As part of my deeper look into the psyche of serial killers, I shall be delving into whether there are any common links between some of the world's most infamous serial killers, in terms of when their "career as a killer" began and how long it lasted. As with every question I start with no evidence, theories or opinion, this is simply a compilation of hard data to determine whether there are any common threads or interesting nuggets. Common threads like: what age do serial killers begin killing (is it part of a teenage angst, midlife crisis, end-of-life burst, or is there no average age)? How long their career span lasts? Across what age-range? If there are any similarities at all.
Serial Killers - Career Span by Dates & Age
What follows is an alphabetic list of 54 of the UK & USA's most infamous serial killers, the dates (if known) of their first and final killings and the killer's age when these crime were committed.
** including suspected murders or theya re still under investigation for further murders
What age is a serial killer most likely to start killing? Statistically in their twenties, with that figure tailing off the older they become, but there are an unusually high proportion of serial killers (including Gacy, Shipman, Sutcliffe, Dahmer and Bundy) who all began their "killing" careers as their 20th and 30th birthday loomed nearer or passed by.
What is the average span of a serial killer's "career"? This is the hardest question to answer as serial killers tend not to quit, they usually only stop when they are caught. The FBI states that the average male serial killer has a "career" span of 2-3 years, with female serial killers lasting almost 11 years. Often females are rarely caught as (1) they don't hang around after the murder, (2) they tend not to take souveniers, and (3) they usually kill by poisoning, which means they don't have to be in the same room, street or country as their victim.
That said, often females are not included in lists of serial killers as they tend to kill many victims in a very short period of time, which categorises them as a "spree-killer". Therefore, what follows is the same 54 serial killers with their "career span" listed shortest to longest.
** including suspected murders or they are still under investigation for further murders
(est) indicates that exact dates cannot be accurately stated
If you "enjoyed" this blog post try; Murderers by Motive; Odds of a US Presidential Assassination, Killer Couples Part 1 & Part 2, Famous British Serial Killers - Where Are They Now? Serial Killers & Murderers Who Were Never Caught, London's Deadliest & Often Forgotten Disasters, Killers Born During a Full Moon, Killer's Star Signs, Serial Killers Who Were On TV, Celebrities Who Have Killed, London's Railway of Death, Serial Killers as Kids and the World's Weirdest Death Rituals
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime historian, writer and tour guide of Murder Mile Walks.