The Criminal Sexual Sadist

Almost invariably, the victims were taken to a location selected in advance
that offered solitude and safety for the sadist and little opportunity of
escape or rescue for the victim. Such locations included the offender’s
residence, isolated forests, and even elaborately constructed facilities
designed for captivity.

CASE: A white male entered a respected modeling agency and advised that he
was filming a documentary on drug abuse among preadolescents. He made
arrangements to hire two young girls from the agency, and two elderly matrons
accompanied them as chaperons. He drove them to his trailer, and at gunpoint,
bound the women and placed the girls in a plywood cell he constructed in
the trailer. The cell contained beds and additional mattresses for soundproofing.
He murdered both women, placing their bodies in garbage bags. He terrorized
the girls for more than 2 days before they were rescued.

Twenty-three (77 percent) of the offenders used sexual bondage on their victims,
often tying them with elaborate and excessive materials, using neat and
symmetrical bindings, and restraining them in a variety of positions. Eighteen
(60 percent) held their victims in captivity for more than 24 hours.

The most common sexual activity was anal rape (22 offenders), followed in
frequency by forced fellatio, vaginal rape, and foreign object penetration.
Two-thirds of the men subjected their victims to at least three of these
four acts.

Sixty percent of the offenders beat their victims. Twenty-two of the men
murdered a total of 187 victims; 17 of them killed three or more people.
The manner in which they killed varied.

CASE: Two men, who offended as a team, used a variety of methods to kill
a series of victims. One victim was strangled during sex. Another was injected
in the neck with a caustic substance, electrocuted, and gassed in an oven.
A third victim was shot. Twenty-nine of the 30 men selected white victims
only. Eighty-three percent of the victims were strangers to the offender.
While the majority of the men selected female victims, one-fourth attacked
males exclusively. Sixteen percent of the men assaulted child victims only,
and 26 percent attacked both children and adults.

Evidence of Crime

These offenders retained a wealth of incriminating evidence. More than one-half
of the offenders in our study kept records of their offenses, including
calendars, maps, diaries, drawings, letters, manuscripts, photographs, audio
tapes, video tapes, and media accounts of their crimes. For the most part,
these secret and prized possessions were hidden in either their homes, offices,
or vehicles, kept in rental storage space, or buried in containers.

Forty percent of the men took and kept personal items belonging to their
victims. These items, which included drivers’ licenses, jewelry, clothing,
and photographs, served as mementos of the offense, and some of the offenders
referred to them as “trophies” of their conquests. However, none of the offenders
retained parts of their victims’ bodies, though some kept the entire corpse
temporarily or permanently.


Sexually sadistic offenders commit well-planned and carefully concealed crimes.
Their crimes are repetitive, serious, and shocking, and they take special
steps to prevent detection. The harm that these men wreak is so devastating
and their techniques so sophisticated that those who attempt to apprehend
and convict them must be armed with uncommon insight, extensive knowledge,
and sophisticated investigative resources.


  1. R. Manvell and H. Fraenkel, The Incomparable Crime: Mass Extermination in
  2. the Twentieth Century–the Legacy of Guilt (New York: Putnam’s, 1967).
  3. P.E. Dietz, R.R. Hazelwood, and J. Warren, “The Sexually Sadistic Criminal
  4. and His Offenses,” Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the
  5. Law, 1990, 163-178.
  6. R.R. Hazelwood and J. Warren, “The Serial Rapist: His Characteristics and
  7. Victims,” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, February 1989, 18-25.