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They leave telltale identifiers, their gruesome "calling cards," at the scenes of their crimes. They are driven by a primitive motivation to act out the same brutality over and over. With brilliant detection, high-tech analysis -- and a little luck -- they can be caught. But what does the signature killer seek from victim to victim? The answers are hidden among the grisly evidence, the common threads that link each devastating act.
Sparked by a growing concern over the steady rise of signature murders, Robert Keppel explores in unflinching detail the monstrous patterns, sadistic compulsions, and depraved motives of this breed of killer. From the Lonely Hearts Killer who hunted the most desperate of women in 1950s America, to the savage Midtown Torso Murders that stunned the NYPD, to such infamous symbols of evil as Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and John Gacy, these are the cases -- horrifying, graphic and unforgettable -- that Keppel ingeniously taps to shed light on the darkest corners of the pathological mind.
Posted March 16, 2001
'Signature Killers' is a masterful work that, for the 1st time, seperates the Modus Operandi from the Signature Killing. As a forensic criminology college student, Keppel is my idol. There isn't a book written by him that I don't own. This particular work concentrates on the different signatures that killers such as Glatman, Heirens, Dahmer, Bundy, Shawcross, Williams, and many more have applied to their atrocities. Dr. Keppel also uses examples of the infamous killers' individual murders. He also uses examples from the not-so-infamous. Not only does he point out these gruesome 'calling cards', he interprets them for us to understand. He explores patterns, compulsions, and motives that they all had, or believed that they had. This is truly an outstanding work from an outstanding Dr./Homicide Detective.
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Posted November 18, 2004
This is an excellent book on understanding the minds and motivations of the serial killer. The theme of this book is recognizing that each homicide has a signature and differentiating signature from modus operandi. By identifying signatures of homicides, serial homicides can be identified and investigated and pursued as the work of a serial killer. ** The book lack of a table of contents and index. Total no pages is 354, organized in the following chapters: (i) Foreward by Ann Rule (ii) Introduction (1) The Calling Card of the Signature Killer (2) The Discovery of Signature - Harvey Glatman, the Lonely Hearts Killer (3) The Essence of Torture - Richard Cottingham, the Midtown Torso Killer (4) The Anger-Retaliation Killer- Timothy Spencer, the South Side Rapist (5) The Picquerism Signature - Cleophus Prince (6) The Phychological Imprint of a Sadist - Nathanlel Code (7) The Retaliation-Excitation Continuum - Steven Pennell (8) The Bellevue Yuppie Murders - George Russell (9) The Black Hole at the end of the Continuum - Jeffery Dahmer and Ted Bundy (10) Why Signature Killers Kill (11) The Beginning of the Continuum. ** Some case studies are comprehensive such as the study on Harvey Glatman, Richard Cottingham etc. In these studies, the first killing and subsequent killings are discussed in detail and how the killer is captured. In other studies, the study is lacks in completeness such as how the killer is caught is not discussed. Chapter 11 solely discussed on Jeffery Dahmer and nothing about Ted Bundy. The listing of Ted Bundy name on the chapter heading is misleading. ** The writing style of the book is textbook like, which makes excellent reading since you want to read facts relating to the subject of signature killers and the serial killer themselves. It is not like John Douglas whose books contains lots of self praise, Robert Ressler who talks about something unrelated - 'I was at a convention.. who cares whether you go to that convention - get to the subject instead or Roy Hazelwood who sidetracks a lot on his personal life. ** The bad about this book is it contains lots of repetition. ** If you want a serious study on serial killers, read this book. If you want to read about serial killers and at the same time know about the life and achievements of the profiler, read John Douglas, Robert Ressler and Roy Hazelwood. Finally, if you want a novel like writing, read Ann Rule.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 5, 2004
Dr. Keppel's studies of people like Bundy, Dahamer and Gein and his theory of the personality development of serial killers is a brilliant text. Keppel believes it is a mistake for professionals to assume there is a fundamental gap between serial killers and serial abusers, people consumed with anger, who very cunningly displace their anger onto innocent people. For instance, the serial abuser may be the very cunning male or female child of a prominent surgeon, who gains psychological control over other neighborhood children and tortures them through humiliation. The serial abuser may a psychotherapist who gains control over patients through an emotional bondage, gratifying himself/herself through exploiting them and acting out a necrophilic scenario with a drugged patient. The serial abuser may be your drill sergeant! The serial abuser may the clergyman/woman who gains control over and humiliates his/her parishioners! Keppel's point is that those signature abusers who stop short of actually killing can also do irreparable psychological harm to his/her victims. Many of us are walking victims of serial abusers and we are abused even further by the professionals we turn to for help!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 9, 2003
Well I am only a freshman in High School and I couldnt put this book down. Most people wouldnt dare to read this long and this deep of a book at my age but I loved it. In this book rather than just hearing about the victim you heard more about the murderer too(his mind,behavior,etc)..... which helped you identify WHY the killer was motivated to kill (even though there are no REAL reasons to kill anyone). These is a GREAT book and I HIGHLY reccomend it to anyone!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 28, 2003
Posted November 2, 2002
Keppel explores the psychological backgrounds of Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and other serial killers, beginning with early childhood. He explains his concept of the "diphasic personality formation," a sort of split-development, in which the neglected child, unprepared for dealing with interpersonal realtionships in the adult world, retreats more and more into a fantasy world, while keeping a "placeholder" card in the real world. His jealously and anger towards those others who ARE able to navigate successfully in the real world consumes him, and he ultimately lashes out at "scapegoats" or representative surrogate victims. Keppel points out that many individuals are borderline diphasic personalities, who somehow manage to fall short of actually killing. These are the overbearing boss (male or female) who takes his or her anger out on subordinates on the job, largely by humiliating them. AN EXCELLENT TEXT BOOK AND REFERENCE BOOK.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 22, 2002
Keppel has written a wonderful and informative book on signiture serial killers. truly fasinating. he explains theories, some commonly used and many of his own invention. I highly recomend this book for anyone studying homicide investigation and criminal psycology.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 22, 2008
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