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Serial killers have received a lot of attention in the media and popular culture. Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, and Jeffrey Dahmer are just some of the names that send chills down the spine. But a study shows that the number of serial killers has decreased dramatically in the last 30 years, reports Discovery Magazine.
During the 1980s, there were 768 active serial killers in the United States. In the 2010s, that number was down to 117.
Researchers are unsure as to why the number of serial killers has dropped so much. Everything from better forensics allowing the killers to be caught before they have time to kill a second time to better mental health care in the US has been put forward as possible causes.
Other possible reasons are that longer sentences mean that those who have committed murder once are in prison for so long that they do not have the opportunity to murder again. The fact that it is more difficult to find easy victims may also contribute to the reduction of serial murders.
"People don't hitchhike anymore. We also have the opportunity to raise an alarm with the mobile phone and there are cameras everywhere," says James Alan Fox, professor of criminology at Northeastern University in the United States, in a comment to Discovery Magazine.
However, something to take into consideration is that 40 percent of all murders in the US go unsolved. How many of them are carried out by serial killers is unclear, but there is no evidence that that proportion has increased over the years.