Investigating Sexual Sadism and Murder

 

When I was 10 years old you couldn’t escape news about Ted Bundy.  Being a resident of Florida, the state which housed and would ultimately execute one of the most notorious serial murderers in history, the news was constant and pervasive.  I consider myself to be an extremely empathetic person, probably to a fault.  I will hurt myself to no end to alleviate other’s pain.  Ted Bundy was an anathema to me.  I was too young to understand or even grasp what a serial killer was, but it fascinated me how brutal and twisted a person could become.

Ted Bundy was raised by a “good, Christian family” as he described.  He suffered no physical, sexual or emotional abuse.  Many serial killers cite terrible upbringings as the cause for their aberrant behavior.  Bundy would stress to the highest degree this was not the case with him.  Instead he chose to blame pornography and violent media for his transgressions.

Like Bundy, I grew up in a loving home, with two nurturing parents who sheltered me from any bad influence.  Ted Bundy didn’t seem too different from me except for a predilection for violence.  My parents tried to hide me from the bad things in the world however the news of Bundy’s crimes was impossible to avoid.

Bundy was charismatic in life and aroused the attention of the nation.  Good looking, well spoken and educated he was the polar opposite of what the nation had known of serial killers   It was perhaps these traits that made him so good at being so evil.  He was a true devil incarnate, a man who lived to watch others suffer before murdering them.  It was impossible to reconcile the docile, well-spoken man with the monster that he truly was.  The day before his death, his final interview was broadcast and like many I watched, trying to wrap my brain around how he could be so deadly.

On January 24, 1999 Ted Bundy was put to death by electric chair.  He confessed to 30 murders but is speculated to have committed many more.  Ted Bundy was the start of what became a borderline obsession with myself and serial killers.  I am not a murder groupie, I don’t identify or sympathize with these people.   I just always wanted to understand how someone could commit these crimes so remorselessly and talk about them as I would a game of hide-and-seek.  My hyper-empathy and their lack of it are at odds and I desired to find out why.

As I grew older I decided I wanted to work for the F.B.I. and become a criminal profiler.   I wanted to help catch these evil-doers and try to understand them.  I felt this was the only way to prevent people like this from existing as if there is a cure.  I poured over books, interviews and began taking criminal justice classes.  It was about the time I started college when I began discussing my desire to pursue law enforcement with an uncle who was a high-ranking police officer.  Upon much self-examination I concluded this could never come to pass as I wouldn’t be able to live with having to end someone’s life, even if that person was pure evil.

My path to stopping serial killers was halted but I never quite stopped wondering why they committed their crimes, what were their motivations and how someone could be so devoid of the basic tenets of humanity.  To this day I regularly read about serial killers, mass murderers and psychopaths   It intrigues me the way the human mind can be so great, so capable to such benevolence and beauty but can cause so much horror.

Ted Bundy was a mad man who was at his core a sexual sadist.  He was a mere shell of a human being.  If there is a soul Ted Bundy’s was as black as night.  He was also a man who influenced my childhood in ways I still don’t understand.  The night he was put to death it came as almost a relief.  Some people cheered, death penalty protesters couldn’t even put up much fight.  For me, even as a kid, I felt an odd lack of closure as if killing the man had stopped people from understanding what makes a sexual sadist (even though I was unfamiliar with the term).

Sexual sadism is described as a persistent pattern of becoming sexually aroused in response to another’s suffering. Sexual arousal can occur at odd times even in normal people. However, to the sexually sadistic offender, it is the suffering of the victim that is sexually arousing. Most offenders confirm that it is the suffering of the victim, not the infliction of physical or psychological pain, that is sexually arousing. Inflicting pain is a means to create suffering and to elicit the desired responses of obedience, submission, humiliation, fear and terror. Most times the offender desires to elicits these responses due to the fact that they feel that they have little control in their life. In using these methods they gain control over their life.

Typical characteristics of sexual sadist murders are that the victim suffered and the suffering was intentional and sexually aroused the offender. This is why neither sexual nor cruel acts committed on an unconscious or dead victim is necessarily evidence of sexual sadism; such a victim cannot experience suffering. The victim’s suffering is key in sadistic murder, it is what defines the murder as sadistic.

The behavior of sexual sadists, like that of other sexual deviants, extends along a broad spectrum. Not all sexual sadists are murderers. Sexual sadists can be law-abiding citizens who fantasize but do not act on these fantasies or who fulfill them with freely consenting partners. Only when sexual sadists commit crimes do their fantasies become relevant to law enforcement. Most sex-related crimes begin with fantasy. However, in contrast with normal sexual fantasies, those of the sexual sadist center on domination, control, humiliation, pain, injury and violence, or a combination of these, as a means to elicit pain and suffering. As the fantasies of the sexual sadist vary, so does the degree of violence inflicted on the victim.

The fantasies that sexual sadists have are complex, elaborate and involve detailed scenarios that include specific methods of capture and control, location, scripts to be followed by the victim, sequence of sexual acts and desired victim responses. Sexual sadists dwell frequently on these fantasies, which often involve multiple victims and sometimes include partners. Some individuals act out their desires against inanimate objects, most often dolls, pictures, and clothing and sometimes corpses. As in the case of fantasy, the suffering in such activity is imagined. This is where some sexual sadists are turned into murderers. The suffering that the symbols have is not real enough and is not enough to give the offender a sense of relief from his urges, so many graduate to stalking, kidnapping, and ultimately murder. According to clinical data, of all murderers, sexual sadists are the most likely to murder again. Furthermore, each time they murder, the next one comes easier.

Some sexual sadists find compliant victims. These victims are wives or girlfriends who underwent extreme emotional, physical, and sexual abuse over months or years of a relationship that began as an ordinary one. In these instances, the offenders shaped the behavior of the women into gradual acceptance of progressively deviant sexual acts, and then, through social isolation and repeated abuse, battered their self-images until the women believed they deserved the punishments given out by their lovers. This is not exclusive to sexual sadists it is often a pattern of behavior in abusive relationships.

R.P. Brittain, a British psychiatrist, posits that sadistic murderers are typically shy, withdrawn, quiet and mild-mannered. Most sexual sadists are men and the majority are white. The majority have achieved no more than a high school education. Many are habitual abusers of alcohol or other drugs. Surprisingly, many choose to serve in the Armed Forces to feel a measure of control and power. The majority of the offenders were married at the time of the offense. Many sexual sadists have also had experience with many forms of sexual deviation such as cross-dressing, peeping, making obscene phone calls and indecent exposure. Some of them have even been arrested for one or more sexually related crimes in the past.

Careful planning is key in the crimes of the sexual sadist, who devotes considerable time and effort to the crime. Many demonstrate the ability to be extraordinarily cunning and patient with their methodical planning. The capture of the victim, the selection of that victim, preparation of equipment and the methodical elicitation of suffering often reflect meticulous attention to detail. Sexual sadists are masters of manipulation. An overwhelming majority of offenders use a ruse to first make contact with the victims, such as the offer of candy to a young child, acting hurt or lost, offering or requesting assistance, pretending to be a police officer, responding to a personal advertisement, meeting a realtor at an isolated property, or otherwise gaining the confidence of the victim.

The victims are taken to a location selected in advance that offers solitude and safety for the sadist and little opportunity of escape or rescue for the victim. Such locations include the offender’s residence, isolated forests, and even elaborately constructed facilities designed for captivity. Some offenders even constructed soundproof torture chambers equipped with video equipment and other paraphernalia such as restraints, torture racks, whips, blindfolds, weapons and gags. Most of the offenders use sexual bondage on their victims. The offender will use elaborate and excessive binding material that may be tied in a neat and symmetrical manner. Most held their victims in captivity for more than 24 hours before releasing them or killing them. The most common sexual activity was anal rape, followed in frequency by forced oral sex, vaginal rape, and foreign object penetration. Anal and/or oral sexual penetration are often used by this offender because he perceives this behavior as more degrading than vaginal penetration. Also many of the sexual sadists made their victims submit to more than one of these sexual acts.

Many sexual sadists keep souvenirs or trophies of their crimes. Such trophies included; calendars, maps, diaries, drawings, letters, manuscripts, photographs, audio tapes, video tapes, and media accounts of their crimes. For the most part, these secret and prized possessions were hidden in either their homes, offices, or vehicles or kept in rental storage space. Others took and kept personal items belonging to their victims; drivers’ licenses, jewelry, clothing, and photographs. Few however, retained parts of their victims’ bodies, though some kept the entire corpse temporarily or permanently.

Another disturbing characteristic of sexual sadists are their overblown egos. Many even though they are average in appearance show extreme confidence in themselves after being apprehended. Offenders often have an exaggerated self-image and consider themselves intellectually superior to the police. They believe they are in no danger of divulging crucial information about themselves. When sadistic murderers are arrested, Brittain notes, they continue to display little tension or guilt. They may even enjoy describing the incident in detail.

Two examples of sexual sadist murderers are Ian Brady and Myra Hindley and John Wayne Gacy:

Ian Brady was born on January 2, 1938, Ian was the illegitimate son of a Scottish waitress. He never met his father, and was raised by foster parents in Glasgow. In early years, he earned a reputation as a budding sadist, torturing other children and maiming animals “for fun.” He also tried his hand at petty crime, earning several terms of probation on charges that included housebreaking and theft. Ian soon became a full-fledged teenage alcoholic. A week after his eighteenth birthday, Ian was sentenced to two years in prison for theft. Many arrests followed for other offenses such as burglary, disorderly conduct, and public drunkenness. He soon became obsessed with Nazi Germany, sadism and sexual perversion.

Born in July 1942, Myra Hindley was sent to live with her grandmother after the birth of her younger sister. She was described as being homely and shy. Myra found work as a typist for a chemical supply company. Ian was the invoice clerk, and Myra fell for him on sight, but was afraid to approach him directly. Ian impressed her as an intellectual, reading Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” at lunch in the original German.  She was thrilled when he finally asked her out. On their first date they went to the movies and back to his grandmother’s house where he took her virginity.

Soon, they were inseparable, Myra bleaching her hair to please Ian, dressing in Nazi-style boots and leather. They used Ian’s automatic camera to pose for obscene photos, complete with hoods, whips, and even a dog. Ian was trying to become part of the local pornography market but was failing. Next, they toyed with the idea of armed robbery, but Ian could not pull it off. They turned their attention to kidnapping, child molestation, and murder. Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, Leslie Ann Downey, all disappeared without a trace.

Ian and Myra tried to recruit her brother-in-law into their kidnap and murder spree. David Smith was small-time criminal with several arrests of his own, he thought the whole thing was a joke when the conversation turned to murder and he questioned Brady’s ability to follow through. On October 6, 1965, Brady found Edward Evans, a 17-year-old homosexual, and with a hatchet struck him fourteen times before strangling him to death. Horrified at the sight, Smith called the police the next morning, giving them Brady’s address.

The police surprised Ian and Myra at home, and found a fresh corpse in the bedroom, along with the bloody hatchet and Ian’s books on perversion and sadism. Soon after authorities launched a search which uncovered the body of Leslie Ann Downey, two luggage tickets for Manchester Central Station, leading police to a pair of hidden suitcases. Inside, they found nude photographs of Leslie Ann, along with tape recordings of her pleading for her life as she was brutally abused. In custody, Brady seemed proud of his crimes, boasting of “three or four” victims planted on the moors.

Jurors were stunned by the Downey tape. On May 6, 1966, both defendants were convicted of killing Edward Evans and Leslie Ann Downey; Brady was also convicted of murdering John Kilbride, while Myra was convicted as an accessory after the fact. Brady was sentenced to concurrent life terms on each count, while Hindley received two life terms plus seven years in the Kilbride case. Nineteen years later, in November 1985, Brady was transferred from prison to a maximum-security hospital, there he confessed to the Reade-Bennett murders in an interview with tabloid reporters. The remains of Pauline Reade were uncovered where Brady said they would be nearly a twenty-five years after her disappearance. It took pathologists a month to decide that the girl had been sexually assaulted, her throat slashed from behind.

In 1987, Brady mailed a letter to the BBC, containing sketchy information on five “new” murders. In the letter, Brady claimed there was another victim buried where Reade was found, a man murdered in Manchester, a woman dumped in a canal, and two victims gunned down in Scotland. Meanwhile, freedom-seeking Myra alleged that trigger-happy Ian bit, strangled, whipped, drugged and even blackmailed her into taking part in the murders.

Ian Brady is serving life imprisonment in Ashworth Hospital after being declared criminally insane in 1985.  He has petitioned many times to be allowed to serve his sentence in prison and attempted suicide by starvation.  Brady has stated his desire to be allowed to die and that he should never be released.  Myra Hindley, who at first proclaimed innocence changed her tune after several years in prison.  She claimed to be a changed woman and that she posed no threat to society.  Hindley died while incarcerated in 2002 at the age of 60 due to heart disease.

On St. Patricks Day, 1942, Marion Elaine Robinson Gacy and John Wayne Gacy, Sr. welcomed their first son into the world, John Wayne Gacy, Jr. He was the second of three children. All of the Gacy children were raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools where they lived on the northern side of Chicago. The neighborhood in which Gacy grew up was middle class.

Although he was not a particularly popular kid in school, he was liked by his teachers and co-workers and had made friends at school and in his Boy Scout troop. He always remained active with other children and thoroughly enjoyed outdoor scouting activities. Gacy seemed to have a very normal childhood with the exception of his relationship with his father. During Gacy’s late teens, he suffered some hard times with his father.  Gacy Sr. was an alcoholic who physically abused his wife and verbally assaulted his children. Although John Sr. was a terrible father, John Jr. deeply loved him and wanted desperately to have a close relationship with him. Unfortunately, he was never able to get very close to his father before he died, something which he regretted his entire life.

In September 1964, Gacy met and married a co-worker named Marlynn Myers whose parents owned a string of Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food restaurant franchises in Iowa. Fred W. Myers, Gacys new father-in-law, offered him a position with one of his franchises. Soon after that Gacy and his new wife moved to Iowa. Marlynn gave birth to a boy and soon after a girl. They had a nice house in the suburbs and a loving and healthy family. Marlynn enjoyed looking after the children and John was happy in work and his volunteering with a group called the Jaycees.

Everything seemed to be looking good for John Wayne Gacy, Jr. Suddenly, rumors began spreading around town and amongst Jaycee members in regards to Gacy’s sexual preference. It seemed that young boys were always in Gacy’s presence. Everyone heard the stories that Gacy was homosexual and made passes at the young boys who worked for him at the fast food franchises.

In the spring of 1968, Gacy was indicted by a grand jury in Black Hawk County for allegedly committing the act of sodomy with a teenage boy named Mark Miller. Miller told the courts that Gacy had tricked him into being tied up while visiting Gacy’s home a year earlier, and had violently raped him. Gacy denied all the charges against him and told a conflicting story, stating that Miller willingly had sexual relations with him in order to earn extra money. Gacy said that he believed that other Jaycee members opposed to him becoming president of the local chapter organization were setting him up.

A judge ordered Gacy to undergo psychiatric evaluation at several mental health facilities to find if he were mentally competent to stand trial. Upon evaluation, Gacy was found to be mentally competent. However, he was considered to be an antisocial personality who would probably not benefit from any known medical treatment. Soon after health authorities submitted the report, Gacy pleaded guilty to the charge of sodomy. Gacy received ten years at the Iowa State Reformatory for men, the maximum time for such an offense.

John Wayne Gacy, Jr. was twenty-six years old when he entered prison for the first time. Shortly after Gacy entered prison, his wife divorced him. While in prison Gacy adhered to all the rules and stayed far from trouble. He was a model prisoner. Eighteen months later, Gacy’s parole was approved. On June 18, 1970, John Wayne Gacy Jr. left prison and returned to Chicago.

It was not long before Gacy caught the attention of the Democratic Township Committee for Norwood Park. As a free service to the community, Gacy and his employees volunteered to clean-up Democratic Party headquarters. Gacy’s Norwood Park neighbors described him as being “gregarious, community-minded…generous”. When the snow piled up, he’d jump on a plow and clear everyone’s driveway and on weekends he’d entertain sick children at hospitals by dressing up as Pogo the Clown. Once again trouble started to brew when rumors began to circulate about Gacy having homosexual interest in teenage boys. Soon after the rumors started is when several mysterious disappearances of young men began.

The last young man to disappear was Robert Piest who was only fifteen when he disappeared from just outside the pharmacy where he had worked. His mother, who had come to pick him up from work, had been waiting inside the pharmacy for Robert.   Robert had said he would be right back after talking with a contractor who had offered him a job. Yet, he never returned. His mother began to worry as time passed. Eventually her worry turned to dread. She searched the pharmacy area outside and inside and still Robert was nowhere to be found. Three hours after Robert’s disappearance, his mother notified the police.

Soon after learning the name of contractor who had offered the job to Piest, police officers went to the man’s door. When Gacy answered, the officers told him about the missing boy and asked Gacy to go with them to the police station for questioning. He said he was unable to leave his home at the moment because there was a recent death in the family. Gacy showed up at the police station a few hours later.  He stated he knew nothing about the boy’s disappearance and left the station after further questioning.

The police decided to run a background check on Gacy the next day and were surprised to find that Gacy had served time for committing sodomy on a teenager years earlier. Soon after the discovery, they obtained a search warrant for Gacy’s house. It was there that he believed they would find Robert Piest. Gacy was not at his home during the search. Some of the items confiscated from Gacy’s home were: A jewelry box containing two drivers licenses and several rings , a box containing marijuana and rolling papers, seven erotic movies, pills including Valium, a switchblade knife, a stained section of rug, photos of pharmacies and drug stores, pornographic magazines such as, Tight Teenagers, The Rights of Gay People, Bike Boy, Pederasty: Sex Between Men and Boys, Twenty-One Abnormal Sex Cases, The American Bi-Centennial Gay Guide, Heads & Tails and The Great Swallow, a pair of handcuffs with keys, police badges, an eighteen-inch rubber dildo, a hypodermic syringe and needle and a small brown bottle. clothing that was much too small for Gacy, a receipt for a roll of film with a serial number on it, from the pharmacy where Piest disappeared, and nylon rope. Within the trunk of Gacy’s car were strands of hair that were later matched to Rob Piest’s hair. When Police entered the crawl space located beneath Gacy’s home the first thing that struck investigators was a rancid odor that they believed to be sewage. Police found nothing else during their first search and eventually returned back to headquarters to run tests on some of the evidence and research the case more.

It was not long before investigators were back searching the Gacy home. Gacy had finally confessed to police that he did kill someone but said it had been in self-defense. He said that he had buried the body underneath his garage. Gacy told police where they could find the body. They also wanted to search the crawl space under Gacy’s house. It was not long before they discovered a suspicious mound of dirt. Minutes after digging into the suspicious mound, investigators found the remains of a body.

In total John Wayne Gacy’s death toll was 33. A typical organized killer, he had all aspects of the murder worked out before each kill. Once he entered his murderous fantasy, he would let loose. He enjoyed handcuffing his victims, anally raping them, beating them to a pulp, offering to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, reciting verses from the bible and strangling them to death.  He was sentenced to death for the murders. John Wayne Gacy was executed by lethal injection in 1994, at the age of 52. When asked if he had any final words he replied “Yeah, kiss my ass !”.

Many sexual sadists are not criminals but are just sexual deviants. When their fantasies override their sense of morality is when the average sexual deviant becomes a sexual sadist murderer. Sexual sadism, in its extreme form, is a deviation characterized by torture and/or killing and mutilation of other persons in order to achieve sexual gratification. Sexually sadistic offenders commit well-planned and carefully concealed crimes. Their crimes are repetitive, serious, and shocking, and they take special steps to prevent detection. They are among the hardest criminals to catch and sometimes their crimes can go unnoticed for years due to their ability to blend in with normal people. Sexual sadists are average looking, and usually extremely charismatic, they have the ability to win over others and gain their trust. This is how they find their victims. Many sexual sadists pick a victim due to their own personal likes and desires. Gacy picked young men because that is what he desired. The crimes of Ted Bundy, John Gacy, Albert DeSalvo, Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, Wayne Williams and Jeffrey Dahmer are just a few of the many cases of sexual sadistic murder that have gained much media attention due to their bizarre nature. What links killers such as Brady, Hindley and Gacy is the inability to control their fantasies. This inability is what separates the sexual sadist murder from the rest of society and what drives them to murder.

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