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In their research the authors reference Hickey (1986) who studied 34 cases of female serial killers between the years 1795 and 1988; half of those serial killers had a male accomplice and the average age of the women was 33 years. Six of the 34 women were nurses, which fits the FBI category "angel of death" (Frei, 169). The authors also reference studies by Wilson and Hilton (1998), who analyzed 105 female serial killers; they found that the "preferred means of killing was poisoning" (Frei, 169). Meanwhile a study of 86 cases in the U.S. (Kelleher and Kelleher, 1998) found that the most common victims were "...children, the elderly or spouses"; the majority of women doing the killing in these cases were "black widows" and they had active killing sprees that lasted more than ten years (Frei, 169). Why do women become serial killers? "Psychopathic traits and grossly abusive childhood experiences" have consistently been described as reasons for these crimes in both male and female serial murderers (Frei, 169).
The Case of Aileen Wuornos
Aileen Wuornos is a notorious serial killer whose story can be found in many journals and law enforcement documents. In the Journal of Criminal Justice Research & Education the authors describe Wuornos as the "first predatory female serial killer" who was a Florida prostitute and killed the men she picked up as "Johns" (Weatherby, et al., 2008). In a twelve-month period -- from December, 1989 to November, 1990 -- it was reported that Wuornos killed seven male "johns" (Weatherby). After being charged with six