Serial Killers, Media And Public Influence

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Serial Killers, Media and Public influence

Serial Killers, Media and Public influence

Serial Killers, Media and Public influence


It can be said quite confidently that the media does influence the criminal justice system as there is a lot of debate in the media that revolves around criminal cases. The forms of media will be identified. And the role of both the judiciary and the jury will be discussed, and ways in which the media can impact their decisions.

The ways that the media may inappropriately influence society, can be overcome by making the media minimise or reduce stories concerning or consisting of issues of crimes. The media usually prefer to broadcast negative stories which are also sensationalised to seem worse than they are. It would also be a good idea to try persuading or directing the media to portray the criminal justice system in a good light and not always focus on its ineffective aspects.

Serial murder involves the killing of three or more victims over a period of days, weeks, months, or even years. The media focus attention on these crimes because they often appear to be so bizarre and extraordinary. They engender the kind of headlines that sell newspapers: “The Atlanta Child Killer,” “The Stocking Strangler,” “The Hillside Strangler,” “The Sunday Morning Slasher,” and “The Boston Strangler.” The media focus not only on how many victims were killed but also on how they died. Thus, they feed morbid curiosity and at the same time create a stereotype of the typical serial killer: Ted Bundy, Ed Kemper, Albert DeSalvo, and a host of other young white males, attacking unsuspecting women powerless to defend themselves from the savage sexual attacks and degradations by these monsters.


Serial murder is undoubtedly one of the most terrifying and fascinating phenomena of modern-day violent crime. It is also one of the most sensationalized areas of research within the fields of criminology, psychology, and sociology. Philip Jenkins (1994), in his book Using Murder: The Social Construction of Serial Murder, provides a scholarly examination of how serial killing has been handled by the media, law enforcement, and the public. His findings are consistent with other writers: Much of what we “know” about serial murder is based on misinformation and myth construction. As a result of the sensational nature of this form of murder, the aura surrounding it has assumed a life of its own as it filters throughout both the public and private sectors of society.

In the summer of 1981, Wayne Williams, a young African American male believed to be one of the nation's more prolific serial killers, was arrested in the Atlanta area. This case brought to the forefront the fact that not all serial killers are white, nor are the victims. Technology, specifically hair and fiber evidence, became a critical factor in convicting Williams, and forensic science became prominent in explaining why such evidence ultimately played a key role in linking Williams to the crimes. More than 20 homicides were attributed to Williams, most of them children, although he was ...
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