Thursday, March 31, 2011

From Formspring: About Serial Killers...

Aww! He's so smuggwie!
I was asked the following question anonymously on my Formspring account. The question was asked some time ago, and I had to give it some serious thought--not only in crafting the answer, but in deciding whether to answer at all. The answer touches on some very dark, disturbing subjects--which I will attempt to counterbalance with a picture of my cat, Thor...

Now, murder.

I've heard of instances of serial rapists escalating to serial killing, but has there ever been an example of a serial killer that only later began raping their victims in addition to murdering them?

Okay, before everyone gets all freaked out, I'm probably being asked this because of my education background in Criminology. I am not a serial killer.

The most obvious example of this is Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker, who started out shooting people and eventually escalated to rape and murder. Ramirez did not rape all of his victims, and it seemed entirely opportunistic. Edmund Kemper began by murdering women, then escalated to dragging their bodies back to his home and raping the headless corpses. He moved on to dissection and greater acts of depravity before being brought to justice. Herman Drenth admitted to developing a sexual pleasure in his murders but never confessed to--or was convicted of--sexually assaulting his victims.

Serial killers tend to escalate in terms of violence and boldness as they develop. And with male serial killers (far more common than female variants) it is theorized that all serial killing has a sexual component, no matter how slight. So, it would not be difficult to imagine a killer who begins sexually assaulting his victims. More often than not, though, it is a killer who began as a rapists, moved to murder, and then escalated their crimes with other henious acts.

For example, Andre Chikatilo, one of the most prolific serial killers ever known, began by fondling school-girls, then graduated to rape-murder, followed by rape-murder-necrophilia and eventually occasional cannibalism and blood drinking. Jeffrey Dahmer began as a rapists and evolved to rape-murder, necrophilia, necrotrophia and occasional cannibalism.

The closest example to what you're describing I can think of would be the serial killer duo Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, aka the Hillside Stranger(s). They started out by having sex with prostitutes and then killing them. Eventually, they moved on to kidnapping any young women they could find, raping, torturing and killing them in a progressively brutal manner. This would technically qualify, since sex with a prostitute isn't actually rape as long as she consents to the act. According to the killers, this was the case...they only chose to murder her after her services were rendered. Of course, we only have the word of two vicious killers to take on this, since their victims can no longer speak. And it is clear, even by their own admissions, that they would frequently rape prostitutes even after they'd agreed to sexual intercourse with them.

Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, did something similar. While he often had sex with the prostitutes he murdered, he would occasionally return to the scene and rape their bodies. There is no clear record of him raping a living victim. Roberts Yates followed a similar criminal evolution, including necrophilia--though he did not target prostitutes as heavily as Ridgway