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?They fantasise about crime and their victims?

A serial killer will go to any extent to keep his passion for blood and pain a secret from everyone, reports Sobhana K.

india Updated: Dec 30, 2006 01:38 IST
Sobhana K

A serial killer is difficult to spot. He is the ‘good guy’, a loner, keeps a low profile and scrupulously follows all rules. He will go to any extent to keep his passion for blood and pain a secret from everyone.

What goes through such a mind:

The serial killer is highly organised in his work. Each crime, for him, is an achievement. “Crime is not an aberration for him. He also does not feel remorse for killing any person. He justifies his act and carries on with normal life,” says psychiatrist, Rajat Mitra who has been studying murderers in Tihar Jail.

He fantasizes about his crime and his victims. He loves blood and pain, from childhood.

Distinguishing traits:

He is usually a silent person who does not show aggression. “Such people have ‘cold aggression’. Their blood pressure and impulses also do not go up when they get angry. Instead, they plan other ways to take out their anger,” says Associate Professor at All India Institute of Medical Science, Dr Rajesh Sagar.  

The killer lives a dual life. “Only those close to him will feel uncomfortable with his activities. But they may still not be able to pinpoint the exact problem,” says Mitra. Doctors agree it is very difficult to uncover such persons. “In the famous, Colombian School incident, one of the boys was already undergoing psychiatry treatment. The boy’s psychiatrist himself was shocked to see such violent behaviour,” Mitra added.

The trigger:

Psychiatrists claim these killers usually have a disturbed childhood, which is responsible for the violent streak. Such persons are brought up in chaotic families, where parents keep fighting. The signs are there right from the childhood.

“They might not mingle with their peers. In a few in such kids might show excessive cruelty towards animals,” adds Mitra. The signs might be few, but if noticed, the psychiatrists say that it is curable.

“The children can be put through behavioural exercises for treatment. This violent streak can be treated, provided the child is brought to the psychiatrist as early as possible. The parents should realise showing violence is not normal phenomena,” said Dr Sagar.

Who are the targets?

In majority of the cases, women and children are the targets. “Children and women are soft targets and offer little resistance. Also, in most cases sexual overdrive is a dominating characteristic of serial killers,” Dr Sagar said. 

Recently, 37-year-old Tom Stephens had been arrested in UK for killing 5 prostitutes. In each case, Stephen sexually assaulted his victims and left them naked.

Investigating a serial killer:

The key is to establish a pattern. “An intelligent police officer should look for common clues in all the incidents of crime. A serial accused usually follows an uniform patter, his target group remains constant, his modus-operandi also does not change,” says Joint Commissioner, Special Cell, Karnal Singh, whose team investigated the serial blasts in Delhi.

According to him at least 30 such prisoners said that the crime that have been convicted for is not the first time they did it.

Email Sobhana K:  sobhanak@hindustantimes.com