Professor Scott Bonn Explores the Minds of Serial Killers and Their Fans
Read more in his new book.
Ted Bundy. Jeffrey Dahmer. John Wayne Gacy. The American public has a shameless fascination with serial killers—simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by them. Case in point: the many popular movies and television shows depicting serial killers and their gruesome crimes. Some obsessed fans even go so far as to collect mementoes of the criminals and their misdeeds, a hobby popular enough to required the coining of a new term—“murderabilia.”
Associate professor of sociology Scott Bonn, a noted criminologist and frequent contributor to PsychologyToday.com, has been studying serial killers and the public’s fascination with them.
He has put his findings into a new book, Why We Love Serial Killers: The Curious Appeal of the World’s Most Savage Murderers, which is being published on October 7 by Skyhorse Press.
In his new book, Bonn examines some weighty issues around serial killers. He looks at society’s tendency to turn serial killers into what he calls “celebrity monsters.” He explains the public may think of serial killers as one-dimensional monsters, but reminds they are human beings.
Bonn spent two-and-a-half years researching and writing his book, which is divided into three parts. The first part explains facts about serial killers, debunks myths, and offers a glimpse into the psychopathic mind. In part two he shares information from his personal correspondence with two infamous criminals—David Berkowitz, known as “Son of Sam,” whom he interviewed in prison, and Dennis Rader, who called himself “Bind, Torture, Kill” or BTK. He discusses the sociology of serial murder and how dangerous predators are transformed into popular culture celebrities in the third part of the book.
“There’s a glorification at the expense of their victims and the victims’ families,” Bonn says, noting that while most people can name a serial killer, hardly anyone can remember the names of his victims. Bonn also calls on readers to recognize that serial killers are mortal, not super villains from fiction. “These are real human beings who killed innocent, real people,” he says. “We have to recognize that and have sensitivity for the victims and their loved ones.”
Bonn’s book is available through amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. He’ll be signing books on October 23 at 7 p.m. at the Barnes and Noble store at 2289 Broadway in Manhattan. In November, he’ll present his research at the American Society of Criminology annual conference in San Francisco. Bonn’s previous book Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq was published in 2010.—Elizabeth Moore