Serial Killing for Profit

Multiple Murder for Money

by Dirk C. Gibson


There has long been a presumption that serial murderers are all sexually motivated, insane, and acting on the basis of no motive at all. Several definitions of serial murder specifically exclude commercially motivated murders. But nearly one-quarter of cases classified as serial murder are motivated by one of the most prevalent causes of all criminal activity: money.

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Cover image for Serial Killing for Profit

November 2009


Pages 274
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Crime/General
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    Hardcover: £38.00/41,00€/A$63.00

This the first book to focus specifically on serial killers motivated by monetary gain.

Serial Killing for Profit: Multiple Murder for Money addresses a gap in the existing literature by documenting one dozen of the most notorious perpetrators of commercial serial murder—murderers who kill to secure inheritances and pensions, to sell possessions or even the body itself, or as murderers-for-hire.

In these pages, readers will encounter some of the nation's most infamous and disturbing criminals, including "America's first serial killer," Herman Mudgett; Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck, the "Honeymoon Killers;" Los Angeles's "Night Stalker," Richard Ramirez; the "black widow" Blanche Taylor Moore; and Dana Sue Gray, who killed three women for shopping money. Author Dirk Gibson gets to the twisted heart of each case, meticulously detailing the crimes, the victims, the hunt for the killers, the distinctive variations on the motive of "killing for money," and the lessons learned by investigators in each instance. Everyone from professional investigators to true crime aficionados will be riveted by these stunning accounts.


  • Profiles 12 cases of serial murder motivated by profit
  • Provides ten tables of data that collectively describe salient dimensions of the sample of murderers examined in the book, and quantify their commercial motivation
  • Includes a selective bibliography of the resources used by the author to write the book
  • Offers a comprehensive index covering all aspects of the murderers, their crimes, and the profit motive behind them


  • Corrects the prevalent misconception that serial murder excludes commercially motivated killings
  • Documents in detail 12 specific cases of multiple murders committed for money
  • Provides the true stories behind a number of cases portrayed in films and fiction
  • Quantifies the occurrence of the types of profit motives underlying serial murder, including inheritances, pensions, acquisition of real property, the sale of body parts and clothing, and insurance scams
Author Info

Dirk C. Gibson is associate professor of communication and journalism at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM. His published works include The Role of Communication in the Practice of Law, Clues from Killers: Serial Murder and Crime Scene Messages, and Serial Murder and Media Circuses.



"Gibson (communication and journalism, U. of New Mexico, Albuquerque), an expert consultant on serial killers, argues for a more comprehensive definition of serial murder that includes profit-motivated murders along with serial homicides committed for other motives. He profiles a dozen cases of seven men and five women who killed for money, and presents data analyzing their traits and backgrounds."Reference & Research Book News

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