Friday, May 23, 2014

What Serial Killers Look Like On Paper - Part Three of Four



After special agents from the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) took the data from their Victim Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP) study of serial killers, they were able to adapt it to an existing framework for rape cases by adding provisions for rape/murder cases. It became readily apparent from the data that serial killers fall into two large categories, either organized or disorganized.

Organized murderers tend to plan and display control of the victim at the scene. Disorganized murderers may have a vague plan but generally react in a haphazard manner. This distinction does little to help investigators narrow down the field of suspects in an investigation.

When the data was compiled and analyzed within the four classifications of rape/murderers, profiling characteristics began to appear which described serial killer behavior that investigators could understand and utilize in their field work.
  1. The Power-Assertive rape/murderer plans the rape but not the murder. He has a need for power and control that may escalate into violence and increasing aggression. The rape is an expression of his virility, mastery, and dominance over a vulnerable victim. The killing eliminates the threat of identification. The killer will brandish weapons of symbolic importance to him, a knife, handgun, rope, or anything easily concealed.
  2. The Power-Reassurance rape/murderer plans the rape but not the murder. These killers want to act out some fantasy and seek reassurance from the victim. They are motivated by an idealized seduction and conquest fantasy. Perpetrators need reassurance of their sexual adequacy. When the victim doesn't yield to the killer's planned seduction, his failure and anger drives him to a murderous assault.
  3. The Anger-Retaliatory rape/murderer plans the rape and the murder which involves overkill. This offender is usually in his mid-to-late twenties and he has an explosive personality that is impulsive, quick tempered, and self-centered. In dealing with other people, he is not reclusive but a loner in the midst of a crowd. Generally, his social relations are superficial and limited to drinking buddies. Although a sportsman, he prefers playing contact sports. The murder is an anger-venting act that expresses symbolic revenge on a substitute victim.
  4. The Anger-Excitation rape/murderer is usually an organized killer and a normal-appearing person who is bright and socially facile with others when he chooses to be. Based on his ability to appear conventional and law abiding, he can cunningly deceive others because he has the ability to separate his general lifestyle from his criminal interest. The sexual assault and homicide are designed to inflict pain and terror on the victim for psychological gratification. Victims show evidence of prolonged torture and ritualistic carnage.
John Norman Collins
Each of the four areas of the rape/murderer classification above is much more detailed than my thumbnail summary indicates. Of special interest to me are #3 and #4. These are the most relevant to my study of John Norman Collins, the Washtenaw County coed killer. In the last entry of this four post series, I will detail more specific behaviors in those categories and relate them to the Collins' cases.