Descent of a Serial Killer

Airing now on CBS Reality, ‘Descent of a Serial Killer’ is a brand new original true crime series taking an in depth look into a collection of high-profile multiple murder cases. 

Each episode explores the perplexing behavioural red flags displayed by an individual as they progress from childhood, to adulthood and ultimately to become a serial killer. 

The presenter, Dr Bryanna Fox, is a former FBI Agent, Psychological Criminologist and expert in offender risk assessment.  Along with a team of experts including Patrick Kendrick, author of ‘American Ripper’, she uses her wealth of knowledge to examine the key signs displayed by each murderer.  Serial killers often exhibit a number of traits before a multiple murder takes place, including psychopathy, trophy taking, killing animals and coercive control.  Each episode traces the path of the murderer’s life and asks whether today the case would have culminated in a different outcome. 

We spoke to Dr Bryanna Fox about this brand new original true crime series:

Tell me about the series 'Descent of a Serial Killer', what was it like to make?

Despite the dark nature of the show, it was an absolute pleasure to create. I say this because we took a completely different approach to understanding why people become these heinous offenders, and focus more on the critical issues of risk factors and prevention, not just the offenders and the specific horrific details of their crimes. In other words, I think this is new and unique, very informed by research and science, and has a lot to contribute to understanding more about why people commit these crimes and importantly, what society can do to prevent them.

What made you decide to host the show?  Can you tell me about your career history?

I was thrilled when I was first approached to participate with this show, and my experience doing it has made me even more grateful and passionate about this project. I was always most driven towards understanding why people behave the way they do, and how best to help society improve. The most challenging and extreme form of human behaviour is violence, especially serial murder. I have tried to use science to understand why people commit these terrible acts, and how to prevent it. Since that is what this show is all about, it was a natural fit with my was my research and career, and I am thrilled to be part of it.

 

What does it mean to be a Criminal Psychologist and what is most interesting about it?  What is it like to talk to a serial killer?

Psychological criminologists like myself are very interested in why people commit crimes, particularly those that are so difficult to fathom such as brutal serial killers. I was always drawn to the challenge of understanding the ‘why’ things occur, and these types of crimes are some of the most difficult to understand of all. So it’s a real challenge to figure out, which I think is such an interesting career for me. However, it’s also incredibly difficult, because we constantly see dark sides of people and society. But this is a strong motivation for me, as I try to do what I can to help improve these issues and make the world a better and safer place for all.

What does it take to be a serial killer?  Do you think they are born or made?  Can they be rehabilitated?

I have done a lot of research and reading on this question, and the answer is a very long one. But in short, there is no single cause or risk factor that leads people to become a serial killer- neither by nature or nurture. It’s more of a compilation of risk factors and contexts that all combine to allow someone to do such an extreme and terrible thing. That said, one commonality I tend to see in these cases is the lack of empathy for others. It’s impossible to imagine harming people in such an extreme and callous way while also maintaining the level of empathy that’s standard in society. To be capable of these crimes, people practically must have almost no empathy for others, otherwise killing multiple people in cold blood would never be possible. This is something we are looking at from a rehabilitation standpoint, and the results are promising, but there’s still a lot more research that needs to be done.

Final Thoughts

The series looks at a number of serial killers including Robert ‘Bobby’ Joe Long who killed ten women within eight months.  Dr Bryanna Fox expertly tracks their deadly journeys in a fascinating take on some of the most prolific murderers ever known.

Descent of a Serial Killer airs Tuesdays at 10pm on CBS Reality. CBS Reality is available on Sky channel 146, Virgin Media channel 148, Freeview channel 67 and Freesat channel 135.

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