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The Biggest Misconception About Serial Killers, According To The Hosts Of Discovery+’s New True Crime Series

Unravalled: Once A Killer hosts Alexis Linkletter and Billy Jensen
(Image credit: Discovery+)

As a society, we seem to have an odd obsession with true crime. For a genre that would appear on the surface to have a very niche audience able to stomach it, the fandom is instead growing. There is no shortage of true crime shows, and even those who don't like horror movies can often still tell you facts about some of the most gruesome crimes and real-world serial killers out there. But as the true crime genre evolves, so does our underlying understanding of its source material, such as the notion of the "one-and-done" killer. These are murderers who kill only once and then continue living among us like nothing ever happened. They don't escalate into the infamous killers like the John Wayne Gacy's or Ted Bundy's that we see portrayed on Netflix

Unravelled: Once A Killer explores the concept of these one-and-done-killers and how DNA genealogy plays an important role in cracking two decades-old murder cases. The five-part podcast series now also has a two-hour special companion piece that you can watch on Discovery+ (opens in new tab). I had the chance to sit down with the creators of Unravelled: Once A Killer, Alexis Linkletter and Billy Jensen, to talk true crime and ask some burning questions about serial killers and those who hide among us in plain sight. Here's what Linkletter, who also executive produces the show, had to say about one of the biggest misconceptions people have about serial killers:

I think one of the big misconceptions that have kind of been debunked over the last five years or so is that killers all fit this classic sort of pattern of escalation and that once they begin, they can't stop. That's what everybody says about serial killers up until BTK was identified. And obviously there was, I think, a decade where he didn't kill. And we saw with the Golden State Killer that he was able to stop, no problem. I think these classic rules that have kind of been etched into the books about killers by profilers, we're seeing more and more so that they don't apply in every case.

Well that's... unsettling. It was okay when these boogeymen were lurking in the dark because at least we all knew exactly what to look for, i.e. a creepy guy in a clown costume, right? Not so, I'm afraid. It appears that some killers, for whatever reason, strike only once and then sink right back into their regular lives to never kill again and often never being caught. Thankfully, some criminal profiling techniques we've seen portrayed in popular police procedural shows have evolved over the years, and more of these types of killers are being brought to justice using DNA evidence. 

So while we sit around and cross our fingers for the next Mindhunter season to finally happen, hopefully the real-life crimefighters are putting in the work to learn how to continue to keep us safe. I, for one, can't wait to see what new kinds of villains their work helps bring to the big screen. (Because we true crime fans are weird, remember?)

Speaking as a passionate true crime fan, Discovery+ has quickly risen to one of my favorite streaming services. In addition to the tons of true crime content on Discovery+,  the platform also feeds my need for paranormal and travel shows, as well as boasts a wide-enough array to please any reality television fan. So don't hesitate in signing up for the streaming service, and stay safe out there. 

Morbidly curious pizza enthusiast with a heart of gold. Has no time to hear why you think The Office is overrated and is pretty sure the meaning of the Universe can be found in the movie Cats. Co-host of American Hauntings Podcast. Inaugural class of Enstitute, an entrepreneurial alternative education program written about by Forbes, The New York Times, and PBS.