There’s something strangely fascinating about the motivations behind serial killers. It’s one of those things that keeps you up until 2 in the morning researching mindlessly on Wikipedia until you realize it’s way past your bedtime. There have been documentaries about them, Hollywood movies, and wild conspiracy theories. But if you want to get into the real and proven statistics, the results may surprise you.
In general, serial killings are extremely rare, with only 1% of murders in a given year being at the hands of a serial killer. As it is, the United States has the most serial killers than any other country at over 2,700 cases. To put it into perspective, England is in second place at only 145. But where in the U.S. are you most likely to be a victim of a serial killer?
When broken down per capita, the winner (or loser depending on how you look at it) ends up being Alaska. As of 2014, there have been 51 serial murder cases. This may not sound like much until you break it down. Here in Alaska, 15.65 residents per million people are likely to be victims of a serial killer – but as the United States most sparsely populated state, Alaska’s population is only 750,000.
The sparseness is potentially one of the factors that encourages these horrific events. With no one around, it’s much easier to get away with such a terrible crime in a vast area of wilderness with loads of opportunity to cover your tracks or hide a body. Additionally, the long winter nights may have an impact on the mental health of some Alaskan citizens which may lead to severe depression. But is that enough to make someone kill? Multiple times? Or does the extended darkness simply provide a better cover for carrying out their cruel intentions?
Other factors include the large amount of seasonal workers that Alaska houses over the seasons. From construction to logging, the physically demanding jobs results in a large influx of men in the state. This also draws in a higher number of sex workers which are often heavily targeted by serial killers.
The isolation factor extends to law enforcement. There are at least 75 Native American-Alaskan villages that have no law enforcement whatsoever. This means the villages have to rely on Alaska State Troopers which can take hours to respond to an emergency call. The wait time can result in evidence being lost or compromised, leaving many serial killers at large.
On top of all this, Alaska is the state with the highest amount of violent crime rate in the country. There are about 600 violent crimes per 100,000 which is twice as much as the national average. Considering this in relation to serial killer statistics, and things start to make sense behind the motivations of these serial killers.
Out of all the cases in Alaska, the worst attacker was Robert Hansen. Titled by the media, the “Butcher Baker,” Hansen abducted, raped, and murdered at least 17 women, but he possibly had more than 30 victims. He would hunt the women in the woods with a gun, and he was only found out because one of his victims happened to escape from the back of his car. The murders took place over 13 years until he was caught and sentenced to 461 years plus life in prison without possibility of parole.
When comparing the states by numbers alone, the state with the most victims is sunny California. With over 1,500 victims of serial killings, it also has some of the most notorious serial killers. From the unsolved Zodiac killings, to the Charles Manson murders, the high numbers in this happy state are certainly unbalanced. Even with this dramatically high numbers, the ratio to California’s 39 million inhabitants is low – there are only 7.81 deaths per million people, making your chances better than in Alaska.
In general, the 80’s was the worst decade for serial murders, so fortunately, the worst is (hopefully) over. If you’re looking to avoid all of this, your best chance is to head to Hawaii where there has only been one known serial killer back in the 80’s. But be careful – he was never caught by authorities!