College Paper

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, in 2011, 64.8% of homicides committed in the
United States were designated as cleared.   This statistic has remained somewhat stable since 1995
(Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], 2011).   Serial murder, one of the least perpetrated forms of
homicide has been the target of increased research attention for a number of years.   The sensationalism
of this type of homicide is played out in the media time and time again; through movies, television
shows, video games and books.   The apparent increase in the modern serial or multiple murders have
incited interest among social scientists in several areas (Hickey 2007).  
How serial murder is defined has been a topic of controversy ever since its rise to fame in the
past few decades.   Ferguson, White, Cherry, Morenz and Bhimani   (2003) attempt to examine why this is
in their article entitled, “Defining and classifying serial murder in the context of perpetrator motivation.”  
It has been suggested by Holmes and DeBurger (1985) that a rise in the incidence of serial murder may
account for many of the unsolved homicides.   Eric Hickey (1997) contends that figuring out how often
serial murders are committed is actually hampered by the lack of a clear definition of what serial murder
is.   For the definition to be of empirical value, argues Ferguson et al, the scope of the phenomenon
needs to become much more focused.
In 1992, John Douglas and three of his colleagues, Burgess, Burgess and Ressler from the FBI
wrote what they called the Crime Classification Manuel.   In this book, they define serial murder as
“three or more separate events in three or more separate locations with an emotional cooling off period
in between homicides” (pg.21).   This definition has been adopted by the FBI (Ferguson et al.) and is used
most frequently.   The problem, argues Ferguson et al, is that this definition does not cover the
motivation of the offender.   Since...