Cruelty is often evident during acts that are inspired by an obsessional
desire for revenge over either real or imagined wrongs.
CASE: A physician married a show girl and came to believe that she was being
unfaithful, even though there was no evidence to substantiate this. Eventually,
his obsession overcame his logic, and he decided to ensure that no man would
ever take her away from him. After lashing her to a table, he poured sulfuric
acid over her body and face. She survived 84 days in agony before succumbing
to her injuries.
The offender in this case wanted to punish his wife and make sure that she
would not be desirable to any man. His act was not designed to gratify himself
Torture during interrogation may involve sexual areas of the body, which
is sometimes misinterpreted as being sexually sadistic in nature.
CASE: A government agent was captured in another country. During his months
in captivity, he was continually subjected to physical torture, including
beatings with clubs and electrical shocks to all parts of his body, even
The victim was tortured in this manner to obtain information concerning his
government’s activities in that country, not to enhance sexual arousal.
The intentional mutilation of a victim after death is often mistakenly attributed
to sexual sadism. However, in a majority of these cases, the offender kills
the victim quickly and does not try to prolong suffering, which is in total
contrast to the actions of the sexual sadist.
CASE: A father bludgeoned his adult daughter to death. After her death, he
attempted to dispose of the body. On the day of his arrest, he bought a food
processor. Investigators found portions of her remains in the bathtub, the
kitchen sink, in pots boiling on the stove, and in the refrigerator.
The man killed his daughter either in self-defense or because of his frustration
over her disruptive and hostile behavior caused by her chronic mental illness.
His actions were not intended to provide sexual satisfaction in seeing his
We studied 30 male sexually sadistic criminals, 22 of whom were responsible
for at least 187 murders.2 Most of these cases had been submitted
to the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC). Sources
of information for the study included police reports, crime scene photographs,
victim statements, statements by family members, confessions, psychiatric
reports, trial transcripts, pre-sentence reports, and prison records. We
also reviewed evidence created by the offenders themselves, i.e, diaries,
photographs, sketches, audio tapes, videos, calendars, and letters. These
materials, which recorded their fantasies and represented memorabilia of
their crimes, provided windows into the minds of sexually sadistic offenders.