Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, Ph.D.

Deborah Schurman-Kauflin Ph.D.


How Serial Killers Get Away With Their Murders

Smart serial murderers escape detection

Posted Nov 02, 2013

It may seem impossible to believe, but there are many serial killers who still get away with murder. They get away with lots of murders. Even with technological advancements, there are ‘invisible’ killers out there who are watching and waiting for their next kill. They have mastered the art of picking the right place, the right victim and the right time.

One of the techniques they use to get away with their crimes is preparation. These killers plan, stalk, and do everything they can not to leave evidence behind. They are very organized and will do things to stay one step ahead of law enforcement. They wear gloves, use chemicals, wear caps and masks, and clean up after themselves. You’d be surprised at how well this works for them. Though it is impossible not to leave any evidence behind at a crime scene, if it degrades before police can get to it, then it is no good. Taking extraordinary measures and being patient has helped many killers get away with their crimes.

Smart killers target victims who are less likely to draw attention. Some have figured out that it is easier to target a minority who is a stranger than a Caucasian victim who is a stranger. Even though the media and Hollywood talk about condemning racism, it is a rare instance where minority victims are given the same level of attention as their Caucasian counterparts. This is just a fact. Killers who study these things have wised up and realized that if they target minority children, teens, and even adults, then they are less likely to be caught. They take their time, select a lone target, abduct and then kill without fear of someone watching or reporting. More serial crimes against minority victims go unsolved than others.

Similarly, picking on illegal immigrants can be lucrative for serial killers. Hiding in the shadows can be lethal in this instance. Immigrants are reluctant to come forward if they have seen anything suspicious, and there are times where no one notices the victim disappearing at all. This makes easy pickings for the predator. If he takes pains to select those crossing the border in darkness, he can grab someone, take his time, and then dump the body in the desert in a secluded location. These types of murders do happen, and it occurs way more often than most people know.

I always said female serial killers are often smarter than their male counterparts. That is because most female serial murderers use covert murder methods to evade detection. If a nurse asphyxiates a patient at hospice, who would know a murder was committed? Many female offenders target very vulnerable victims and use methods to kill that are difficult to detect. Using victim selection and least detectable methods, they often get away with their murders.

Most serial killers try to dump bodies as quickly as possible so as not to be seen near the victim. The serial killer who gets away with his murders would tell those killers that they are making a mistake. Those that have long murdering careers take a little more time and go deeper into secluded areas, making great efforts to conceal the bodies. They do so for two reasons. First, it will take longer for the body to be found, if ever. Second, the longer the body goes without detection, the longer evidence has to degrade. It is win-win for the hunter.

Though rare, another problem in serial murder cases is corruption in prosecutors’ offices. This rarely seen phenomenon occurs when a prosecutor won’t prosecute a case for political reasons. If he thinks prosecuting a case will be hard and possibly make him look bad, then there are some who have been known to look the other way and let a killer go free. This leaves no justice for the victims and allows a killer to go free. It does happen. People will tell you that it doesn’t, but it does.

Next, police make mistakes. Again, this does not happen all the time, but there are cases where crime scenes become contaminated. When that happens, the case becomes difficult. Good luck getting an arrest, let alone a conviction. Predators that choose to commit their crimes in areas where police may not be used to handling these sorts of murders or jurisdictions that are notorious for mistakes are more likely to get away with their crimes.

And the most intelligent offenders do something that enrages law enforcement. They don’t talk. They don’t say why. They don’t say when. They don’t talk about themselves or their crimes at all. There are many cases where police need a confession to shore up their cases. Without input from the offender, they can get stuck. This is also infuriating for family members of the victims. They never learn anything about the attack or the offender.

Finally, as contradictory as it sounds, there are unsolved cases of killers involving entire families. One killer told me it was easier to kill more than one victim at a time. He said it can be easier to control victims by threatening their friends and family. Parents will do anything for their children, including agreeing to be tied up. He also said police are usually so mortified by the scene that mistakes can be made. So strangely, those that target families and more than one victim at once have been known to get away with multiple murders. If they are in control enough to keep quiet about the crimes, they are less likely to be caught.

Though you would think that the numbers of serial murders would go down over time, the opposite is true. There are more serial killers than ever operating in the U.S. The clever ones have learned how to do their deeds in silence. And in silence the victims remain hidden. No one hears their cries.

About the Author

Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, Ph.D.

Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, Ph.D., is a criminal profiler and expert on serial crimes.

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