A little less than year ago I wrote an article about the research I was doing on the subject of black serial killers (original article ). To my surprise the article was very well received, and was carried on numerous websites, and blogs. I’ve had people thank me and give encouragement, as I’ve kept traveling this path. Thanks to all that read it, and gave me a positive review.
What I’ve discovered while on this path has been remarkable, and has blossomed to an even bigger story than I could have ever imagined. Large enough that over the course of this past winter I decided to document my findings, in a book to share with the world. It’s taken a concerted effort to get to this point, but I’m fairly confident I’ve uncovered every black serial killer that has been discovered to date.
In the last few months I’ve been asked how the statistics have changed in my research. But without re-writing my book for this article, it’s difficult to give the full picture of the depth of my research, and the full impact of what I’ve found. Nevertheless, I can make simple comparisons of the old data to the new, showing what has changed, as well as give a snippet view of some of the trails my research has taken me on.
Comparing the Old to the New
When I finished the original article I had 238 black serial killers, in addition to a database of over 340 names I needed to verify to see if they were black, and fit the description of a serial killer. A month after publishing the article the verification process was complete and I had 409 confirmed serial killers in my records, but I soon hit a wall in my research. No matter how hard I tried I could find no more killers to add to my list, and for almost a month I was satisfied I’d hit the upper limit. However, I soon realized I wasn’t even half way there.
I became unsatisfied that my research prior to 1960 was complete, but fortunately I stumbled almost by accident over the news archives at Google. They’ve done a wonderful job putting copies of papers as far back as the mid 1800’s online, some as original images, and others that are transcribed. While this service I knew held missing data I needed, I had to learn how glean the data. For starters the term ‘serial killer’ is a modern term, and didn’t get wide use until the mid 1980’s. Coupled with this, even after the term was in use often times it wasn’t attached to black serial killers; instead they were simply called murderers and killers. Therefore I had to fine tune my search terms, and tried the term, “3 murders”, in combination with “black male”. Bingo I had a hit, but I had to weed through hundreds of articles, and had to change the search terms for each number of murders, as well as the spelling, and even had to use the terms, “mass-murders”, “slayings”, “number of deaths attributed too”, and over two dozen other such terms or variations of the terms just to filter the data. But as I mentioned for each variation I had to use the number of murders in both numeric and written form, starting with the number three all the way to one-hundred.
As painstaking and time consuming as this process was, the rewards were well worth it. In the process I uncovered stories I’d never heard, of black killers taking anywhere from three to forty-seven lives. This process took several months of 10-14 hour days sifting through the data, but much to my surprise I found unexpected surprises, like proof of black lynch-mobs eliminating black murderers or rapists in their communities (READ HERE). Most of the killers added prior to 1980 were as a result of this source, but I also found a few I stumbled across in old books and periodicals, many of which are out of print but preserved online.
My search into the archives made me question whether my data was complete post 1980. Testing to see if it was, I found that when I searched the most recent decades black serial killers soon surfaced using the same search techniques. This led me to question why a black serial killer that’s taken five, ten, or even over thirty lives isn’t listed as a serial killer in the news media. While it was tempting to look for some grand conspiracy to cover the truth, I ruled that out because some parts of the country were more prone to call a black serial killer a serial killer than others. From the best I can tell, it’s a regional dilemma, usually in areas that have had a past problem with the media labeled as racist for reporting about black crime. So it’s more plausible that media agencies that fail to use the label of serial killers for blacks do it to keep the number of complaints down. While that helps them, it makes my job extra difficult, and I’m still trying new search variables to ensure my research is at the top of the curve.
When the research was finished, I’d more than doubled the amount of killers, and my database is currently sitting at 836 confirmed black serial killers. The list is two exhausting to post here, but just the listing of their name, age, killing dates, killing areas, number & race of victims, and a brief description of their crimes takes 106 pages in my book. Instead of listing the names, I’ll do something I did in the previous article. In the last there was a chart of the percentage of serial killers by decade from 1930 to 2000, sorted by race. I’d taken this chart from another researchers work, and fixed a few minor errors he had. Below is the chart from my research. While I’ve mostly researched black serial killers, I did have accurate numbers for the other races from other researchers, in addition to a little footwork of my own.
What is first noticed when comparing this new chart to the old is the lowest percentage of black serial killers in the old chart was for 1950 at 3.2%. In the new 1950 is still the lowest percentile number for a decade, but now it sits at 26.83%. People may be tempted to note this number was a serious drop from the previous decade, but there is an explanation. In 1940 there were 32 black serial killers that began in that decade, but in 1950 the number had risen to 41, for an increase of 9. But due to the rise in black population in the decade in part, but mostly as a result of the explosion of white serial killers from 1940 to 1950 (a leap from 56.25% to 73.17%), the percentage of black serial killers went down, despite their number actually increasing.
The biggest change in these charts, aside from having data prior to 1930 and for 2010 to present, was that in six of the decades black serial killers outnumbered whites, of which they have dwarfed the white serial killers in the decades since 1990 by a factor of 3.36 to 1! And in the remaining ten decades they’ve been tied with whites once, and closely trailed in three other decades.
The bottom line however, is black serial killers have slightly more serial killers in their ranks, despite only making up 11.49% of the historical population from 1860 to present. Yet, few have ever heard of their crimes, which was my motivation to publish my research.
Race Selection amongst Serial Killers
A topic I tackle in the book is the races of their victims. This may seem unimportant to some, but for police criminal profilers it’s a useful piece of the puzzle in helping them apprehend serial killers. The old canard was that serial killers generally always kill within their race, therefore if white victims turn-up then the killer is most likely white. The truth is, this works for white serial killers, but not for blacks.
Of the 832 known white serial killers, only 2.04% had all of their victims outside their race. If you factor in the white killers that killed a variety of races, their number represents 3.72% of their ranks, for a grand total of 5.76% that killed either full or part-time outside their race. This means 94.23% of white serial killers killed within their race, which means criminal profilers seem to be on the right track when white victims start appearing. However this fails miserably with black serial killers.
When considering the black serial killers, they killed only 39.23% of the time within their race exclusively. As for those that have killed solely white victims, their number stands at 33.79% of the total, and includes many of the more prolific killers. The number of black serial killers that killed an even mixture of whites and blacks stands at 25.11%, for a grand total of 58.48% of these killers that murdered either full or part-time outside their race. This means that even in a predominately white town when trying to find the killer of several whites, police can’t discount that the killer might be white. This scenario has been encountered numerous times, but a good example was when three white women were killed in 1990 in Mercer Island, WA over a three month span. At first they were in search of a white killer, but the trail eventually led to a black killer, George Waterfield Russell. Derrick Todd Lee, Carl Eugene Watts, Cleophus Prince, Vincent Darrell Groves, and many other prolific serial killers had police searching for a white killer.
Not only have the majority of black serial killers killed outside their race on at least a few occasions, but in every instance when white women were killed, rape was almost always involved. Rape also played an important part of the killing ritual for those that killed black women, but there are more examples of not getting raped than with white women and girls.
Coupled with the larger number of whites raped, is the larger propensity for overkill. Overkill is the process of continuing to beat, stab, strangle, rape, or dismember the victim after they’re dead, sometimes over a period of days. Not every black serial killer with white victims overkilled, but from preliminary research I’ve conducted the percentage is higher than those with black victims. An example of this can be seen in the method of killing, which with black victims the most common is shooting, with many dying from one to four wounds. With white victims, shooting is still at the top, but a very close second and third place is strangulation and stabbing, of which both rank considerably lower in black victims. With stabbing, many of the victims were stabbed over ten times, with some even receiving over 80 stab wounds. The bottom line is black serial killers that choose white victims have a higher chance to rape, torture, and overkill their victims. Some may think that’s a racist proposition, but the reality is police reports and court records don’t make these tales up. In the words of many of these killers, I’ve recorded many quotes of their hatred of whites, with some that have a goal in life to free black people from the oppression of whites via exterminating as many whites as they can. As appalling as this is, it’s never presented by the media, but is covered in depth in my book.
Other Things Discussed
When I had finished my research I noticed a trend of both whites and blacks holding fairly steady numbers from 1860 to the 1940s. From 1950 until 1980, both races saw every decade hit a new level of total killers, sometimes increasing by over 300% every decade. As with other researchers I was curious at what the causations were in the rising trend. While other researchers have already done a great job finding these causes, most of these researchers assumed whites make up the majority of serial killers. Therefore the causes that might motivate whites may be a non-factor for blacks. So I began looking at the spikes in black serial killers, specifically year by year, and what areas of the country they were popping up most frequently. Here is the list of the major contributing factors I’ve found that have had little to no effect as a motivator for white serial killers. Each of these is discussed fully in my book, but for sake of space I’ll leave it at just the list.
- Reconstruction of the South after the end of the War Between the States
- The Civil Rights Movement
- The rise of violent black criminal gangs
- Violent gangster rap
Aside from this, I also delve extensively into the disparity between reporting on black serial killers versus whites. I pull from a variety of sources, comparing the media’s coverage of serial killers of both races. Additionally, I pit the reporting of the deaths of James Byrd and James McDonald at the hands of white men, as well as the tale of Rodney King; by comparing examples of whites being lynched by blacks, where little to no coverage was given. The difference is alarming.
Another interesting thing my research turned up was 89 serial killers that were convicted for murder, but after release from prison murdered again. Some of these killers have been released on murder charges on two separate cases, only to kill again; while two of these men served sentences for murder four times, only to murder after each release. I briefly tell of their crimes, give the dates of their imprisonment, and when they murdered. Coupled with this section, is a list of serial killers that have had their sentences reduced, and when they’ll be up next for parole. One of the primary motivators I’ve uncovered for this problem, is black serial killers claiming the system is racist, of which unfortunately has helped more than one get a reduced sentence. While the list is extensive, it’s probably not complete and will likely grow in a future edition.
There are many other things I’ve found, like the number of killers that committed rape, dabbled in cannibalism, preformed necrophilia, over-killed or tortured their victims, as well as recording weird quirks some of the killers had (one thought he was invisible because of a witch doctor’s spell!). I also compare the average number of kills between black and white serial killers, and even give examples of blacks lynching whites, including one that hanged his female victims to death—yet his story has never been told.
As aforementioned the information is far too extensive to reiterate in an article, as it took 480 pages to give the full depth view of my research. I hope you’ll take the time to read the first chapter of my book HERE, and tell me what you think. If you’re financially able, buy a copy for your library, or send one to a friend. My wish isn’t to get rich telling this story, I want the scales balanced and the stories of these killers told, for the sake of 5,100 or so victims that died at their hands. May they rest in peace.