The Organized Sexual Psychopath Serial Killer

By Vernon J. Geberth, M.S., M.P.S.

Presented Here By

Bonnie M. Wells

The author compiled the most current listing of serial murderers within the United States using the following operational definition: three or more separate murder events with an emotional cooling-off period between the homicides. The base population was 387 serial murderers, who killed (under various motivations), three or more persons over a period of time with cooling-off periods between the events. The author identified 232 male serial murderers who violated their victims sexually. The author employed a case history evaluation protocol based upon the DSM-IV criteria of Antisocial Personality Disorder (301.7) and Sexual Sadism (302.84) to examine the population of 232 serial killers, who had violated their victims sexually.

ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER ( Psychopathy )

According to the DSM-IV, the essential feature of the disorder is to be found in patterns of irresponsible and antisocial behaviors beginning in childhood or early adolescence and continuing into adulthood. Lying, stealing,truancy, vandalism, initiating fights, running away from home, and physical cruelty are typical childhood signs. In adulthood the antisocial pattern continues and may include failure to honor financial obligations, maintain consistent employment, or plan ahead. These individuals fail to conform to social norms and repeatedly engage in antisocial behaviors that are grounds for arrest, such as destroying property, harassing others, and stealing. Often these antisocial acts are committed with no seeming necessity. People with antisocial personality disorder tend toward irritability and aggressivity, and often become involved in physical fights and assaults, including spouse and child beating. Reckless behavior without regard for personal safety is common, as indicated by driving while intoxicated or getting numerous speeding tickets. Frequently these individuals are promiscuous, failing to sustain a monogamous relationship for more than one year. They do not appear to learn from past experiences in that they tend to resume the same kinds of antisocial behaviors they were punishment for. Finally, they seem to lack feelings of remorse about the effects of their behavior on others. On the contrary, they may feel justified in having violated the rights of others.

SEXUAL SADISM

Meloy (1992) defines Sexual Sadism as "the conscious experience of pleasurable sexual arousal through the infliction of physical or emotional pain on the actual object."(p.76) DSM-IV describes Sexual Sadism as follows: Over a period of at least six months, recurrent intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving acts ( real, not simulated) in which the psychological or physical suffering (including humiliation) of the victim is sexually exciting to the person. These behaviors are sadistic fantasies or acts that involve activities that indicate the dominance of the person over his victim (e.g. forcing the victim to crawl, or keeping the victim in a cage), or restraint, blindfolding,paddling,spanking, whipping, pinching, beating, burning, electrical shocks, rape, cutting or stabbing, strangulation, torture, mutilation, or killing.

THE ORGANIZED OFFENDER

In the author's experience, most serial killers are classified as "organized offenders." The organized offender is usually above average in intelligence. He is methodical and cunning. His crime is well thought out and carefully planned. He is likely to own a car which is in good condition. The crime is usually committed away from his area of residence or work. He is mobile and travels many more miles than the average person. Fantasy and ritual are important to the organized type offender. He selects a victim, which he considers the "right" type, someone he can control (either through manipulation or strength), usually a stranger. Most of his victims will share specific traits. He is considered socially adept. He uses his verbal skills to manipulate his victims and gain control over them until he has them within his "comfort zone." The organized killer is fully cognizant of the criminality of his act and takes pride in his ability to thwart the police investigation. He is likely to follow news reports of his crimes and will oftentimes take a "souvenir" from his victim as a reminder, that may be used to relive the event or augment the fantasy surrounding the killing. For the organized offender the souvenir constitutes a "trophy." He is excited by the cruelty of the act and may engage in torturing the victim. Sexual control of the victim plays an important part in this scenario.

The organized offender usually brings his own weapon to the crime scene and avoids leaving evidence behind. He is familiar with police procedures. The body is often removed from the crime scene. He may do this to "taunt" the police by leaving the corpse in plain public view, or to prevent its discovery by transporting it to a location where it will be well hidden. (Geberth, 1990)

It should be noted that the disorganized offender evidences the exact opposite characteristics of the above described organized type.

The series of criminal behaviors of this type of offender are suggestive of an individual with an antisocial personality disorder to the extent that repeated behaviors are immoral and marked by pronounced irresponsibility. His essential problem appears characterologic in nature. He appears to lack remorse or shame and is seemingly lacking in empathic response to others. This is the type of offender who was the focus of this research.

CONCLUSION

The offenders in this study displayed aggressive and antisocial behaviors during their childhood which escalated and took on elements of sexual sadism in adulthood. There was also a style and pattern to their killings which involved domination, control, humiliation and sadistic sexual violence. The murders were committed without the least sense of guilt or shame and the killers displayed a total lack of remorse. The victims were chosen at random and the murders carried out in almost an obsessive manner. According to Hare (1993) "If you are dealing with a true psychopath it is important to recognize that the current prognosis for significant improvement in his or her attitudes and behavior is poor." (p. 205) According to Monahan (1981), "The repetitive nature of sex-related serial murderers may, as such, render these offenders somewhat more predictable."

The application of such criteria could allow for the identification of potential serial killers and, hopefully, lead to proper assessment of future dangerousness and treatment strategies.

According to DSM-IV "When Sexual Sadism is severe, and especially when it is associated with Antisocial Personality Disorder, individuals with Sexual Sadism may seriously injure or kill their victims." (p.53 )

The implications of this study were that subjects who are identified as psychopathic sexual sadists, based on the objective criteria of DSM-IV are extremely dangerous to the well being of a civilized society.

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This page posted: February 15, 2012 // BMW