The FBI estimates that there are between 40 and 50 active serial killers in the United States at any given time. But Mark Safarik, the FBI profiler speaking at a panel today at ThrillerFest, says he places the number closer to 25.
Safarik was at ThrillerFest in order to educate writers and aspiring authors on the ins and outs of psychopaths. What motivates these people to kill? What does law enforcement do to stop them? And most important how can mystery, suspense and thriller writers use realistic depictions of crime in their books.
First of all, Safarik says that serial killers may not look the way we think. “We want them to look like Mr. Stranger Danger that way we would always know who to stay away from,” Safarik says. “But guys that look dangerous, they aren’t the problem. It is the guy dressed in a suit that you have to watch out for.”
Interestingly enough, he says that most psychopaths are in total control of their facilities. They are capable and intelligent and know how to not get caught. “It is rare for a mentally ill person to be a killer, most of the time serial killers know the difference between right and wrong, they just choose to do wrong.”
So how are these killers caught? Through lots and lots of detective work. “We look at forensics, behavior, victomology, chronology. So when you are writing, you have to look at all of these things.”
Interested in more facts on behavioral analysis? Check out Safarik’s website where here has a whole list of resources. And don't miss even more ThrillerFest coverage coming your way!