Many serial killers can be classified as sexual sadist because they indulge themselves in some abnormal, perverted fantasy which is, for their victim, agonizing, and tremendously painful. A sexual sadist does this because he has reached a point in his life where he cannot perceive any other way to become aroused or reach a climax. To the normal mind his cravings are cruel, absurd, and disturbing, but sexual sadists are driven to do what they do in much the same way any person is driven towards humanly sexual desires. The problem is that at some point and time the desires of the sexual sadist began to include deranged fantasies of torture and murder. Whether this was brought about by childhood abuse, mental incapacities or any combination of the two does not change the fact that the sexual sadist constantly yearns to impose his vicious fantasies upon unsuspecting victims.
In the most severe cases of sexual sadism, one is relentlessly plagued by their sadistic and unusual desires. Once sadism sets in the inflicted is left with two options. They can try to lead a normal life with their pent up urges or they can act on them. Since the world has progressively become more and more accepting of odd sexual behaviors, acting on these urges does not necessarily have to be a tragic event. There is always the chance that a sadist will find a willing sex partner in their games. There are several websites who cater to the needs of sexual sadist, offering viewing pleasure, sex toys, sexual outfits and connections with possible partners. When someone goes out seeking a “master” in the dominatrix world, this person is actually a masochist in search of a sadist. The masochist is the complete opposite of what a sadist is. Their drive to be degraded overpowers the conventional route to reaching a climax. Frequently, a climax will not even occur unless there are feelings of shame and degradation. What more could a sexual sadist ask for? Well… a lot, actually.
Sometimes, a sexual sadist will not settle with just dehumanizing and humiliating their sex partner. Many serial killers who exhibited sexual sadism were not merely after a good time they were out to take lives. In fact, had it not been for their sexual sadism, some of the serial killers we know today may have never earned their titles as such. But, their sex partners simply had to die. Perhaps it is watching the life drain from the eyes of his victim which actually satisfies his or her desires. Or, it could be that the act which appeases him is, in and of itself, fatal. For instance, say the sadist is driven by a desire to disembowel people. His sex partners die, yes, but that is only because that’s what happens when they’re disemboweled. The moment of death may be of no significance whatsoever to the sadist, it is just a nasty side effect of his self-indulgence.
From recordings in history we know that Gilles de Rais, Caligula, Vlad the Impaler, Elizabeth Bathory and Marquis de Sade were all sadist. So while we may not like to admit it, sexual sadism goes way back to the beginning of humanity. Infamous author and contributor to the study of sexual sadism, Richard von Krafft-Ebing released his book in 1886, “Psychopathia Sexualis” which contained every known perversion to men at the time and hundreds of recorded cases of sexual sadism which clearly must have occurred prior to that year. The true stories incased between those book covers were so vile and obscene for that time period that Kraftt-Ebing was actually shunned for publishing “filth”. The book was nearly banned from the British Medico-Psychological Association for its controversial subject matter. Even by today’s standards “Psychopathia Sexualis” calls for a reader with a strong stomach.
In his book Krafft-Ebing focused a large amount of his attention to one Italian man named Vincenz Verzeni. As a child Vincenz showed signs of his sadism by strangling chickens. At the age of 12 he got in trouble for killing a large number of hens, an offense he tried to blame on a weasel. As he entered adulthood he took to attacking human, female victims, at which point murder was merely a step away. He boldly took that step in December of 1871, claiming the life of an innocent 14 year old servant girl named Johanna Motta. He pounced upon her in a field one day, and stuffed her mouth with dirt. A chunk of her right calf was removed and there were odd cuts on her thighs. Also, her intestines were torn from her body. There is no saying in which order these events played out, but one thing is for certain; Johanna’s demise was a particularly gruesome one.
There was another victim on August 28th, 1871, twenty-eight year old Frigeni, who was killed in the same field as Johanna. This victim was strangled with a leather thong, her abdomen was sliced open, and her intestines ripped out, an act which for Vincenz was apparently sexually gratifying.
Vincenz’s killing spree carried on until a very shocking event occurred. In his same old killing grounds, Vincenz pounced upon his latest prospective victim and began strangling the life out of her when he realized she was his own cousin. But, true to his psychopathic sadist-like ways, his only thoughts were of his own welfare. She knew his secret so he’d have to eliminate her. But by a stroke of luck, he’d heard a noise that he took to be someone approaching, so he left his cousin with life just barely clinging to her body, and fled the scene. He was right about her revealing his secret. Later that day he was apprehended.
After his capture, Vincenz described his lust for strangulation and murder. To him, choking a women was better than masturbation. When asked about the missing chunk from Johanna’s calf, Vincenz explains he had wanted to take it home to be eaten, but before he made it home he got to thinking his mother might get suspicious about the piece of meat and start asking questions; questions with answers which would chill her to her core. Vincenz also explained his tendency towards women’s intestines. Before leaving the scene he would take a few scraps of his victim’s intestines to “coddle” during his walk home. The smell and texture of the intestines brought him great pleasure, he explained. Vincenz stated that, in fact, he had no interest whatsoever in the actual private parts of a woman, only her intestines, cries of pain, and the look in her eyes at the moment of death, brought about by his own two hands.
Also included in Kraftt-Ebing’s collection of case studies is the story of Gruyo, a sadist who also targeted prostitutes and is known to have murdered at least six of them. Gruyo had a particularly abnormal desire towards women’s intestines as well. But, his fetish involved ripping the intestines and kidneys from women through their vaginas. If those selected victims ever had any luck, it was that Gruyo strangled them to death before he committed these atrocities.
Yet another case in Kraftt-Ebing’s book was about a Frenchman named Leger who chanced upon a young girl one day in the woods and decided to pounce on her. He mutilated her genitalia; tore out her heart, ate part of it, and then buried her remains in a shallow grave. There was also the Hungarian hospital worker named Tirsch who strangled an old woman to death, cut off her breast and genitalia, and took the human scraps home with him to be eaten over the course of the next three days. And, these are just a few of one man’s collection of crimes recorded in days when staying off the chart was much easier than it is today. There is no telling what atrocities took place and how many times they took place that no one ever knew about, excepting the victims and their perpetrators. There are just a lot of named and nameless victims missing or unidentified who have witnessed the dark, dark sides of humanity that most of us will never have to face.
“The Vampire of Hanover”, otherwise known as Fritz Haarmann, born in 1879 was a die hard “Ma Ma’s boy” who had a tendency towards wearing girls’ clothing and torturing his sisters. He was dubbed a child molester while still an adolescent himself, and was sent to an asylum shortly after his 18th birthday. There, he was diagnosed as mentally deficient, but he managed to escape after only six months. He had a brief spat of normalcy during which he got engaged and impregnated his fiancé, but he skipped town on her before his child was born and joined the military. This shoe did not fit either; he suffered from a mental collapse and was returned home. After this, he took to crime for money, mainly swindling and burglarizing, but he did turn to grave robbing in desperation more than once. As a result he spent his 20s in and out of jail. In 1919 he was found in bed with a boy and sent to jail for nine months. After his release, he perfected his methods for collecting youthful males to be taken home with him for torture and murder. He decided the train station was a prime location for the picking and lured the young passengers away with him with a promise of a hot meal. It was not until after they got their hot meal that Fritz informed them of the price of the meal; sex with him. Nor did he inform the unfortunate that he would be chewing their throats out at the moment he reached his climax. In 1924 the remains of his victims began washing up from the river and he was soon charged with the murders of 27 different boys. He claimed the total was closer to 30. His true sadistic nature could be clearly detected as he described his method of disposal; two cuts to the abdomen to open it up, the intestines would go in a bucket, the lungs and kidneys were chopped up and added to the bucket, the flesh was removed from the bones and placed in a wax-cloth bag and either flushed down the toilet or tossed into the river. After a two week trial he was sentenced to death. He was guillotined in April of 1925 at the age of 46.
More commonly known serial killer sexual sadist like John Wayne Gacy and Theodore Bundy committed their crimes in modern times, thus we were able to study their cases more thoroughly. Even though both these killers were studied intensively by psychologist and psychiatrist alike it seems little knowledge of use was obtained. In fact, Ted Bundy’s brain was removed after his execution and examined by top experts to find the difference between a killer’s brain and a normal person’s brain. However, no significant, physical differences were noted. Needless to say, this branch of psychology is mostly misunderstood, and desperately needs constructive advancements in predicting, detecting, and preventing this behavior.
Another infamous sexual sadist Gary Heidnik, became known as “The Sex-Slave Killer” in 1987 after remodeling the basement of his Philadelphia home into his own sadistic fantasy torture chamber/sex slave operation full of prostitutes he’d picked up and never returned. His “slaves” were kept chained to water pipes or in holes dug into his basement floor with water added for extra discomfort. Their diets ranged from Pop Tarts on a good day to dog food mixed with the remains of a fellow “slave” on a bad day. The women were subject to daily beatings and constant rape. They would also be punished for various offenses like screaming for help or failing to make him achieve his climax. He used shock treatments and even shoved a screwdriver into the ear of one of his victims in an attempt to cause deafness. Of the six women he enslaved, two died as a result of his insane, devious fantasies.
In some cases sexual sadist team up to form an intolerable duo of twisted desires. Each member brings a new set of insidious perversions to the table to be committed upon their next innocent and unsuspecting victim. They feed off of each other’s sadism and each of them grows increasingly more involved in fulfilling their darkest desires. This is what happened when Lawrence Bittaker met Ray Norris in prison of all places. They became close friends and shared their deepest secrets; desires to rape and murder. Together they decided that once free they would buy a van and use it to stalk, abduct, torture and murder innocent women. And, just as they’d discussed, after his release Lawrence purchased a van and named it “Murder Mack”. Their first victim was a 16 year old girl headed home after a church service. She was taken to a mountain road, raped, and garroted to death with a wire hanger. Five more female victims followed in her path, ranging in age from 13 to 18 years of age. All of the girls were raped, bludgeoned, slashed, strangled, and one was made to suffer an ice pick driven through her ear. Roy, for one, was so elated with his latest achievements that he couldn’t help but to gloat to his friends about his devious deeds. This behavior quickly brought suspicion and unwanted attention to the duo and their killing spree was swiftly stopped. Roy agreed to testify against his partner in crime for a reduced sentence of 45 years to life. Lawrence received the death penalty.
Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi were cousins who teamed up to commit murder. This team became known as the “Hillside Stranglers”. Kenneth was born in 1951 to a prostitute and immediately given up for adoption. As a child he was a known compulsive liar. Angelo was born in 1934 and raised in Los Angeles by an abusive mom. He worked as a car upholsterer and a sadistic pimp with a long history of violence towards women. Starting in the fall of 1977, the cousins began picking up females between the ages of 12 and 28, driving them back to Angelo’s house where they were raped, tortured and murdered. Some were injected with cleaning solution or burned with electrical cords. There typical method for ending the lives of their victims was to strangle them or slowly asphyxiate them to death. Both of these killers were sentenced to life behind bars. Angelo died of a heart attack in 2002.
Another killer team Henry Lee Lucas and Otis Toole, were made infamous by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series. This killer pair grew so deranged and out of control that they themselves lost track of just how many victims they had killed.
When Ian Brady met Myra Hindley in 1961. By November of 1963 the couple embarked on a senseless, ignorant killing spree that lasted a year and a month and resulted in the deaths of four children. Their depraved modus oprendi played out like this; Myra would use her friendly appearance to charm the children into following her to their doom. Once behind closed doors the child would be striped, bound, raped, tortured, and eventually murdered. Apparently, the initial act of sadism though was never enough. The vicious murders were audio recorded onto cassette tapes to be played back joyously over and over again. Ultimately, those cassettes were confiscated and played in a courtroom as a key piece of evidence in the trial against the couple.
There are countless examples of sexual sadism and these cases are just a few. Not all cases of sexual sadism result in death, but this characteristic and the desires which go with it can be a very dangerous set up for the sadist and his victims. Regardless of the fact that sexual sadism is running rampant in the world, so far the experts can do little more than classifying their crimes and punishing the sadist. We cannot predict and/or prevent these horrendous occurrences. Furthermore, it is hard to say if the world’s openness to unusual and dangerous sexual deviations is productive or counter- productive to the situation. On the one hand you can say the maybe it has appeased the beast within, therefore saving unnecessary victims. But, on the other hand, who’s to say if this openness is not causing those who might never have developed these ideas on his to do so after viewing sexual sadism on the internet, in a movie, or after hearing about it from someone else. Also, there are those who already have dangerous fantasies, and they may incorrectly assume that their desires are widely accepted and perfectly normal. In fact, the only thing that seems certain is that sexual sadism has been in humanity since the dawn of man and will continue to exist until the demise of man.
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