Episode 022: Mutilation, Part 1

on March 25, 2011 in Podcast Episodes, Serial Killers, Victimology by

Listener Lalith asks:

“What is the significance of mutilation pre and post death? Why do some killers mutilate the face while others only the genitalia?”

She actually asked this question intending it to be part of last week’s Questions and Answers episode, but I thought it was meaty enough for its own episode. In fact, due to the length of the material, it looks like we’ll have to dissect it into two parts.

Mentioned: Jack the Ripper, Derek Percy, Andrei Chikatilo, Doug Clark, Carol Bundy, Donald Gaskins, Erzsebet Bathory, Edmund Kemper, Lawrence Bittaker, Roy Norris, Wesley Evans, George Heirens, Albert Fish, Belle Gunness, Fred West, Rose West, Gary Ridgway, H.H. Holmes, Robert Pickton, John George Haigh, Joel Rifkin, Jerry Brudos, Ed Gein, Robin Gecht, Jeffrey Dahmer

You can also download the episode directly.

And feel free to use the comments below for episode discussion.

“Serial Murderers and their Victims” by Eric W. Hickey
“Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices” by Anil Aggrawal
“Murderers who Rape and Mutilate” by Robert Ressler, Ann W. Burgess, Carol Hartman, John E. Douglas, and Arlene McCormack
“The Serial Killer Files” by Harold Schechter
“Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters” by Peter Vronsky
“Serial Murder” by Holmes and Holmes
“The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, Second Edition” by Michael Newton
“Profiling Violent Crimes: An Investigative Tool” by Holmes and Holmes
“The Organized/Disorganize Typology of Serial Murder: Myth or Model?” by Canter, Alison, Alison, and Wentink
“Crime Scene and Profile Characteristics of Organized and Disorganized Murderers” from the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin of August 1985
“Criminal Mutilation of the Human Body in Sweden” by Jovan Rojs, Maja Lundstrom, Magnus Broberg, Lars Lidberg, and Olle Lindquist


  • Theora23 says:

    My theories derived from what I’ve read…

    “What is the significance of mutilation pre and post death?”

    Pre-mortem mutilation is usually for the purpose of torturing the victim, because the killer gets off on causing pain. If the killer is psychotic, then the mutilation has a significance specific to their delusions.

    Post-mortem mutilation can be for any reason: hiding the victim’s identity, morbid fascination with biology, taking trophies, delusional beliefs directing the killer to do certain things, asserting control over the body, etc. It depends on the killer and the kind of harm committed. Piquerism is going to mean something different than biting, for instance.

    “Why do some killers mutilate the face while others only the genitalia?”

    Mutilating the face is often a way of denying the personhood and individuality of a victim, literally making them a faceless representative of a class. It can also enable the victim to better serve as a stand-in for whatever person the killer is killing by proxy.

    Genital mutilation is usually associated with lust-murder, a sexualized frenzy. It could be resentment of what that person’s sex represents; a man cutting off a man’s penis could be hostility to perceived homosexuality, cutting out a woman’s labia could be punishment for perceived sexual availability. It could be trophy-taking. Could be a result of psychotic delusion.

    Basically, the reasons are as varied as the killers. A cop-out of an answer, I know, but…

  • Bailey B says:

    Has no one answered the trivia question in this episode yet?

    The answer is Seymour Krelborn from the musical movie “Little Shop of Horrors”. I guess he counts as a serial killer. He did kill a bunch of people to feed his plant.

  • J.R. says:

    He wasn’t just a serial killer, he was a mission-oriented, hedonistic serial killer as he had a goal in mind, and that goal was going to benefit him. I also believe he was disorganised as he (if memory of the film serves) was quite opportunistic in his choice of victim, although the killing of the dentist seemed planned, but not very well… killing the dentist also makes him hedonistic as he eliminated romantic competition.

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