This study sets out to explore the relationship between news media coverage on serial killers and their behavior. As a result of the lack of previous research on this topic, utilizing past research on a few historically well-known serial killers and news media reports about those serial killers, this study attempts to determine if news media has any effect on a serial killer’s behavior prior to apprehension. After a review of the history of serial murder and the past findings about serial murderers, as well as background on the history of the media coverage of crime, this study will look closely at the media coverage and behavior of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer; David Berkowitz, Son of Sam; and John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, the D.C. Snipers. These three cases received unparalleled attention from the media and involved a unique two-way communication between the offenders and the media/police. The relatively new role of the Public Information Officer in law enforcement agencies will be briefly reviewed to examine the expansion of their role in relation to considering the impact the media has on serial murderer behavior. The subsequent findings of this research will aid in increasing knowledge of serial killer behavior in relation to news media coverage so that news media can be a potential tool used by law enforcement to better control and predict serial killer behavior and aid in their apprehension.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Community Innovation and Education
Gross, Molly, "Serial Murder and Media Coverage" (2020). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 794.