2,000 serial killers in US, says man who caught Golden State Killer

SecretAgentMan

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About two thousand serial killers are on the loose, hunting for fresh victims all across the country.

That’s the word from California cold-case ace Paul Holes, who nailed notorious Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo in 2016 after a 40-year manhunt.

He believes many more like him are still out there.

“I’ve seen statistics that some two thousand serial killers are operating in the United States today,” writes the acclaimed criminalist in “Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases,” out now, in which he chronicles his career-long pursuit of DeAngelo.

“It’s a rough estimate, for sure, but it’s absolutely a realistic figure,” Holes told The Post.

He said murderers go after the marginalized — particularly prostitutes, drug addicts and the homeless — relatively easy marks as they tend to lose touch with family and friends and might have a history of disappearing for extended periods of time.

“Often these predators are preying on people whose lives have spiraled down, so when they go missing, no one is really paying attention,” he said. “Killers are hiding behind the opioid crisis.”

Widespread use of heroin, oxycodone and fentanyl provides serial slayers with a “smokescreen,” Holes said, allowing them to choke or suffocate victims with less violence than would be needed to kill the fully conscious — and to fool investigators, who wrongly assume that drugs are to blame.

“If the manner of killing is a softer manual strangulation, where the victim is intoxicated and barely conscious, it doesn’t take much to kill them,” he told The Post.

“Pathologists can write off these cases too fast: ‘This is an OD.’ They’re not paying attention to a small bruise around the neck, especially if the investigator is saying, ‘Let’s kiss this off and get back to the bona fide homicides.’ “

Holes pointed to the example of Samuel Little, who confessed to murdering 93 women between 1970 and 2012, making him the most prolific serial killer in US history. Some he killed were sex workers and drug users.

“He would strangle his victims and command them to swallow,” he said. “You could see he’s doing this enough times to where they are unconscious and the amount of physical evidence is very subtle. It makes it difficult for the experts to determine what exactly happened.”

A good number of serial killers are believed to be truckers like the “Happy Face Killer” Keith Jesperson — long-haul drivers who target prostitutes and take advantage of being on the road for weeks at a time to hide their crimes.

“They can work a circuit,” Holes said. “Picking up sex workers is something that has been seen over and over again. ‘Hey, you need a ride?’ And the victim gets in their vehicle and they’re done.”

The creation of the FBI’s Highway Serial Killings Initiative in 2009 underscores the pervasiveness of truck-driving predators, he said. “It’s a huge aspect.”

Years ago killers like DeAngelo — a terrifying menace who raped 50 and killed 13 and sometimes taunted his victims afterward — didn’t have to worry as much about disguising their whereabouts.

“Back in the day you’d find them working in any type of community, though not necessarily living there. In the distribution of crimes you might see a void area — so maybe that’s where he lives,” said Holes.

“In the 1970s you had serial killers entering houses or picking up hitchhikers. It was very obvious that something had occurred. But as society adjusted to public security threats — surveillance systems, for example — the predator tries to minimize the risks to himself. They’re using technology to lure and isolate victims through things like online sex work. They’re no longer standing around in playgrounds.”

DeAngelo pounced on his victims while they slept in their homes, shining a flashlight in their faces so they couldn’t see him. He wore gloves, tied up and blindfolded his targets — typically couples — and carefully mapped out escape routes.

He went four decades before being identified by Holes as a suspect in a rape and killing spree that began in 1974. The crime fighter discovered him using advanced DNA mapping and a genealogy researcher.

Two recent cases have captured his attention, Holes said: The Delphi slayings in Indiana — “that’s a serial predator, somebody who needs to be caught” — and the Gilgo Beach murders on Long Island, an ongoing mystery involving sex workers and others who were strangled and dumped near the ocean.

“I think most of those cases are related,” said Holes, referring to Gilgo.

He said serial killers as a group often blend in, leading ordinary lives in seemingly safe communities.

“Most are not loners or outcasts,” he writes.

“They can and do function as your friendly next-door neighbor. They know that what they are doing is twisted, and they can stop for periods of time, but their urge to kill is stronger than the fear of getting caught.”



The US has 2,000 serial killers, says man who caught Golden State Killer
 
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annemc2

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I didn't know where else to post this but had to share with someone who might get it. I have a friend that spoke (or had a table or whatever they do) at Crimecon and she got me Paul Holes' autograph! I will hang it proudly on the fridge. :D


Also yes @kai - very, very interesting about Delphi. I always assumed it was a one-off.
 

Kell1

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Sexual murderers of children primarily if they abduct their victims , have the highest probability to become serial offenders.

The interesting part is that though they may have murdered children for sexual purposes, this doesn't mean they will always target children as their preferred victims.

There have been killers who began with kids, and moved onto killing adults , and those who have started with adults and moved onto children
 

ashhouston

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I think way more than 2,000 and he shouldn't be taking credit for solving the golden state killer DNA did. The way LE is going about catching serial killers is NOT working that guy is over 70 years old like most that they catch isn't for detective work it with DNA 40 years to catch a guy i wouldn't say its a sucess id say we need to find a way to solve serial killer crimes differently the way they have isn't working
 

kadman

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Such a serious problem. And it will only get worse with the growing population. Short of a "Minority Report" scenario, I don't know how to curb this situation.
 

ashhouston

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Serial killer should be 2 people not 3 id even say it should be if someone murders a random person that should be considered a serial killer. The FBI needs to change what a serial killer is. IMO
 

kadman

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Serial killer should be 2 people not 3 id even say it should be if someone murders a random person that should be considered a serial killer. The FBI needs to change what a serial killer is. IMO
I've read the definition outlined by the FBI, and I consider it quite reasonable. IMO two people in separate events may not necessarily be the beginning of an ongoing pattern, although it could, but three would certainly define a pattern of behaviour. Random or known people doesn't come into it.
I don't agree with the number , 2000 active seems extremely high and unrealistic IMO, especially since we've seen an extreme decline in true serial murder over the past 20 years
Considering the population, and the definition of a serial killer, I wouldn't be surprised if the figure was accurate.
 

airportwoman

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I don't agree with the number , 2000 active seems extremely high and unrealistic IMO, especially since we've seen an extreme decline in true serial murder over the past 20 years
I agree. 200, perhaps. 2,000? Sorry, I just can't agree with that.
 

kadman

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I agree. 200, perhaps. 2,000? Sorry, I just can't agree with that.
Although sometimes we don't want to believe things that sound exaggerated, but they turn out much worse than we thought; like the amount of human trafficking that occurs, etc. Many people very much underestimate some of the terrible things that happen in the world. I wouldn't be surprised if it was true, but I'd hope it wasn't.
 

Kell1

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Serial murder has been on a decline for about the past 20 years, its height was between the 70's and the 90's

there are several reasons for it, mostly that we now know what the crimes, of a fledgling serial killer look like.

In the past, crime wasn't viewed as a pathway to other, crime, at least it wasn't penalized, as such, crimes were treated like symptoms .

For example, If a boy got caught (and yes I used, the male term because almost all serial killers are male with a few exceptions) lets say peeping in windows, he was arrested, usually given a slap on the wrist, if it was a source of great embarrassment for his parents, they often sent the off to go live with another relative, where they usually continued .

This is exactly the reason back in the old days, why you'd see people who commit sexual crimes against children, relocate so often, they'd be sent somewhere to get rid of them, and of course, they re-offended , often much worse than before.

Now, however, we know that voyeurism is a pathway behavior, we know it often leads, to fetish burglary, which leads, to rape and often they repeat those crimes, serial rape often leads to murder.

And it isn't just law enforcement and the mental health community, the general public became more and more aware of what behaviors they should be looking out for, former FBI agents, wrote books, self protection became a higher priority, it was , as my grandmother used, to say like the "pulled off the bandage and let the air get at it"

We knew the recipe to create a serial killer, we all do , if you read enough from the people who were neck deep in the problem , you can learn a great deal about it .

And here's the best part, the flags are not that hard to spot, you just have to want to see them, and even harder, if its something happening in your home....face them.

With the evolution of cameras literally everywhere especially with GPS capability, and advances in DNA analysis, its become harder for predator criminals to ply their trade .

Add to that that treatment options for these offenders has gotten much better over the past 2 decades

Were also catching them earlier now and getting them into treatment much faster than we used to .

Family services, have become much better, allowing kids to be rescued, from often violent conditions that may lead to a life of crime, where I see a change ins in the stereotypical type of serial murder however.

What we in LE are seeing now is much less of the sexually motivated murders, and more of gang /criminal syndicate, style slayings, that a single member of that organization may be responsible for .

They are more akin to hit men than true serial killers, it that is what hes referring to, then i could agree with it, in Philadelphia alone we had 600 murders last year, its a safe bet that some of those were the results of individuals killing more than 2 people .

In terms of traditional serial murder, feel that 2000 is greatly inflated, i doubt there were even that many in the heyday of serial murder.
 

kadman

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Serial murder has been on a decline for about the past 20 years..........

What we in LE are seeing now is much less of the sexually motivated murders, and more of gang /criminal syndicate, style slayings, that a single member of that organization may be responsible for .

They are more akin to hit men than true serial killers, it that is what hes referring to, then i could agree with it, in Philadelphia alone we had 600 murders last year, its a safe bet that some of those were the results of individuals killing more than 2 people .

In terms of traditional serial murder, feel that 2000 is greatly inflated, i doubt there were even that many in the heyday of serial murder.
Quote Truncated By Me

I do agree with what you've outlined here. The gang/criminal syndicate style killings are what concern me, because it's too easy for innocent people to get hurt/killed by wayward bullets.
 

Kell1

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I do agree with what you've outlined here. The gang/criminal syndicate style killings are what concern me, because it's too easy for innocent people to get hurt/killed by wayward bullets.
Its a huge problem nowadays, and the sad part is theres really no way to curb it, unless we start imparting severely tough sentences for juvenile and even more harsh for adult offenders, but the current govt powers don't want that.
 

kadman

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Its a huge problem nowadays, and the sad part is theres really no way to curb it, unless we start imparting severely tough sentences for juvenile and even more harsh for adult offenders, but the current govt powers don't want that.
Imprisonment doesn't seem to work as a deterrent though. Yes, it removes the dangerous from society, but "vacancies" seem to fill quickly with gangs, etc. I think early and better educational intervention is imperative to curbing young people's enthusiasm to join such gangs. Such things cost money I know, but society needs to let the politicians know what the priorities should be.
 

Kell1

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Imprisonment doesn't seem to work as a deterrent though. Yes, it removes the dangerous from society, but "vacancies" seem to fill quickly with gangs, etc. I think early and better educational intervention is imperative to curbing young people's enthusiasm to join such gangs. Such things cost money I know, but society needs to let the politicians know what the priorities should be.
That wont happen any time soon, thr strongest allies we have are the famlies and schools, but both are failing our youth

Though children and youth agencies have done a much better job identifying potential problem areas with kids, the environmental factors surrounding such still prevail

And due to the current economic state of the country its getting much worse.

In economically challenged areas, crime is guaranteed, i dont even say "almost" , it becomes a type of career choice for people in those areas to make money.

Sure there are jobs, but when you can double that in a day or 2 , without paying taxes, and earn street cred at the same time, not to mention be feared... Regular jobs dont hold up to kids, who know nothing but being poor

Add into that a culture, where violence is not only commonplace but in some cases, celebrated, where it is emulated by those they idolize, you are in for a very long hard fight.

Even if the economic factors shifted, there wil still be a burgeoning criminal market out there

The sad part, is that crime, does indeed, pay
 

airportwoman

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I've heard quite a few times from people who have worked with this population that they never saw a child who had hope join a gang. Oh, yeah, some of them may have engaged in wannabe behavior, but not full-fledged involvement.
 

Kell1

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I've heard quite a few times from people who have worked with this population that they never saw a child who had hope join a gang. Oh, yeah, some of them may have engaged in wannabe behavior, but not full-fledged involvement.
Depends on how prevalant gang life is in the area , ive seen kids state they wanted to be part of a gang , but mostly as you mentioned, the gangs are just really skilled at finding kids who have loose family ties, etc..

They offer them something family like with the ability to instill fear, they seek out those kids who want to be a part of something , and thats who they recruit
 

Curious_in_NC

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I agree. 200, perhaps. 2,000? Sorry, I just can't agree with that.
I think I agree too, somewhere closer to 200 than 2000. But I wonder if many are not being recognized as such because the manner and nature of the crimes have changed since the 70s-90s. Hardly anybody hitchhikes any more so that source of easy victims has dwindled. I don't have any source for the numbers, but it seems like there have been more healthcare worker/hospital SKs identified in recent years, although still quite rare. Fentanyl, as Hole suggests, would also be an easy smokescreen to use, where vicitms are just assumed to have OD'd. Did he provide any data or sources for that speculation?

Also, maybe there's less of the classic creeper/stalker types but more SKs are finding victims over the internet, smartphone apps, etc. And are road rage serial killers a thing?
 

airportwoman

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I'm in the midst of reading Holes' autobiography, and I saw the "2,000" reference just yesterday.

I think medical SKs are getting caught, in part because of better record-keeping, and also because hospitals and other health care entities are admitting that they exist.
 
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