The distinctive characteristic of the modern era is its mass urbanization but
sometimes that has immensely altered the nature of human relationships. The
dense modern urban environment represents ideal settings for the routinized
impersonal encounters that operate as a hallmark of serial killing.
Serial killing is different from mass murder. Serial killing is when a person
kills more than two persons in a different period of time where mass murder
means killing a bunch of people in the same place and time. They call these
murders as serial killing because there is a series of murders involved. Serial
killers could be anyone like our father, mother, friend, husband or other closed
Though we may have noticed some difference in their behavior in some cases we
may not have any clue that they taking the lives of many people. The gaps
between one murder and the other may be a day, a month or even a year. According
to the view of people, they portray a serial killer as an evil monster with
unusual appearance, but actually, they are a normal human being with normal
appearance. But we people fail to learn why they are involved in these
To understand serial killers studying psychology is more important than studying
criminology. Not all the serial killers but the majority of the serial killers
has psychological reasons to do such a big crime. Our Indian law also doesn�t
treat them any differently. When we try to find what was the reason behind those
murders, we may get a response which is either silly or sexual based reasons.
Every human in this world has sexual and silly problems but what triggers them
to kill a person? Are they really criminals or one among the people who have a
mental illness? Why do they have such thoughts? What makes them kill the other
person? Does every serial killer have the same mentality? How does our Indian
law treat them? How should they be treated? These are a few common questions
that pop in our mind which are unanswered. Our paper will throw lights on all
Who Is A Serial Killer?
Every serial killer drive to kill multiple victims may be unique, dependent on
his/her history and experiences. There is no general definition for the serial
killers. Serial killing is the rarest form of homicide. It occurs when an
individual has killed more than two or three people who were previously unknown
to him or her. There is always cooling off period between each murder. The
serial killer can be defined in a simple term as a person who kills more than
three people without any personal reasons. The above-mentioned definition has
been accepted by both police and academic experts and provides a useful frame
This definition narrows the analysis of such crimes as it fails to incorporate
with many similar characteristics of a serial killer. Serial killing is
considered in relation to broad historical changes that have occurred over the
past 400-500 years. The historical setting and broader social intimately tied
with serial killing. When we go through human history there have probably always
been an individual who engaged in serial predation. But in previous eras, it was
not possible for an individual to be a serial killer.
Serial killing is a distinctly modern phenomenon. The recent social and cultural
conditions to which criminologists can provide fresh insight by accentuating the
broad institutional frameworks, motivations, and opportunity structures within
which serial killing occurs. When it comes to public knowledge, the serial
killer is a product of Hollywood productions. To heighten the interest of the
audience's story lines are created, rather than to accurately portray serial
The pubic is captivated by the criminal and their crimes by focusing on the
atrocities inflicted on the victims by deranged offenders. This lends more
confusion to the true dynamics of a serial killer. This information also
misleads law enforcement professionals from a different source. Professionals
who are all involved in serial murder cases such as investigators, prosecutors,
and pathologists may have limited exposure to serial murder.
Those professional experience may be based upon a single murder series and the
factors, in that case, are extrapolated to other serial killers. Certain
stereotypes and misconceptions take root regarding the nature of serial killer
and their characteristics. Most of the serial killers are not reclusive, social
misfits who live alone. We should remember that they are normal human with
families and homes, are gainfully employed, and appear to be normal members of
the community. They blend in so effortlessly and they are oftentimes overlooked
by the law enforcement and the public.
Classification Of Serial Killers:
The serial killers can be classified according to their character and their
behavior. Various criminologist, law enforcement officials, mental health
professionals and social scientists have attempted to discover the true motive
behind the serial killers.
They try to classify serial killers based on the typologies, which will gain
information's to further assist law enforcement officers in profiling and
investigating cases related to serial killers. After making various researches
the researchers have come up with a typology to determine the making of a serial
According to the typology the serial killers are classified as:
The organized killer:These types of offenders lead methodical
lives that are also replicated in the way they commit crimes. They are
triggered to kill someone by their intimate relationship, finances or
employment problems. These offenders are normal person, who is skilled in
employment and they have average to a high level of intelligence and they
are also being socially proficient. They always restrain victims and reflect
a level of control in the situation. Usually organized offenders communicate
or use a verbal approach with their potential victims before the violence.
The victims are chosen by the offenders based on certain characteristics
such as age, physical appearance, gender, hairstyle or even based on their
Disorganized killers:These offenders are completely different from
organized offenders. Disorganized offender's crime scene and their
characteristics suggest chaos and little premeditation before the offence.
It may include evidence such as semen, blood, fingerprints or murder weapon.
The offenders are incompetent to carry out or maintain social relationship
or interaction and the disarrayed crime scene reflects this. This lack of
intimate relationship may increase the chances of potential sexual or
sadistic acts as a part of the murder.
Mixed killers:These killers are the one who cannot be easily identified
as organized or disorganized. Those who are falling under this category are
said to have both organized and disorganized characteristics. Mixed killing
may involve more than one offender. They always have some sort of planning
and there are unforeseen events. The unforeseen events may include a victim
resisting or offender escalating into a different pattern of violence. The
offender leaves the victim's body poorly covered. These offenders may be
young and/or involved in drugs or alcohol.
What Makes A Serial Killer?
Unlike normal people, serial killers are relatively charming. They appear to be
one among us but they aren't. Not only they have a motive to kill someone but
they are manipulative and aggressive too. But what are the reasons behind it?
How does a man transform into a serial killer? Now let's see the causes of
- A study has found that every serial killer has common emotional
development issues and an above average intelligence.
- Pregnancy: Doctors say that a child in a womb could hear
everything that the mother hears and experience few emotions that the
other's experience. If a woman is so stressed, depressed or any other
emotion then the child also experiences the same. It may reflect in not only
the child's growth in the womb but also it affects its mental growth which
may lead to many mental disorders.
- Infancy: It is the period of every human being to be given more
attention and love. The first twelve months in our life is the period in
which our basic emotions develop. The child should experience more affection
and physical touch or else the child may experience many disorders in
future. When we compare these theories to our real life, we could observe
that most of the serial killers are adopted or abandoned children.
- Childhood: Most of the serial killers have experienced bullying
and loneliness in their childhood. It is said that commonly they had
dyslexia which makes them less concentrative in their studies. They have
also experienced abnormal weight, height, etc. due to which they bullied and
ignored by their peers. There are also serial killers who had experienced
sexual abuse, harassment which leads them to any mental disorders.
- Parenting: The parents of the serial killers also ignored,
bullied, shouted, etc. Their parents tend to be an alcoholic who drinks and
forces their children to involve in the same activity. Some parents are
workaholic who doesn't check on their child properly and fails to give
attention even if they try to contact. In the worst situation, few parents
have harassed their children physically, mentally and sexually too.
- Chromosomes: Recent studies had proved that one's chromosome
abnormality can trigger them to become a serial killer. For example, if any
person is born with one extra X chromosome or Y chromosome it may lead to
- Fantasy: We people have our own fantasies but we know our reality
but serial killers tend to live in their own fantasy every second. Their
emotions are designed by their fancies. They are controlled by their
imagination. They just follow their imagination and do whatever the fantasy
orders them to do.
- Sadist: Few people are addicted to hearing the pain, sorrow,
screaming, etc. Their emotions are mixed up. They would love to see blood.
There are serial killers who have the habit of having sexual intercourse
with a dead body of the person whom they killed. This is the extreme level
- Mission: These serial killers are not psychotic. They would have
missions which are mostly immoral and illegal. Their guilt and own pressure
to complete the desired task leads them to do aggressive things.
- Lust: Sexual gratification is the main aim of these killers.
Serial killers who kill for lust would like to have total control and
dominance over their victims. So, to ensure that they have control over
their victim they kill them.
Some serial killers are psychotic and some are not. Mostly their attitudes and
motive depend on their parenting and childhood.
Laws In India
The concept of serial killers doesn't have its mark in the Indian Code. The only
sections to deal with it are Section 299 and Section 300.
Section 299 of The Indian Penal Code says:
Whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death, or
with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or
with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the
offence of culpable homicide.
And Section 300 of The Indian Penal Code explains that:
Except in the cases
hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death
is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or
(Secondly) -If it is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as
the offender knows to be likely to cause the death of the person to whom the
harm is caused, or
(Thirdly) -If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any
person and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the
ordinary course of nature to cause death, or
(Fourthly) -If the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently
dangerous that it must, in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as
is likely to cause death, and commits such act without any excuse for incurring
the risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.
Culpable homicide and murder have only a thin line of difference. Generally, if
a person kills someone, they will the have motive and intention to kill them.
Motive leads to intention. A motive is a malicious mind which is the ultimate
object. Intention refers to the immediate act caused. In the case of these
serial killers, they will have the intention to kill those persons but there is
no motive. It is said that mens rea is partially absent in their cases. Some
have argued with this partial mens rea and Section 84 of The Indian Penal Code.
According to Section 84 of The Indian Penal Code:
Nothing is an offence which
is done by a person who, at the time of doing it, by reason of unsoundness of
mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is
either wrong or contrary to law.
But the same rule was absent in the Criminal
Procedure Code and Mental Health Act of 1987. The Bombay High Court in the case
of State of Maharashtra vs Sindhi Alias Raman, S/O Dalwai
 quoted that the
medical insanity that the criminals have might not be the same insanity said in
Section 84 of The Indian Penal Code. Though the insanity is same as quoted,
these criminals are able to identify the consequences of the committed act.
Though they do not have a guilty mind they knew that they were committing a
wrong or illegal act. Automatically Section 84 of the Code doesn't apply here.
There were many cases in India regarding serial killers. In the famous Auto
, Shankar and his associates were found guilty of six murders
committed over a period of two years between 1988 and 1989. The victims' remains
were either charred or found within 12 homes.
In Joshi- Abhyankar case
commercial art students have committed ten murders within January 1976 and March
1977. At times they have also robbed and drank alcohol. These are only two
examples. In all the serial killer cases the killers are hanged or given life
imprisonment. But in all these cases there was no question regarding psychopathy
To summarize the discussion above mentioned many factors plays an important role
in the development of these serial killers. There has not been one sole factor
or no one major factor for the development of characteristics of the serial
killer, it is a combination of several factors and incapability to cope up with
a healthy life. Even though the factors may be overlapping or independent but
they do not guarantee each other existences and do not guarantee that the person
with these characters will become a serial killer. One of the notable disturbing
aspects of the serial killer is that virtually everyone is at risk.
Even a person who is cautious is not safe from the serial killer. There are
various motivation theories are relevant to the exploration of a serial killer,
but readers are not to place excessive explanatory on one theory. A continuous
investigation would benefit from an interdisciplinary approach which allows for
consideration of genetic, psychological and social influence upon the serial
- State Of Maharashtra vs Sindhi Alias Raman, S/O Dalwai, on 04 August
- Mohan & Another v. State by Inspector of Police CB CID, Criminal Appeal
No. 204 Of 2006 And 148 Of 2007
- Munawar Harun Shah and Ors. vs State of Maharashtra, AIR 1983 SC 585,
1983 CriLJ 971, 1983 (1) SCALE 408, (1983) 3 SCC 35.
- C.Amirdha Varshini,
II-year, B.Com., L.L.B., (Hons.) - Sastra Deemed To Be University
- J.S. Aiswarya Lakshmi,
II-year, B.Com., L.L.B., (Hons.) - Sastra Deemed To Be University
Authentication No: AG021817469481B-5-820