Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sex and the Serial Killer Part 1: The Fantasy

In the premiere of the fifth season of Criminal Minds there is a scene in which a killer (George "The Reaper" Foyet)  and agent (SSA Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner) face off...not a surprise, of course.  What seems to be though is how quickly the interaction becomes almost disturbingly intimate once the killer is able to get the upper hand.  ...However, for a serial killer, it just might be the norm...after all their torture is frequently our foreplay.  And their sex?  It's that lovely little moment when they kill their victim, when they have all the power, and when they can believe they are God.

For the purposes of this larger piece I'll be breaking down the sexual homicide - which, had Hotch died, would've been what Foyet committed according to its definition (it doesn't require actual, obvious, sexual behavior at the scene...all it requires is the killer to "get off" in relation to the crime) -  into stages that relate to the standard sexual interaction.  There's the fantasy, the seduction, the foreplay, the act, and the aftermath.

The Fantasy:

Of course, the average person doesn't suddenly go from normal sexual appetites to the  macabre ones over matter what a serial killer might claim later.  No demon enters their body, nor do they suddenly "snap" and go about getting their jollies killing others.  Ever found yourself suddenly having sex with another person for no particular reason and having never even thought about that person sexually before?  Didn't think so.  Serial killers and those committing sexual homicide fantasize beforehand just like everyone else.  Fantasy is a key element to the killer throughout his life...both before, during, and after the kill and during his "cooling-off" phases.

~ In Development ~

Like a person developing a normal (i.e. not a killer's for the purposes of this piece) sexuality it's a slow, steady, process that leads up to their committing sexual homicides.  For the serial killer the fantasy starts early and there is almost always a linkage of sex and violence....and those two things forever represent the same thing to them...Power!  Little boys (for simplicity's sake we'll stick with male serial killers throughout the piece) who grow up to be killers frequently recall having early childhood thoughts about violent sex acts.  They dream of dead people or force their siblings into playing death/murder games with them...something I seriously doubt their siblings are all that excited to play.  As the budding killer gets older his fantasies grow in scope, number, and specificity...and the amount with which he is aroused grows as well.  And, while the average teenage Johnny is masturbating to thoughts of Jane down the lane coming out of the pool dripping wet, the serial-killer-to-be Tommy is masturbating to thoughts of Jane covered in blood weeping for the mercy he won't give her (because HE has the power not to).

Using the previously mentioned Foyet from Criminal Minds as a comparison we can show the difference.  Because not enough is known (yet at least) about Foyet's past it's hard to say what fantasies he had, but studies show they'd be in line with little Tommy and speculation can be fun so let's, shall we?  Perhaps little George Foyet liked scaring his peers into crying and wetting themselves?  Maybe he would have siblings or other children in the neighborhood join him in a (a)rousing game of psycho slasher?  It's even possible that he could've hurt himself intentionally - considering the character, it's not impossible - just to fulfill his fantasies and get himself off.  Once little George isn't so little maybe he began to masturbate to thoughts of stabbing young girls (I say young girls because he's defined as a hebephile meaning his sexual preference is for those about 11-14 years old) or the fear in a person's eyes if he were to shove a gun in their face.

~ In Action ~

Now the average young man will probably spend a few days thinking and planning before asking a girl out.  He'll debate how to approach her, what to say when he does, and try to figure out all the ways in which he can increase the likelihood of getting her to say yes.   He'll imagine what will happen when he does ask her...Will she smile?  Be flattered?  Say yes, she'd love to, and really always liked him but was too shy to ask him out herself?  Even for those men only aiming to sleep with a girl he met at a club the idea of fantasizing beforehand fits.  The approach, what's said, ways to get the girl's agreement, and her possible reaction are all played out in the guy's mind...there just might not be as prolonged period between the fantasy and the seduction stages.  The everyday guy will probably go through his fantasy scenario with the girl a fair amount of times...but never as much as a killer.

A serial killer like Foyet would be no different in thinking and planning for his kills.  He'll picture himself driving up on his victims, maybe after pulling them over or offering them help with a flat, and imagine what they'd be like.  A trusting, young, couple, perhaps?   He'll think of a possible way to lower any nerves they might have being out on that lonely highway with him so that, when the fear that he needs to see does come, it'll be that much stronger in their eyes.  And, of course, Foyet will consider every possible reaction his victims might give - the screaming, the crying...will they be stunned at seeing his weapons?  Will they call out for their "Mommies"?  How many times can he stab (most frequently) her before she succumbs to blood loss and the life finally leaves her eyes?  In many cases Foyet might have to do some prep work as well and this would go into the fantasy stage - whether it were considering the tools he'd need for his rouse, how long he could torture a person before time ran out (he was spotted, the victim died, etc), and for his attack on Hotch how to slip in and out of a victim's apartment without ringing any alarms would need to be thought out as well.  Before he even steps out of his house as The Reaper, Foyet, like other serial killers and those who commit sexual homicide, will have gone over every single detail in his mind probably a million times or more.

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