It is well-known by now that the show, American Horror Story, uses true crime stories in each of their seasons either directly (with their own respective twists) or as inspiration. Everyone from the Black Dahlia to John Wayne Gacy to the Zodiac killer have shown up in one way or another. There have also been a few on each season that went unnoticed or overlooked. Whether it be Richard Speck or those behind the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders every season of the series has had at least one real life horror story shown.
Despite what movies and TV shows might suggest families killing together, as a unit, is fairly rare. There are many instances in which couples or two blood relations get together to kill others, but a whole family working to take lives? Not so much…though it’s not unheard of either. There was at least one such case in the 1800s wherein the Bender family worked together to rob and kill unsuspecting travelers who made the mistake of choosing to stay at their inn. When their crimes were discovered they became known simply as “The Bloody Benders”.
When most hear of killer children they usually think of school shooters…those frequently of high school age and qualifying for the mass murder category (killers of multiple people in one central location at one time). While sad and disturbing to hear about it’s not terribly shocking anymore; many schools now have metal detectors, bag checks, and other safety precautions just to prevent such things from occurring. However, what really can’t be prepared for by a school (or anyone) and is still rare enough to shock others is the child serial killer. Those pretty little girls and bright young boys who target, hunt, and kill those around them just as Dahmer, Bundy, and other adult serial killers would.
For the film Crimson Peak director Guillermo del Toro said he wanted to take the classic Gothic Romance story and twist it. As an example he pointed out that it’s not necessarily the woman who needs rescuing by the man, but the reverse. Whether he realizes it or not he also put twists on the classic concept of the serial killer couple. While the one in Crimson Peak realistically follows the basics of how these sorts of pairings function it also subverts the cliches found in most fictional portrayals for a fresh take. …But before I continue please note, if you’ve not seen the film, there will be lots of spoilers to come…
…Seriously, I’m going to reveal plot points and secrets…
Okay, if you read past this, it’s your fault!!
Ah geography, it can tell you so much; the history of a continent, the political and religious undertones of a country, social growth and expansion of a society…if there’s a serial criminal in your neighborhood. One frequently used method in law enforcement is geographical profiling – basically studying the crimes as they relate to, well, geography – which can help to connect crimes and victims thus narrow down a suspect pool.
As reviewed in the previous piece female serial killers tend to do things a little differently from their male counterparts. For the most part their methodology – smothering, poison – is subtler and less overtly violent and victims are those they know, those others would expect them to care for – family, patients if they’re a nurse. Yet there are exceptions to every rule and sometimes female serial killers are just as openly aggressive and random in their kills as their male counterparts. (For the purposes of this essay I’m leaving out those females involved in “killer couples” as there are a number of other dynamics going on that might be influencing their violence level and victim choice.)
When people think of serial killers they think of men. Hardly a surprise since a vast majority of serial killers are, in fact, male. However, it would be a mistake to think that women, “the fairer sex” as it the old saying goes, aren’t every bit as capable of multiple murders as their male counterparts. They tend to go about their murders a little differently and select different kinds of victims to prey upon, but they are no less guilty of their crimes and get no less of a thrill in causing the death of others. And to those chosen to be their victims they are no less terrifyingly dangerous.