Notorious Murderers and Serial Killers
The Difference Between

What are the distinct differences between a serial killer and a mass murderer?

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Answered 2010-03-12 00:31:01

A mass murderer it usually means someone like a dictator rarely gets their hands dirty and has some ultimate goal to achieve, usually to rule all the other people, they want to rule and have people on their knees at their behest and never want it to end and they kill large numbers of people, over 100 or thereabouts.

A serial killer enjoys killing specific groups of people, for personal reasons, they are hands on, have an modus operandi, which means a specific way of killing, aka a signature and usually want to be caught down the line and has killed more than 3 people


One of the distinct differences between a serial killer and a mass murder is the 'cool down period'.

A mass murder will kill large groups of people at the SAME time. Examples of mass murders: Columbine High School Massacre, Virginia Tech Massacre and the Amish School Shooting. Mass murderers unlike serial killers, rarely have a sexual motive for their killings.

A serial killer will kill, experience a cool down period, and sometime later (days, weeks, months) kill again. Examples of serial killers: David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), Ted Bundy, and Dennis Rader (BTK Killer).


Over 20% of serial killers are black, the rest are mostly white. Often a serial killer will go after particularly prostitutes (easy prey) such as the Pickton Murders in Port Coquitlam, B.C., Canada where well over 50 prostitutes were murdered. Serial killers will stock their victims and will kill several in a month, while others will kill missing a month or so, then kill again, stop (possibly for a year or more and sometimes up to 5 - 10 years), and some disappear. The Green River Killer was such a person and was not caught until years later. Serial killers generally have no prior record of a sex offence if arrested (they are still considered potential serial killers because of psychological testing they go through). If the particular killer is caught he will admit he will kill again. Many serial killers actually detest women for one reason or another and enjoy the sense of power they have over each victim instilling as much fear and suffering as they possibly can. Most of these women seem to be a powerless group of society who tend not to have much prestige (this statement is by a psychiatrist on serial killers). They often will pick on women who live alone. There is no age limit for most serial killers and they generally will kill women in their late teens even up to woman of the age of 80 or more. It is also said that the serial killer has had some traumatic event in early childhood, but some psychiatrists disagree and feel that serial killers were born without much of conscience. There is definitely a rise of serial killers and especially in the U.S., simply because there is a loss of sense of community (people move to towns or cities and don't know anyone) or people tend to make strangers of one another. Serial killers do not have a rage to lash out; are generally married with a wife and children and could be the good guy next door. They are normal around others, go to work, have a social life, but have what they consider a 'task' to do when the urge appeals to them.

Mass Murders have no conscience and most are young (many in their teens.) An example is Columbine. A student (or 2 - 3 students) angry at the teacher and their classmates will open fire on a full classroom. There had been an outbreak in the U.S. and Canada during the 1980s of a rise in Postal Workers (disgruntled) opening fire inside the Post Office and killing several people at random. They hate and they want to get even. They are sociopaths in nature. They are generally 'different' from the rest of society, loners and tend to have a quiet demeanor about them. There is no warning when a Mass Murderer decides to kill. Mass Murderers can also kill their own family members without remorse, whereas Serial Killers do feel some remorse and guilt, but can't seem to help themselves. Mass Murderers premeditate their actions and actually plan what they are going to do out of sheer hate. A serial killer takes their time choosing a victim, follows them for a several days or even weeks before killing them.

A serial killer is a person who murders three or more people over a period of more than 30 days, with a 'cooling off' period between each murder.


Mass murderers kill in one location over a short period of time. Typically, most mass murderers use guns to murder their prey, but in some cases, like the massacre of eight student nurses in 1966 by Richard Speck, the murderers also use knives. Single acts of terrorism are also considered mass murder, like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. Other notorious mass murders include the 1964 Cologne school massacre, 1984 San Diego McDonald's massacre, 1986 Edmond U.S. Post Office massacre, 1989 Standard Gravure shooting, 1989 Ecole Polytechnique massacre, 1991 Killeen Luby's massacre, 1991 Strathfield Shopping Mall massacre, 1993 101 California Street shootings, 1993 Long Island Rail Road massacre, 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, 1996 Dunblane Primary School massacre, 1999 Columbine High School massacre, 2001 Nepalese royal massacre, 2002 Erfurt school massacre, 2007 Jokela school shooting, 2008 Kauhajoki school shooting, 2008 Covina massacre, and the 2009 Fort Hood shooting.

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