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A Hitman is a professional killer who is either employed by organized crime syndicates or works as a mercenary on a contractual basis, either short or long-term. In the case of a long-term contractor, the hitman is usually known as an Enforcer. In organized crime, he or she may be known as a soldier or simply muscle.


It is difficult to categorize hitmen, as there is usually no psychopathy. A hitman's motive may simply be money, underworld fame or notoriety, or a combination of the three. In rare cases, a hitman (such as Vincent Perotta) may display psychopathic behavior or pleasure when killing. Such hitmen are less likely to demand large sums of money for their "work", seeing the act as a reward in itself. Along with black widows, bluebeards, and con artists (or fraudsters) prone to murdering their marks, hitmen could be categorized as "comfort" serial killers.

There are at least ten subcategories for criminal-enterprise homicide, as described by the FBI:

  • Contract or third-party murder
  • Gang-motivated murder
  • Criminal-competition murder, which is a criminal-enterprise murder similar to gang-related murder
  • Kidnap murder, in which a hitman assumes some sort of demand in exchange for the victim's return
  • Product-tampering homicide, which may or may not include a financial-extortion demand
  • Drug murder, which is typically related to organized drug-related gang activity
  • Insurance/inheritance-related death, in which a majority of those kill successive relatives and spouses in anticipation of some financial insurance or inheritance
    • Individual-profit, where the murderer hopes to profit financially, such as through a life-insurance payment
    • Commercial-profit murder, where his or her desire is to achieve controlling interest in an active business concern, and the profits from same
  • Felony murder, which refers to the murders that occur during commission of some other crime, such as robbery or burglary
    • Indiscriminate felony murder, which refers to a homicide planned in advance but without any specific victims in mind
    • Situational-felony murder, which involves a murder spawned by panic, confusion, or impulse

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