TRUE CRIME

How Many Serial Killers are Active in the U.S. Today?

You know you’re dying to find out

Chris Zappa
3 min readNov 23, 2021

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female detective analyzing evidence
Photo by Motortion via Canva

The United States holds the unique distinction of having the most serial killers in the world.

Shocking, no?

No. Not really.

America has roughly 5% of the world’s population, but we have 67% of the world’s documented serial killers, according to Joe Berlinger, often referred to as “The Godfather of True Crime.”

Everyone has heard of the most notorious of these malevolent monsters — names like Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez (“The Night Stalker,”) David Berkowitz (“Son of Sam,”) Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, “The Zodiac Killer,” and Joseph DeAngelo (“The Golden State Killer.”) But for every infamous serial killer whose name you’ve heard, there are hundreds more you aren’t aware of.

Serial killers were most active between the ’70s and the ’90s, peaking noticeably in the mid-to-late ’80s. Some estimate that serial killer activity has declined by as much as 85% since then. Today, the FBI claims that serial killers account for roughly 1% of all killings in the United States.

According to an article in The Atlantic:

Several reasons are commonly cited for this decline, among them longer prison sentences and a reduction in parole (many serial killers are convicted murderers who, after serving time, kill again). Better forensic science is also credited, as are cultural and technological shifts: less hitchhiking, more helicopter parents, 60 million security cameras.

While there are fewer identified serial killers operating today than in past decades, there are also a more significant number of unsolved murder cases today than in years past. In the 1960s, the percentage of “cleared” (solved) homicides was around 91%, but as of 2017, that rate had dropped to 61%.

What exactly does this mean?

It means that today it’s easier to get away with murder.

The Murder Accountability Project is a non-profit organization that catalogs and analyzes data on murders, with a focus on unsolved homicides. Founder, Thomas Hargrove, believes that serial killers account for at least…

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Chris Zappa

Graphic designer. Music junkie. I run Zappagram, the mother of all music newsletters. https://bio.site/chriszappa