Because of their psychopathic nature, serial killers do not know how to feel sympathy for others, or even how to have relationships. Instead, they learn to simulate normal behavior by observing others. It is all a manipulative act, designed to entice people into their trap. Serial killers are actors with a natural penchant for performance. Henry Lee Lucas described being a serial killer as “being like a movie-star … you’re just playing the part.” The macabre Gacy loved to dress up as a clown, while the Zodiac suited up in a bizarre executioner’s costume that looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland. In court, Bundy told the judge, “I’m disguised as an attorney today.” Bundy had previously “disguised” himself as a compassionate rape crisis center counselor.
The most coveted role of roaming psychopaths is a position of authority. Gacy was an active, outgoing figure in business and society; he even became a member of the Jaycees. Many joined the military, including Berkowitz, who was intensely patriotic for a time. Playing police officer, however, is the most predictable. Carrying badges and driving coplike vehicles not only feeds their need to feel important, but also allows them access to victims who would otherwise trust their instincts and not talk to strangers.
Yet, when they are caught, serial killer wills suddenly assume a “mask of insanity” — pretending to be a multiple personality, schizophrenic, or prone to black-outs — anything to evade responsibility. Even when they pretend to truly reveal themselves, they are still locked into playing a role. What nameless dread lies behind the psychopath’s mask?
“What’s one less person on the face of the earth anyway?” Ted Bundy’s chilling rationalization demonstrates the how serial killers truly think. “Bundy could never understand why people couldn’t accept the fact that he killed because he wanted to kill,” said one FBI investigator.