The typology of a serial killer is exactly what you think it is. In order to track them, investigators must first have an understanding of how (and later why) they operate.
While there are several different types of serial killers and offenders, which I will get into in a later post, the most basic typology and the most widely used by investigators is the Holmes Typology. This is also known as the Organized/Disorganized Dichotomy and is also attributed to famed FBI Profiler Roy Hazelwood. Once the basic typology is documented, a more detailed subcategory can be assigned.
The HT classifies serial killers into 2 groups:
Organized and Disorganized
Organized serial killers live seemingly stable, normal lives. They are gainfully and skillfully employed, socially aware, highly intelligent, and often have families and regular friendships. These characteristics also spill over into how they commit their crimes. Organized killers plan their crimes well in advance, sometimes years.
They have a specific type of victim such as sex workers or individuals with a certain physical trait. These individuals are more likely to restrain victims, dispose of bodies in a discreet location, and remove a weapon from the crime scene. Their crimes are also usually not committed where they dispose of bodies, but are more likely to move bodies.
Since they are more socially skilled than their disorganized counterpart, these killers often have a social interaction with their victims. Little evidence is left behind at murders committed by organized killers.
Examples include: BTK, John Wayne Gacy
Disorganized serial killers tend to be drifters with a more spontaneous lifestyle. They are also more likely to commit other crimes along with murder, including drug use and necrophilia. Below average intelligence is a characteristic. They often suffer from some sort of sexual dysfunction and severe mental illness, which are the root causes of their crimes. Victims are random and usually do not fit a certain demographic or description. Disorganized killers will leave evidence behind at crime scenes, including blood, fingerprints, and the murder weapon. Crime scene locations are in close proximity to the killer and murders are committed at the location where the victim is found, hence the evidence left at the crime scene.
Examples include: Ottis Toole, Richard Chase a.k.a The Vampire of Sacramento.
FYI, if you never want to sleep again, do a search for Richard Chase. Nighty, nighty!
Then, of course, there’s Ted Bundy. You know you can’t mention serial killers without his name coming up. Teddy boy is actually a mixture of both typologies, even though he tends to lean towards organized more so than disorganized. However, based on his famous Florida murder spree in 1978, Bundy crossed over into disorganized territory with the random killings. Bundy’s affinity for necrophilia also puts him into the disorganized category.