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Edna Buchanan's Garden of Evil
A Britt Montero Mystery
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Dressed to Kill: the Modern-day Female Serial Killer
by Karen Ahn

 
Britt Montero is tracking a killer during the hottest Miami summer on record-- but not just any killer. The "Kiss-Me Killer" is deadly, clever-- and specifically hunts men.
 
The phenomenon of the female serial killer is a recent one. Typically people view a serial killer as one who commits brutal and seemingly random murders, driven by inexplicable motives (usually sexual) and committed by a white male somewhere in his twenties and thirties.
 
While female serial killers rarely take the brutal and direct route favored by the male of the species, they do exist in abundance. Writings and other insights into their behavior are rare, since the phenomenon has been recognized so recently. Several factors contribute to the lack of documentation of female serial killers-- namely that women are seen as natural caretakers and nurturers, and could never violate their nature to take a life-- and to do it over and over again. It's precisely this view that has obscured the study and the reality of female serial killers.
 
Usually female serial killers are classified as black widows-- women who marry and kill off their spouses; angels of mercy-- women who speed the infirm, elderly, or very young to their deaths. Some women become serial killers for revenge motives-- anger at friends and family. Others do it for profit and crime, while some others-- most famously the women who were part of the Charles Manson "family"-- kill as part of a team, traditionally, a couple.
 
Most of these types of female serial killers use poisons, drugs, suffocation as their methods of murder (the exceptions being "team killers;" however, they tend to be less active in the actual act of murder although they do aid and abet the crime) or other methods that could be mistaken for natural causes.
 
There are exceptions-- and rising incidences-- that dispute the norm.
 
One of the most astonishing cases on record is Aileen Wuornos, the first female serial killer to act openly as a sexual predator. Wuornos is the first woman to fall into the model of the serial killer epitomized by Jack the Ripper-- i.e., a stone-cold predator who murders for the joy of the kill, and often with sexual or sadistic overtones.
 
Wuornos' killing spree lasted from December 1989 to November 1990. Wuornos operated on the highways of central Florida and flagged passing motorists-- all male, and all killed by her hand. By all accounts her life was a traumatic and difficult one, and fit the profile of many serial killers, steeped in violence, brutality, and sexual abuse. Her brutal past and unstoppable rage and misandry led to a killing spree the likes of which had never been seen before. Arrested in Florida, Wuornos was convicted and sentenced to the death penalty.
 
Most police officials and criminal investigators dispute Wuornos as a "trend" in crime, and classify her as an isolated case. What is indisputable is that recent trends have shown that violent crime committed by women is on the rise. The incidence of women and girls who commit murder has risen astonishingly in the last two decades, as has the number of girl gangs in urban environments. The statistics and the number of female serial killers provide chilling credibility to Rudyard Kipling's famous line, "The female of the species is more deadly than the male."


 

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