I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve heard the saying “serial killers don’t just stop” in movies and on TV. The problem is, they really do. Dennis Rader isn’t the only one and the more we learn, the more common we realize it is.
Rader became distracted by marriage and life changes. Kids were born. He gained status in his church… He just kinda quit in 1991, which really wasn’t a bad thing. BTK had tormented Wichita long enough.
The capture of the Golden State Killer has brought this kind of stopping to light again. No one is entirely sure why a serial killer just sorta decides to stop killing, we haven’t asked a lot of them, because there haven’t been a lot of them to ask.
It appears that like BTK, the Golden State Rapist/Killer just decided to stop one day. He was terrorizing California one day and then there was nothing for a long, long, long time, so long that most people forgot the case had ever even existed.
We’ve talked to two known killers about their stopping, seemingly randomly, one day; Dennis Rader and Gary Ridgeway (The Green River Killer). Rader said the above, life became busy. Ridgeway mostly ignored the question, but a review by a forensic psychiatrist showed that Ridgeway was most active during his first two marriages, which were definitely not happy marriages, and then slowed to a crawl during his third marriage which was far more blissful than his first two marriages ever dreamed of being.
At some point, we’ll end up asking the Golden State Killer. Right now, a forensic psychiatrist has brought up that the killings stopped after he turned 40. It isn’t some mythical, magical, unicorn number, it’s just a number, but the majority of men start experiencing decreases in sex drive and testosterone levels after 40. Surprisingly, the male equivalent of menopause might actually play a role in a serial killer’s desire to kill or not.
The majority of male serial killers are younger than 40. Same goes for rapists. While males are still loathe to discuss or accept it, men do go through some serious hormonal changes in their 40s. This is the era of weird hair sprouting uncontrollably from ears and nostrils. A widening of the waistline is fairly common as are digestive changes and a decrease in sex drive, that men associate with a mid-life crisis.
Also, by the time a guy is in his 40s, he’s sown his wild oats, probably has a couple of kids, a wife, a steady job because these life events create bills, and is looking towards retirement in the next decade or so, not long days at work followed by rape and murder.
It sounds a little tongue in cheek, but rape and murder are exhausting, no one wants to deal with that after work, and still race home for your favorite prime time show and an hour or two spent with the family before calling it a night.
Or doing all that, then waiting for the family to go to bed, so you can sneak out and hope your kid doesn’t have a nightmare and your wife wakes up to find you aren’t there, because you decided to go out raping and killing on a Tuesday night. Then you have the “I didn’t get enough sleep last night” drag at work the next day. As well as a call from your wife’s lawyer about divorce papers they’ll be drawing up in the next few weeks, because your nocturnal wanderings haven’t gone unnoticed and she’s convinced you have a mistress that you are sneaking off to meet in the middle of the night.
In other words, serial killing is a young man’s thing, not a middle aged guy’s thing. There are exceptions, but they are an odd lot. Pedophiliac serial killers tend to be a little older and the killer’s age doesn’t seem to matter. The same is true of pedophiles though. Which is why Albert Fish isn’t really an exception to the rule about serial killers not being of the older sort.