Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Harvey Murray Glatman: First of the Signature Killers

A Signature Killer

Dr. Robert Keppel
Dr. Robert Keppel

Dr. Robert Keppel, author of Signature Killers, is not surprised that by this time Harvey's volcano was about to erupt. As chief criminal investigator for Washington State's Attorney General's Office, Keppel has worked on and consulted a large number of oddball murder cases. He writes, "As a person dreams and thinks of his fantasies over time, he develops a need to express those violent fantasies. Most serial killers have been living with their fantasies for years before they bubble to the surface and are translated into deeds. When the killer finally acts out, some aspect of the murder will demonstrate his unique personal expression that has been replayed in his fantasies over and over again."

True crime authors Stephen G. Michaud and Roy Hazelwood's recent book, The Evil That Men Do, uses Glatman's and other's histories to study the sordid but existing mind of the serial killer. In his work, Michaud turns to the experiences and knowledge of forensic consultant and former FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood, whom he quotes freely within the pages. Hazelwood spent decades with the Federal Bureau of Investigation examining the twisted crimes of sex offenders and joins the ranks of Dr. Keppel in being considered one of the nation's top experts on the subject. Glatman's was one of the first cases Hazelwood encountered in his studies. Harvey was, he says, a novelty in an era when the existence of sexual sadists was not fully considered.

In the 1950s, the world was beginning to realize just how vastly sex sold. But, the public in general had not yet awakened to the possibility that sex could be highly dangerous when misinterpreted by certain wayward minds.

"Such deviant criminality, plus much less sinister behavior, was both curbed and concealed in America at mid-century by a moral climate hostile to sexual extremes or erotic experimentation," writes Michaud. In quoting Hazelwood, he adds, "'In those days, people appearing in hardcore pornography still wore masks. Playboy was new. Mickey Spillane's books were considered explicit. In the last three or four pages of I, the Jury, for example, Spillane describes a man holding a gun on a woman as she slowly unbuttons her blouse. Beads of perspiration run between her breasts. That was the book that high school guys gathered around to read during lunchtime, and those were the particular pages most frequently read.'"

Passages like these stroked the "healthy male libido," Michaud says, but not that of a "sexual sadist" like Glatman, simply because it lacked "the specific connection between sex and violence necessary for his arousal...Aberrant offenders use pornography to validate their deviance as well. The more they see of it, and masturbate to it, the more their behavior is reinforced."

Eventually Harvey's inner behavior (as Dr. Keppel would say) would "bubble to the surface".

 

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