The Etiology of Serial Murder

Christopher J. Kurtz, Virtual University

The crime of serial murder is characterized by rigorous etiological research and a preponderance of journalistic theorizing. While it has engaged public concern and interest, it has failed to secure a much needed multi-disciplinary research program. Many studies of serial murderers consist of post-hoc case studies, often based on psychoanalysis and clinical experience. Other studies have relied upon data which has been collected from second hand sources. Neither of these types of studies is easily submitted for detailed analysis. Furthermore, studies of serial murder tend to occur within academic isolation. Academic research provides no alternative methodology for the extensive study which is needed to provide an accurate account and theory for why serial murder exists. The aim of this paper is to gather multidisciplinary research into a coherent etiological model of serial murder. The paper presents a model for researching serial murder which incorporates the disciplines of psychiatry, economics, biology, criminology and socio-cultural research. It is hoped that, through this paper, that such a model will provide a springboard for a multi-disciplinary research effort by making available a suitable research agenda.

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Updated 05/20/2006