How to Spot a Serial Killer

Reporter and author Claudia Rowe became obsessed with a serial killer. While living in Poughkeepsie, NY Claudia began to notice several "missing women" fliers, which started a thrilling journey into the mind of a serial killer spanning more than 20 years, resulting in her new book "The Spider and the Fly."

Watch: The Serial Killer Whisperer

As Claudia dug into the case she found that many of these women had been estranged from their families, addicted to drugs, and streetwalking to support their habits. The first woman was reported missing in 1996 and almost two years later Kendall Francois confessed to the murders. Kendall would pick up these women and as soon as they said, "I have to go," he would strangle and rape them.The police went and searched his home - where he lived with his parents and his sister - and the bodies were all found in the basement. 

 As a reporter, Claudia covered the arrest and various court cases surrounding the murders but she could not get the case out of her head. After years of thinking about it, she finally wrote to Kendall in the county jail. In total between letters, phone calls and visits, Claudia spent about 4.5 years in contact with Kendall. Claudia's motivation was personal, "I had my own history of emotional violence and rage in my family that had never really been addressed and I felt in many ways the story of Kendall Francois is a story of denial." 

ER physician Dr. Travis Stork wonders, "What makes a serial killer snap?" 

Forensic psychologist Dr. Judy Ho shares, "What usually proceeds a killing is an extreme stresser. It could be external like the person loses a job, gets a divorce - but it could also be something totally internal, which is what makes it harder for us to understand." She goes on to share that killers oftentimes have brain abnormalities that make it easier for them to deal with negative stimuli. There is a disconnect between the amygdala which controls our emotions and the prefrontal cortex which interprets those emotions so serial killers generally don't feel negative feelings in the same way as the rest of the population. 

Watch: How to Spot a Liar

Here are some of the key signs to look out for: 

  • Low empathy, lack of emotion or guilt
  • Lack of feelings of sadness when someone is suffering
  • They don't feel nervous or embarrassed when caught doing something bad. 
  • It takes a lot of stimulation to feel a small amount of excitement or happiness
  • Hurting animals

For more on this topic, watch the video below and check out Claudia's new book, "The Spider and the Fly."