Was there widespread fear/media panic of serial killers in the 70s and 80s?
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  Was there widespread fear/media panic of serial killers in the 70s and 80s?
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Author Topic: Was there widespread fear/media panic of serial killers in the 70s and 80s?  (Read 422 times)
Bootes Void
iamaganster123
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« on: November 17, 2021, 10:05:14 PM »

It seems like there was alot of serial killers during those decades. Was there widespread of serial killers during the time? or are we looking at it from the lens of today?
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Atomic-Statism
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2021, 11:55:53 PM »

Serial killing was especially prominent during that time due to urbanization and relative affluence (harder to be Michael Myers when you're busy fighting World Wars/Korea/Vietnam, working over 40 hours a week, or dead from Polio), and stories circulated more due to advancements in communications technology (TV). In tandem with the anti-cult movement and anxieties over the uptick in violent crime, it played into the narrative of the day that the US and its utopian suburbia was in irreversible decline. Movies like Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre were outright said to be statements on American decline, in fact.

The number of active serial killers in the country peaked in 1989 and has trended downward ever since: less frequent use of parole, improved forensic technology, more cautious parenting, and as with other violent crimes, the first post-Baby Boom generation coming of age. The declinist narrative fell out of fashion with the end of the Cold War, so serial killers were relegated to parody movies like Scream and those really cheesy (but fun) Halloween sequels. Declinist anxiety has, of course, returned, and terrorism no longer monopolizes it, so I suspect that's why they're getting popular again. They're still sort of looked at as retro, though, and school shooters sort of occupy their niche now.
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DT
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« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2021, 04:01:51 PM »

As has been said, the "serial killer" era of the 1960s-1990s existed in a kind of goldilocks zone sandwiched between television giving increased attention to violent crime and advanced forensic technology (i.e., DNA profiling) becoming mainstream.  Things like cult hysteria and child abduction panicking cannot be teased out as either causes or effects of this broader social phenomenon, though.

Other social factors not yet mentioned in the rise of the mid-20th century American serial killer are community policing and car culture.  Policing underwent a pretty noticeable transformation from beat patrols to community-oriented approaches in the 1960s, which generally resulted in more information-sharing between police departments to help identify serial offenders.  The personal automobile and Interstate Highway System also gave violent criminals increased opportunity and mobility while creating a sense of anonymity.   
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Хahar 🤔
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« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2021, 07:39:54 PM »

Another factor here is that until around 1980, police departments generally did not believe that serial killers existed. The many well-documented serial killer cases of the 1970s changed this thinking. Bill James's Popular Crime is a very interesting book that spends a lot of time discussing this.
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The Year Summer Ended in June
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« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2021, 10:46:30 PM »

Another factor here is that until around 1980, police departments generally did not believe that serial killers existed. The many well-documented serial killer cases of the 1970s changed this thinking. Bill James's Popular Crime is a very interesting book that spends a lot of time discussing this.
The excellent Netflix series Mindhunter is all about the FBI agents who established the first studies on serial killers and the psychology involved and quite interesting, people really don't seem to realize just how new most of our knowledge on how serial killers operate is.
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Meclazine
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« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2021, 07:22:02 AM »
« Edited: November 28, 2021, 06:12:47 PM by Meclazine »

No.

The fear and panic only began after the serial killings started.

I lived through the Claremont serial killings of 1996-97 and women were sh**t scared.it's a weird feeling.

Spree killings are one thing (77 in Norway on July 22 2011 - 35 in Port Arthur in April 1996), but actual serial killing in far more intense.

You live in trepidation not knowing when he will strike again.

It is paralysing to the women of the city and they vanish, quite literally.
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Paul Pauley
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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2021, 03:52:47 AM »

How many teenage girls were dismissed as just runways by Police back then when they went missing but were actually killed by SKs or trucker killers e.g. Michelle Angela Garvey or Sherri Jarvis?
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#PACK THE COURTS
Solid4096
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2021, 03:41:40 PM »

Another factor here is that until around 1980, police departments generally did not believe that serial killers existed. The many well-documented serial killer cases of the 1970s changed this thinking. Bill James's Popular Crime is a very interesting book that spends a lot of time discussing this.
There were serial killers for a long time before the 1970s though? Including several unidentified ones.
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