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https://arxiv.org/abs/1811.00664

Statistical study of time intervals between murders for serial killers
M.V. Simkin, V.P. Roychowdhury
(Submitted on 1 Nov 2018)

We study the distribution of 2,837 inter-murder intervals (cooling off periods) for 1,012 American serial killers. The distribution is smooth, following a power law in the region of 10-10,000 days. The power law cuts off where inter-murder intervals become comparable with the length of human life. Otherwise there is no other characteristic scale in the distribution. In particular, we do not see any characteristic spree-killer interval or serial-killer interval, but only a monotonous smooth distribution lacking any features. This suggests that there is only a quantitative difference between serial killers and spree-killers, representing different samples generated by the same underlying phenomenon. The over decade long inter-murder intervals are not anomalies, but rare events described by the same power-law distribution and therefore should not necessarily be looked upon with suspicion, as has been done in a recent case involving a serial killer dubbed as the "Grim Sleeper." This large-scale study supports the conclusions of a previous study, involving three prolific serial killers, and the associated neural net model, which can explain the observed power law distribution.