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4/15/2017 StudyCautionsAgainstAssumptionsAboutSerialKillers'Behavior|PsychiatricNews

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Clinical&ResearchNews

StudyCautionsAgainstAssumptionsAboutSerial
Killers'Behavior
JoanArehartTreichel

Publishedonline:August20,2010

InthemoviethrillerTheSilenceoftheLambsa serial killer alwaysleavesacallingcarda


mothinhisvictim'smouth.Anewstudydebunkstheideathatsuchcluesareafrequentpartof
serial killers 'behavior.

AstudyheadedbyLouisSchlesinger,Ph.D.,aprofessorofforensicpsychologyattheJohnJayCollegeof
CriminalJusticeinNewYorkandpublishedintheJuneJournaloftheAmericanAcademyofPsychiatryand
theLawdeservesattentionforseveralreasons.

NeurofeedbackUsingfMRIFoundto
First,thestudyconcernstherivetingsubjectof serial sexual killers andtheritualisticbehaviorsinwhich
DecreaseMDDSymptoms,StudyShows
theyengage.Suchbehaviorsaredeviantsexualfantasydrivenbehaviorsbeyondwhatisnecessaryto Fri,14Apr2017
causedeathofthevictimsay,mutilation,torture,rape,necrophilia,orthecollectionofsouvenirsofthe FamilyBasedTherapyMayIncrease
RecoveryinChildrenWithDepression
crime. Thu,13Apr2017
FDAApprovesFirstMedicationtoTreat
TardiveDyskinesia
+ DownloadSlide(.ppt) Wed,12Apr2017
ViewmoreandsubscribeatPsychiatric
NewsAlert
Thestudywasbasedontherecordsof38 serial sexual killers andtheir162victimsobtainedfromthe
FBI'sBehavioralScienceUnit.Theywereclosedcases,allfullyadjudicated,andtheonlyonesconcerning
serial sexual killers availablethroughtheunitforresearchpurposes.Theoffendershadcommittedatleast RelatedArticles:
twoandasmanyas11sexuallymotivatedmurders.
ExpertsExploreSadism,But
Second,Itis,tothebestofmyknowledge,thefirststudythatempiricallydocumentsrepetitiveand AnswersRemainElusive
ritualisticbehaviorsofmenwhohave killed twoormorevictims,RoyHazelwoodsaidinaninterview. PsychiatricNews,2002
Hazelwood,aretiredFBIagent,isaninternationalauthorityontheprofilingofsexualcriminals.
Youthhatecrimes:identification,
prevention,andintervention.
Andthird,whilethestudyconfirmsthegeneralbeliefthat serial sexual killers oftenengageinritualistic
behaviors,italsodebunksthecommonbeliefthatsuch killers engageinsignaturebehaviorsthatis, AnnieSteinbergetal.,American
JournalofPsychiatry,2003
identicalritualisticbehaviorsateachcrimescene.
Mood,SubstanceAbuse
Specifically,while97percentofthe killers hadengagedinritualisticbehaviorswithatleasttwooftheir DisordersCommonAmongSex
victims,only14percenthadengagedinthesameritualisticbehaviorwithalltheirvictims. Offenders
PsychiatricNews,2004
Moreover,inalmosthalfthecasesstudied(46percent),the killers 'ritualisticbehaviorschangedovertime.
Forexample,severaloffendersengagedinmoreelaboratetorturewithsubsequentvictims.Onebegan Childmolestersmotivationsmay
withpostmortemgenitalmutilationandprogressedtodismemberment.Anothergraduatedfrompuncturing includerepressedsexuality
theeyesofhisfirstvictimtoenucleatingtheeyesofhissecondandthirdones.Theextentofoffenders' AliciaGallegos,Clinical
experimentationatcrimescenessurprisedhim,SchlesingertoldPsychiatricNews. PsychiatryNews,2014

Thefindingshaveimportantimplicationsformentalhealth,criminology,andlawenforcementprofessionals, Controversyswirlsaroundusing
virtualrealitytodiagnose
theresearchersbelieve.Forinstance,ifritualisticbehaviorsatonecrimescenearenotidenticaltothoseat

http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/pn.45.16.psychnews_45_16_028 1/2
4/15/2017 StudyCautionsAgainstAssumptionsAboutSerialKillers'Behavior|PsychiatricNews
another,itdoesnotnecessarilymeanthattwodifferentpeoplecommittedthetwocrimes.Andbecausethe pedophilia
potentialrateoferrorinusingritualisticbehaviorstoidentify serial sexual killers issubstantial,such STAT
behaviorsshouldnotbeadmissiblescientificevidenceincourt,Schlesingerandhiscolleagueswrotein
GettingHelp
theirreport.
ClinicalPsychiatryNews,2012
DavidScasta,M.D.,aMilford,Pa.,forensicpsychiatristwhoreviewedthestudyforPsychiatricNews,
agreedwiththisconclusion.Theauthorsfoundthatthebehaviorsof serial sexual killers aretoocomplex
andsubjecttotoomuchchangeandevolutiontomakeanyblanketstatementsaboutthecharacteristicsof Poweredby
perpetratorsofsuchmurders,hesaid.Thestudyhadnooutsidefunding.

RitualandSignaturein Serial SexualHomicideispostedat<www.jaapl.org/cgi/reprint/38/2/239>.

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