Dietz described the features and subtypes of mass, serial and sensational murderers.


Mass Murderers


Features of mass murderer:

(1) multiple victims (5 or more persons) killed intentionally

(2) 3 or more persons killed by a single offender in a single temporal incident, regardless of distance or location (typically within 24 hours)

(3) usually perpetrator suffers from paranoia


Subtypes of mass murderers:

(1) familial annihilator

(2) pseudocommando

(3) set-and-run killer


Familial annhiliator:

(1) depressed, paranoid and/or intoxicated

(2) kills all family members present, even pets

(3) may commit suicide or force the police to kill him



(1) preoccupied with firearms and martial arts

(2) episodes carefully prepared

(3) may commit suicide or force the police to kill him


Set-and-run killer:

(1) in general leave a means of escape

(2) may practice arson, poisoning or bombing

(3) may target one or more specific victims but also may kill bystanders if this may improve the chances for escape

(4) motivated by anger, desire for revenge, ideology or desire to commit fraud


Serial Killers


Features of serial killers:

(1) multiple victims killed on multiple occasions (5 or more victims on 5 or more occasions), often with periods of time or great distances separating the murders

(2) most victims are strangled, beaten or knived

(3) may be interested in police-related activities and are familiar with police methods

(4) often pursue occupations or hobbies where they have some control over others (ambulance driver, correctional officer, chronic care facilities, etc.)

(5) may have a financial incentive


Subtypes of serial killers:

(1) psychopathic sexual sadists

(2) crime spree killers

(3) functionaries of organized criminal operations

(4) custodial poisoners and asphyxiators

(5) supposed psychotics


Psychopathic sexual sadist:

(1) usually male

(2) usually has an antisocial personality disorder

(3) enjoys sexual sadism


Crime spree killer:

(1) series of crimes motivated by pursuit of excitement, money or valuables


Functionaries of organized crime operations:

(1) use murder as an integral part of policy


Custodial poisoners and asphyxiators:

(1) caretaker of debilitated, elderly or children

(2) may pursue "mercy" killing

(3) resort to drugs, poisons or asphyxiation to mask the crimes


Supposed psychotics:

(1) may be psychotic, but true psychotics find it difficult to evade detection

(2) those who attempt to appear psychotic


Sensational Murderers


Features of sensational murderers:

(1) commit crimes that appear motivated by the desire to appear in tabloids or the sensational press

(2) may mutilate the victims

(3) may pursue a celebrity figure or politician

(4) if the body is not found, may return to the site of the crime or take other actions to make sure that the body is found


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