Wednesday 21 February 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: The mystery of the deadlier species

Women serial killers both fascinate and repel but there's little research into them, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

Eilis O'Hanlon

Men are three times more likely to be the victims of murder, but they're also nine times more likely to be the perpetrators. That's why the story of Joanna Dennehy, who confessed last week to murdering three men and dumping their bodies in ditches in rural England, is so shocking. Most readers, glancing at the picture of the 31-year-old under a headline about a "serial killer", would automatically assume that she was the victim.

Instead, it was Dennehy who unexpectedly admitted, during a hearing at the Old Bailey last week, to not only knifing three men to death but attempting to murder two others in an apparently random attack days later.

It was a shocking twist to an investigation that first began when the bodies of Dennehy's landlord Kevin Lee, 48, and her two housemates, 31-year-old Lukasz Slaboszewski and 56-year-old John Chapman, were discovered by walkers earlier this year. Rightly shocking, if for statistical reasons alone. Women of all ages are, by far, the least likely to commit murder, and, when they do, the method is rarely so brutal, or the number of victims so high.

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