View Full Version : Psychology of a Murderer

11-13-2009, 01:24 AM
Hi, all. In my story, the murderer photographs his victims after he kills them. Besides the basic memorialization of his crime, what could be other reasons? I'm looking for something really pathological...


11-13-2009, 01:53 AM
I assume your killer is a serial. If so, they take tokens so they can relive the experience again and again between kills. The photographs would be his tokens. It also sounds like he's in the organized category of serial killers, like Bundy and Gacy. What's his motive? Thrill/lust/power? For reference, Hansen was a thrill killer, Dahmer a lust killer, and Bundy was of the power variety. Knowing that will also help you decide how he uses the photos to relive the experience.

11-13-2009, 02:18 AM
New technology produces new ways to be bizarre.

If you're looking for something seriously pathological, bizarre, and sick, he takes the picture and puts it into Photoshop. Then let your imagination go wild. You can redo the murders with all sorts of changes, creating new pictures. Not only does it bring back the good times, but you can improve on them. Really sick is using the photo to create a character on an animation program. Victim didn't scream enough? Add it to the animation. Victim didn't bleed enough? Add it to the animation. So on and so forth.

Beats the hell out of cutting out pictures of penises and sticking them on the photos.

This is beginning to appear in some of the sex crime cases, and I'm sure we'll see it down the road with a mass murderer.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

11-13-2009, 02:32 AM
Here's an excellent book for you: "Base Instincts: What Makes Killers Kill." Jonathan H. Pincus, MD. It's all about what makes serial killers tick.

11-13-2009, 02:38 AM
Whoever Fights Monsters, by Robert Ressler, a profiler who worked with the BAU for years, is another good book.

11-13-2009, 02:38 AM
Another book recommendation. Go to the library and pick out a book called Modus Operandi: A Writer's Guide To How Criminals Work.

It's been about 10 years since I picked it up to help my own writing, but I'm fairly sure you'll get some good answers in there.

11-13-2009, 06:26 AM
The only stories I've read with a photographing serial killer is one of the In Death Series by Nora Roberts, and one of her modern mystery-romances, Sanctuary. The killer wanted to more or less immortalize them, capturing their light before it was lost. In Sanctuary, I think it was about creating art, capturing a perfect moment.

You may want to read up on symbolism or mythology of mirrors or photos to spark some ideas - the old idea of photos stealing souls, or being able to photograph evil/ghosts/spirits/auras could give you a plot point.

11-13-2009, 06:31 AM
Sounds to me like your killer has some kind of fetish/neurosis regarding photography in some way.

11-13-2009, 07:16 AM
It's all about control. Serial killers feel out of control of their surroundings, and need to impose various degrees of control on their victims. It's very common for victims to be posed, or dressed or undressed in some way that feeds the killer's fantasy. For example, he might feed his idea that all women are whores by posing his victim with her legs spread and her pants pulled down, or he might restrain his victims and spend as much time as possible taunting them and humiliating them in the pettiest ways possible.

11-13-2009, 07:18 AM
Creepy as all get out, but I saw a documentary on Dahmber. He kept souveniers because then he could "own" his victims, and they would always have a bond.

11-13-2009, 07:43 AM
For posting to Facebook so it will be available to all his serial killer friends?

11-13-2009, 06:00 PM
How about he adds each photo to a collage that when complete will depict his mother?

Wayne K
11-13-2009, 06:18 PM
He takes pictures of them because he's a necrophiliac. It's why he waits until they're dead to take them. You can see pictures of live girls anywhere. He uses them to gratify himself.

If you want to go dark.

11-13-2009, 06:53 PM
Great resource: John Douglas' books... he's a former FBI profiler and has interviewed numerous serial killers and participated in studies, etc.

Mind Hunter
The Anatomy of Motive
Crime Classification Manual


Hope that helps! :)