Only representing approximately 8% of all serial killers in the United States, females are rarely thought of as serial killers. However, female serial killers are typically very different from male serial killers. According to one of the most highly revered books on the subject, Murder Most Rare: The Female Serial Killer by Michael Kelleher & C. L.Kelleher, female serial killers are more methodical, thoughtful, and precise than males. In their analysis of 100 serial killers since 1900, Kelleher & Kelleher claimed that females killed for an average of eight years before they were caught whereas males killed for an average of only four years before they were caught.

Female serial killers seem to be one the the most shocking criminals due to the preconceived notion that women are passive, gentle and sweet. Additionally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2005 men were ten times more likely than women to murder. Of those, 65.3% were murders characterized by male perpetrators and male victims. 22.7% were characterized by male perpetrators and female victims. 9.6% were characterized by female perpetrators and male victims. Lastly, 2.4% were characterized by female perpetrators and female victims.

Men and women also differ in the  in serial killings in a number of ways. Women are more likely to kill people they know whereas men more likely to kill strangers. Women are more likely to poison their victims than men, and men are more likely to use a gun than women. Although there are varying theories of classifications of characteristics of female serial killers, the most widely accepted is the “Kelleher Typology.”  This classification system divides female serial killers into two categories: those acting alone and those acting with others. There are five types of females serial killers which the Kellehers claim act alone: Black Widows, Angels of Death, Sexual Predators, Revenge Seekers, and Profit or Crime Killers. There are four types of female serial killers which the Kellehers categorize as acting with others: Team Killers, Question of Sanity Killers, Unexplained Killings (apparently motiveless), and Unsolved Killings (which have been attributed to women). It is far more likely for women to kill with others but women who act alone are most commonly Black Widows or Angels of Death. The only recorded Sexual Predator is Alieen Wurnos who worked as a prostitute and murdered her clients. Due to the shockingly masculine nature of her crimes, Wurnos remains one of the most infamous female serial killers.

« »