What turns someone into a serial killer?

Psychological therapist and crime commentator Emma Kenny offers a chilling look into The Serial Killer Next Door – and what we might be able to do to protect ourselves.

Emma Kenny
Emma Kenny

She will be at Worthing’s Assembly Hall on November 24 at 7.30pm. And you might just come away with an awareness that might just save your life.

As Emma says, in the show she will invite the audience to select who the victim is among a group of people – and people will get it right, an ability to choose they grimly share with psychopaths.

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A psychopath will identify a potential victim, but so too, at the complete opposite end of the scale, will someone with empathy.

“And the reason I like knowing about serial killers and all these things is that I believe that empathy can be my secret weapon.

“I have always been so interested in something that is so far away from what I am, and you are obviously drawn to people that have high levels of empathy naturally in every-day life. But I also believe that my job is to say that you can’t prevent a serial killer from living next door to you, but you can possibly protect yourself.”

As Emma says, a serial killer will need three things in a victim: desirability, vulnerability and availability.

“You can’t do anything about being desirable. There is nothing you can do about that. You can’t not be the petite brunette that Ted Bundy would want to kill if what you are is a petite brunette. But you can guard against vulnerability and availability.”

Emma stresses that it is awful that you should have to. She herself was brought up by parents who very much believed in leaving doors unlocked, and obviously we all ought to be free to do so now, she says: “I grew up with that philosophy, but it is not relevant now and that was one of my problems. I didn’t think we should have to leave our doors and windows locked. But I do now believe that we should protect ourselves whenever we are actually in a position where we can protect ourselves.”

It all has to be seen in the wider context. In other cultures, particularly war-torn, the culture of murder is clearly much higher than it is in this country.

“We should be grateful that we live in the UK and that we have got a good policing system and that we live in neighbourhoods that tend to notice when people are doing things that they shouldn’t. But we should certainly be doing the little things that make sure that you are safe and that your home is secure.

“You should be allowed to have your windows open without it being seen as an invitation, but the fact is that a serial killer doesn’t care about the moral rights and wrongs.

“My job is to tell people that they have got to think about vulnerability and availability. It is not fair and it is not right that we have to look at these things, but we should be doing our best to look at them. Don’t go to dark and lonely places. Take a friend. Take a cab. It is not right that we have to do these things, but they are things that we should do.”

On the night, Emma will take you on a journey looking at what ingredients of possibility lead to body counts by killers like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer and John Paul Knowles. What creates a serial killer and could anything have prevented their potential being activated or were they simply born to kill?

Emma specialises in victimology, but she is mostly known in the media for presenting crime shows including Britain’s Darkest Taboos, Lady Killers and The Killer in My Family.

Emma has presented more than 70 crime shows analysing some of the most heinous crimes both here in the UK and the States and why some people can be born into seemingly normal families yet still choose a murderous path…