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Why Are So Many Serial Killers Born In November?

Detail of Saint Mark Square renaissance Clock Tower in Venice with zodiac signs Scorpio
Image: Shutterstock

It’s widely considered that most serial killers are born in the month of November, though how that compares to reality is another thing entirely. For a start, the phrase ‘serial killer’ is more of a concept than a locked-off definition, and where does one start chronologically? The Roman emperor, Tiberius had a habit of pushing his victims off cliff tops, but I’ve never seen his name in one of those serial killer lists that tabloids compile with depressing regularity.

Pedantry aside, it would seem that by the accepted here and now definition of ‘serial killer’, November does have a few issues. In the UK alone, for example, we have three very unpleasant individuals, all born between 1945 and 1957, all with birthdays in November:Derrick Bird who, in 2010, went on a murderous rampage in Cumbria with a shotgun, he killed 12 people before turning the gun on himself, Rose West, wife of Fred, who was responsible for the torture and murder of 10 women and children in the 70’s and 80’s (including her own step-daughter) and Denis Nilsen, aka the Muswell Hill Murderer, who murdered at least 12 young men between 1978 and 1983, before disposing of their bodies, but only after engaging in acts of necrophilia.

So, did the month of November have anything to do with their heinous crimes? Frankly, it’s hard to find a cohesive answer. Some suggest that November is the culprit because it’s the only month that gets progressively darker, with others noting that it may have something to do with the likelihood of the perp in question being conceived on Valentine’s Day, not that anyone has taken the time to explain why that’s a bad thing. In the absence of any factual answers, let’s turn to the last resort of the perennially confused in order to give the November theory some gravity. Astrology.

Like phrenology and physiognomy (pseudo-scientific studies to determine an individual’s personality based on the shape of a person’s head and face respectively) astrology projects characteristics onto a person based on its own dogma, in this instance a specific configuration of stars/planets at the time of a person’s birth, to which it applies a ‘star sign.’

And of all the star signs in the zodiac, Scorpio is the one that invites the most suspicion, because of some stuff about Pluto and the negative significance of the number 8 -which, ironically, is a lucky number in Chinese- and as ‘Scorpio’ occupies the vast majority of November… Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist does it? The only snag is that our three November-born, UK examples are all Sagittarians.

For the sake of argument, we’ll consider the five notorious serial killers born in November outside of the UK: Martha Beck, Moses Sithole, Ted Bundy, David Ray Parker and Kristen Gilbert. Only the latter two are Scorpios, meaning that out of the eight serial killers cited on this page thus far, only a quarter are Scorpios. Before you write in, renown Scorpio-monster Charles Manson isn’t on the list because he wasn’t a serial killer, and therein lies the problem.

The internet figure suggests that 17 ‘serial killers’ were born in the month of November, but that’s very contentious. Taking the established definition of ‘serial killer’ there are only 8 at best -does the repugnant Derrick Bird even qualify as a serial killer?

What’s far more interesting is that one month alone has almost double the number of serial killers than the spurious 8 of November, yet stripped of spooky Scorpio connotations and exposed in bright light it doesn’t really have that same ‘for God’s sake don’t look round!’ factor so beloved by the red-tops.

Anthony Hardy, Martha Beck, Catherine Birnie, David Copeland, H H Holmes, Karla Homolka, Ted Kaczynski, Richard Chase, Peter Kurten, Kenneth Bianchi, Levi Bellfield, Albert Fish and Jeffrey Dahmer were all born in May, a month associated with warming sun and blooming flowers, not infanticide, dismemberment and cannibalism.

Associations with November and serial killing have far more in common with our fanciful imaginations than anything in reality. After all, November is the month that sees the last of the broken leaves fall as we head into the cold, dark winter months. In terms of death and chaos, November is certainly more evocative than birds cheerfully chirping among the apple blossom in the merry, merry month of May.

Finally, just to lay the astrology side of things to rest, most serial killers born in May are Taurian, by [astrological] definition the exact opposite of a Scorpio.

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Serial killer star signs