Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Serial Killer Myths Exposed

The victims of a serial killer all look alike

This myth no doubt materialized when neighborhoods were not interracial or multicultural. Since serial killers tend to kill just around the corner from where they live or where they work, the victims are just local folks. The most important issue for the killer is the ability to get a victim easily and successfully. He will therefore choose a place he will blend in well and not be noticed lurking around the community. If the area is mostly Irish, for example, the victims of serial killers would probably be of that group. If it is a Caucasian area, then the victims would most likely be white. Of course, if the serial killer broke into an apartment and found the one black woman in the area, he would probably not hesitate to add her to the victim list.

Nowadays, with much more racial and ethnic mixing, we are seeing serial killers murdering a variety of victims; whoever comes along will most likely do. One cannot stand around waiting all day and night for the perfect victim. This is not to say serial killers don't have a preference. Some will actually work pretty hard at getting their top choice; others just grab the first reasonable victim that comes along. Teenagers just starting out on serial killing often choose elderly women. It is not that they prefer them over young girls; it is just that they are home alone, theoretically easy to control, and live just down the block from Junior who has no driver's license yet.

The one noticeable similarity with almost all serial killer victims is their short height and low weight. "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue" should be the serial killer theme song. These small lightweight victims are easy to attack, easy to beat up, easy to carry or drag, easy to put in the trunk of a car, and easy to dispose of. Big victims are far too much work. Smallish men, smallish women, and children are easy for the killer too handle. This is one reason why the top choices for women serial killers are invalids and babies. All serial killers want to win. They choose victims they can kill successfully. Serial killing is not about sex at all, but about power and control and revenge on society. What is done to the victims is immaterial as long as they end up dead and the serial killer gets away with it. Winning is the name of the game for these losers and victims are chosen for their vulnerability and usefulness.

Bobby Joe Leonard is an African American serial killer. His 13-year-old victim was also African American. They work together and live in close proximity. Janie is a runaway who had been living with her boyfriend in a local motel. When her boyfriend goes to jail, she becomes even more vulnerable. Bobby knows this. He knows she is young, alone, and much of society is not all that concerned about what happens to her. She is an excellent victim. At least she would have been if she hadn't survived. She turned out to be his worst enemy when in court he grilled her for hours and hours on the stand. Imagine such a young girl having to be questioned by the very man who raped and tried to kill her! Janie, however, turned out to be quite a strong young lady and when Bobby tried to get her to say he didn't really rape her, she looked him dead in the eye and said, "Yes, you did, Bobby, yes, you did!"

Andrea Cincotta
Andrea Cincotta

The woman Bobby Joe Leonard is suspected of murdering the year before was a 53-year old Caucasian woman. Andrea Cincotta was murdered in her condominium; she was also strangled and found in a closet. Bobby Joe had visited her home just a few weeks prior while doing work on the property. What would make her a possible choice of victim? Andrea was also a small woman. While she did not live alone, she was alone that day in the condo and most of the other residents were at work. She also had some money and jewelry around that might be an added incentive for a burglar/serial killer type. It is possible that the motive for the crime was actually a burglary and the killer did not expect the woman to be at home. Sometimes a budding serial killer will kill unexpectedly during a crime and when he finds he enjoys killing people, he may decide to add murder to his future criminal behavior.

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