Serial Murders and Sex

WARNING: This post is not for sensitive readers! There’s some truly gross stuff coming up, so don’t read this if you’re bothered by sexual deviance. I’m using Sean Mactire’s,  Malicious Intent: A Writer’s Guide to How Murderers, Robbers, Rapists, and Other Criminal Think. Despite the “ew” factor, there’s some useful information in this section that novelists can use to create some truly horrifying antagonists.

Mactire begins by stating that it is a mistake to typecast these people as “sex maniacs,” and it’s also a mistake to assume there’s a cause and effect relationship because not all deviances lead to murder. (Side note: Mactire does not address the issue of sin in his book, but if faith and religion occupy a portion of your plot, then you’ll definitely want to dig deeper into that subject on your own.)

I was going to copy the 17 types of sexual behavior outlined in the book, but it’s entire too graphic, and quite frankly, reading it the first time turned my stomach. I’m not going to inflict that horror on you. Instead, I’m going to leave out the the most horrific ones and only list those that might be useful for novelists. If you must read the full list, check out the book.

1. Animal torture. This involves the mutilation and killing of animals. These acts are usually committed by serial killers in their early childhood as experimentation in sadism and killing. However, this behavior can continue into adulthood. Keep this in mind when building the back story for your bad guy.

I’m skipping #2 – #11, but many of them involve mutilations and keeping souvenirs from victims (we’re talking body parts, not just underclothes or jewelry). Keep this in mind when your law enforcement officer finally has enough evidence to obtain a search warrant. 

12. Home movies and tape recordings. A lot of killers like to document their crimes so they can derive sexual excitement from viewing their acts over and over again. See previous comment about the search warrant.

13. Interest in pornography. Mactire says that pornography is only a source of fantasies, not an addiction (as Ted Bundy tried to claim), but law enforcement officers are likely to find pornographic materials in the home of a serial killer who exhibited sexual deviancy. Ditto the note on search warrants.

14. Rape. This is the most common deviancy among serial killers.

15. Torture. This is another common behavior that is generally concurrent with rape.

16. Sadomasochism. This is the infliction of mental and/or physical pain on others (sadism) or on oneself (masochism). Sadism is very common as a concurrent behavior with rape and torture. Masochism is uncommon in a serial killer, but not unheard of (look up Albert Fish, if you must know more about this deviancy).

17. Voyeurism. This refers to the sexual gratification via visual observation, like looking through windows to watch people undress, bathe, or perform sexual acts. The relationship with serial killing is indirect, but it is known that some killers were “peeper” before they became killers.

That was a tough post to write, and probably tough to read. Sometimes truth is too horrifying to masquerade as fiction, and those of us who are more tender of heart can’t bring ourselves to create an antagonist who ventures into these deviancies. But if you’re constitution is strong enough, base your bad guy on reality and you’ll come up with a truly scary dude.

The next post won’t be so disturbing, so tune in for more information on the behaviors of violent criminals.


One thought on “Serial Murders and Sex

  1. Don’t forget that much of the motivation for serial offenders revolves around power–and this can include the sex act. Power, domination, and control can obviously be expressed in the murderous act alone, but being able to double-up (as it were) and experience these through sexual assault AND homicide is compelling to these predators. I would recommend John Douglas’ book Anatomy of Motive. It breaks down various criminal acts and gives real-life crime examples related to these motivations.- Hutch

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