Neurodevelopmental and psychosocial risk factors in serial killers and mass murderers
Clare S. Allely Helen Minnis Lucy Thompson Philip Wilson Christopher Gillberg


Multiple and serial murders are rare events that have a very profound societal impact. We have conducted a systematic review, following PRISMA guidelines, of both the peer reviewed literature and of journalistic and legal sources regarding mass and serial killings. Our findings tentatively indicate that these extreme forms of violence may be a result of a highly complex interaction of biological, psychological and sociological factors and that, potentially, a significant proportion of mass or serial killers may have had neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder or head injury. Research into multiple and serial murders is in its infancy: there is a lack of rigorous studies and most of the literature is anecdotal and speculative. Specific future study of the potential role of neurodevelopmental disorders in multiple and serial murders is warranted and, due to the rarity of these events, innovative research techniques may be required.

Aggression and Violent Behavior, May–June 2014