Although incidents of serial killing are widely reported in the media because of the heinous and unusual nature of these crimes, there are actually very few serial killers relative to the general population. Research into this phenomenon is ongoing, and a small industry has sprung up around the practice of "profiling" serial killers in order to assist in their apprehension. But, law enforcement officials agree that each serial killer is unique. Society does not currently have sufficient knowledge to predict serial killing before it occurs and thus prevent it from happening.
Serial killers and their victims include people from all races, cultures, nationalities, economic background, educational levels, genders, and sexual orientations. Because serial killers are so rare, it is impossible to use any demographic indicator as a predictor. There are no "rules" and all apparent trends have been broken. But some general observations can be made.
Serial killers are nearly always men (93%). Furthermore, of the relatively few female serial killers, one third of them worked in partnership with males.
In the United States, serial killers are predominantly white. This makes sense statistically, because about 80% of the population is white. According to some sources, whites are over-represented and African-Americans are under-represented among serial killers, but this depends on how one defines a "serial killer." The more celebrated, headline-grabbing serial killers are generally white, but if one counts all perpetrators of multiple homicides, including drug- and gang-related killings, then African-Americans account for between 20% to 30% of all multiple perpetrators, according to statistics compiled by the FBI. African-Americans comprise about 13% of the total U.S. population. Asians, who comprise probably under-represented among American serial-killers. Asian serial-killers are extremely rare in the United States, but Asians comprise only about 4% of the U.S. population so, statistically speaking, one would expect few Asian serial killers. There have been some high-profile Filipino serial killing and murder cases. Filipinos comprise a relatively newer and less affluent immigrant population relative to other major Asian groups in the United States.
Although the proportion of serial killers who are known to have had homosexual experience is high (over 43%), the total number of serial killers is too small to make statistically relevant statements about whether homosexuals are over- or under-represented among serial killers. [Click here for source, related studies and statistics.]
Also, it should be noted that many of the homosexual serial killers on this list were not active members of the Gay & Lesbian cultural community.
Many of the most famous serial killers (e.g., Jeffrey Dahmer, Andrew Cunanan, John Wayne Gacy, etc.) were homosexuals, but they became widely known due to the nature of their crimes or the identities of their victims, not because they in any way represent serial killers generally.
Given that less than 2% of adults are homosexuals (plus 1 to 2% who are bisexual), there would not need to be very many homosexuals among the total number of serial killers for them to be over-represented. But with such small overall numbers, and with no universally agreed upon definition of a homosexual, it would be impossible to determine the relative frequency of homosexuals among serial killers. Unlike gender and race (clearly ascertainable), there are no physical or genetic tests for sexual orientation. It can only be determined by behavior and self-identification.
Some serial killers engaged in sex with both males and females, which would prompt some people to classify them as bisexuals. Their actual identity would then be argued about by various biologists, gay writers, and others, who would classify their status as a variant of homosexuality, a distinct classification, or repressed homosexuals. Such hair-splitting is well beyond the scope of this paper. Suffice it say, all of the individuals listed here as "homosexual serial killers" can be classified as homosexual as the term is generally used.
Homosexual serial killers have most frequently chosen young boys or gay men as their victims, although some have victimized females as well. Most of the killers have raped their victims either before or after killing them, although in some cases they have killed after consensual homosexual sex. There have been heterosexual serial killers who have targeted gay victims (e.g., Colin Ireland), but this is very rare.
But more importantly, none of the serial killers listed here represent typical homosexuals, who, like the general population, are almost never involved in violent crime. The exact nature of each individual's feelings, attitudes, and behavior with regards to sex is unique, in the general population as well as among serial killers. Legally, all or nearly all of the homosexual serial killers on this list would be considered sexual deviants because of the extreme and violent nature of their acts -- not simply because of their homosexual orientation. It must be emphasized that violent sexual deviancy is exhibited by heterosexual serial killers as well.
No ethnic, religious or cultural group promotes this sort of violence. But in a free society, no culture is entirely free from violence, despite their best efforts. Kristi Degn eloquently wrote a letter to the editor in response to a writer who felt it was okay to single one culture out as perpetrators of violence:
In his letter "Man Is God Here" (Forum, Aug. 25, 2000), Dennis Kostecki wrote, "In my dating days here, I dated six women. All were from this culture. All were abused by their former husbands. Every one! It seems to me this culture promotes the degradation and abuse of their women for reasons only they know and understand."
Pinpointing the blame for abuse on any one "culture" is irresponsible and weak. Abuse is no respecter of culture or demographics. It is no respecter of gender, marital or relationship status.
Our statewide domestic violence hot-line number is 1-800-897-LINK. Perhaps Mr. Kostecki would be interested in knowing that calls received at this number are not from one "culture" only. Further, Mr. Kostecki's statement is narrow-minded in relation to a problem which is a national concern.
|Name||# of People|
|Year||Killer's Home||Location of Murders||Notes||Birth||death|
|Jeffrey Dahmer||17||1978, 1988-91||Milwaukee||Milwaukee and Chicago||homosexual cannibal. He was killed by another inmate while in prison.||21 May 1960||28 November 1994|
|Andrew Cunanan||5||1997||San Diego, Calif.||Minnesota; Chicago, IL; South Beach, FL||killed fashion designer Gianni Versace||31 August 1969||23 July 1997|
|Gilles de Rais||300+||1430s||France||France||associate of Joan of Arc|
|Luis Alfredo Garavito||140+||Colombia||Colombia||Gay serial killer who murdered over 140 boys in Columbia.||25 January 1957|
|Randy Steven Kraft||65 (est.)||1971 to 1983||Oregon, Michigan, etc.||"Score Card Killer"|
|Michael Swango||35 - 60||1983-97||Ohio, Illinois, New York, South Dakota, Virginia||"Doctor of Death" -- killed hospital patients|
|Andrei Chikatilo||52||until 1992||Russia||Russia|
|Fritz Haarmann||40 (est.)||until 1924||Germany||Germany||"Butcher Of Hanover"|
|John Wayne Gacy||33||until 1978||Chicago||Chicago||bisexual; 27 of his victims (young boys he seduced) were found buried in crawlspace under his house. Executed in Joliet, IL.||17 March 1942||10 May 1994|
|Patrick Wayne Kearney||28+||1968 to 1977||Redondo Beach, Calif.||gay cruising areas of Hollywood|
|David D. Hill||28?||1968 to 1977||Redondo Beach, Calif.||Hollywood||Patrick Kearney's lover; confessed to being co-killer with Kearney, but police weren't sure about the extent of his involvement|
|Hans Grans||27+||until 1924||Germany||Germany||accommplice and love of Haarmann, the "Butcher Of Hanover"|
|Wayne Williams||27||1979-81||Atlanta||Atlanta||Gay serial killer who preyed mostly on young black male hustlers.||27 May 1958|
|Dean Corll||27||1960s to 1973||Ft. Wayne, Indiana; later Houston, TX||Houston, Texas|
|Elmer Wayne Henley||27||1960s to 1973||Ft. Wayne, Indiana; later Houston, TX||Houston, Texas||Bisexual. Victims were young boys who he kidnapped and tortured.||9 May 1956|
|David Owen Brooks||27||1960s to 1973||Ft. Wayne, Indiana; later Houston, TX||Houston, Texas|
|Donald Harvey||25 - 40 (est.)||1970-71||London, Kentucky||Kentucky|
|Juan Corona||25||1971||From Mexico; moved to Yuba City, CA in 1950s||Yuba City, Calif.||Born in Mexico. All of his victims were men that he first raped, and then killed with a machete over the span of six weeks. Presently resides in Corcoran State Prison. Juan Corona's brother is Natividad, the gay, owner of the Guadalajara cafe in Marysville, CA.||1934|
|Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo||21 (est.)||until 1989||Matamoros, Mexico||Matamoros, Mexico||"Matamoros Cult Killer"|
|Larry Eyler||19||1980s||Chicago||Illinois and Indiana|
|Huang Yong||17+||2001-2003||Henan Province, China||Henan Province, China||Gay. Executed. Murdered boys that he flirted with and picked up at internet cafes. Saved their belts as souvenirs. His 18th victim escaped, leading to his arrest.||1974||26 December 2003|
|Marcelo Costa de Andrade||14||until 1991||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|William Bonin||12+||1979-80||Orange County, Calif.||Orange County, Calif.|
|Henry Lee Lucas||12+||1970s and 80s||Most in Texas, Southeastern U.S.||23 August 1936||12 March 2001|
|Ottis Toole||12+||1970s and 80s||West Coast, Florida, etc.||accomplice of Henry Lee Lucas|
|Vaughn Greenwood||11+||1974-75||Los Angeles||Los Angeles|
|Richard Speck||8+||1966||Chicago||Chicago||married, bisexual|
|Cayetano Hernandez||8||1963||Yerba Buena, Mexico||Mexico|
|Eleazor Solis||8||1963||Monterey, Mexico||Mexico|
|David Bullock||6+||1981-82||New York City||New York|
|Vernon Butts||6+||1979-80||Calif.||Orange County, Calif.||accomplice of William Bonin|
|Paul Bateson||6 ? (est.)||1977-78||New York City||New York City|
|Marc Dutroux||6||1995-1996||Belgium||Belgium||Bisexual. He is unusual among gay serial killers, in that his victims were all girls, who he kidnapped and tortured before killing. One of most notorious serial killers in Belgium's history.||6 November 1956|
|Michael Terry||6||1980-86||Atlanta||Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina|
|Orville Lynn Majors||6||Indiana||Vermillion County Hospital, Indiana|
|Charles Cohen||5+||Delaware||Delaware, San Francisco, New York, Miami, and New Orleans|
|Arthur Gary Bishop||5||1984||Utah||Utah||Utah serial killer of young boys. Years before his murder spree, in 1978, he had been excommunicated from the LDS Church. Bishop was an active homosexual and was no longer a member of the LDS Church when he became a serial killer. Executed in Utah State Prison. He said of his crimes, "With great sadness and remorse, I realize that I allowed myself to be misled by Satan. Pornography was not the only negative influence in my life, but its effect on me was devastating. I am a homosexual pedophile convicted of murder, and pornography was a determining factor in my downfall."||1951||10 June 1988|
|Michael Lupo||4+||1986||from Italy||London|
|Peter Moore||4||1995||north Wales||north Wales|
|Westley Allan Dodd||3+||Washingon||Washington, Oregon|
|David P. Brown |
(a.k.a. Nathaniel Bar-Jonah)
|3+||2000||Massachusetts||Montana||David Paul Brown. Victims were all young boys.||15 February 1957|
|Charles Manson||3+||1968-72||Los Angeles||Los Angeles||Bisexual. One of nation's most famous serial killers. Murdered actress Sharon Tate, the wife of film director Roman Polanski. Deeply interested in the occult.||12 November 1934|
|David Edward Maust||5+||1981; 2003||Germany; Galveston, TX (1981); Hammond, IL (2003)||Gay. Killed teenage boys, usually by stabbing||5 April 1954|
|Bruce Davis||2+||1968-72||Los Angeles||Los Angeles||Charles Manson accomplice|
|Erik Menendez||2||20 August 1989||Beverly Hills, CA||Beverly Hills, CA||with his straight brother Lyle, Erik killed his parents (Jose Menendez and Kitty Menendez). Their trial was a major national news story.||27 November 1971|
Although homosexual murderers of single victims are too numerous to list here, a number of particularly famous ones include: Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb (the wealthy and academically bright gay Chicago couple who murdered a boy in 1924 just for fun; their story became one of the nation's most famous murder cases, and was the basis for many movies, including Hitchcock's film "Rope"); Armin Meiwes (the sexually deviant German cannibal known as "Der Metzgermeister" - The Master Butcher, who met a victim over the Internet who he ate and killed); John E. du Pont (the gay member of the wealthy du Pont famil who shot Olympic wrestler David Schultz to death); Gary Hirte (Waupaca, WI high school senior who admitted to killing 37-year-old substitute teacher Glenn Kopitske); Karla Homolka (Canadian lesbian who murdered her own sister).
Other notable gay violent criminals include Kenneth Parnell (paid $500 to "purchase" a young black boy named Steven Stayner, who he then raped and kidnapped); John Wojtowicz (whose bank robbery inspired the movie Dog Day Afternoon).
|Name||# of People|
|Year||Killer's Home||Location of Murders||Notes|
|Magdalena Solis||8||1963||Monterey, Mexico||Mexico|
|Aileen Wuornos||7+||1989-90||south of Daytona, Florida||Florida||killed male "johns"|
|Tyria Moore||7+||1989-90||south of Daytona, Florida||Florida||killed male "johns"|
|Catherine Wood||6||Grand Rapids, MI||Grand Rapids, MI||nurse who killed patients|
|Gwen Graham||6||Grand Rapids, MI||Grand Rapids, MI||nurse who killed patients|
A lesbian serial killer and her vampiric, crafty lesbian lover are the main characters of Monster, an acclaimed new film that also seems to have, incongruously, won the blessing of the gay and lesbian media and gay activists.
Gay magazines and newspapers around the world have given the film positive reviews, raving about Charlize Theron's famous physical transformation, Christina Ricci's pyrotechnic turn in a key supporting role, and director Patty Jenkin's understated, effective approach to the sensational storyline. Planetout.com, a multimillion-hit-a-month online gay magazine, describes the film as 'riveting, bleak and exceptionally intuitive' and praises its 'emotional complexity'. The Advocate, America's leading gay glossy, says the film is 'brutal [and] brilliant'.
The film hasn't been called a masterpiece, but no gay publication I've seen has expressed irritation, concern or resentment over the gritty homo-killer tilt of the film, irks that have characterised gay relations with cinema for almost 30 years.
Things seem to have changed enormously from the days when murderous, negative or stealthy gay movie characters triggered geysers of vitriolic spittle from gay groups, who have a history of sensitivity to their big-screen representation. Most famously, they disrupted the location shoots of Cruising (1980) with whistles and mirrors, protested inside and outside the 1991 Oscars ceremony over the crowning of 'gay negative' The Silence of the Lambs at the expense of 'gay positive' My Own Private Idaho, and picketed cinemas showing Basic Instinct (1992), furious over the film's murderous lesbians and ruining it for moviegoers entering the cinema by waving placards that revealed the surprise ending...
The current crop of gay films and TV shows feature gay characters that are inoffensive, American Dream-friendly and, above all, nice. Gay activists got their Russonic message across: unflattering gay characters will cause you more trouble than they're worth, and happy shiny gay characters sell - you can make money.
So, in this Queer Eye context, the calm gay media response to Monster is anachronistic and confusing. We see Aileen Wuornos (Theron) get seduced by needy-yet-wily Selby (Ricci), a young lesbian kicked out of home for being gay who manipulates and uses the hopeless Wuornos to gain a bit of off-the-wall life experience. While Wuornos is out pulling Johns off the Interstate, unemployed Selby lounges at home watching TV, only getting up to complain about how bored she is when Wuornos - usually covered in blood - gets home from a hard day's work.
Selby sells Wuornos up the river when the police close in, retreating back to her conservative family and sending her one-time gay lover to her fate (and, eventually, to the lethal injection room) as part of a favourable plea bargain. For her part, Wuornos corrupts and recruits Selby as an accessory to her prostitution, petty crimes and murders.
In short, if ever there was a movie about vampiric killer lesbians and stealthy, untrustworthy homosexuals who form secret pagan bonds yet who never forget how to slide, unnoticed, back into the suburban fold, Monster is it. The killer lesbians in Monster make those in Basic Instinct look like the lesbians in The Color Purple, and while one of them ends up condemned and executed by the state, the other is emotionally and psychologically destroyed after giving in to heteronormativity. On paper, Monster is a gay activist movie nightmare - so where's the gay media backlash?
The first clue is that Monster is 'based on a true story'. Theron's celebrated performance was built on repeated watchings of videos of Wuornos speaking of her life, while the film, admirably, doesn't seek to over-dramatise the facts or editorialise about Wuornos' motives... Monster is a sensitive tale of a real woman who was both the lover of another woman and a serial killer. It doesn't seem to matter, then, if the gay character kills, lies and ends up dead, as long as that's what really happened to the character in real life.
Confusingly though, this reminds us of the existence of real gay and lesbian serial killers - Wuornos obviously, as well as Jeffrey Dahmer, Leopold and Loeb, John Wayne Gacy, Andrew Cunanan et al - and beg the question, what's so offensive and problematic about including killer homosexual characters in films, when there are ample precedents in reality for such characters? Why the books, placards, picket lines and protests for so many decades? What difference does it make if gay movie killers are based on real-life examples, or whether they're the invention of a screenwriter, especially since, even in 'true story' films, creative liberties have to be taken and there's always substantial fictionalisation? Why does a film about an actual homosexual character get gay media approval, while a film with a fictional negative homosexual character - not necessarily a killer - get torn to shreds?...
Wuornos and Shelby are working-class Americans, struggling to get by and railing against the hypocrisies of the predominantly heterosexual society they have to live in. Like Thelma and Louise, they are heroic outlaw chicks, out to prove a few bloody fair-enough points about the crappy straight-male dominated system before they bond for life and go down in a proverbial hail of bullets. So, it doesn't seem to be the killing or the stealth that's been the problem all these years, but the exclusion of gay characters from the sympathies of the narrative, and through that, the audience. Kill all you like, as long as you're located within the heart of the film, and presented to the audience as a struggling, sympathetic, preferably working-class person.
It's a peculiar message though, surely, that gay audiences, and the media that represent them, won't tolerate being the crazy killers on the fringe - they insist on having the right to serial kill like any other normal person.
Excerpts, including methodology:
Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe, an on-line search service, scans the whole text of over 50 English regional and national newspapers, largely in the U.S., but also including major papers in Australia, England, Canada, and New Zealand (e.g., the Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, Independent [London], Ottawa Citizen, etc.). For 1989 through 2002 inclusive, every news story that included "child molestation" was examined -- a total of 6,444 stories which, after eliminating repeat stories about the same cases, reduced to 1,914 unique child molestation events. The 6,444 story database was double-checked by running "murder" and "killed" against it. Only news stories were tallied, not editorials or opinion pieces, so these were stories of fairly recent events.
One hundred and three news stories involved the rape and/or murder of children: 90 involved the molestation and murder of a child or children, 11 stories involved only the abduction and rape of children, and two the rape and mutilation, but not the murder, of the children involved. Of the 90 news stories where the child was raped and murdered (0.47% of the unique child molestation stories), 40% involved homosexual molestation.
In the most unusual case, an "educated and relatively wealthy" leader recruited two other men and a boy. This team raped and murdered precisely 100 boys 1. The leader had had prior arrests for suspicion of sodomizing boys...
Of the 95 perpetrators in these 90 stories, at least 43% engaged in homosexuality... Of the 217 victims, at least 68% were victimized by homosexual perpetrators, and at least 67% were boys... Furthermore, both multiple perpetrators and multiple victims were associated with homosexuality. In the three stories where two or more killers were implicated, the rapes were homosexual. In 69% of the 13 stories involving more than one victim, the perpetrator engaged in homosexuality. Another 11 stories involved a charge of attempted murder. In 64% of those cases, the perpetrator engaged in homosexuality.
When all other cases of child molestation from the Lexis-Nexis search are added to these stories, there were 2,181 perpetrators in the 1,914 distinct events whose sexual proclivities could be characterized by the sex of their victim: 41% engaged in sex with their own sex, the remaining 59% with the opposite sex (another 118 perpetrators violated at least 190 children whose sex was not given). Of the 5,630 underage victims of these molestations, 61% were victimized by individuals who engaged in homosexuality. And those who performed homosexual seductions were quite one-sided: 3,386 of their victims were boys, only 60 were girls.
Overall, there was a slightly higher rate of homosexuality among perpetrators who raped and killed than among those who "merely" raped or molested (43% vs. 41%). In addition, the proportion of victims attributed to homosexual perpetrators who raped and murdered was higher than the proportion attributed to homosexuals who only raped or molested (68% vs. 61%). All of the cases involving eating or torturing the victim were committed by homosexual practitioners...
Murder and child molestation combine[ed]... are also independently associated with those who engage in homosexuality. Blanchard, Barbaree, Bogaert, Dicky, Klassen, Kuban, and Zucker, working with male offenders, concluded in 2000 that 2 the "best epidemiological evidence indicates that only 2-4% of men attracted to adults prefer men; in contrast, around 25-40% of men attracted to children prefer boys.... Thus the rate of homosexual attraction is 6-20 times higher among pedophiles [those who have sex with children under the age of 12 yr.]" (p. 464).
Likewise, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III-R (DSM III-R, 1987) 3 of the American Psychiatric Association, summarizing the clinical material about men, states that "Attraction to girls [aged 13 yr. or younger] is apparently twice as common as attraction to boys" and notes that the "course is usually chronic, especially in those attracted to boys.... The recidivism rate for people with Pedophilia involving a preference for the same sex is roughly twice that of those who prefer the opposite sex" (pp. 284-5).
Both of these sources estimated that about a third of child molesters engage in homosexuality -- similar to the 41% of male perpetrators who 'only' raped the underage in the newspaper database. In other studies 4, it has also been found that male perpetrators who engage in homosexuality claim larger numbers of rape victims than non-homosexual rapists. For instance, 84% of the 28,574 children under the age of 14 who were raped in Abel, et al. were victimized by homosexuals. Also, the higher rates of recidivism by homosexuals noted in the DSM would imply more victims too.
In line with these reports, of the 217 victims in the 90 murder and rape stories, at least 68% were victimized by homosexual perpetrators. This 68% falls between the estimate that "roughly equal numbers of girls and boys, each year fall victim to some form of sexual exploitation" cited in a recent National Association of Social Workers review of a large set of studies of child molestation 5 and the 84% reported by Abel, et al.
Murder also appears to be disproportionately associated with homosexuality. Jim Warren did the intake interview for almost all younger murderers (i.e., those under age 36) at the Washington State Corrections Center from 1971-82. In an interview in 1994... Warren said that he was struck with how frequently homosexuality turned up in the cases...: Although the motive listed in the report was often robbery or theft, he said that "about 50% of the time" it was associated with homosexuality...
...a group [homosexuals] constituting perhaps 1% to 5% of men (1.3% in the 1996 National Household Survey of Drug Abuse; higher in Black, et al. 7, Anderson and Stall 8, and Cameron and Cameron 9) generated 43% of those who were recorded in the most recent 14 years of news stories as having raped and killed children. [The minority of the population that is homosexual] also accounts for around a third of child molesters, commits between a third to two-thirds of child rapes, and may be involved in up to half of all murders...
1. Popham, P. (2000) Child killer sentenced to be throttled, cut up and immersed in an acid bath. Independent [London, England] 3/17/00.
2. Blanchard, R., Barbaree, H. E., Bogaert, A. F., Dicky, R., Klassen, P., Kuban, M. E., Zucker, K. J. (2000) Fraternal birth order and sexual orientation in pedophiles. Archives of Sexual Behavior 29, 463-478.
3. American Psychiatric Association. (1987) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III-R. Washington, D.C.
4. Abel, G. G., Becker, J. V., Mittelman, M., Cunningham-Rathner, J., Bouleau, J. L., and Murphy, W. D. (1987) Self-reported sex crimes of nonincarcerated paraphiliacs. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2 (1), 3-25.
5. Houston Chronicle (9/26/01) Define child sex abuse to combat problem. Editorial.
7. Black, D., Gates, G., Sanders, S. and Taylor, L. (2000) Demographics of the gay and lesbian population in the United States: evidence from available systematic data sources. Demography. 37, 139-154.
8. Anderson, J. E. and Stall, R. (2002) Increased reporting of male-to-male sexual activity in a national survey. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 29, 643-646.
9. Cameron, P. and Cameron, K. (2002) What proportion of heterosexuals is ex-homosexual? Psychological Reports 91, 1087-1097.