are serial killers passed through genetics?

are serial killers passed through genetics?


Paper: Your first research essay should be a fully completed work of 5 pages. Your topic may be related to the development of any idea that has already been expressed as part of the course; your thesis should be a synthesis of carefully documented research and critical analysis of this topic. The essay should incorporate the general parts of an academic essay—an introduction and thesis, a body of specific evidence/support/analysis, and a conclusion that emphasizes the answers to questions you may have asked within your research.

Your writing should address the Core Learning Outcomes of the course and the Instructor Specific Learning Outcomes, as specified on the syllabus. I have included them here for your convenience:

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are serial killers passed through genetics?
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  1. Analyze the disciplinary content in its own context and in relationship to the issues, questions, and positions of other disciplines.
  2. Compare and contrast differences and similarities among the disciplines in terms of central concerns, values, methodologies, and relationships to public life.
  3. Synthesize diverse perspectives to achieve an interdisciplinary understanding.
  4. Analyze the relationships among academic knowledge, professional work, and the responsibilities of local and global citizenship.
  5. 3. Interpret and critique the possible “real world” connections or behaviors associated with the viewing or playing of media violence.

Instructor Learning Outcomes:

  1. Identify, discuss and critique the representations of serial killers as heroes, celebrities, and icons in modern media forms. Explain the characteristics of the media forms, genres, and methods for each subject.
  2. Describe and analyze the popular culture forms that encourage audience identification or participation through violence or vicarious experience.
  3. Evaluate multiple perspectives, modes of inquiry and expression, and processes for decision-making in the disciplines.

PowerPoint: As part of the discussions during the final unit, you should prepare a PowerPoint presentation that showcases your research and ideas for the final project. This work of 8-10 PowerPoint slides, will allow you to share your ideas on the project with the class as a whole. The PowerPoint Presentation should show your creativity, research, and strength of argument.


Your essay should conform to the MLA format for citations within the text and in your works cited. Therefore, your writing should be double-spaced, with one-inch margins, in a 10-12-pitch font. The grading of this essay will be based upon the objective skills we have focused upon in our course lectures and discussions—incorporating your research sources seamlessly within your own writing, building upon your skills as a “close-reading” expert and analysis of your topic, and answering the larger questions about “why” we are studying serial killers as heroes (as well as, “why” your topic is popular? important? significant? worthy of study? definitive of its audience?)



Genetic of a serial Killer


According to Cesare Lombroso an Italian Physician, he could identify criminals by the look on their skulls. He advanced that biological factors were more important that the environmental factors when studying criminality (Wilkinson 32). According to the farther of criminology, the brains of a criminal was different from that of a normal person. He advanced that criminals had large ears, big eyes, protruding canning teeth and a sloping long forehead among other features that were not normal with other human beings. His theory has been discredited, but formed the basis of study of crimes like killer behaviors. Today, the subject of the debate is weather killer behaviors are genetically inherited as some studies suggest or environmental factors cause a person to kill. As such, it will be discussed herein that indeed actions to kill another person are driven by personal experiences and exposure in the environment, movies, music, abuse, than through genetics which is just sets the stage for the crime.


Lois, in his presentation postulated by defense attorneys of killer criminals is that the criminal killers genetically induced actions that drove them to kill. This notion is completely wrong and should be debunked as follows. While it is true that there are inherited genes that cause criminal actions, these genes do not take the actions but an individual. The genes just set the stage for the actions. This means that a person will be likely to commit a crime if he has the criminal genes in him/her than a person who doesn`t have the genes. However, the drive to commit the crime is not catalyzed by the gene since not all gene holders are criminal or killers.

There are two scientifically common genes found to be dominant in serial killers, these are monoamine oxidase-A (MAOA) and CDH13 (Lois). A version of the MAOA gene is tasked with the production of monoamine oxide-A enzyme. This enzyme metabolizes dopamine erratically hence leading to more antisocial and aggressive behaviors. Conversely, CDH13 is the specific gene assigned to connect the brain with the neurons. As such, a person with lower orbital cortex action with a CDH13/MAO-A genes are carries of killer deeds. These genes are responsible for a lot of killer instincts and behaviors hence setting the stage for the action. Thus, it is important to note that MAOA is responsible for breaking down the critical neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. If such intoxicating chemicals are not checked and controlled can trigger loss of impulse hence increased anger and violence.

Lois explains in her article of a case in court involving one Bradley Waldroup who lived in Southeastern Tennessee. He carried his hunting 22 caliber rifle. His wife and her friend Bradshaw Leslie dropped Bradley`s four kids from school. He then begun to argue with his wife and the friend. In the course of the argument, Bradley Waldroup shot eight times his wife`s friend to death before cutting her head open with a knife. He then chased his wife with a machete and the same knife to their trailer. He cut off her pinkies and dragged her before his children. He asked his kid to bit the mother goodbye since she was never going to come back hence was the last time to see her. Miraculously, the wife escaped the death trap.

During his trial three years later, he admitted all allegations against him and apologized for his cruel actions. He said he was ashamed of the situation and deeply regretted it since he snapped. He was then convicted of felony then sentenced to death for murder. His legal team took an unprecedented step to save his life from the death penalty. The legal team sent a sample of his blood test to a molecular laboratory for genetic testing. The Vanderbilt University labs who were instructed to look for a specific gene found a variation in his X chromosome which contained MAOA enzyme. The lawyers made an assertion that it was his genes that made him commit the crime hence be taken off the death penalty.  

(Harrison, Murphy, Ho et al. 410) posit that while the above mentioned genetic disorder might be a contributing factor, it is not the real course for being a serial killer. Environmental factors contribute a lot to the actions and inactions of a person. The mere fact that a person has a gene that increases the risk of acquiring colon cancer does not make an individual to get the cancer. Have fact that a person`s genes are linked to schizophrenia does not mean the individual will develop it. As such, genes are just but programs that run the cells’ activities of the body all the time. If a person therefore, inherits such genes, they set him or her on a path, but does not determine the fate, that one must end up as a serial killer. Only the environment a person is exposed to determine the actions. If anything, there are several people who carry the killer genes just like Waldroup Bradley yet they will never kill people in their entire life.

Some environmental factors like malnutrition, poor education, economic and social strife are some of the drivers of violent of killer behaviors. For instance, psychologists note that child abuse is a leading contributor for violence (Harrison, Murphy, Ho et al. 387). Boys who were exposed at childhood to coercive, erratic, and punitive parenting possess increased risk of becoming violent. It is also vital to mention that not all abused boys become violent just as the fact that one has some genes qualifies him to be a killer.

Joel and Booker asserts in their writing that in February 2018 in the USA, a mass shooting was experienced in Marjory Stoneman High School, In Florida. The shooter was a 19 year old former student. He killed seventeen people and with fourteen being taken to the hospital. The perpetrator was Nicholas Cruz Jacobs. He was adopted at birth and in 2004 the adoptive father died. The adoptive mother died in 2017 November. As such, since the death of the mother, he was left for relatives and friends to take care of him. Before his shooting, he posted the incident on YouTube and other social media sites on how he wanted to buy a gun a d kill people.  

Essential to mention is the fact that his social environment compelled him to commit the crime and not his genetic inheritance. He planned the crime and knew the school well having been a student there. He used tricks from the Hollywood movies where he triggered a fire alarm for the noise and create confusion. He used the same fire alarm trick to escape his scene of crime. He is reported by the New York Times to have been a bright student who got grade A and B in most subjects. However, they also report that he had been admitted in to a school of children with emotional instability. His social media account identified he posed anti-black and anti-Muslim slurs. According to CNN reports, Cruz was in private Instagram groups which advocated for the elimination of Mexicans, gay and black people and perceived white ladies in interracial relationships as turncoats.

The advent of the social media has advanced a lot of perception and relations in a number of ways. The radical extremist groups use the social media to recruit their followers across the globe. White supremacists use the social media and the internet to connect with their colleagues and advertise their divisive ideologies. Per se, killer heroes have emerged from such interactions. It is witnessed where killings are being done while live streaming. The Hollywood industries have played a significant share in spreading the hate messages. The contents are meant for entertainments, but not filtered enough to have valid humanitarian moral lessons. For instance, terrorist activities are posted to be done by Muslim characters, or people who have Islamic teachings. They are the bad guys who get investigated, or suspected first. In addition, for a very long time, the evil person in a Hollywood movies were projected to be the black person. The blacks were the antagonist and causes of all major evils in a film. As such, it was the prerogative of the good and holly white man to save the day. When such contents are seen by people like Cruz, they are inspired with hate against the black community and followers of Islamic religion. To make matters worse, in such films, most of the heroes are the ones who have killed a lot of people to rescuer technology. This celebration inspires more serial killers.


In summation, there has been a notion that serial killers have inherited genes that catalyze their killer actions. These genes have been identified to be MAOA and CDH13. However, the fact that a person have a gene does not translate to the same person going on a killing spree. Environmental factors like childhood abuse, social and economic challenges, mental health problems and the conundrum of the content aired by Hollywood have been a major factor for the serial killers to commit such crimes. To solve such a menace, the film industries must stop depicting serial killers as the heroes of the day. The contents must have a humanitarian theme and uniting ideologies as a people. Social media must also be enhanced to report potential crime cases of violence posted. As such, to end the mystery of the serial killing, the citizenry must desist from painting an excuse that it is genetically inherited, and confront the societal values and norms that accommodate such evils.



Eric Levensen and Joe Sterling. These are the victims of the Florida school shooting.  CNN. (February 21, 2018).

Harrison M, Murphy E, Ho L, Bowers T, Flaherty C. Female serial killers in the United States: means, motives, and makings. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology [serial online]. June 2015; 26(3):383-406. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 3, 2018.  

Joel Rose and Brakkton Booker. Parkland Shooting Suspect: A Story Of Red Flags, Ignored. The National Public Radio (n.p.r). 2018.

Lois Parshley. Can Your Genes Make You Kill? Popular Science. (April, 2016).

Wilkinson A. The Serial-Killer Detector. New Yorker [serial online]. November 27, 2017; 93 (38):30-35. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 3, 2018. Pg2-7

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