Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Ripper Rapists


Psychologically, du Toit is something of a paradox.

He exhibits many characteristics of a psychopath. Robert Hare has spent almost all of his adult life researching and studying psychopathy. In Without Conscience, he identifies 12 characteristics, which were used to develop a measure called the Psychopathy Checklist Revised. Resisting the temptation to digress into a thorough examination, the following characteristics are readily apparent in du Toit's psychological make-up: (1) He is glib and superficial, articulate and speaks with ease. This was evident during the abductions of all the victims and particularly in his testimony during the trial. (2) Indications of narcissism and egocentricity shone through during the press conference and his testimony, where he basked in all the attention. It is also obvious in the photographs taken at various court appearances. (3) He never showed any empathy for others — not for the unborn baby of one of his victims, not for the suffering of his wife during the trial while he posed for photographers. When Alison pleaded for her life, he responded with a flat "sorry" and closed his fingers even more tightly around her throat. (4) Lying came very easily to him. After all his arrests prior to Alison's attack, he lied to his wife about what he had been apprehended for, as she later testified. He easily concocted a story during Alison's abduction about a friend owing him money and stealing his TV. His adeptness at manipulation is evident in his success at keeping his wife under his spell despite everything she learned about him during the trial. The press conference shortly before the trial is another example. (5) The hallmark of the psychopath is his complete lack of the facility to feel guilt. Never once did du Toit express anything close to true remorse. He described his efforts to kill Alison, first with his hands and then with a knife, with no indication of emotion, sorrow or even shame. The only tiny expression of shame was the bowing of his head when his mother testified. (6) His impulsivity was apparent on the night of Alison's attack — in the middle of a barbeque, he just left the meat on the grill and went in search of a woman to rape. (7) No sense of responsibility is evident in du Toit's past. Three months in detention during his stint in the army. Leaving his wife and child simply because the sex wasn't to his liking. Stealing money from his employer and thus losing yet another job, while having a wife and a child to support. Not to mention refusing to accept responsibility for his crimes by blaming everything on a "demon". (8) His problematic behavior was already evident during childhood. Burning a dormitory. Drinking. Getting involved in Satanism. (9) And, of course, his adult antisocial behavior need not even be mentioned further. Thus, we already have nine clear indications in support of psychopathy.

Nicholas Groth and Jean Birnbaum describe a study of rapists in The Rape Crisis Intervention Handbook. Rape is a crime of violence and is not about sex. Instead, sex is used as a weapon since it is one way in which a man can very directly assert his physical dominance over a woman. Sometimes his motivation is directly tied to females, or it may be in response to his failure to deal with other stresses in his life. By controlling and dominating a woman, the rapist tries to regain control of areas in his life where he feels he is out of control. He lacks the maturity and facility to deal with these stresses in a more constructive fashion.

What makes du Toit interesting is the fact that, behaviorally, he conforms most closely to what is known as a power-reassurance rapist, but with some unusual divergences. John Douglas describes this type of rapist as having a deep sense of inferiority which he tries to assuage by raping women. It is his fantasy that she will be impressed by him sexually, and will actually come to enjoy the experience. He treats her relatively "well", with minimal violence since this would break down his fantasy. He will engage in conversations with her both during and after the attack, refraining from profanity and often enquiring whether she likes what he's doing. This has led to the moniker of "gentleman rapist". However, his concern is not for her experience but rather for the attention to his struggling self-esteem. He prefers to use a surprise attack, having a weapon handy although he seldom uses it. The woman is usually instructed to remove her own clothes as this fits with his fantasy of "consensual" sex. Attacks may be protracted, during which he may have intimate and "familiar" conversations with his victim. Afterwards, he may apologize.

Du Toit exhibited many of these behaviors during the three rapes we know of. He surprised all the victims in their cars, brandishing a weapon. He spoke with them in a friendly fashion, telling the first one about his sister and apologizing to her after he let her go. Because of his specific needs, the first victim's attempt to humanize herself by telling him about her failed miserably. It merely strengthened his fantasy. During Alison's rape he asked her whether her boyfriend also performed certain acts on her and whether she liked it. He was mostly "polite", although he was crude in his choice of words when ordering her to fellate him. When he asked Kruger whether he also wanted to have sex with her, and Kruger replied very rudely, du Toit told him that Alison was "a lady" and he shouldn't speak to her in that manner. The violence escalated sharply when he began to strangle her. The kind of violence he perpetrated on Alison is completely unlike a reassurance rapist's typical behavior. But then, reassurance rapists also tend to work alone, which may influence the amount of violence in the crime.

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