There are more serial killers in the United States than any other country in the world.

Let’s take a second to acknowledge the world’s economic power house, The United States of America. It seems the United States dominates in virtually all aspects of the world’s sociological spectrum — economic growth, democratic stability, education, healthcare, and international affairs, just to name a few. This trend has had both positive and negative effects on the United States; and, unsurprisingly, has the world’s highest estimated number of serial killers as well. Is it really bad for a country that’s the dream model of most countries? And why is this so? Let’s find out.

Related media: Top 10 American Serial Killers

What Is Serial Killing?

Before we talk about the United States’ rank of being the world’s highest number of serial killers, let’s take a crash course of what serial killing means in the first place to begin with.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), “serial killing” is the act of someone killing “two or more victims” during “incidents — occurring in separate events, at different times” after “the time period between murders [that] separates serial murder from mass murder.”

What this means is that, someone who kills several people in a very short period of time but does not kill again is a mass murderer. A serial killer is someone who has committed at least two murders which were staggered out. In other words, a serial killer is someone we can safely say is a “habitual killer,” if that’s an appropriate vocabulary, then that’s what we’re talking about.

The world has seen 3,112 serial killers since the 1900s, according to the Radford University/FGCU Serial Killer database. Three quarters of that number, 2,320, or about 75 percent of the serial killings happened in the United States. In comparison, India and China, which have almost half of the world’s population, have 46 and 30 serial killers (numeric not percentile), respectively.

Image: Britannica / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Serial Killing In The United States

According to former chief of the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, John Douglas, there are 25 to 50 active serial killers in the United States at any given moment. But, if you think 25 to 50 serial killers seem like a lot of people — even in the United States population of 321 million — you’d wonder if the statistics regarding how much crime they were responsible for.

According to some criminologists, serial killers kill 150 people each year. If that seems like not a huge number of people — the FBI website point out, that’s less than a percent of the 15,000 of all murders committed in the United States each year.

(Creepy Fact: 150 people are also killed by falling coconuts; and 3,000 people die from food poisoning, annually).

Serial killings are often seen as a relic of the past. The United States is host to most of the world’s known notorious serial killers — like Ted Bundy to Jeffrey Dahmer to the Green River Killer — were active within the past 30 years. Not only is the United States home to an estimated 2,000 active serial killers.

Mugshots of America’s most notorious serial killers

Statistically, the rate of serial killing is considerably declining — serial murder was a much more common crime in the ‘70s and ‘80s (the ‘80s saw over 600 serial murders) than it is now. We may now think of it as a retro phenomenon; and let’s not forget of the number of unsolved serial murder cases in the United States at any given moment; as most cases aren’t given much media attention.

According to the FBI’s serial murder fact sheet, serial killers are stereotypically diverse in many major ways — ethnicity, racial, and gender diversity.  About 20 percent of serial killers are African-American, and 17 percent of serial killers are female. Most serial killers don’t live in isolation — including the infamous John Wayne Gacy and Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, were married and active in their communities throughout the years they committed their crimes. And most importantly, they’re usually not deranged geniuses.

As the FBI notes:

“As a group, serial killers suffer from a variety of personality disorders, including psychopathy, anti-social personality, and others. Most, however, are not adjudicated as insane under the law.”

Why’s Serial Killing In The United States So High?

Image: Lirpa Journal | The psychodynamics of serial killing

A research from Dr. Mike Aamodt, a forensic psychology professor at Radford University, says there are more serial killers in the United States than anywhere else in the world. The United States has a lot of serial killers due to two factors: First, law-enforcement agencies, in order to account for all crime in the country, which the United States has. Second, adequate record-keeping of crime in the country, serial killings has to be documented, and readily available in prison records, and available to the public, Dr. Aamodt claims.

“In the United States, we have much more open records than other countries do. If the U.S. had a higher murder rate than the rest of the world, I would be more likely to believe that we have more serial killers, too. But compared to other countries in terms of the murder rate we’re right around the middle.” Dr. Aamodt told AETV in an interview.

This is obvious for a country like the United states that’s arguably the best in terms of living standards, though, we’re not saying its remarkable, but has an incredible track record on it’s crime.

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sun, Feb 17, 2019.


  1. This is a nice article but it makes not that much sense. A sentence like “a country like the United states that’s arguably the best in terms of living standards” is american bias of the author. Unarguably today there are alot european countries that have much higher living standarts than the US regarding safety (especially safety), healthcare, police(brutality), corruption and so on. Like Germany (where I live) and Germany had its fair share of serial killers, but it was a very small number in total and almost non-existent these days. So according to this text, Germany and other european countries like France, Great Britain, the Neatherlands etc. should have hmuch more seriel killers, but there are not. So this text gives an idea but in reality no real answer to why there are more serial killers in the US than elsewhere.


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