Fact or Fiction: Serial Killers

Estimated Completion Time
1 min
Fact or Fiction: Serial Killers
Image: Florida DOC/Getty Images

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.
fact
fiction
almost fact: A serial killer has at least three victims.
The FBI defines a serial killer as one who murders three or more victims, with "cooling-off" periods between each murder.

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There have been about 400 serial killers in the United States in the past century.
fact
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.
fiction
almost fact: The number is more like 300.

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The Green River Killer is considered to be the first serial killer in the United States.
fact
fiction
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.
almost fact: It's actually John Wayne Gacy.

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More than 95 percent of serial killers are male.
fact
fiction
almost fact: Eighty percent is the right number.
More than 80 percent of serial killers are male, Caucasian and in their 20s or 30s. They usually kill Caucasian women.

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Serial killer John Wayne Gacy was a precinct captain for his local Democratic party.
fact
Precinct captain Gacy, a popular figure in his community, was convicted of killing 33 boys and men.
fiction
almost fact: It was actually Ted Bundy.

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David Berkowitz, aka "Son of Sam," was a "thrill killer," and Ted Bundy was a "lust killer."
fact
Son of Sam was a thrill killer who enjoyed the excitement of the kill. Bundy got sexual satisfaction from his kills.
fiction
almost fact: It's the other way around.

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Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was the inspiration for the Buffalo Bill character in "Silence of the Lambs."
fact
fiction
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."
almost fact: It was Peter Woodcock.

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Dennis Rader, convicted in 2005, was known as the BTK Killer. "BTK" stands for "beat, torture, kill."
fact
fiction
almost fact: It's "bind, torture, kill."
Rader bound, tortured and killed his victims and then bragged about it in letters to the police and local media.

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In childhood, serial killers often wet their beds, commit arson and exhibit cruelty to animals, behaviors known as the MacDonald triad.
fact
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.
fiction
almost fact: The MacDonald triad is bed-wetting, running away from home and doll torture.

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Charlize Theron won an Oscar for her portrayal of Ilene Wuornowski, a Florida prostitute who was convicted of killing seven men.
fact
fiction
almost fact: It's Aileen Wuornos.
Aileen Wuornos is in a sparsely populated category -- the female serial killer.

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/10
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