According to a retired FBI profiler Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole, many serial killers have a type of victim that they seek out. The preference might be based on race, gender, physical characteristics, or some other specific quality.
While it’s rarely possible for serial killers to find an exact match of their fantasies, they generally seek out people with similar traits. That’s why their first attempts often seem to be completely random – each victim may have some similarities that only the killer recognizes.
Colin Ireland, a British serial killer also known as the Gay Slayer, targeted men who were interested in BDSM, especially those who wanted to be tied up. For him, this was the easiest way to overpower his victims.
Gary Ridgway, “The Green River Killer”, had a goal of killing as many people as possible and targeted prostitutes. Ridgway chose these targets because their disappearance might not be noticed.
Richard Chase, a schizophrenic who was convicted of killing six people, tried to enter homes at random. If the door was locked, it meant the person inside didn’t want him there, but an unlocked door was “an invitation” for him to come in.
Dennis Rader, who terrorized Wichita for three decades, chose his victims based on his sexual fantasies.
Robert Hansen, an experienced Alaskan hunter, abducted women and released them into the Alaska wilderness so that he could track, hunt, and kill them. Hansen picked young, attractive women as revenge for all the rejections he got through his life.