So, I would have to say that to the families. I mean, that guy's gonna...."you stupid bitch, you killed my husband." Or whatever, you know, or my brother or somethin. And I'd just have to say to 'em, listen, what they were gonna do to me. I would be probably turning around if I had survived to say, "You stupid bastards You almost killed me, you almost raped me, you almost beat the shit out of me"....So I can't really say they were sweet" Allien Wuornos, female serial killer, videotaped confession January 16, 1990. Page 56 The killers Among US 2nd edition.
Research on female serial killers is lacking, only one alleged female serial killer is ever mentioned in popular literature on the subject. That would lead some to believe that women just don't kill, the truth of the matter is that women have and do kill. They aren't included in research on male killers for several reasons:
1) their motives are different (female killers with few exceptions) aren't sexually motivated
2) they don't rack up the same body counts as their male counterparts.
However, the female serial killer does exist.
As stated previously, female killers have different motivations for killing and use different methods to kill. While the male killer will favor a knife, the female killer takes a different more subtle approach.
Hickey's (1997) analysis of 62 female serial killers revealed that most either used some poison ( 45%) or poison only (35%) in at least some instances to kill their victims. Hickey refers to female serial killers as the quiet killers. Many of the serial killers in Hicky's data set could be described as either black widows, who killed their husbands or nurses who victimized their patience. Hickey (1997) correctly notes that these serial killers seem to be almost invisible to the news media and frequently are able to kill over long periods of time before they are noticed by law enforcement.
Most of the known female serial killers appear to have been motivated primarily by financial gain, although the psychopathology is undoubtedly much more complicated. Like most of their male counterparts they came from broken homes were sexually abused by parents or relatives or experienced other emotionally traumatic experiences in their youth
The black widow is the archetype of the organized successful female serial murder. she typically begins her criminal career after the age of 25 and actively murders victims for a decade or more before sheis apprehended or her killings cease for another reason. although there is a general preception that the black widow murders only family members, this is usually not the case. because of the victim specific nature of her crimes, the female serial killer must comply with a rather strict definition in order to be considered a black widow: a woman who systematically murders multiple spouses partners other family members or individuals outside of the family with whom she has developed a personal relationship.
Angel of Death
One thing to remember about Angles of Death, they aren't always women. A male nurse was arrested in New Jersey a few years back for killing his patients. I'll have that information posted here shortly.
Ego and a compulsion for domination frequently motivate the angle of death. She is obsessed with the need to control the lives of those who are completely dependent on her for care.
The victims of this serial murder invariably exhibit 2 characteristics that make them especially attractive to the angle of death.
1) they are incapable of warding off any significant physical assault.
2) they have come to believe that their attacker is a concerned and supportive caretaker. Because of this relationship with her victims, the angel of death only strikes when she is confident of complete control over her prey; she is typically unwilling to engage in a protracted struggle to accomplish her mission and will choose victims who she believes are already doomed to die or in her mind have no further rights of survival.
The angel of death prefers to murder her victims in a way that is subtle, covert and difficult to detect. When the intended victim is an adult, her favored weapon is often lethal injection.
When the angel of death preys on young children or infants she may resort to suffocation to simulate apnea or a similar breathing disorder in addition to the use of lethal injections.
Despite the difficulties in apprehending an angel of death killer, this perpetrator may exhibit three characteristics that are invaluable to investigators:
1) she is compulsive in her need to kill and will attack repetitively within her own area of responsibility, thereby creating a discernable pattern of murder.
2) the perpetrator may be tempted to discuss her misadventures with others because she will often rationalize her crimes as acts of mercy.
3) some victims may survive the attack and be able to assist in subsequent investigations of the perpetrates's activities.
Aileen "Lee" Carol Wournos
Aileen Wournos is considered by many to be America's first and to law enforcement's knowledge only female serial killer(meaning that her crimes were sexual in nature). However, since the release of the blockbuster movie and best selling book of the same name "Monster" about the life, crimes and death of "Lee". Questions about her guilt have arisen.
Wournos was portrayed as a victim in the movie "Monster" and truth being told, she was. Set up to fail from the very start.
Each crime scene indicated that Wuornos was able to gain control over her victim and shoot him to death. In each instance, she had the presence of mind to rob her victim and make some attempt to secret the body.
Given "Lee's" background and history of abusive relationships with men, that may have played a role in her crimes. She had been working as a prostitute for over 20 years, at some point she must have been brutalized by a "client", something finally pushed her over the edge.
The evidence and testimony surrounding the crimes of Aileen Wuornos overwhelmingly point to a series of conscious and brutal attacks against her victims, attacks predicated on some from of sexual encounter for money. However, it seems clear that the murders were not motivated by a drive for bizarre sexual satisfaction, she lashed out against her victims in a rage that originated in decades of abusive and debilitating encounters with men that began in early childhood.
"Lee's" killing career Began when she was 33, her first victim was a man who proved to be a brutal rapist. The background of this victim was never disclosed by law enforcement and in fact was never brought to light until well after Wuornos had been convicted of murder and given the death penalty.
"Lee" claimed that she acted in self-defense in attacking each of her male victims.
More about the Wuornos case in a few weeks
Murder Most Rare The Female Serial Killer by Michael D. Kelleher and C.L. Kelleher
The Killers Among Us 2nd edition by Steven A. Egger