Exploring The Minds Of Murderers

Exploring The Minds Of Murderers

Hannah Frederick, Guest Reporter

Exploring The Minds Of Murderers 

By Hannah M. Frederick


Serial killers genetics load the gun, their personality and psychology aim it, and their experiences pull the trigger. This, is our answer, but how many people know this? In the last week, I decided to ask three adults if serial killers are born or made. 


“ I believe that it is partially both. Yes there are studies that show that part of the brain is not developed correctly, there could be problems down the road. Those people along with those that are made are influenced by their surroundings and what they get involved with such as violent video games, never having consequences when they do something wrong starting at a young age,” – Corrine Carpenter ; a highschool security gaurd. 


“Criminals are made because society has a larger influence on behavior than natural genetics,” – Casey Geiger ; a highschool Social Studies teacher. 


“Both because there are genetic connections as well as cultural influences,” – Jeremy Zogelmann ; a highschool security gaurd. 

You can see that two of my interviews resulted in saying it is both genetics and experience, and Mr. Geiger who says it is only experience. So what is right and wrong? 


The term “serial killer” strikes terror into the hearts of most of us. But fear drives a certain curiosity, so we explore the minds of murderers. So what drives someone to kill….

The study of criminal psychology began in the 1940’s. Since then, countless numbers of interviews, brain scans and studies have occurred on numerous numbers of psychopaths. Yes, it is true that genetics is a major factor of born killers. They say that murderers have different brains that the rest of us. The invention of functional brain scanning in the 1980’s revolutionized the understanding what what goes on inside all of our brains. One of the first scanning studies of murderers was carried out by a British neuroscientist, professor Adrian Raine. Professor Raine did many brain scans on many murderers and what he found was linked to psychopathic behavior. In a brain of a murderer or psychopath, the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls your emotions has less activity. However, it can be controlled, this is just the beginning. Professor Jim Fallon at the University of California has a large number of serial killers in his family tree. He has been genetically tested and discovered that he has many genes that are signs of criminal, violent, psychopathic behaviour. Yet, he is no murderer, he is a highly respected professor. Genes are still the start of becoming a murderer, but it is not the cause, so what makes them aim the gun. 

Todd Kohlhepp, a successful realtor has admitted guilty to killing seven people, yet denies being a murderer. His argument is that he is a genuinely good guy, but he does bad things to people who betray him. A forensic psychologist, Kris Mohandie did some studies on Kohlhepp who says Kohlhepp was “trouble” from the age of 15 months. “As a child, he was out of control, already gratifying his power and dominance needs, already comfortable hurting other people,” Kris Mohandie. Your personality affects your actions so much. Having that impulsivity or ruthlessness to hurt someone is a psychopathic personality.  But personalities aren’t there right after you are born, it is developed over time and the most crucial developing time is infancy. 

A serial killers “experience” is what makes them pull the trigger. The significant stages of infancy is key in the development of a human. A child’s emotions during the first twelve months is everything. If they don’t receive the attention and physical touch during this time, they could even suffer personal disorders. When they hit the age of two, there could even be signs of psychopathic personalities. Serial killer David Berkowitz, Joel Rifkin, Kenneth Bianchi did not receive proper attention as a child because they were given up for adoption at a young age. Mothers that can be controlling, overprotective, physically abusive, and emotionally abusive can even be blamed for “creating” a serial killer. When murderer Donta Page was an infant, his mother abused him and got worse as he got older, this was a daily thing. The early physical abuse and other factors could have led to brain damage which could have been why he was committing violent acts. Not all abused children become killers…however the connection cannot be ignored.

 Dr. Raine says “Genetics and environment work together to encourage violent behavior.” Given the research, the answer is all of the above but there is so much more to explore and uncover the secrets. We as a society have trouble explaining “abnormal behavior.” We describe serial killers with a simple yet powerful word : evil. This is not a term that we can verify, there are so many reasons behind someone who kills another soul. At one point it was easier to just call them monsters.