The mid-20th century saw a drastic rise of serial killers in the US with many infamous names such as Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and the Zodiac Killer capturing the imagination of the population. That particular era, known as the "golden age" of serial killers, started going through a massive decline in the 2000s. Toronto-based historian and author Peter Vronsky, however, believes that there could be a surge in serial killers very soon.
Vronsky argued that there was a rise in serial killings between 1970 and 1999 in the US but the major question was where did they come from? He said in an interview: "A serial killer’s psychopathology is formed in childhood, between five and 14. They don’t really commit their first murder, on average, until they are 28."
The author added: "So if we look at those three decades, the John Wayne Gacys, the Ted Bundys… you have to back them up about 25 years into their childhood, and that puts them as children being raised by a World War Two generation, a post-depression-era generation." Vronsky also added that the family plays a very important role in the lives of many serial killers.
Many of their fathers who went back home from the war traumatized and suffering from PTSD may have been mentally or even physically absent as a parent. According to Vronsky, there could be another rise in the number of serial killers in 2030. He pointed out that the market crash in 2008 could be a catalyst for this phenomenon.
He said: "In the exact same way the trauma of war and the Great Depression produced the golden age, there seems to be the same mix now. A lot of kids lost their homes and had families that were broken because of a broken economy. If my hypothesis is correct, 20 years down the road, we’re going to see some serial killers emerging out of it. Serial killers appear in surges, and surges are related to trauma and family breakdown."
Vronsky did say, however, that there has been a drop overall in the rate of homicides since the 1990s. This could mean that serial killers are either getting crafty at what they are doing or that there are fewer of them out there. A man was recently accused of being a serial killer after an elderly woman was found dead in her home and 11 other elder deaths were linked to him. Could this mean that the killers are getting smarter? Is the country seeing an unconscious rise in serial killings?
MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) also spoke to former NYPD detective Bo Dietl on whether there was actually a rise in the number of serial killers. He said: "According to the FBI, fewer than 1% of all homicides in the United States are classified as serial killings. As crime overall has dropped significantly in the past decades, the number of serial killings has gone down significantly."
He continued: "Despite this, any serial killings capture media and public attention, so the cases that do make the news are often shocking enough that the perception that serial killers are on the rise persists." We then asked him how hard is it to keep up with killers who are smarter than their predecessors and he said: "I think technology is making crime harder and harder to get away with."
Dietl then said that advancement in testing methods for DNA, fiber, ballistics, etc., has made it possible for law enforcement to close cases more effectively and this is why it is harder for potential killers to even consider getting into this field. He said: "In addition, the prevalence of high-quality surveillance cameras nearly everywhere has made it easier for the police to establish timelines and detect."
When asked specifically about the tremendous help that genealogy websites have provided for investigators, Dietl said: "The popularity of genealogy websites has certainly helped close a lot of cold cases. While I was a detective, DNA testing hadn’t yet become prevalent. In my private investigation business, we use DNA testing frequently along with advanced ballistics testing, fiber testing, and other cutting edge forensic methodologies."
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