This Researcher Is Changing the Science of Serial Killers

Sasha Reid studies serial killers.

serial killers
Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. (Curt Borgwardt/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)
By Chase Hill / March 8, 2019 2:30 pm

Sasha Reid’s office walls are covered in photos of the some of the most brutal serial killers in the world. Normally you would be concerned but it’s ok- she’s studying them in the hopes of helping kids.

Reid has pored over thousands of pages of journals and court documents, watched hours of interviews with killers like Edmund Kemper, the “Co-ed Killer,” and “Green River Killer” Gary Ridgway.

Studying about 70 serial killers, Reid and her team found similarities in the way these murders felt about life, their treatment by others and philosophies about killing. They hope to learn when the nasty perspectives begin to take place and potentially help children who might exhibit some serial killer traits.

“How can we help their development to unfold in a way that’s healthy as opposed to in a way that is completely catastrophic and harmful to society?” Reid hopes her research can help answer that question.

Recently, her database of missing people in Canada helped lead investigators find and convict a serial killer of murdering several members of the LGBTQ community. She used patterns she had observed in serial killers to help police determine what kind of perp they should be searching for.

Reid hopes to use the information she’s learned about serial killers’ youth to lead to ways to identify the same or similar characteristics in children and then help them onto a different path.

“We can reverse some of the ways in which unhealthy thought patterns impact people’s lives. We can teach people to think healthy as opposed to unhealthy,” Reid told Popular Science. “It’s not just generalizable to serial killers, it’s very much generalizable to all of human pathology.”

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