Feminization of Serial Killing

Patricia Kirby, College of Notre Dame
Jennifer Grine, College of Notre Dame

This presentation analyzes the personal backgrounds, occupations and methods of murder of a sample of individuals charged and/or convicted of serial killing since 1999. These recent serialists are compared to the 1998 research of Patricia Kirby Ph.D. on male and female serial murderers in female-dominated occupations. Kirby's original hypotheses states "the gender identity of serial murderers strongly influences role and occupational selection but their occupation will determine their methods of murder." The original research explores the gender identity of serialists who used covert (poisoning, suffocation, lethal injection) methods of murder. Findings in this study indicate that gender identity influenced the serialists in the selection of female-dominated occupations. However, while engaged in these occupations, the males practiced masculinity and the females practiced feminninity. Because the victim selection and murderous behavior occurred while working in care-giver roles, the use of covert methods is more consistent with the feminine roles and occupations than the serialist's gendered behavior. Analysis of this additional sample of eight serialists indicates support of the original hypothesis. It appears as though one's occupation, not gender, influences the selection of methods of murder.

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Updated 05/20/2006