Could a serial killer like Dexter really exist?

by MiaBecker on November 18, 2012

Dexter – America’s favorite serial killer. Dexter Morgan, the main character on Showtime’s hit TV show Dexter, kills by a moral code.  Only killing bad guys who have slipped through the cracks of the criminal justice system. However, Dexter is also a family man and develops loving relationships with family and friends.  A true divide of character – a regular guy  vs. a serial killer. Though under a moral code, Dexter enjoys killing.  The ability to truly keep his two lives, urges and emotions separate…..Could a serial killer like Dexter really exist?

Experts say – “Yes.”  Serial killers are often regular family men. “Serial killers often have families and homes, are gainfully employed and appear to be normal members of the community.” Michael Newton, author of The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, also said “They go through the motions, just like any other ‘normal’ person…..Some of these men have been married more than Elizabeth Taylor, and it never sticks because they can’t sustain any kind of relationship.”

Gary Ridgeway

Green River Killer mugshot

Also known as “The Green River” killer. Ridgeway was convicted of killing over 48 women in Seattle, Washington in the 1980′s and 1990′s.  Ridgeway was married and had a son upon the time of his arrest in 2001.  One particular incident in July 1982,  Ridgeway brought his son Matthew along for the ride. Ridgeway killed a woman in some woods nearby and returned to his son in the car. What if his son had been a witness? Would Ridgeway have been able to control his urges and not kill him too?


Robert Lee Yates

Married for 26 years, 5 children, church goer – serial killer. Yates was convicted of killing over 16 women in Spokane, Washington in 2000.  His wife Linda Yates didn’t know – neither did his children.  Everyone always said Yates was such a nice and loving husband and father.  “Yates was different things to different people. A stand-up guy, say his high-school friends. A heck of a teacher, say Army subordinates. A family guy. A single parent. A john. Meticulous. Religious.” – The Seattle Times. Yates wife had no idea – “In retrospect, Linda Yates told NBC’s “Dateline” last year, there were clues — for instance, who goes on a “hunting trip” wearing cologne, as her husband once said he was doing? But, she said, ‘He always had answers to everything. Already prepared in his mind, I think.’ ”

Dennis Rader

Also known as the “BTK Killer.” Rader was convicted in 2005 of killing over 10 women in Wichita, Kansas between 1974-1991. Dennis married his wife Paula in 1971 and together they had two children.  Furthermore, their two children were conceived in between some of Rader’s most gruesome killings. Separating his family life from his serial killer life. “With Paula he fathered two children, now adults, who were conceived literally in between horrible murders. He had the ability to compartmentalize, to cut off the evil side from the apparently normal side and vice versa. He could kill and then go on like nothing had happened at all.” – via Blog Critics.

So – do you think a serial killer like Dexter could really exist? Why? or Why not?

  • Elizabeth Reidenbach

    Fascinating post, Mia! As you’ve illustrated through several of your examples, serial killers (like Dexter) do exist. While many of them share similar characteristics (i.e. a withdrawn/isolated personality, a difficult upbringing, etc.), the most fascinating cases to me are the ones who have split identities, like Gary Ridgeway, Robert Lee Yates, and Dennis Rader. It’s hard to fathom these men as devoted husbands and loving fathers by day, and mass murderers at night. The case of American serial killer John Wayne Gacy is another prime example that follows this trend. It’s also important to remember that sociopathic woman can fall into a distinct category, too, but rather than prey on unknown victims, they commit violent acts to their nearest and dearest. One of the most prevalent examples is the story of Marie Hilley, a wife and mother who poisoned her husband and attempted to poison/kill her son and daughter during the 1970′s and early 1980′s. 

  • Fernanda Lopez

    I love Dexter but the thought of a serial killer like the character in real life is so disgusting. 
    Mia, I wonder if you found that any of these killers though he/she was killing in the name of justice?

  • Brooke M.

    This is so creepy, yet so fascinating! It’s very disturbing to think that people like Dexter exist in real life. Really interesting post!

  • Kgatena

    This just made watching Dexter a whole lot creepier! I think the serial killer most related to Dexter is Robert Lee Yates, because he is a family man & professional. 

  • Candice Cerro

    Wow… such a creepy topic, but well-researched and very interesting. I find these cases so fascinating when they have lives and families and no one ever suspects them.

  • Katie L

    Very interesting article! It’s crazy to think that people can live two completely separate lives… I wonder if any of these killers were similar to Dexter in that they kill under a moral code?

  • Molly Russell

    Mia this is so creepy! I feel like you just never know! I guess you really just have to have faith in our police and government to stop these types of criminals. After all, even Dexter doesn’t always make the right decisions and innocent people end up getting hurt.

  • Jessica Wang

    I haven’t seen Dexter before but knowing that these real serial killers exist out there really gives me the creeps :(

  • HillaryBrown

    I definitely think it’s possible and you have some great examples here of why it is. Serial killers are master manipulators – truly psychotic people. Anything is possible…

  • Patrick Xiang

    America is so dangerous…

  • max

    i’m pretty sure the question was asking if there are any serial killers that target other serial killers, obviously there can be serial kilers like dexter because there already have been, family men, big community players, charasmatic know it alls. I’m tired of all these people asking perfectly good questions only to be given idiotic answers. its just as bad as all those news paper articles that say a “dexter” like killer was killing people just because hes a serial killer thats apears to be a normal person, dexter only kills serial killers, repeat ONLY. you could consider him more of a vigilante than anything so get you stuff together and stop being dumb… none of these people are like dexter because… they killed prostitutes, the oldest profession that now adays is finally being understood as not being that bad if the woman does it by choice. dexter would not kill only woman, let alone prostitutes…

  • Jdr74

    The vigilante Charles Bronson played in death wish was close but not quite ritualistic in nature.
    Dexter loved the kill,the hunt it all turned him on sexually yet he abided by a strict code that would have to be taught. He was conditioned and prepared in every way. Dexter is a master martial artist and a scientist. Perhaps some raw form of killer like Dex could exsist but a regular vigilante is not always killing because he loves it,he does because he feels its right. Dexter is asked “what if there was no code,who would you kill ? He didnt answer but we all know he would kill us all. So i say maybe but i dou t it.

  • Djr74

    Im sorry but no. Serial killers like Dexter more than likely dont exsist. There has been no evidence throughout law enforcement history that such a killer has exsisted. Still, there might be a chance that some might exsist but highly unlikely. Some killers share traits with Dexter but it ends there because even if they have a moral code it wont match Dexters simply because Dexter is a fantasy and the reality is serial killers love to kill code or no code.

  • Casanova Kurai

    I don’t know. Serial killers tend to attack people that are weaker than they (surprisingly enough). the way they kill is usually one of dominance also. someone that only focuses on killing other serial killers or criminals is rather abnormal, especially sense these murderers can almost feel connected or understanding, or perhaps a respect for these others that share that need for dominance. Though that previous statement is only speculation, I can say for certain, anything is possible. People are simply too numerous and unique to simply say that it’s not possible for there to be a vigilante murderer. Also one should note “most” serial killers (that are in the US whether captured or not) usually killed people between one to five years. In the end, though unlikely I would say yes it is definitely probable for a a person of that sort to exist. :) hope that helped someone!

  • Regz

    Read About Pedro Rodriguez Filho, he was not a cop or anything similar, but he killed more than 100 people, but never a innocent one. Also If you want to know about cop serial killers search for Gerard John Shaefer,Mikhail Popkov,Manuel Pardo(cop who killed drug dealers), and Brazilian Paturis Park murders were committed by a police officer.

  • DutchJuve

    Plus Dexter would have killed every single one of these killers for murdering innocent people.

  • James

    His more like trinity, Robert Lee Yates

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