In addition, we interviewed 5 of the 30 offenders. When interviewed, these
men revealed less about their sexual desires than they had in their writings
and recordings of the offenses. This is consistent with our experience when
interviewing subjects during ongoing investigations, that is, offenders speak
much more readily about their violent acts than about their sexual acts or
Each of the 30 sexual sadists studied intentionally tortured their victims.
Their methods of physical torture included the use of such instruments as
hammers, pliers, and electric cattle prods, and such actions as biting, whipping,
burning, insertion of foreign objects into the rectum or vagina, bondage,
amputation, asphyxiation to the point of unconsciousness, and insertion of
glass rods in the male urethra, to name a few.
Some offenders used a particular means of torture repeatedly. Such actions
could constitute an offender’s signature, which shows that this is the work
of a single offender. However, the absence of a common feature among crimes
does not eliminate the possibility of a single serial offender, for he may
be experimenting with various techniques in search of the perfect scenario
or may be attempting to mislead investigators.
The 30 sexual sadists studied also inflicted psychological suffering on their
victims. Binding, blindfolding, gagging, and holding a victim captive all
produce psychological suffering, even if not physically painful. Other
psychological tactics used included threats or other forms of verbal abuse,
forcing the victim to beg, plead, or describe sexual acts, telling the victim
in precise detail what was intended, having the victim choose between slavery
or death, and offering the victim a choice of means by which to die.
All 30 of the sexual sadists in the study were men, and only one was non-white.
Fewer than one-half were educated beyond high school. One-half used alcohol
or other drugs, and one-third served in the Armed Forces. Forty-three percent
were married at the time of the offense.
Sexual deviations are often associated with other sexual abnormalities, and
our study confirmed this for sexual sadism. Forty-three percent of the men
participated in homosexual activity as adults, 20 percent engaged in
cross-dressing, and 20 percent committed other sexual offenses, such as peeping,
obscene phone calls, and indecent exposure.
CASE: As a teenager, one sexual sadist “peeped” throughout his neighborhood,
masturbating as he watched women undress or have sex. At home, he masturbated
repeatedly to fantasies in which he incorporated what he had seen while peeping.
As a young adult, he made obscene telephone calls, which lead to his first
arrest when he agreed to meet a victim who informed the police. He later
exposed himself to a series of victims, which he eventually explained was
for the purpose of eliciting their “shock and fear.” He followed women home
from shopping malls, determined how much cover was available for peeping
and entering the residence, and eventually raped a series of women. In his
early rapes, he depended on weapons of opportunity, but later, carried with
him a rape kit, which consisted of adhesive tape, handcuffs, pre-cut lengths
of rope, and a .45-caliber pistol. He became progressively violent in his
sexual assaults, torturing his victims by beating, burning, and pulling their
breasts. His violence escalated to the point that he so severely pummeled
one victim that she lost both breasts. He forcibly raped more than 50 women
and was contemplating murder when he was finally apprehended.
Investigators should not be mislead by the fact that the sexual sadist may
have been involved in what are commonly referred to as “nuisance” sexual
offenses. A history of such activity is common, but not universal, among
sex offenders of all types. It is a myth that individuals who engage in
“nuisance” offenses do not have a propensity for violence.3
Careful planning epitomizes the crimes of the sexual sadist, who devotes
considerable time and effort to the offense. Many demonstrate cunning and
methodical planning. The capture of the victim, the selection and preparation
of equipment, and the methodical elicitation of suffering often reflect
meticulous attention to detail.
The overwhelming majority of offenders we studied used a pretext or ruse
to first make contact with the victims. The sexual sadist would offer or
request assistance, pretend to be a police officer, respond to a classified
advertisement, meet a realtor at an isolated property, or otherwise gain
the confidence of the victim.