Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Underwater Forensics

Aqua-erotic Accidents

While auto-erotic asphyxia has gotten significant attention, this term generally refers to the use of a ligature apparatus during self-gratification. In rare instances, sexual activity is performed underwater while holding one's breath to produce the same effects of oxygen deprivation, or hypoxia. The term "aqua-eroticism," was coined in 1984, and in the Journal of Forensic Sciences Sauvageau and Racette reported what they believe to be the only other case of this fetish, at least in the professional literature. Some investigators might differ with them, believing many such incidents are erroneously labeled suicidal drowning.

In the earlier documented case, a drowned man was found dressed as a woman, with a stone tied around his ankle. It seemed a peculiar way to be swimming or committing suicide, so it was assumed to be an incident of auto-erotic asphyxia gone wrong. It had many earmarks of deliberately induced danger, which reportedly heightens the excitement level.

In the second case, a 25-year-old man went into the water in a home-made plastic bodysuit, his genitals wrapped separately in a plastic tube. He wore a hockey helmet and over the bodysuit a snowmobile suit and ski boots. He was bound with an elaborate equipage- of mesh and chains, wrapped around his waist, knees and ankles, clamped tightly together and padlocked at his groin. His wrists were strapped as well, yet investigators determined that he could have put on this harness by himself. It appeared that the victim had attached his boots to a wooden board, which had initially been fastened to an air raft. The overdressing and submersion appeared to have been his means for simulating a masochistic scenario.

The victim was found completely submerged, with an air tube running from his mouth to a floating plastic container. However, he'd apparently miscalculated, using a tube too narrow for both the intake and expulsion of air. Rather than giving him the right degree of hypoxia for a heightened erotic experience, his air supply was significantly fouled with carbon dioxide, killing him. Once investigators established what had happened, they learned that the victim had been a member of an online auto-erotic practitioner's club.


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