I have represented many people charged with murder, ranging from first-degree murder to vehicular homicide.
I have defended one serial killer case. I made it a point to read much of the literature about serial killers and went so far as to attend part of Jeffrey Dahmer’s trial in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.
I have concluded that most of the literature is conflicting and of marginal value. The ability to predict who and why someone will become a serial killer is speculative at best.
Psychologists, scientists, researchers, and law enforcement have offered numerous opinions regarding the supposed underlying basis for serial murder; some say that head injuries at an early age are one of the causes and that fantasy might be a cause. There are many other speculative theories regarding the cause.
I think fantasy, with mind-altering chemical abuse, is the best theory of the bunch. In my serial killer case, the defendant had a criminal history of violent rapes; the extent of the violence gradually progressed from rape to murder. The victims of the murder were all prostitutes; his prior history did not center on prostitutes. In each of the murders, cocaine was offered to the victims and used by the defendant. There was evidence of fantasy.
Some experts opine that there is evidence to support the theory that there is a “paraphilic fantasy” manifested through individual rapes and dry runs that ultimately lead to murder.
The fantasies are kind of a cognitive rehearsal for sexual and serial murders. Still, because repetition erodes the fantasies and masturbatory power over time, the individual begins to seek opportunities to act upon them (Stein, 2004).
I add alcohol and drugs to the equation because it is apparent that the offender often needs to be partly stunned, particularly at the beginning of a series of murders.
However, the serial killer’s dependence on drugs and alcohol likely wane as time goes on. In a sense, the chemical usage is displaced by the trill of the murders.
I agree that many of the killers take trophies from their victims so they can relive their crimes; this practice, along with chemical use, placates them temporarily; But like bacteria and antibiotics, the killers eventually become immune from pacifiers and morf into stone-cold psychopaths operating independently of any placaters.