Why Do Serial Killers Target Prostitutes

on December 17, 2010 in Serial Killers, Victimology by

Both Philadelphia and Long Island seem to currently have serial killers targeting prostitutes. They’re a very common target. Joel RIfkin, Richard Cottingham, and Gary Ridgway targeted sex workers almost exclusively.

What makes prostitutes so attractive a target for serial killers?

There certainly are mission-oriented serial killers who target prostitutes to clean the streets, although I feel this reason is grossly overstated. This is more often a rationalization by the serial killer for his horrific actions. Ridgway is a great example of this.

Three other reasons include:

Easy to Get Alone
The nature of their work means a prostitute is going to be alone with their “date”. And if the serial killer is targeting street walkers, he can easily convince the woman to get into his vehicle so he can drive off. Most other victim types are much more difficult to approach.

Ted Bundy faked a broken arm to achieve the same thing that Ridgway pulled off by flashing a twenty dollar bill.

Won’t be Noticed as Missing
Many prostitutes live a nomadic life. If one disappears, her friends and family might not know if she was kidnapped, or just moved on to a new city. Until a body is found (which might never happen), many will assume she is still alive.

Society Might Not Mind
Prostitutes, especially street walkers, are at the very bottom of the social ladder. Many people consider them a plague on a city. As a result, the serial killer hopes that law enforcement won’t work very hard to solve his crimes.

All of these reason are at least somewhat true, although the serialist’s faith in the third is probably overly strong. Even street walkers have mothers, fathers and siblings who care about them.

King County in Washington spent millions of dollars looking for the Green River Killer (Ridgway). Granted, in this case two or three bodies were being found every month, but law enforcement certainly does work to solve these crimes.

One need only look at the huge efforts being made in Long Island and Philadelphia to see evidence this.

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