In the last few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time reading up on serial killers. Creepy, I know. But I swear, it’s just research. I’m working on a new project that requires it. Although I will admit to having a fascination about the subject as well.
I just find it incredibly disturbing and yet – at the same time – fascinating, that these people could get such a kick out of dong something so innately wrong, something that the rest of us would never consider. And the more I learned, the more disturbing things I discovered.
There Are Many Free Serial Killers
We all generally assume that when a serial killer is caught, that’s it. They are going to spend the rest of their lives in jail. If they are in a capital punishment state or country, then they’ll hit death row and begin the slow walk to the chair. But that’s not always the case, and it’s not just because they have a great legal team.
In many South American countries there is a maximum penalty, a maximum term that you can serve in jail. Even if you kill a bunch of people, you will still serve no more than that maximum term, which is often around 30 years but is as low as 23 in some countries. What’s even scarier is that the world’s worst serial killers are from South America.
Right now, the person who sits top of the list for the most victims, Pedro Lopez, is a free man. He has over 100 confirmed victims, all children, and he is said to have killed more than 300. Yet he’s free.
The good news is that he is old and probably not in the best of health. But where’s the justice in releasing a monster who kills 300 kids?
There are Many Unsolved Serial Killer Cases
If you ask the average person to name an unsolved serial killer case, they’ll probably point to Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac Killer and then hit a wall. There is also an assumption that murder is very hard to get away with, which makes it near impossible to get away with serial murder.
But the truth is, when the victim doesn’t know their murderer, it’s very hard to solve. That’s true even in an age of CCTV and advanced forensics, because that CCTV doesn’t exist in rural areas and that forensic tech is useless if the killer is not on the criminal database.
Then you have the unsolved murders from the past. In total, there are dozens of high profile serial killers that were never found, from Jack the Stripper in the UK (seriously) to the Highway of Tears in Canada and the Phantom in the United States.
Some of these may still be found. After all, BTK and the Grim Sleeper were both discovered long after they were active. But we will never know the truth in many of these cases.
Victim Counts are Hard to Judge
If you look at the bio of every serial killer, and at the number of murders in particular, you will see two numbers. The first is the number they were convicted of killing, the second is the estimated number they killed. The first number is often much lower. It’s the number of victims that could be proved, the ones that the police had a solid case for.
In serial killings, it’s not always easy to make that connection and because the killer will be getting a life sentence anyway, many cases are just dropped. They are tied unofficially to that killer so they don’t remain cold cases, but legally, they may not be victims.
This gets even more complicated when the killers die during the arrest, kill themselves shortly afterwards or refuse to admit to their crimes, and more complicated still when you have a killer like Henry Lee Lucas, who wanted to admit to everything except the moon landing.