Fantasy Drawings Investigative Analysis

By Geberth, Vernon | Law & Order, October 2008 | Go to article overview

Fantasy Drawings Investigative Analysis


Geberth, Vernon, Law & Order


All human sexual activities are initiated through fantasies, which are mental images usually involving some fulfilled or unfulfilled desire. Fantasy plays a major role in everyone's sexual behavior. It is the driving factor for sexual expression. Sexual fantasies normally consist of imaginations and/or a series of mental images that are sexually stimulating. The contrast of these "normal" fantasies would be the aberrant development of bizarre mental images involving grotesque unnatural distortions of sexual imagery as depicted in sexually sadistic pornography.

Based on years of investigative analysis of sadistic sex crimes and the criminals who perpetrate these events, that sexually sadistic pornography is directly linked to sadistic sex crimes. I have investigated, supervised, consulted on, assessed and researched numerous cases in which photographs, drawings, video tapes, books, pornography in men's magazines, women's clothing and anatomically correct dolls were recovered in the homes of sexual offenders and/or people who died as a result of autoerotic fatalities to stimulate themselves.

The Sexual Offender

A person who is aroused with thoughts and fantasies of sexual aggression often incorporates elements into his life that serve to enhance his violent fantasies. An offender can also live out his sexual fantasies through fantasy drawings, which serve as a form of rehearsal before actually committing the offense. The fantasy drawings may be based on a mind picture referred to as an "engram," which is conjured up in the imagination or fantasy. Or the fantasy drawings may be predicated on a mental re-creation of an actual event. In that case, the fantasy drawings become actual evidence against the offender.

In the BTK serial murder case, the offender Dennis Rader was convicted of killing 10 victims over an extended period of time. One of the issues confounding law enforcement was BTK's ability to stop killing for prolonged periods of time and then resume his killing. This dynamic just didn't fit the accepted protocol of serial killers. It was only after his arrest and subsequent confessions that authorities learned why he had these "gaps" in the murder events.

Rader told the authorities that he would use his fantasy drawings and pictures of his victims to sexually stimulate himself in order to relive the murders. These fantasy drawings became significant in corroborating his statements and the evidence recovered from the execution of the numerous search warrants linking BTK to each of the murders.

I have also seen numerous cases of offenders acting out sadistic fantasies based on violent pornography as well as their own drawings and paintings depicting sexual assault. In fact, empirical studies indicate that many sex offenders reported having masturbatory fantasies before acts of sexual aggression and that the content of the fantasy was similar to the nature of their sexual offense. Many sexual assaults and/or homicides are a direct result of an offender acting out a specific sexual fantasy fueled by sadistic pornography.

Criminal Investigative Analysis

The applications of clinical criteria and abnormal psychology to the investigative process are an integral part of criminal personality profiling and have been universally recognized and accepted as genuine and legitimate investigative techniques. Detectives and criminal investigators routinely employ these techniques in their investigation of violent crime on a case-by-case basis. From a practical standpoint, there are only so many ways to kill and only so many stories to tell as an offender attempts to explain the killings. After a while, a distinct pattern emerges, which encompass a series of clusters of behavioral information and specific typologies of offenders

Criminal investigative analysis is a process of reviewing crimes from both a behavioral and investigative perspective. It involves reviewing and assessing the facts of a criminal act, interpreting offender behavior, and interaction with the victim, as exhibited during the commission of the crime, or as displayed in the crime scene. …

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