don’t put the least important stuff at the beginning of a letter.  I start with the things that I absolutely require the readers full attention on.

There are over 200 penal codes outlined in the Code of Hammurabi.  Attention spans suck, even back then, because people are fundamentally people.  You don’t start with horse theft if it isn’t a big problem because people are only going to read the first 20 lines or so.  Beyond that and their brains are going to shut off.  It’s the way it works, that’s why no one reads the End User License Agreement when they install software… it’s legal jargon and there are pages upon pages of it.

And we don’t actually know what crimes were a problem because while Hammurabi made a codified penal system for crimes committed in Babylon in the 1700s, no one wrote down Enki Abu Blah (Enki is a god in Babylon, I just couldn’t think of any other names for a Babylonian) was found guilty of murdering his neighbor after he found his neighbor had participated in carnal relations with Enki’s wife; punishment put to death by being pecked to death by crows.

Other early civilizations (Egypt, Greece, Rome, Persia, Carthage) would also codify crime and punishment.  And again, murder appears to have been a problem among these civilizations if the order of the laws as stated on papyrus scrolls is an indicator.  Again, what we lack are the written records of the crimes committed that made it necessary to codify a legal system.

Giza, Egypt around 1000 BCE has been estimated to be nearly 300,000 people including slaves.  Move forward a little and you have Athens in approximately 500 BCE with a population of 250,000 people, but those were citizens… women, slaves, men under 30, men not born in Athens, but not slaves, these people were not slaves.  Most historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists suspect the population of Athens to be more than 500,000 in 500 BCE.

If serial killers exist because urbanization exists, then my original statement was correct, serial killers have existed from the moment we started building cities.  Hell, the capitol of Sumer in 5,000 BCE, the ancient city of Uruk had a population of 200,000 people.  To put that into perspective, you really have to think about it.  6,700 years ago, when the world population numbered in just the millions, Uruk had a population of 200,000 people.

However, urbanization did occur with the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s.  It just didn’t occur as we think.  London in 1500 CE had a population of 80,000 people.  A far cry from the population of London today.  But with the Industrial Revolution London went to having a population of more than one million people in 1800.  It became the largest city in Europe with industrialization.

For some reason though, we are still convinced that our civilization ancestors, lived in towns of 5,000 people or less.  If Sparta had only had a population of 5,000 people, they would have lost a lot of battles.  In reality, the Sparta we learn about in school had a population of more than 50,000 people.  Much, much smaller than it’s sister city of Athens.  Of course, Sparta had population growth under control with their rules to ensure that every man served in the army and they weeded out weaknesses in infants by leaving them to die, so they wouldn’t contaminate the gene pool by breeding.  Those kinds of things make it very hard to grow your population.

I have pondered on part of their argument though, was it perhaps not urbanization that created serial killers, but industrialization?  If that’s the case, then serial killers would be fairly new to the world.  Every time I think about that part of it though, I come to two very odd facts that I have trouble reconciling.

  1. Nearly every child raised before 1960 most likely had sociopathic traits.  Child rearing before modern day leaned far more to the Spartan method than the Dr. Spock method.  Why aren’t serial killers littering the historical records.
  2. There are serial killers in the history record before the 1800s.  Not many, but a few.  Which makes me think the same problem exists for early serial killers as it does for the US v. the rest of the world in the creation of serial killers.  In the 1990s, the FBI put out a terrifying report, the US which holds only 5% of the world population had over 85% of it’s serial killers.  Holy crap, what was the US doing wrong?!  Turns out, nothing and the stat is very skewed.  The reason it looked like serial killers were a US problem was because we had the FBI.  By the mid-1990s the Behavioral Science Unit was up and running.  Understanding serial killers was becoming an art form.  Why so many serial killers in the US compared to the rest of the world then?  Lack of reporting, lack of understanding, lack of putting serial killer cases together.  And lack of publicity surrounding the capture of serial killers.  The US doesn’t have a serial killer problem, it has a reporting problem – they are too good at reporting their successes.  I believe pre-Victorian era serial killers work the same way, if they were caught, there wasn’t any publicity around it.
  3. Finally, there wasn’t a complete definition for a serial killer.  Nor the understanding that we have today.  As of right this second, we know that serial killers can and do just stop killing for a variety of reasons that do not involve death or prison.  We also know that sometimes they change signatures and MOs.  Victimology is the most consistent thing about a serial killer.  And there were serial killers.  Only a handful, but a handful of serial killers before the 1800s is a sign that serial killers did exist.  Elizabeth Bathory, Gilles Garnier, Vlad Tepes (the real person not the creation of Stoker), were all medieval serial killers.

I also believe that serial killing took a hiatus in the 14th and 15th century.  This is where the lack of urbanization myth comes from.  Between the mid-1300s and the late 1400s Europe, all of Europe (as well as the Middle East and North Africa) had a serious problem.  Bubonic Plague became hyper-virulent.  Normally, plague is passed by fleas and even humans had fleas during the Middle Ages, but that doesn’t explain why it swept through Europe with such deadly efficiency and speed.  Plague under normal circumstances spreads very slowly and takes 7-15 days to kill you.  During the Black Death epidemic of the middle ages, it spread rapidly, written accounts make it appear it could be spread from person to person, and death happened in just a few days, not a week or longer.  We have now learned that once in a while, it does indeed spread person to person and become a much stronger reproducer causing quicker deaths.

Millions died.  But the superstitions surrounding the Black Death (which have mostly turned out to be true, just FYI) about it travelling on the air, would have been preventative, keeping the deranged away, in case your household had plague, but wasn’t showing symptoms yet.  In 1200 CE, the population of Paris France was estimated at over 100,000 people.  By 1500 CE, when the Black Death was under control, the population was only 45,000 people.  More than half the city’s population either died or moved, because in urban centers, plague spread even faster than in rural communities.  (The Black Death did have one good side effect, it ended feudalism)

This was not the first time this had happened with plague, but it was the worst.  The Justinian Plague (also an outbreak of bubonic plague) killed more than half the population of Constantinople between 400 CE and 540 CE, estimated death toll was in the hundreds of thousands.  Meaning Constantinople was quite obviously an urban center at the time.

Leading me to continue to believe that serial killers have always existed.  It should be pointed out that I don’t always buy into the modern definition of a serial killer, because there are at least 4 of them and they are all based on the idea of signature, MO, and inability to stop killing.  Since all these things are fluid, more fluid than we thought just 20 years ago, I consider a serial killer anyone who murders more than 3 people for either sexual gratification, their own personal pleasure, or entertainment.  I consider this a fitting definition, since one of these three things must be there for a serial killer to be created.  For example, if I kill author C. Patt (don’t worry, Chris, you’re safe, I hate being in the same room as dead things and frankly killing you makes you a dead thing), I have to enjoy it or I won’t do it again.  That lack of enjoyment automatically stops me from being a serial killer, since one victim doesn’t cut it.  Also, things like cooling off periods are quite variable which is part of another definition of a serial killer.  I usually believe that simpler is better for defining things, because there are too many outliers when definitions get very detailed.

There was also an argument for urbanization creating the anonymous neighbor.  This is true, in towns and cities of several thousand people, you don’t know everyone.  However, I’m not sure that serial killers require anonymous neighbors.  There are scores of serial killers that started with someone they knew, personally, sometimes intimately, before moving on to their anonymous neighbors.  What urbanization does bring to the table for serial killers is an extremely deep well of victims to choose from.  It’s much easier to kill 10 people in a city of 100,000 than in a village of 500.  But massive urban centers dotted the landscape as far as the eye could see.  And I’m not convinced it was the industrialization of Europe that lead to the creation of serial killers, simply because there’s no reason for it to be a huge factor.