Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods


The Necrophilous Character

R. E. L Masters, former director of the Library of Sex Research, and writer Eduard Lea composed a comprehensive history of sexual violence in their book Perverse Crimes in History: Evolving Concepts of Sadism, Lust-murder, and Necrophilia—From Ancient to Modern Times.In the book, published in 1963, the authors discuss the notions of vampirism and werewolf psychosis in terms of "necrosadism" as erotic gratification from death-related acts or fantasies. Fascination with blood, sexual activities with corpses and dismemberment of corpses are all considered aspects of necrophilia. The authors look back to such murderers as Gilles de Rais, Elizabeth Bathory, and Peter Kurten, but offer the details of relatively unknown cases as well.

For example, in 1890 in Paris, a woman was found dead in her home, her son sleeping next to her. She had been raped and then thoroughly disemboweled—by him, it turns out—and he had managed this by reaching into her vagina, puncturing the organs and pulling the intestines back out by the same route. He threw them over her shoulder. Then he lay down on that bed and went to sleep. The autopsy revealed that the mother had died before any of this occurred. He had ravaged her corpse. The young man was sent to an asylum.

In an account called Crimes of the Genital Sense (1900), a man named Louis fell in love with a married woman and went to her home when her husband was absent. When she tried to defend herself, he split her head with an axe and then raped her corpse while it was still warm. Afterward he dismembered her and roasted her flesh in the oven, consuming her heart, one breast and her genitals.

For some people, that's what love is. For others, death just excites them. A 10-year-old boy asked his grandmother to leave him her body when she died, and one poor soul suffered from erections whenever he thought of a funeral, preventing him from attending them.

Those who never touch the dead but find sexual gratification merely from looking at them are labeled "platonic necrophilisists."  Some are not interested in the whole body but only in a particular part. One woman, who imagined herself to be a vampire, would ask her husband to pretend he was dead and when she stimulated him with her mouth, would pretend that his erection was rigor mortis.

Some necrophiles, these authors say, can be dangerous. Their fantasies can turn from mutilation of corpses to outright murder in order to obtain the corpses to mutilate. "There is always the possibility that the fantasies may be put into practice," but the lust killer who also engages in sexual activities with a corpse is not generally considered a true necrophile, Masters claims (although other criminologists differ with the opinion). He says that such sexual violation is only an extension of what the lust murderer will do as part of the overall crime. A true necrophile is only interested in the corpse, not the living person. If he kills, it's only to get a corpse. He's often incapable of even making a sexual approach to the living.


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