Serial killers are everywhere and they’re easy to spot…on our screens. Dexter, True Detective – we can’t get enough. Alas, non-fictional serial killers are less detectable, hiding in plain sight, so look out for these home décor red flags!
1. A Startlingly Well-Stocked Bathroom Cabinet
Remember that iconic scene in American Psycho? You know the one: Christian Bale peels a face mask off like albumen and recounts a skincare regimen so elaborate only a psychopath could bear to maintain it.
Side note, I wish to discuss with Bale how one obliterates a face mask so uniformly, as when I attempt this, it’s with the same desperation one has when trying to pick off the sticky bits left behind by a price label on a petrol station bouquet.
2. “Off Limits” Sections Of The House
Serial killer Ariel Castro kept a jaw-dropping three women hostage for years, within various rooms of his house. Not only must he have had the most nonchalant house guests on the planet, but also, what does that tell us about the sheer arrogance of the man?
If you’re hanging out with your date and whimsically offer to fetch another couple of beers from the cellar, only to find a rusty padlock barring entrance, I would suggest you run.
3. Incongruous Personalised Trinkets
Why is there a “Christie” nameplate necklace draped across the bureau? A limited edition silk bomber, six sizes too small for your humble host, suspended from a coat rack? A Spanish edition of Lolita which triggers this polite snippet of small-talk:
‘I didn’t know you could speak Spanish?!’
‘I can’t, why?’ The seasoned serial killer responds.
4. No Pets
Serial killers aren’t huggers. They’re not dog people. They’re not even cat people!
If your life revolves around taking those of others, you’re hardly going to subject yourself to a twenty-minute drive out to the only Pets At Home for miles to queue for your beloved rabbit Roger’s fave sawdust (the one that doesn’t trigger his allergies). Don’t worry, everyone, Roger is safe and sound.
5. The Blinds Are Always Closed
Come rain or shine, day or night, those blinds never come up. Hear the distant sound of an ice-cream van cruising down the street? Who cares when you have bodies you need to hide.
You clearly requested a Dominoes delivery time of 18:05pm, it’s now 18.11pm and still no dice? If you’re a serial killer, you’re happy to wait, in the dark, hands clasped neatly in your lap. You can wait all night, if necessary. Cold as ice, baby.
6. It’s Sparkling Clean
If you’re a true crime addict, you’ll be familiar with the concept of the organised killer (and petechial hemorrhaging). They have that Dexter vibe going on: fastidiously tidy apartment, not one magazine corner or Ikea mug out of place.
Search any normal human’s domicile with a fine-toothed comb and you will find dust – behind the TV, resting atop the frame of a horrific high school portrait. The organised serial killer doesn’t do dust. Everything is neatly organised, including the body parts primly labelled in their commercial-size “chest” freezer.
7. It’s Absolutely Filthy
This brings us to the second category of serial killer: the disorganised killer. This breed of killer keeps the sort of home Jeffrey Dahmer would be proud of: flies hovering; congealed food in days-old pans; a fruity stench which creates a great talking point for fellow residents of the block when the elevator breaks down yet again, am I right?
‘Someone needs to clean out their bins!’ Mrs. Anderson crows, as a band of police officers storm the building shouting and wielding batons. ‘He seemed like such a nice, normal man,’ she later remarks to a reporter.