A serial killer is someone who has murdered two or more people, usually for psychological reasons, with a significant gap between the killings.
To identify which countries have had the most, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the Annual Report on Serial Killer Statistics: 2020 from Radford University and Florida Gulf Coast University. The countries on the list have had at least 10 known serial killers. In the case of a tie, the country with the smaller total population, and thus the higher per capita rate, ranks higher.
The U.S. has over twice as many serial killers as the next 25 countries combined. Reports of serial killers in America spiked starting in the 1950s, peaking in the 1980s. Other countries saw a similar rise beginning in the 1950s.
There are several theories why the U.S. has so many. The Great Depression’s economic impact and undiagnosed mental illness in WWII veterans were factors in the post-war rise. Lurid literature about torture and depravity after WWII also contributed. Some cite the transitory nature of American life leading to a “society of strangers,” making people prey on those they don’t know. There are also many long-haul truckers in the U.S., and the FBI has linked over 500 unidentified murder victims to truckers. (Here’s a list of the most memorable TV serial killers.)
But a simpler explanation may be that the U.S. has more open records than other countries, making it easier to identify serial killers, forensic psychology professor Michael G. Aamodt, co-author of the Radford University report, told A&E’s True Crime Blog. The U.S. murder rate is around the middle compared to other countries, not disproportionately high. So the high number of serial killers may just reflect better detection, not necessarily more killers.
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