Sexual serial killers are usually very charismatic and can easily persuade their victims to go with them no matter the situation. They usually start as sex offenders. These types of serial killers are usually married and have children. They have a history of sexual and physical abuse during their childhood. It is thought that sexual serial killers have “mommy issues,” since their father had left when they were young, leaving the mother in charge of the caring. It is unknown if sexual serial killers were obsessed with pornographic images, but they enjoy living out their sexual fantasies that lead to murder. They usually only commit their fantasies on women, mainly prostitutes (Pakhomou, 2004).
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There are two types of sexual serial killers, organized and disorganized with both usually leave a signature (Knight, 2007). Organized sexual serial killers plan their kills, by choosing a particular victim. As if they are stalking their pray. Watching their soon victims closely, choosing a particular kill destination, and a place to leave the dead body; usually in areas they know well. The disorganized sexual killers do not take the time to plan everything. They usually choose their victims on a whim. They tend to kill in areas that may be unfamiliar to them.
Sexual serial killers live in a world of negative and positive. The negatives do outweigh the positives, but it is uncertain how much or if this is even true. Sexual serial killers grew up with constant trauma, and being born of prostitutes (Knight, 2007). These types of killers tend to hide their “weaknesses.” They hide behind a mask of psychopathic narcissism of severe aggression.
Sexual serial killers enjoy inflicting pain upon their victims, they enjoy watching their victims struggle and cry for help. These killers “get off” on the pain they inflict, but many times, just the act of the torture that sexually arouses the killer. In some cases, the killer starts by molesting, raping, and then murdering their victims. These killers usually have obvious underlying sexual conflicts. Most of the time the killing itself is sexually gratifying (Schlesinger, 2004).
According to Schlesinger (2004), many sexually motivated killings are hard to define. First, there is no general definition to sexual serial killing. Second, many murders are labeled as sexually motivated, but actually are not, vice versa. Third, many statistics of the actual number of sexual murders have not been kept. Fourth, many of these offenders’ records are not accurate since these killers refuse to cooperate when it comes to talking about their history.
To the naked eye sexual killings seem to be motiveless, but theorists believe that there was some sort of motive. In the research, many theorists stated the motive was a seeking or revenge. Since many of these serial killers were brutally dominated growing up, they sought out women who tend to look similar to their mothers and wanted the sense of dominating them. It is still uncertain if this is true for motivation since it is often incomplete and inaccurate. These killers tend to lie and manipulate the people who interview them (Schlesinger, 2004).
Impulsive and Ritualistic
According to Hazelwood and Warren (2000), sexual crimes can be committed against a person, object, or an animal. Most of the sexual serial killers chose to act out their violent sexual fantasies against children, the elderly, or victims around their own age. These people usually only commit homosexual crimes or heterosexual crimes, they usually do not mix between the genders. These killers tend to feel no remorse or guilt after their sexual killing. They develop fantasies that seem complex, once the fantasy in their head no longer turns them on; they tend to want to act out their aggressions.
The impulsive sexual serial killer is the most common, but seems to be the less successful. The opportunistic and angry offenders tend to have the situation unplanned and usually have little sexual fantasy behind their motives. The impulsive sexual serial killer is motivated by their sense of entitlement and that everything within his or her environment is for the taking. This form of sexual serial killer tends to collect pornographic videos of a theme of bondage or rape. They prefer acting out on their lovers or choosing prostitutes as their victims, until that no longer fulfills them. This sort just wants control over their victims, but it is uncertain if the impulsive sexual killer is involved with paraphilic behaviors (Hazelwood et al, 2000).
The ritualistic sexual serial killer is lest common, but has more success and more difficult to identify. They hold the same motivation as the impulsive killer, such as anger, power, and control. This form of sexual serial killer has paraphilic behaviors; they tend to be interested in sexual fantasies that involve some sort of control (bondage, voyeurism, and sadism). They tend to be socially withdrawn from society, and when they do speak with others, they have a form of awkwardness in the social interactions. Many tend to be very charming and gregarious, to make it easier to charm their way into their victim’s lives. Many of these forms of sexual killers are much-respected members in their communities (Hazelwood et al, 2000).
Many of these sexual serial killers prefer similar victims. Meaning they hold similar characteristics. They prefer younger victims between the ages of 18 to 22, thin, and usually with shorter hair. Many sexual serial killers preferred victims that no one would be missing. They would recreate the situations from their sexual fantasies, and keep their victims as sex slaves until they no longer wanted them, then they would kill their victims. Many of these killers have no prior criminal record, and if they do, it is usually for sexual offenses, such as child molestation (Hazelwood et al, 2000).
Relationship to Victims
In some cases, the offender’s relationship to the victim is asymmetrical; it can involve stalking and possible voyeurism. The offender usually does not know their victim personally, and the victim does not know the offender. There are cases where the offender and victim have a mild relationship, meaning they maybe neighbors, work friends, or even have chatted at a bar. Sexual serial killers tend to kill within their own race. Many prefer victims in the average age of twenty-five, with male victims being in their younger twenties and females in their mid-twenties (Pakhomou, 2004).
According to Pakhomou (2004), there are three categories to victim relationships with the offender. The first is the no established relationship, which is the most common. This is also referred to as the ‘stranger.’ The victim just met the offender for the first time, both are not aware of each other’s backgrounds. They also know nothing of each other’s current life situations. The victims are usually picked up in a bar situation.
The second is the rudimentary relationship. This is also known as the ‘acquaintance.’ The victim and the offender have only known one another for a few days, maybe a short time longer. They are aware of each other’s whereabouts. They may even know a little bit about each other’s history, weather it may be true or not. This makes it easier to locate the victim, when the time comes for the sexual killing.
The third is the established relationship, also known as ‘correlative.’ This is where the victim and the offender have known each other for more than a few months, maybe even years. The offender and victim know a great deal about each other’s backgrounds. The offenders know the details where they work and hang out on a regular basis. This makes it easier to perform the sexual killings, since the offenders know more details.
Many of these victims were solicited to have sex with the offenders and/or lured by an offer of drugs. They prefer to kill people they do not have feelings for or complete strangers. Sexual serial killers never kill the ones they are close to; they may get violent sexually on their loved sexual partner. Their partner may think it is just normal “kinky” sex and not expect any true harm. Usually after the killer does have sexual relations with their sexual partner, the killer will leave the house in search of a murder victim to perform their true sexual acts for murder (Pakhomou, 2004).
It is believed from movies that sexual serial killers tend to kill mostly in places unknown to them. This is far from the truth; many tend to commit crimes in the areas that are well known to them. There are two types of sexual serial killers when it comes to location: the outdoorsmen, who perform their crimes exclusively in the outdoors. There is also the indoorsmen, as one can guess, performs their crimes indoors. A few are both the outdoorsman and the indoorsman (Pakhomou, 2004).
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According to Snook, Cullen, Mokros, and Harbort (2005) sexual serial killers prefer to select victims near their homes. On average, the victim was picked up about 2 miles from the offender’s home. The body usually recovered about 15 miles from the offender’s home. The offender’s would hardly exceed more than 13 miles from home to picking up a victim. They also would not exceed over 25 miles for the body drop off point. When the killings become more, the bodies seem to move closer to the offender’s home.
The majority of sexual serial killers are organized killers; they tend to use vehicles to pick up their victims and to drop off the bodies. The disorganized killers rarely use vehicles and drop off the bodies near their homes, maybe in their own house. Many offenders learn from their past criminal acts. Some tend to venture as far as they can from their homes so not to be recognized in their own neighborhoods. The younger offenders have concentrated locations to commit their crimes and tend to kill closer to home (Snook et al, 2005).
It is found that the more intelligent sexual serial killers will travel farther away from their homes to drop of the body than ones who had lower IQs. Many of the higher IQ offenders are more organized in their planning on where to commit the act and to dispose of the body. The older ones tend to leave the bodies much closer to their homes.
Examples of Sexual Serial Killers in History
Peter Kurten, also known as the Vampire of Dusseldorf (1913-1929), started as a child sadist. He would strangle and rape his female child victims, then after he would cut their throats. He would be charged with nine murders and seven attempts. He was said he would kill and rape anything that would move. The defense counsel described him as “the king of sexual delinquents, uniting nearly all perversions in one person, killing everything he found” (Castleden, 2005).
Fritz Haarman, Vampire of Hanover (1919), would go out at night picking up homeless and jobless boys. He would feed then as if they were his personal pets, but then would sexually abuse them. He would only murder a few of them when they did not expect it, only after biting their necks. After murdering the boys, he would then butcher them and cook their flesh, making pies out of them. Haarman trusted one other person to help him in selecting the victims, Hans Gans. It took a long while before police would look at Haarman as a suspect in the killings, for he was a trustable informant for the police department. It is said that Haarman raped and killed between 30 and 40 young boys (Castleden, 2005).
Gilles de Rais (1420-1440), at the age of sixteen he started to commit sexual killings. His victims were mainly young boys, with a few female victims. He would sodomize these boys before he would decapitate them. Most of all he enjoyed watching his servants butchering the children’s bodies. He was charged with at least 800 sexual murders of children (Castleden, 2005).
Albert Fish (1930s) was one of the oldest sexual serial killers. In over a period of twenty some years it is estimated that Fish sexually molested over 400 children. Fish admitted he committed so many sexual murders that he could not remember how many he committed. He was known to be found, by his son, naked and beating himself with a board covered in nails. Doctors took x-rays of his body and found he had inserted needles into his body and left them there (Castleden, 2005).
John Wayne Gacy (1968-1978), better known as Pogo the Clown who thought he was four different people. He freely admitted to sexually molesting, raping, and murdering 33 boys and young men. He noticed a sexual attraction to young men after he married his first wife in 1968 and started to become an aggressive homosexual. After he would molest and rape these young men, he would strangle or stab them to death. He then would hide the bodies in a crawl space in his house using a strong chemical to decompose the bodies faster (Castleden, 2005).
Fred and Rose West (1967-1994) a husband and wife sexual killer team who started sexually assaulting young girls. In most of the cases, they were cleared of charges because key witnesses would not testify. The West’s would cut off the fingers and toes of most of their child victims, when it came to start killing their victims. Their first known victim was Fred’s own eight-year-old daughter from his first marriage; they would tie, gag, and rape her. After that, they would begin their killing after realizing their victims were telling about the gruesome details they would be put through. There were a possible thirteen sexually murdered victims (Castleden, 2005).
There are many similarities with sexual serial killers. Many serial killers have an average IQ, they grow up with some sort of abuse in the home, and they have mother issues. It is rare that sexual serial killers are older than middle age; they usually are aged between the mid-twenties to early thirties. Sexual serial killers start by molesting children before they start adding murder to the equation. It is more common for sexual serial killers to be organized, since they can go many years before they become caught, they take time to think about where to pick up the victim, and what to do with the body.
The impulsive sexual serial killer is the more common of killers, since they pick out victims that would never be missed or young children and need to act when the victim is available. They tend to invite them to their house with charming, persuasive manners. This does not make sense since to be impulsive one has to be disorganized. It is not clear how a killer can be organized and impulsive. One thing is for sure, sexual serial killers hide behind a mask of terror, to hide from their childhood pain and dis-acceptance from their society.
Many sexual serial killers tend to know their victims without their victims knowing who they are. It is more common for the offender and the victim to be complete strangers, with the offender just knowing certain details from stalking. They tend to kill victims who are either their own race or whatever race is available to them. If they know their victim, they tend to be just violent sexually with them in acts of bondage. They would usually never kill ones they care for; many of their lovers never knew they were committing such acts.
It is proven that sexual serial killers find their victims not far from their residence. A few will travel away from home in fear of being caught. Sexual serial killers will hide the bodies closer to home than they travel to retrieve them. The bodies are usually only at farthest a few miles away from where they reside, the closest kept in their own home. It is rare to be attacked by a serial killer, but one thing is for sure, they are madmen and madwomen who hide themselves in darkness, thinking killing will rid of their demons.
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