Organized Versus Disorganized Serial Killers

One of the most frustrating pursuits has been the attempt to find commonality of behavioral patterns, motivational causes, past history and other features of serial killers. But one clear distinction among serial killers is their pattern of organization or disorganization. This is determined at the crime scene when the scene exhibits elements of organized activity or disorganized activity. Even with this classification method, the majority, but not all serial killing crime scenes fall into one category or another, and may contain elements of both organized and disorganized activity.

Serial killers are generally found to have responses to past traumas in life, which range from emotional abuse to gross physical abuse.

The organized killer is patient, methodical, and has no personal feelings for their victims. Victims are likely to be strangers who live away from the killer. The killer will stalk, plan, and organize all aspects of the crime in order to control as much as possible of the evidence that is left at the scene.

Organized killers are sociopaths of very high functioning order. While irrational, narcissistic, irresponsible, and cunning, they are actually sane. While they do not relate to other human beings, they can convincingly turn on the amiability and charm when required to meet their objectives.

Organized killers have the capacity to be at any level in the community, from the highly respected and honored community leader and volunteer, to the “great person who lives down the street”. The universal comment from friends, community members and others is that they had no idea that the individual could have done such activity. This is indicative of very well controlled, intelligent, cunning, charming, and manipulative individuals who compartmentalize their lives in very effective ways.

Organized killers will stalk, stake out, plan and attempt to control every aspect of their crimes, especially being careful to target strangers who do not live in their immediate communities. They strive to leave little evidence, carefully study the crime scenes and escape routes, and can be very resourceful in adopting various poses: as an injured party, an authority figure, or other acceptable person who causes the victim to lower their defenses until they can be effectively controlled by sophisticated and less violent means.

They are meticulous and take time to clean all evidence, sometimes vacuuming or using bleach to hide and damage evidence, and cleaning all fingerprints, bodily fluids, and other identifiable evidence. They may dispose of the body in distant or cunning ways, revisiting the scene to insure that the decomposition and discovery factors are under control. They keep track of news reports and even keep up on the investigators in order to stay current on their progress.

The hallmark of the organized killer is that they take trophies that have meaning to them, plan to be doing their killing for a long time, and do not ever want to be found out and apprehended.

Disorganized killers are commonly obviously mentally ill or antisocial, are unable to socialize, and are loners.They are commonly so dysfunctional that they can be unkempt and poorly groomed, abuse drugs and alcohol, and will kill anyone who is conveniently nearby, regardless of relationship or location. Generally, they can be so dysfunctional that they have no money or transportation, and will kill within walking distance. Killings are raged fueled and spontaneous, with weapons of convenience being used, and with no attempt to clean up, hide or conceal evidence.

The disorganized serial killer will demonstrate poor ability to compartmentalize or to take trophies that are sophisticate, taking body parts and gross material. The crime scenes are a mess, and violent incapacitation, rather than cunning are used to establish control over victims.

Youth and inexperience are common to disorganized killers, who can actually become organized killers, developing their skills, if they are not caught. But disorganized killers are also disorganized in their ability to compartmentalize after they kill. They can talk obsessively after the murders, change their eating and drinking habits, and engage in behavior that is suspicious in combination with their other problems in life, and in combination with their familiarity or physical closeness to their victims. As such, they are more likely to be suspected, investigated, and apprehended than organized killers.


“Compulsion to Kill: A History Of Serial Murder”