By meghna at 11 February, 2010, 4:44 pm
Some lawyers are known for their good deeds some aren’t. Ted Bundy, a handsome law student stalked and murdered dozens of college going female who had close resemblance with his former girl friend.
The infamous case of Robert Pictone was not only the longest trial in Canada but the investigation was worth $100 million dollars. It is believed that he was responsible was a death of 60 women and his targets were usually sex workers.
Those who assume that serial killers are only males who are guided by sexual pleasures must look at the recent case of Kempamma (probably the first woman serial killer of India). Kempamma who resided in Bangalore had poisoned dozens of her victims with cyanide injections. Her modus operandi was very simple. She convinced innocent and distressed women in temples that she knew the art of healing their grievances by performing special religious prays at homes. The gullible women when allowed her at their houses, she would murder them by injecting cyanide and after robbing the place would elope. The court awarded her death penalty. The woman neither had an accomplice nor any sexual abhorrence against males.
Educated and affluent people can’t be serial killers think again. Thrice married Mohan Kumar, a Manglore based teacher had targeted eighteen young women aged 22-35-years. He preyed on young unmarried women convincing them to marry in future and after having sex and killing them by making them take cyanide as an anti-pregnancy measure. His plans were well executed and organised. He usually took the span of two months for his potential victims and scouted for others in the same period. Studies reveal that impersonating methods like poisoning (Mohan Kumar and Kempamma) is infrequently observed among the serial offenders.
British identified Thug Beraham as the first serial killer of the country. It is estimated that he had around 931 victims. He had an entire gang which befriended tourists and later on killed them. Thug is a word now used to connote a deceit.
Charles Sobhraj is a notorious personality known worldwide. He was also known as the bikini Killer as a few of his victims were found murdered in Bikini. He had a lavish life style and had killed 12 victims. He was awarded a life imprisonment in Nepal.
In 1995 Auto Shanker was hanged. He had been convicted of murdering 9 teenage girls in a period of 6 months in 1988 in Chennai. His other accomplices including his brother were awarded life imprisonment.
There have been many serials made on the stone man who targeted beggars and homeless on the streets in mid 1980’s. The identity was never established and the murders were stopped in 1987.
Serial Killer is a subject which is both interesting and challenging. The number of victims is used as a criterion for determining whether a crime is serial in nature. Where the North American National Institute of Justice defines serial murder as involving two or more victims, the FBI suggests that serial crime (rape, murder, arson) has at least three victims. The term serial crime evolved post 1980’s, prior to which they were usually known as mass murders. But now mass murders are presumed to occur when the victims are killed in single event. When the murders take place at different places but are in continuation of the same event the same is termed as spree murder.
Various studies have suggested that a serial offender possesses a combination of psychopathic, narcissistic, sadistic, paraphilic and fantasy prone tendency. It is often seen that serial offenders lack remorse and guilt. Although seldom they are found legally insane they possess personality disorders. They usually have no respect for other person’s rights. They not only kill or rape their victims but also use them as objects of perverse gratification. Where the acts by psychopaths are impulsive it is observed that serial offenders work in an organized and planned manner. The style of victimization is consistent and repetitive. It is observed that they lack apathy towards others. Geberth once said that ” A serial killer, despite of his outward facade, is a very insecure individual. He is without any power until he has a victim under his control.”
Physiologists have propounded that the sadistic tendencies in a serial killer is established in his childhood or adolescence. Sadistic are the people who enjoy the psychiatric suffering of others. Various serial criminals seek to demean or humiliate their victims. In many rape cases nude bodies of the victims were found in open grounds; at times bodies were found in strange locations such as under bedside tables and store rooms. Often the corpus is positioned in a dramatic position to seek the attention of observers.
Where in conventional crimes a relation exists between the victim and the offender the victims of serial crime are strangers. It is argued that the Serial Killers work under delusion or fantasy. Richard Trenton Chase used to kill his victims for their blood assuming that it would prevent his own blood from evaporating. Edward Gein believed that making masks from corpses and wearing them would transform him to a different person.
Various sources like the crime scene data, witness reports and confessions by the offender can help in establishing the evidence. There are varied indicators of victimization. For example in rape cases a violent treatment may be done to the victim (eg. torture, biting, burning etc) or souvenirs may be collected (personal belongings of the victim). In cases of murders cannibalism, sexual assault, souvenir collection, evisceration and dismemberment may occur.
Serial Offenders can chose anybody as their victims. It is difficult to identify a serial killer. He may look normal and may even impress you. A victim of a serial killer is an unfortunate bate who may not be able to judge the ill intentions of an amiable person. Courts grant them sentence after their legal sanity is established. But if they are deemed to be legally insane then medical help is provided to them. Sometimes the offender is never caught and the crimes stop all of a sudden. In such cases it is assumed that he had accomplished his motive. As I said before Serial Killer is a subject which is both interesting and challenging. They cannot be defined in strict terms and cannot be given the same treatment. The reasons and methods of crime are very individualistic in nature. They cannot be judged solely by legal dogmas. Their condition, punishment and treatment has to be adjudged by both law and forensic psychology.