Serial Killers Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Harold Shipman, and Dr. Jack Kevorkian: Nature Versus Nurture

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A serial killer is defined as a killer who kills three or more people in the same way. By looking into the early lives and years of Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Harold Shipman, and Dr. Jack Kevorkian the answer to the question “Are serial killers born or raise” is never truly uncovered but the direction it points is apparent. Most believe that serial killers are raised, while the lesser majority believes they are born, this being one of the psychological approaches of nature or nurture. Most believe that serial killers are raised and are influenced by different events that occur in their lifetime and bring them to the point of killing multiple people.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, there are three primary types of serial killers, being medical killers, organized killers, and disorganized killers. Almost every serial killer can be placed into one of these three categories. The medical killer is someone who has a background in the medical field, typically having a higher IQ than organized or disorganized killers. Medical killers typically cover their victims in a way that makes them look as if they had passed from natural causes. They are the smartest and rarest form of serial killers. The organized killer is one who thoroughly plans out every detail of the crime, taking precautions and making sure there is no compromising evidence left to link them to the crime. Typically this killer will stalk their victims for several days before they strike and put on a facade in an attempt to obtain control of the situation and the victim to a secondary location, where they will kill the victim. The organized killer is usually the hardest killer to not only identify but to catch in the act. The Disorganized Killer is spontaneous and never plans their kills ahead of time. Killing whenever they feel like it, victims tend to be a case of wrong place at the wrong time. These killers are liable to move from town to town, state to state, to avoid being caught. They tend to have the lowest IQ out of all the killers and are the most secluded from everyone and rarely have close friends or family. Disorganized killers, usually have no remembrance of their deeds and are likely to blame their actions on the voices they claim to hear in their heads. The FBI states that “The majority of serial killers are not reclusive, social misfits who live alone. They are not monsters and may not appear strange. Many serial killers hide in plain sight within their communities. Serial Killers often have families and homes are gainfully employed, and appear to be normal members of the community” (Morton).

Ted Bundy is one of the most notorious serial killers of all time and is known for kidnapping, raping, and murdering women. Bundy grew up in a strict Christian home and claimed to have a stable childhood, with caring church-going parents. Bundy later attended the University of Iowa to major in Law. Over the course of his life, he was a boy scout, crisis counselor, and campaign volunteer strengthening those around him’s thoughts on him. In high school, Bundy was arrested twice and charged for suspicion of burglary and auto theft. Bundy was known for being charming, charismatic, intelligent, and a model citizen by those that knew him. One man described Using his infamous charm, he would trick women into trusting him and would seduce them. Then, when he got them alone, he would strike, sometimes after intercourse, but other times he would kill them before, committing necrophilic acts with the victim’s corpse. During Bundy’s killing spree, his long term girlfriend of seven years, Elizabeth Kloepfer, and her daughter, for who, Bundy had played a father role, had no idea of Bundy’s transgressions.

One day in 1977 Bundy was left alone in a courthouse library he escaped out the window and was found eight days later. In December that same year, Bundy escaped through the vents in his jail cell and made his way to Tallahassee, Florida. On January 14, 1978, Bundy broke into a Chi Omega sorority house on the Florida State University campus, attacking four of the girls in the house and killing two of them. After making his escape from the Chi Omega house, Bundy struck again on February 9th, when he kidnapped and murdered a twelve-year-old girl named Kimberly Leech. This marked the last of Bundy’s rampage. He was pulled over by the police, identified, and taken into immediate custody under twenty-four-hour surveillance. While in jail, Bundy was visited by a young woman named Carole Ann Boone. He ended up marrying Boone and was married to her for eight years, Boone also took the jury stand and told the court, “I’ve never seen anything in Ted that indicates a destructiveness towards other people” (Greenhaven Press, 40-41). Bundy served as his own lawyer during the trial but was officially convicted of thirty-six murders in seven different states and was sentenced to execution. Bundy then continued to confess to as many as one hundred more murders, but the police are unaware of how many of the confessions were true or if they were just an attempt by Bundy to further push back his execution date.

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Not only was Charles Manson remembered for being a serial killer but he was also known for being a cult leader. Born in Cincinnati Ohio, Manson was also raised in a strict religious environment by his mother. Manson’s father and stepfather had both left him and his mother at an early age. When Manson rebelled against his mother she rejected him and put him up for adoption. After spending time in foster care Manson turned to crime and was sentenced to seven years in prison for transporting women across state borders for prostitution, he was released from prison in 1967 Manson would go on to spend time at the Haight-Ashbury House, a half-way house for criminals getting out of prison. While at the Haight-Ashbury House, Manson met many young women, who he bonded with over mutual anti-establishment philosophies and drug abuse. Many of them looked up to Manson as if he was Jesus Christ leading to Manson’s establishment of the Manson Family Cult, which would grow to have about 100 ‘family members’ by the early 1970s. On August 9, 1969, Manson had directed three of his ‘family’ to go to successful film director Roman Polanski and wife Sharon Tate and kill them along with anyone else found inside. As soon as Manson’s ‘family’ arrived, they cut the phone lines and approached the house, killing everyone discovered in the house, and writing ‘pig’ on Polanski’s front door with Tate’s blood. The next night Manson and his ‘family’ continued their killing by going to Leon and Rosemary Labianca’s home in Los Angeles, where Manson tied the couple up and instructed the three of his ‘family’ to kill the Labianca’s. They carved ‘War’ into Leon’s flesh and wrote ‘death to the pigs’, ‘Rise’, and ‘Healther Skelter’ on the walls and fridge with blood.

Manson later declared his motive for the murders; to begin a revolution where the ‘family’ believed black Americans would take out the white Americans but then would have to rely on ‘the Family’ for leadership on how to run the earth, which Manson identified as ‘Helter Skelter’ after a Beatles song. None of the killers were condemned for the murders until one of Manson’s ‘family’ who assisted him in the killings, Susan Atkins, was in custody for charges related to theft when she boasted to another inmate about the Tate and Labianca killings, along with their plans to kill more celebrities in the future. Kasabian and Atkins served as key witnesses in the trial against Manson for the prosecution where Watson, Kasabian, Atkins, and Krenwinkel were sentenced to death alongside Manson, with the California death penalty temporarily overturned in 1972 so instead, they were sent to prison with the opportunity for parole, but any time any of them petitioned for parole they were denied. While in prison, Manson became engaged to a fifteen-year-old Rosalie Willis who believed him to be innocent and Manson obtained a marriage license in November 2014. Willis main reason behind wanting to marry Manson was so when he died she could take his corpse and display it as a Tourist Attraction. Charles Manson died of a heart attack on November 19th, 2017 in his prison cell at Bakersfield prison in Bakersfield, California.

Serial killer Harold Shipman is known for being one of Britain’s most prolific serial killers, killing around two hundred thirteen people over the course of three years by lethal injections of morphine and heroin. Shipman was born into a working-class family and was very close to his mother who passed when Shipman was only seventeen of lung cancer and suffered from a great deal of pain. Shipman’s main source of inspiration came from the physician who helped his mother when she was at the peak of her pain, Shipman attended the University of Leeds to study medicine and carry on his mother’s legacy. Shipman grew up to marry Primrose Shipman, having four children with her and lived in Manhatten for about twenty years. He was thought to have been a caring physician. Harold had never been in trouble with the law before he was convicted of the murder of fifteen women. Most of Shipman’s victims were elderly widows suffering from chronic diseases and loss. Shipman hung himself in his prison cell in Wakefield Prison on January 13, 2004, on the eve of his fifty-eighth birthday.

Dr. Jack Kevorchian had a normal childhood Born on May 26, 1928, in Pontiac, Michigan and later attended the University of Michigan Medical School. Kevorkian believed assisted suicide should have nothing to do with government laws and should be a basic personal right. He set a goal to legalize doctor-assisted suicide. While trying to legalize assisted suicide, Kevorkian carried out more than one hundred thirty doctor-assisted suicides using the machine he invented, which he referred to as ‘The Suicide Machine.’ This machine is believed to be what made Kevorkian famous, until 1991 when he lost his medical license for suspicion of illegal drug distribution, and switched to carbon monoxide instead because he could no longer access “The Suicide Machine’. In each of the more than one hundred thirty cases, he made his reasoning behind the crimes known to the public as part of a determined campaign to change attitudes and laws on doctor-assisted suicide. All patients in which Kevorkian assisted were between 1990 and 1998 and physically or mentally ill. Many of the families were said to be grateful for Kevorkian for ‘helping’ their loved ones in times of pain and suffering.

How did these serial killers live a double life and where they born or raised to be serial killers? Bundy, Manson, Shipman, and Kevorkian can all be categorized as Medical, Organized, or Disorganized serial killers? Ted Bundy was described by many as a stand-up guy and a good role model but behind the curtain that was Ted Bundy’s life, he was the exact opposite. Charles Manson had started as a criminal and turned to a cult leader who turned his followers into killers. Harold Shipman was an English man who was inspired by a family physician who helped his mother relieve her of her pain during his childhood. Dr. Jack Kevorkian was a doctor who believed heavily that physician-assisted suicide should be legal and would ‘help’ those who came to him. More people believe that serial killers are raised rather than born and are affected by certain events that happen over the course of their lifetime.

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Serial Killers Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Harold Shipman, and Dr. Jack Kevorkian: Nature Versus Nurture. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 24, 2024, from
“Serial Killers Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Harold Shipman, and Dr. Jack Kevorkian: Nature Versus Nurture.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022,
Serial Killers Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Harold Shipman, and Dr. Jack Kevorkian: Nature Versus Nurture. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Apr. 2024].
Serial Killers Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Harold Shipman, and Dr. Jack Kevorkian: Nature Versus Nurture [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 18 [cited 2024 Apr 24]. Available from:

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