The Serial Killer Profiles Grover Godwin in The Will to Kill by James Alan Fox

Grover Godwin, a serial killer profiler, did research on one hundred and seven serial killers. As stated in The Will to Kill by James Alan Fox, the data that Godwin had collected, about ninety»seven percent of these serial killer’s victims were complete strangers, three percent were friends of the killer, and only one percent were the killer’s family members (Fox 105). This research shows that serial killers have other explanations behind their kills rather than having some sort of hatred towards their friends or family.

Serial killers find a thrill in murdering; such as Jeffrey Dahmer (a famous serial killer), who killed for passion and desire. Many professionals in this field devote their life’s work to determine why these serial killers are able to commit such brutal murders. They have come to two conclusions: are serial killers born with foreordained genes that play an essential part in their murderous ways or do these people become dangerous due to their surroundings throughout their childhood.

Unlike as portrayed in the media, most serial killers are not very well educated. In the television series Dexter, a show about a serial killer named Dexter who kills other serial killers, Dexter is a very well educated man who is a blood splatter analyst on a homicide team. In the movie Silence of the Lambs, the serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lector is very intelligent with an above average IQ. However, from Godwin’s research, only sixteen percent of one hundred and seven serial killers went to college, and only four percent had graduated (Fox 105).

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This information applies to the nurture aspect of a serial killer’s life, how they were raised and what their surroundings were like. Not being very successful in school may have brought down the individuals self esteem and could have been an influence in leading the individual down a dark path in life instead of an educated career path. Being successful in school also usually plays a role in ones life by teaching them how to act in a crowded environment and how to work well with a team of students. it teaches proper interaction skills that these serial killers most likely never got to experience Jeffrey Dahmer grew up to become a very graphic serial killer. Even though he knew how unacceptable his actions were, he continued to commit these crimes and was always overwhelmed with pleasure once they were completed.

As explained in Jeffrey Dahmer’s biography, “The Monster Within”, at a young age, he was an outgoing child who was always very active and approachable, He did not show any signs of the aggressive genes and uncommon behavior that scientists have claimed psycho killers to possess. However this all changed. once his family began to move many times, making it hard for Jeffrey to get settled in any of the locations. His parents soon after realized that Jeffrey had become distrustful and antisocial, and one of his hobbies became collecting and dissecting road kill (The Monster Within). According to Sociologist, Arnold Arluke, “children who turn to animal abuse are five times more likely to commit acts of violence such as assault, rape, and murder against others.” (Linzey 146) The constant change that went on in Jeffrey‘s life as a child and the loneliness that he felt made it hard for him to make friends and build a solid foundation for his life. This also made Jeffrey very antisocial which is a common trait amongst serial killers (Kevin Haggeny).

Though we are all humans who generally need the same essentials in order to survive and share common physical and mental traits, we are all completely different in our genetic makeup. “This concept states that we as humans (as well as other organisms), though similar in our biological and biochemical composition, are absolutely unique; and especially, that each biochemical composition has a pattern and distribution all its own” (Jeffrey 90). The genetic make up of a human plays a strong role in our lives and some scientists believe it is the only factor to determining whether someone is going to become a serial killer or not. A common occurrence that has happened amongst serial killers is the rejection of loved ones or role models in their lives (fox 113). “The social experiences which make people dangerous violent criminals are the significant experiences rather than the trivial ones in their lives“ (Athens 19).

Even though this situation may also be common amongst non-violent people. it will more tragically affect the human who has a brain of a serial killer. The proof of how serial killers must be mentally different than the normal average human is because they are able to take these horrific dreams and fantasies of sexual desire and murder, and turn them into a reality. All humans are made up of genes that shape the person we will become, from our personality to our appearance. Some professionals believe that this is the only factor that makes a serial killer as violent and as dangerous as they are today and that they have no control over whom they are to become.

Dr. Richard Davidson did a report in 2000, comparing the brain scans of over five hundred people. Half of these people were violent and the other half was considered normal. The people included in this study who had been convicted of murder with traits very similar to those of a serial killer showed significantly different brain scans compared to the scans of the people who were normal. The brain scans of these murderers had shown differences in the brain in the pans that control impulses, emotional outbursts, and responses to conflict (Ramsland 35). Serial killers have shown to be born with aggressive and destructive stimuli. This causes them to commit these brutal crimes over and over again, even though most of the time their conscious is saying no. For example, Jeffrey Dahmer would get drunk before committing his abuse and murders because he knew what he was doing was wrong, however he loved the pleasure he received from what he was doing. A history of alcoholism is common amongst serial killers, as most of them also were alcoholics due to the same reason Jeffrey was.

Many psychologist and criminologist believe that differences in ones genetic make up does not create a serial killer and that the only factor that affects one‘s likeliness on becoming a serial killer is how they were nurtured and their surroundings as a child. Most scientists strongly believe that our DNA is the only factor contributing to a serial killer‘s violence and that this can be solved if the abnormal brain activity is caught early, treated and examined. However the most sensible answer seems to be a combination of both sides. “Modern geneticists have pointed out that a nature-nurture dichotomy is clearly untenable, incorrect, and meaningless. The subject has to be discussed in terms of the continuous and complex interactions between an organism and its environment, and the relevant contributions of both sets of variables in determining that behavior of the organism” (Athens 12). This quote is implying that a combination of both factors is needed and that the separation of the two concepts of nature and nurture is nonsense. Both concepts need to be examined equally because both nature and nurture combined have equal influences on how one‘s life may turn out and what kind of human that individual will grow up to be.

Works Cited

  1. Athens, Lonnie H.. The creation of dangerous violent criminals. London: Routledge, 1989. Print. Haggerty, K. D.. “Modern Serial Killers.” Crime, Media, Culture 5.2 (2009): 168» 187.
  2. Print. Linzey, Andrew. The link between animal abuse and human violence. Brighton [England: Sussex Academic Press, 2009. Print.
  3. Flamsland, Katherine M. inside the minds of mass murderers: why they kill. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2005. Print. “Serial Killers: Nature vs. Nurture.” Serial Killers: Nature vs. Nurture. N.p., n.d.
  4. Web. 29 Oct. 2013, <>,

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The Serial Killer Profiles Grover Godwin in The Will to Kill by James Alan Fox. (2022, Sep 13). Retrieved from

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