Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dr. Steven Egger: Expert on Serial Murder

Current Work

Egger has published three books about serial murder, and his wife, Kim, has worked with him on developing an extensive database, worldwide, specific to serial killers. "I'm writing The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers for Greenwood, using my wife's database, which she had long before we met. She's got up to 1,500 serial killers worldwide, including between 35 and 40 variables per killer. She's got everything from the number of victims to their sexual preference to the conviction to time frame on when they were killing."

Together they have gathered as much as they can on each case they've included, although Egger admits that tracking this type of crime in some countries runs into problems, "particularly some of the cases in South America, and some material that has to be translated, such as from Ecuador and Peru." He points out that certain cultures adopt attitudes toward serial murder similar the one the former Soviet Union used to have: It just doesn't occur in their system. "Some occur in the Arabian countries, which they don't admit," Egger explains, "and we have a tremendous amount of serial killers in Russia that we're never going to find out about. They were either executed or shuttled away to a hospital for the insane, because the USSR didn't want to admit that they had a problem."

The database will nevertheless prove to be a tremendous boon to investigators, criminologists, psychologists, and other researchers who hope to learn about what is and what is not consistent from one case to another, perhaps as a way to someday pinpoint certain causal factors in the development of this type of antisocial behavior.

"One of the things that is pretty consistent across the database my wife and I have done," says Egger, "shows that a very high percentage of these people have criminal histories prior to their first kill." He has also found a certain amount of abuse in a high percentage of cases.

In addition to this project, Egger is at work on a third edition of The Killers Among Us, as well as collaborating on a text about criminal investigation. As a leading researcher in this field, he takes a sober approach, helping to dispel myths and gather solid information for achieving greater clarity about one of our society's most persistent dangers.

 

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