Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Are You Living Next Door to a Serial Killer? A Guest Post by Alexa Grace

Please join me in welcoming Alexa Grace to the blog today. Alexa is a fellow indie author who's had tremendous success with her romantic suspense Deadly Trilogy. It freaks me out how charismatic and handsome--how normal--some serial killers can appear. And the women who fall for them, defending them long after the evidence is clear, astound me.  Because the villain in Deadly Relations is a serial killer, I asked Alexa to tell us a little about what she learned in her research on this fascinatingly creepy subject.

Take it away, Alexa!

Guest Post by Alexa Grace

Of all the acts of violence, there are none as difficult to understand as serial murder.  Perhaps this need to understand is the reason why we are curious to the point of fascination about serial killers.

Although there is no cookie-cutter template to identify a serial killer, there are some interesting factors discovered by investigators:
Serial killers are driven by their own unique motivations or reasons.
The majority of serial killers derive sexual satisfaction during violence.  For many, sexual satisfaction and violence are intertwined in their psychological makeup.
Typically serial killers have an exaggerated sense of self-worth, are pathological liars, and are experts in manipulating others.  In addition, these types of murderers have a total lack of remorse for the results of their violent behaviors as well as an absence of empathy for others.
Surprisingly, most serial killers think they are far more intelligent than law enforcement so they will never be caught.

The logical steps that law enforcement usually takes to solve homicide cases, do not work with serial killings.  Most homicides are committed by someone known to the victim, so detectives focus on the victim's relationships.  However, for the most part, serial killers are not acquainted with or involved in a relationship with their victims.

Four types of serial killers have been identified:

(1) The Visionary Motive Type
This type of serial killer often hears voices in their head that tell them to commit murders.  David Berkowitz, Son of Sam, is a good example of this type.  He told investigators that the howling dogs in his neighborhood were sending him messages from demons to kill women.

(2) The Missionary-Oriented Motive Type
Killers of this type are on a mission to rid the world of those whom they deem unacceptable for whatever reason.  In Deadly Offerings, character Charles Beatty, is a serial killer whose mission was to kill anyone related to his firing from a computer repair company, where he worked as a service technician.

According to Beatty, the loss of his job resulted in the foreclosure of his home.  Before long, his wife and children leave him alone and angry.  Instead of taking responsibility for his behavior and learning from past mistakes, he focuses his rage on the female co-owner of the company, Anne Mason.

Beatty starts his reign of terror by taking the lives of the two female customers who complained when he made inappropriate advances toward them during service calls.  The killings continue as targets Anne Mason as his next victim.  Beatty punishes and tortures Anne by leaving the bodies of his victims on her farm.  Leaving threatening notes, he continues killing until he is able to abduct her.

(3) The Thrill-Oriented Motive Type
Serial killers of this type get a high from killing. Of the four types, this one is the one who enjoys killing very sadistically.  He is into the killing for excitement and as he gets better and better at it as he perfects his mode of operation.  The efficiency of killing skills typically improves as the number of his/her victims increases.

Before writing Deadly Relations, I learned from the research of Louis Schlesinger that the number one way serial killers are apprehended is by a surviving victim.  Especially early on, serial killers make mistakes because he/she has not perfected his/her techniques.  Therefore, if law enforcement officers access sophisticated databases like that of FBI's ViCap, they can input the distinctive M.O. of their killer and may match other murders or attempted murders with the same M.O.   With this information, they may get lucky and find that surviving victim.

(4) The Lust Killer
The lust killer is sexually motivated, killing for the pure turn on. These killers derive pleasure from torturing their victims.  The more they make their victims suffer, the more they are sexually aroused. Most serial killers are of this type.

Unfortunately, this type of serial killer is very difficult to distinguish from the average person as they are quite apt at maintaining relationships and functioning in society.  Once caught, neighbors and friends will find it hard to believe that he/she could ever commit the acts of violence he or she is charged with.

Damon Mason, the serial killer in my latest book, Deadly Relations, is a combination of the thrill-oriented and lust killer types.  Damon abducts young women, duct-tapes them to a table, and beats them with a leather belt, much like the one used by his mother on him since early childhood.  The beatings begin as a reenactment of what he endured as a boy, but he soon realizes the beatings and raping of his victims as he chokes them to death give him a sexual release like no other.  Thus, he continues.

Damon Mason is quite handsome and prides himself on his ability to hunt and capture his "prey".   Like serial killer Ted Bundy, Damon is charming and persuasive, normal and unthreatening.  He is able to convince the most cautious and experienced young women to drop their guard, trust him and go off with him willingly.

In the book, Damon has a fantasy to torture women using the same type of belt beatings he suffered as a child.  Typically, serial killers have dysfunctional family dynamics.  In Damon's case, he had a mother who was domineering, aggressive and cruel.  Thus he chooses only women as victims.  He may have fantasized since childhood about repaying his mother's cruelty by beating and killing women.

Character, Carly Stone, who is an FBI profiler in Deadly Relations, describes the unknown killer well: "It's feasible that your killer leads a normal life and functions well in society, but he has this other dark side to his personality."  This could be said of many serial killers who were discovered to not only have steady jobs but also were married with children.

While crime scene investigation makes for popular television programming, I believe it also makes it more difficult for law enforcement because criminals become more savvy about eliminating trace evidence after watching these programs.

If there is one thing that my books which feature a serial killer accomplish, I hope it's the realization that serial killers don't necessarily look like monsters.  Some of them are good looking and live "normal" lives but are also vicious predators.

The women who are victims in Deadly Relations are those who did not pay attention to their surroundings, and placed their trust in a man because he was good-looking and wore a uniform.

To stay safe, we should listen to our intuition about people.  If you feel something is off about a person, there probably is.  So react in ways that allows you to protect yourself.

He is usually male, between the ages of 25-35, and he is usually white. His intellect ranges from below average to above average. He is from all walks of life, as are his victims. The majority of the time, he will kill within his own ethnic group. The ages of his victims will vary greatly, depending on his particular "interests." He doesn't usually having any prior contact with his victims, and thus no particular hatred for them; though, the victims may be symbolic to him in some way. He may be married with children, have a job, and be just like the guy next door...Or, he may be socially inept, unable to maintain relationships, and a complete loner.

Source: Serial Murder, Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators, Behavioral Analysis Unit, National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2002.

Book Synopsis
Deadly Relations, the third book of the Deadly Trilogy, was published on September 21.  Here is a brief description of the plot.

In Deadly Relations, a serial killer of young women hides in plain sight in a quiet county in the Midwest.  Concealed behind a friendly and trustworthy face, no one knows he has a rage to kill he can't control — until it's too late.

Detective Jennifer Brennan, still haunted by her abduction five years before, devotes her life to serve and protect others.  So when three young women go missing and are found murdered on her watch, she vows to find the killer — or die trying.

A personal relationship with her partner, Detective Blake Stone, would be career suicide. But the connection Jennifer has with him is nothing short of electric.  Working with Blake daily and denying her attraction is hard.  But when he moves in to protect her, resisting him becomes pure torture.

As they fight temptation, two detectives race against time to find the killer before he strikes again.  It is the most important case of their careers.  It could be their last.

Amazon U.S.  http://amzn.com/B009EJ1BDS
Amazon U.K.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009EJ1BDS
Smashwords   https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/237887

What can we expect from you in the future?
My next book Profile of Evil will be published in the spring of 2013.  It is the first book of the Profile Trilogy. Here is a brief description of the plot.

Carly Stone is a brilliant FBI agent who's seen more than her share of evil.  Leaving the agency, she becomes a consultant for Indiana County Sheriff Brody Chase.  He needs her help to catch a savage killer who is luring teenaged girls to their death in the handsome sheriff's community.

The two are determined to stop a dangerous predator before he takes another life — at any cost.

How can we find out more about your books?
Deadly Offerings, Deadly Deception and Deadly Relations are sold on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, Sony, Diesel and more.  Deadly Offerings is FREE on Amazon.

How can readers contact you?
Website: http://www.alexa-grace.net/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/AlexaGrace2
Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlexaGrace
Facebook Alexa Grace Street Team: http://www.facebook.com/AlexaGraceStreetTeam

Author Bio

Alexa's journey started in March 2011 when the Sr. Director of Training & Development position she'd held for thirteen years was eliminated. A door closed but another one opened. She finally had the time to pursue her dream of writing books -- her dream since childhood. Her focus is now on writing riveting romantic suspense novels.

Alexa earned two degrees from Indiana State University and currently lives in Florida. She's a member of Romance Writers of America (national) as well as the Florida Chapter.

Her books Deadly Offerings and Deadly Deception have consistently been listed on Amazon's Top 100 Bestselling Romantic Suspense Books. She was recently named one of the top 100 Indie authors by Kindle Review.  A chapter is devoted to her in the book Interviews with Indie Authors by C. Ridgway and T. Ridgway.

Her writing support team includes five Miniature Schnauzers, three of which are rescues. As a writer, she is fueled by Starbucks lattes, chocolate and emails from readers.

Deadly Relations Excerpt

Jennifer left the Sugar Creek Cafe, where she’d filled her thermos with hot coffee.  She walked down Main Street toward the county sheriff’s building, where Catherine Thomas’s latest search efforts were being organized.  March had been fickle thus far, alternating between unseasonably warm or frigid weather.  Today, it was chilly, so she tightened the belt on her coat and lifted her collar as she walked against the wind that whipped her hair about, stinging her face and eyes.  Though she’d never admit it, she was exhausted and had averaged around four hours of sleep per night since Catherine went missing.  When she wasn’t in her car searching for Catherine, she was sitting in front of her computer using the methods Frankie had taught her to look for a missing person.  Her cousin, Frankie, was a private investigator with an expertise in technology, and Jennifer had worked for Frankie prior to going to the Police Academy.  But Frankie’s sure-fire methods hadn’t worked to find Catherine.

One look at the gray clouds overhead confirmed what the TV weather guy had said.  There was a chance of rain today.  At least, she hoped it was just rain.  If the temperature dipped below thirty-two degrees, there was a good chance they’d get freezing rain, or what people called “black ice.” That made the roads treacherous to drive, let alone search for a missing person.

The majority of the businesses in the historic downtown area were located on Main Street for six blocks or more. Most of the buildings had been built a hundred or so years before.  They’d been preserved by massive renovations and modernization as time went on.

The wind was playing havoc with Catherine Thomas’s missing posters,  which peppered the trees and light posts.  Lining the inside of nearly every shop or restaurant window was the poster for the world to see, with the silent prayer that someone would find her.  Fred and Julie Thomas worked tirelessly to get the word out about Catherine’s disappearance.

Jennifer gritted her teeth as she thought about Catherine.  She’d been abducted.  Though there was no evidence, she was sure of it.  Catherine had been taken against her will, just as Jennifer had been taken years before. The girl was looking forward to going to the police academy. She was not a runaway. There was no way Jennifer would believe Catherine left on her own volition.  She had an ominous feeling that time had run out, and their chances of finding Catherine alive were nil. Catherine’s parents hadn’t lost hope of finding her alive, but Jennifer had. She knew the more time that elapsed, the less likely they would find Catherine alive.  Like most detectives, Jennifer knew that time and again when they didn’t find the missing person within forty-eight hours, it was likely the person was dead.

It was Thursday and Catherine had been missing for five days — a time period painfully realized by every member of the county sheriff department.  The staff took it personally. The sheriff, each of his officers, and all the admins wore a yellow arm band that matched the yellow ribbon tied around a huge oak tree in the Thomas’s front yard. People don’t go missing on their turf, on their watch.

So much time had elapsed that most of the sheriff’s team had lost hope that Catherine was alive, just as Jennifer had.  The sense of loss made them more determined to find her body so they could focus on what happened to her.  While there was a lot of information they’d gain by finding a dead body in terms of prosecuting a killer, there was a lot more satisfaction in finding the missing alive.

Fear ran rampant, as was evident by increased calls to the station. Paranoid citizens were reporting suspicious strangers, or strange noises outside their homes.  High school girls, much to their distress, found themselves with early curfews and increased parental surveillance.  Local restaurants were filled with anxious chatter about Catherine, and gossip ran rampant.  People were angry, too, firing blame at the county sheriff’s office for not finding Catherine.

For the first time since Jennifer could remember, people were locking their doors at nights and leaving on their outside lights. The quiet street she lived on was usually dim at nightfall, with only a few street lamps to light the way.  Since Catherine went missing, the street was flooded bright by house, porch, and garage lights.


As a special treat to our blog, Alexa is giving away two copies of the print edition of Deadly Relations! To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment on this post, including your email address. Contest ends October 18th at 11:59 PM Pacific Time. Winners will be picked using random.org. International participants will receive and ebook edition of Deadly Relations.

A Word From Kristine

Alexa, thank you so much for the great post and contest.

After you're done commenting on this post and leaving your email address so you'll be entered into the drawing for Alexa's fabulous book, hop on over to the Romance in the Rain release party. Fill out the rafflecopter for a chance to win great prizes and find out about this new anthology, which contains my novella, Aftershocks, the prequel to my new firefighter romance series.

Best of luck to everyone!



  1. Truly, one of the most disjointing things is you may actually "know" and not realize there is a person living next door who is at the edge of his breaking point. Maybe you wave to each other as you pick up the morning paper, or as you get into your cars to go to work. A man like the shooter at the movies in Colorado, who left his life's commentary in violence and blood against innocent people who simply wanted to see a movie; or maybe a serial killer like Alexa Grace's Damon Mason, who selected his victims from girls he "knew" from the local diner and then caught them in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    In today's busy society, there are those we say we "know" because we see them a couple of times a week. But who really "knows" who will be the next Damon Mason?

    Thus, 'tis sad but true we must learn to "read" those around us and be aware of our surroundings. The best defense is an offense.

    If you haven't read any of Alexa's books, you are missing out on some fine reading. She offers much food for thought and you won't be disappointed.

    1. I love your comments, Sharon! It's absolutely terrifying to think that your neighbor, the postman, the clerk at the grocery store, your co-worker, any of them could be other than what they seem. Serial killers have always existed, and they probably always will. But hopefully, we'll get better at reading them and be better able to protect ourselves. Alexa has definitely created a great villain with Damon Mason!

  2. One of the really frustrating things about Kindle is that books can get buried. I picked this up months ago and hadn't read it yet. However, reading this has allowed me to use a search feature and now it's at the top of my TBR.

    1. That's great, Brit! I'm thrilled that we were able to help bring Deadly Relations to the forefront of your TBR :) Enjoy!

  3. Very interesting post, Alexa. Serial killers really creep me out.

    1. Agreed, Gerri. These men are true predators, devised/designed to attract their prey. It's terrifying really.

  4. Bravo ladies!! A super site, choice of author and discussion. You have caused me to consider a topic which is not my favorite, yet interested me in the genre. I read it twice in order to allow the information to sink in, nice job.

    1. Thank you, Andy! I'm happy you like my site and Alexa's wonderful in-depth post.

  5. Kristine, thanks for inviting Alexa. Wow, she is interesting! Great post!

    Alexa, I found your research very thorough and learned a lot. It was also surprising. And your novels sounds intriguing. I look forward to reading them. Good luck in your writing and in all that you do!

    1. My pleasure, Lena! I got a lot out of Alexa's post as well ;)

  6. I found her first book for free and after reading it I was hooked. Waiting for the final book in the trilogy was worth it. Alexa puts a lot of homework into her characters. I look at people around me carefully and wonder...could one of them be a killer in hiding. Scary thought. Not to many authors keep me coming back for more. Alexa does as well as James Patterson and Nora Roberts.
    Sandy Galloway bamaof4@gmail.com

    1. Now that's a fabulous group of authors to be in! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting, MrsCullen.

  7. This series puts the reader on full-alert; it is a high-voltage, fraught-with-danger, vicarious experience that is sprinkled with humor and super-charged with breathtaking love... Ms. Grace creates riveting stories that assails the senses and churns your emotions.


    1. Alexa has a great fan in you, Heather! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting :)

  8. Great post! Definitely will have to read these. I already have one on my kindle, now if I could just find the extra time to read. Jeez!

    1. Melissa - thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Deadly Offerings is free for kindle right now. You might want to snap up a copy :)

  9. You are a new author for me & I'm very excited for this series. I downloaded 'Deadly Offerings' & I really enjoyed it. Thanks for the giveaway. Leann leamei1981@yahoo.com

    1. Thank you for visiting us, Leann! I hope you'll enjoy my new Firefighter series :) I'm so glad you enjoyed Alexa's Deadly Offerings. Good luck with the giveaway!

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