@@@@Understanding sexual homicide begins by answering three important questions, namely: what is sexual homicide; how often does it occur; and who commits it? Each one will now be addressed.
What is sexual homicide?
@@@@Burgess, Hartman, Ressler, Douglas, and McCormack state sexual homicide “results from one person killing another in the context of power, control, sexuality, and aggressive brutality” (1986, p. 252). In a development of their work, Ressler, Burgess, and Douglas define sexual homicide in slightly broader terms as murders “with evidence or observations that indicate that the murder was sexual in nature” (1988, p. xiii). These include victim attire or lack of attire, exposure of the victim's sexual body parts, sexual positioning of the victim's body, insertion of foreign objects into the victim's body cavities, evidence of sexual intercourse and evidence of substitute sexual activity, interest or sadistic fantasy (ibid.). Douglas, Burgess, Burgess, and Ressler enhanced this definition by suggesting sexual homicide involves “a sexual element (activity) as the basis for the sequence of acts leading to death” (1992, p. 123). The performance and meaning of the sexual element varies between offenders, as it “may range from actual rape involving penetration (either before or after death) to a symbolic sexual assault, such as insertion of foreign objects into the victim's body orifices” (ibid.). In a similarly broad fashion, Flowers defined sexual homicide as “a homicide in which there is a sexual element, motivation, relationship, or perversion involved such as rape, molestation, prostitution, intimacy, battery, and sexual jealousy” (2001, p. 3). Other writers believe a sexual motive is required. Schlesinger, for example, views sexual murder as “homicide motivated primarily by a breakthrough of underlying sexual conflicts or where the killing itself is sexually gratifying” (2004, p. 1); Cusson suggests that sexual murder is “the culmination of an attack prepared with the express purpose of seeking pleasure, even orgasm, in the subjugation, rape and suffering of a carefully selected woman” (2007, p. 1); while Arrigo and Purcell define erotophonophilia as “the acting out of deviant behaviour by means of brutally and sadistically killing the victim to achieve ultimate sexual satisfaction” (2001, p. 7). Finally, Folino simply states sexual killing is a “homicide with evidence of an associated sexual act” (2000, p. 740).
@@@@With various labels and definitions, it appears that no universal notion of this crime exists. Indeed, others such as “lust killing”, “lust murder”, “sadistic murder”, “sadistic lust murder”, “rape murder” and “mutilation murder” are used within the literature (Ressler et al, 1988; Schlesinger, 2004)...