Domestic Violence Lust Murder: A Clinical Perspective of Sadistic and Sexual Fantasies Integrated into Domestic Violence Dynamics

By Geberth, Vernon J. | Law & Order, November 2000 | Go to article overview

Domestic Violence Lust Murder: A Clinical Perspective of Sadistic and Sexual Fantasies Integrated into Domestic Violence Dynamics


Geberth, Vernon J., Law & Order


In a sex related homicide inquiry an investigator examines the actions and activities of the offender during the crime to determine his "signature," and attempts to understand how that person's mind "played-out" the sexual act. Clinically speaking, there is a very thin line between sexual fantasy and reality.

Sexual perversions are premeditated in the obsessive fantasies of the offender. An offender who is not psychotic may experience a "psychotic episode" relating to a temporary condition brought on shortly or in response to an extreme stressor. Sex is a stressor.

When an individual becomes thoroughly vested in sexually sadistic fantasy and begins to draw and script these fantasies, an insidious amalgamation develops where fantasy and reality become blended.

A Clinical Perspective of Sadistic and Sexual Fantasies ]Integrated into

Domestic Violence Dynamics

Domestic violence homicides are murders that occur between husbands and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, and other domestic partners. In fact, any murder between intimate partners would be considered a domestic violence homicide. They may also involve third party relationships, such as love triangles, former husbands and/or wives, and jilted lovers.

I classify domestic violence murders as Interpersonal Violence Oriented Homicide. They are the most prevalent form of sex related murder. The rationale for classifying domestic violence as sex related is that murder serves as the ultimate form of sexual revenge. In many instances the homicides will include sexual assault or wound structures manifesting a sexual orientation (See LAW & ORDER Vol. 46 No. 11 November, 1998).

It is important to note that the motivation in an interpersonal violence oriented dispute may be obscured by what was done to the body of the victim, or how the crime scene was staged or changed. Originally, what appeared to be a rape-murder, the work of a sexual psychopath, or a lust murder is oftentimes based on interpersonal violence. The case cited in this article is a classic example of these phenomena.

A Case History

A 37 year old woman named Susan was murdered in her home. She was discovered by police responding to an emergency call. Officers forced entry into the house, as all doors were locked. The female victim had suffered numerous stab wounds to the frontal portion of her body. In "clearing" the house to assure there were no other victims or offenders, officers discovered her 43 year old husband, Frank, in an upstairs bedroom. He was suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound fired from a .25 Caliber automatic found next to his body. He was nude from the waist down and had blood on his legs and genitals, as well as his arms and hands. He was rushed to a hospital where he died from the head wound.

Susan had been shot four times in the chest with a .38 caliber handgun found at the scene and had been stabbed 57 times with a large hunting knife that was left protruding from her chest.

According to the police report, Susan's co-workers had become concerned when she failed to show for work. They went to her house and looked into the front window after receiving no response. They saw her nude body on the floor with a large hunting knife in her chest.

Detective Investigation

This case was presented as a Murder/Suicide. Apparently, Frank had shot his wife with the .38 revolver and then used a .25 caliber semiautomatic to shoot himself. Police recovered the murder weapon and the gun that the husband had used to shoot himself in the head. In addition to these weapons Frank had a .22, a .380 and a .45 caliber semi-automatic gun.

Police also recovered hundreds of drawings and paintings of nude women. Frank had set up an art studio in a bedroom where he apparently spent time drawing and painting his fantasies. According to friends and family members the couple seemed happy and there was no history of domestic violence. …

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