• Robert Skuce

Mass Murder versus Serial Killing

Mass Murder versus Serial Killing: What's the difference?

Many times people confuse Serial Killing with Mass Murder. Both result in multiple people being dead, killed by one person (or with an accomplice) and location. The devastation that is caused by either method of killing is unimaginable.

How are they similar?

One of the main things that make both mass murder and serial killing similar is that they invoke fear in the general population. With serial killing, there is a predator out there who is seeking out people with the intent to kill. With mass murder, it can happen anywhere, at any time and by anyone.

Fear develops in the minds and hearts of the general public because of how devastating both types of murders are. Both types of murders result in groups of more than 2 or 3 people being killed. Most of the time, it isn't done to those closest to the killer, but rather to strangers or relative strangers.

What is the difference?

At the very basics, serial killing is the result of multiple murders done over some time. Mass murder is multiple murders, all done at once. Ted Bundy was a serial killer, and The Columbine High School shooting was a mass murder.

The difference is in the details of the murders. Mass murder is a single event at a single location that involves killing more than four people. Terrorism, mass shootings, and government-sanctioned murders are considered to be mass murders.

Serial Killers

Serial killers generally kill in a series of events. They don't know their victims, and they often have a period of cooling off between kills. Many serial killers get some sort of sexual gratification from their kills. Each murder conducted by a serial killer is a separate event that provides a psychological thrill. Most serial killers appear normal to the general public to hide their psychopathic tendencies.

Most serial killers, such as Ted Bundy, are considered to be organized. They are driven by the psychological need to kill, and that motivates them to commit murder. Which is what separates them significantly from mass murders.

Mass Murders

James Holmes was considered a mass murderer. What he did was kill many people at the same time in a single location. Many mass murders result in the death of the person who committed the murders. Except for a few cases, a mass murderer generally dies either by their own hands or the hands of law officials.

The motives for mass murder are much harder to identify than that of a serial killer. Men do most mass murders and they are not considered to be clinically psychotic. Most serial killers are psychopaths, but most mass murders are paranoid with some sort of behavioural or social disorder. Mass murderers do show psychopathic tendencies, but most are simply social outcasts or misfits.


Either way, mass murder or serial killing results in many devastated lives and fear in the hearts of the public. Both have a way of disrupting society by making people feel unsafe.

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Copyright © 2016 Robert Skuce - All Rights Reserved.