Mass Vs. Serial Vs. Spree
Watchlist brought up an interesting point in the Port Arthur post, commenting about spree vs. serial killers. I thought it would make an interesting post. I’m adding mass murderers to this discussion as well.
According to the book The Serial Killer Files “for the most part, serial murder is a sex crime, a fact that accounts for its distinctive features. The classic pattern of serial murder is a grotesque traversty of normal sexual functioning.” They normally have 3 or more victims and might experience a cooling off period. Their crimes are a source of pleasure. They are aroused by the act of killing someone.
Mass murderer is usually someone who’s a ticking time bomb. They’ve been building up anger for sometime and finally reach their boiling point. Their life has slowly fallen apart. It might be an employee who goes back to his or her work place and takes his frustrations out on his fellow employees by gunning them down. In most cases, near the end the attacker commits suicide. Either by shooting himself or by making police take action. They are more likely to use a firearm then to use a knife to stab, or a rope to strangle. Their mission or goal is to take out as many people as they can.
For the most part, spree and mass murder are almost identical. The major different between the two is that a mass murder will normally take place at one location, while the spree killer hits various areas. Some could even describe a spree killer as a “mobile mass murderer.”
John Wayne Gacy
James Huberty (McDonalds Massacre)
Martin Bryant (Port Arthur Massacre)
The Beltway Snipers
Following the defintions, Martin Bryant could be considered a spree killer as well, seeing how his crimes took place at a few locations. As mentioned before, that’s where the two labels overlap each other. Normally there is no argument over wether or not someone is a serial killer. Obviously someone who killed a number of people over months or years is a serial killer but when it comes to mass and spree, it gets tricky.