Male and Female Team Serial Killing: A Right of Entitlement?

Lynn Gunn, University of New Brunswick

This paper will explore a possible explanation(s) of serial homicide, particularly, male and female teram serial murder. Although there appears to be a lack of consensus concerning the definition of serial murder (Egger, 1997), for the purpose of this paper the following definition will be utilized. A serial murderer can be defined as one or more individual(s) who kills three or more victims, strangers, relatives, and acquaintances over a period of time (must exceed thirty days) i which the perpetrator(s) overwhelmingly attempt to avoid capture for which the motivation may be intrinsic (e.g., power-motivated) or extrinsic (e.g., monetary-gain) (Gunn, 1999).

Despite a dearth of literature, team serial killers share some commonalities: he or she is generally Caucasian, with partical or completed high school, employed as a blue-collar worker, mid-twenties, targeting strangers, that is, no prior contact, choosing a personal approach (strangulation or suffocation), retain trophies or souveniers from the victims (video-recording, personal items), and appear to display extreme cruelty toward the victim (tortue, dismemberment) (Gunn, 2003). In contrast to serial killers acting alone, team killers are unique in that they share (or appear to) a folie a deux, that is, "two minds with one single psyche" (Brady, 2001, p. 253).

Another possible explanation (perhaps in conjunction with a folie a deux) is a right of entitlement, that is, males are socialized to externalize their feelings of anger and/or rage through acts of aggression (Skrapec, 1994). in the case of male and female team serial murderers, it appears that the right of entitlement is transferred and traditional gender roles become blurred. In other words, the female offender participates in traditional [male] acts of aggression. Particularly, married female and male team serial killers and sexual acts of aggression.

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Updated 05/20/2006