Fact or Fiction: Serial Killers

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Serial killers aren't always creepy loners who live with their mothers -- sometimes they're seemingly average churchgoers with wives and kids. How much do you know about the history of serial killers -- and would you know if one were living next door?

A person has to murder five people to be considered a serial killer.

The FBI defines a serial killer as one who murders three or more victims, with "cooling-off" periods between each murder.


There have been about 400 serial killers in the United States in the past century.

According to a recent FBI study, there have been approximately 400 serial killers in the United States in the past century -- 80 percent of them have emerged since 1950.


The Green River Killer is considered to be the first serial killer in the United States.

H.H. Holmes is considered to be the United States' first serial killer. Holmes confessed to 27 murders in the 1890s and was convicted of nine. He began by killing guests at a hotel that he opened to host visitors to the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.


More than 95 percent of serial killers are male.

More than 80 percent of serial killers are male, Caucasian and in their 20s or 30s. They usually kill Caucasian women.


Serial killer John Wayne Gacy was a precinct captain for his local Democratic party.

Precinct captain Gacy, a popular figure in his community, was convicted of killing 33 boys and men.


David Berkowitz, aka "Son of Sam," was a "thrill killer," and Ted Bundy was a "lust killer."

Son of Sam was a thrill killer who enjoyed the excitement of the kill. Bundy got sexual satisfaction from his kills.


Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was the inspiration for the Buffalo Bill character in "Silence of the Lambs."

Buffalo Bill shared serial killer Ed Gein's habit of making keepsakes from the body parts of his victims. Gein also inspired the character of Norman Bates in "Psycho" and Leatherface in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."


Dennis Rader, convicted in 2005, was known as the BTK Killer. "BTK" stands for "beat, torture, kill."

Rader bound, tortured and killed his victims and then bragged about it in letters to the police and local media.


In childhood, serial killers often wet their beds, commit arson and exhibit cruelty to animals, behaviors known as the MacDonald triad.

The MacDonald triad is bed-wetting, arson and cruelty to animals. Serial killers are also likely to have come from broken homes and been abused or neglected.


Charlize Theron won an Oscar for her portrayal of Ilene Wuornowski, a Florida prostitute who was convicted of killing seven men.

Aileen Wuornos is in a sparsely populated category -- the female serial killer.


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