Spree, serial, and mass murderers. While all three of types of murderers kill multiple people, there are major differences between each type. Although every rule has its exceptions, each generally has its own characteristics, the knowledge of which is instrumental to finding, arresting, and prosecuting the perpetrator.
Serial killers are usually motivated largely by violent urges revolving around sex. They tend to carefully plan out each murder and take time to “cool off” between each one. Predators in the most literal sense of the word, serial killers are usually diagnosed a psychopaths (as opposed to psychotic) and tend to come across as normal, even likable, people who lead ordinary lives. Experts disagree about the number of victims a person must murder before being deemed a serial killer, but three is generally the accepted number.
A mass murderer kills multiple people in one place. Motive doesn’t figure as much into defining someone as a mass murderer. Anyone from high-ranking Nazis during World War II to Julio Gonzalez, who set a fire killing eighty-seven people at the Happy Land social club in the Bronx, can be considered a mass murderer.
Spree killers are more spontaneous than serial killers, and they kill in at least two different locations, unlike mass murderers. Andrew Cunanan, who murdered five people including legendary clothing designer Gianni Versace, over the course of three months, is an example of a spree killer.