Can a Demographic Make you Psychopathic?

Presenter: Enzo Yaksic

Research Category: Social Sciences, Business, and Law
Student Type: Undergraduate
PI: Jack Levin

Over the decades, African American serial killers have been neglected in academic literature. This exploratory article reports the results obtained in two studies of a large sample of serial homicide offenders while comparing African American and Caucasian offenders. The question guiding this research was whether current offender profiles are equipped to cope with shifting patterns and trends. Previous research, such as Eric Hickey’s 399-offender study, suggested that black males represented only 20% of serial murderers. The author’s present research asserts instead that 46% of American serial killers since 1995 have been black, commensurate with the number of white serial killers. This conclusion is derived from case-by-case analysis of one hundred and five American serial killers. Data was collected from a primary source – a survey administered to eleven professionals in the criminal justice field – and secondary sources including newspaper articles, FBI case files, databases from Dr. James Alan Fox, and various scholastic resources. African Americans’ characteristics were assessed by examining variables such as victim selection, prevalence of drug use, evasion techniques, and methods of detection. The results of study I demonstrate significant differences and commonalities between African American serial killers and their Caucasian counterparts. Study II revealed an overall distain for current profiling methods among criminal justice professionals.

Originally Published in 2006