Serial Rapists


Note: By Brent E. Turvey, MS is a full partner of Knowledge Solutions, LLC. He can be reached for comment or consultation by contacting: Knowledge Solutions; 1271 Washington Ave #274; San Leandro, CA; 94577-3646; Phone (510) 483-6739; Email:


By definition, the serial rapist is a successful criminal because law enforcement fails to connect his crimes, fails to understand his motives, and subsequently fails to identify and apprehend him. It has been demonstrated that the serial rapist, as a career sex offender, develops over time any number of means for keeping his identity unknown, and evades detection by law enforcement (Hazelwood[21]). The serial rapist knows how to position himself for rape activity, engage in rape activity, and continue to rape successfully, without any concern that law enforcement will understand, identify, and apprehend him. This is because his fantasy motive is a personal dynamic, and because his MO is progressively flexible. The occurrence of these traits in a single offender, who is committing multiple rapes, gives rise to the need for relevant, objective forensic tools specifically designed to assist in the execution of investigations into rapes for which there are no suspects, and for which the motive is not understood by law enforcement.

Behavior profiling can be one such forensic tool. It is, however, not the only forensic tool that should be used in the course of an investigation into a series of unsolved rapes. Any behavioral profile is only as good as the lab that collected and examined the physical evidence, and only as effective as the investigators charged with acting on and extrapolating from, the information provided by the behavioral profile. Additionally, a behavioral profile cannot compensate for a lack of investigative skills, as it requires investigative skills to compile and implement. It does not promise psychic answers, and it cannot guarantee the complete and positive identification of specific suspects. Its primary roles are to assist the investigator with the development of potential suspects, show insight into offender motives, focus investigative strategy, and finally assist with offender prosecution.

In 1985, Liebert[32] wrote an article suggesting strongly that the sexual motivations of serial killers and other serial sex criminals were too complex for the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to understand. He stated specifically that “Behavioral science profiling can be superficial, phenomenological and, perhaps, even worse, distracting”. Liebert further concluded that only the coalition of well-trained investigators from a law enforcement agency with a psychiatric consultant could reduce wasteful investigative diversions in instances of serial sex crimes.

Investigative methods and training initiatives have been enhanced a great deal since the writing of that article, but the attitude that the mental health community alone has special insights into the fantasy motives of a sex offender, which are unobtainable by the trained criminal investigator, pervades. In light of the fact that psychiatrists still fail to accurately predict offender dangerousness for two out of every three of their patients, even where those offenders have a history of violent behavior (Starrs et al[40]), this author finds that notion of special insight wholly misplaced. The mental health community does not have a monopoly on the ability to understand the fantasy motives of serial sex offenders and to make subsequent investigative assertions based thereon.

Profiling is one tool among many, like blood-splatter interpretation or wound pattern analysis, that can be successfully applied by a trained investigator. It’s a form of pattern analysis and should be perceived no differently by those who require it or those who use it for investigating serial rape. Blood splatter analysis can tell investigators the order, number, and direction of blows that a sadistic or anger-retaliatory rapist gives his victims from cast-off patterns on his basement ceiling. Wound pattern analysis can tell investigators whether or not the slashes on a rape victim’s arm were self-inflicted. As part of a serial rape investigation, behavioral profiling assists in sorting out complex offender behaviors and expressions so that the fantasy motive and MO can be reconstructed.


The chief goal of this work is to provide law enforcement investigators with an objective profiling tool for investigating serial rapes, with a key assumption being that investigators are capable of being objective. While some behavioral profiling can still have the shortcomings that Liebert[32] mentions, a carefully constructed behavioral profile objective to the sex offender’s point of view can be invaluable to an investigation into serial sex crimes for which there are no suspects and no apparent motives.

This work will focus on two of the primary roles played by behavioral profiling when applied to a series of unsolved rapes; the development of potential suspects, and understanding fantasy motives. First, it will discuss linkage blindness[43], and the necessity of developing initiatives to overcome linkage blindness[43] to successfully begin an investigation into a serial rape case. Second, it will discuss what is meant by the term behavior evidence, and the different types of behavioral evidence that can be relevant in a serial rape investigation. Third, it will discuss the crime scene signature of the serial rapist and his flexible MO. Fourth, it will discuss a comprehensive rapist typology and motive as painstakingly researched and developed by the FBI’s NCAVC and many others. Fifth, it will conclude by discussing investigative relevant inferences that can be made about potential suspects from behavior evidence as defined in the previous sections, with specific examples of each.

THE PROBLEM: Linkage Blindness

One of the most readily identifiable problems with the nature of a serial rape investigation is that it often tends to begin late in a given series of rapes. By the time law enforcement has recognized the serial nature of rape or has linked rapes together in an undeniable series, there are likely already a high number of victims and a great deal of behavior evidence that has not been collected or investigated. This is the product of linkage blindness[43].

Geberth[16] offers us an excellent definition of linkage blindness[43]: “…an investigative failure to recognize a pattern which links one crime with another crime in a series of cases through victimology, geographic region or area of events, the Signature of the offender, similar MO, and a review of the autopsy protocols”. The individual and community devastation that is the net effect of serial rape makes linkage blindness[43] particularly distressing. To the investigator of serial rapes, however, equally devastating is the loss of the opportunity to collect the behavioral evidence, ignored in early rapes, that could focus investigative strategies, lead to suspects, and potentially prevent subsequent offenses.

Linkage blindness[43] manifests itself for a number of reasons and is not exclusively an indicator of law enforcement incompetence, but rather ignorance. One of the primary reasons for linkage blindness[43] is the way in which law enforcement generally makes connections between sex crimes. Connections tend to be made between most sex crimes on the basis of obvious consistent elements in an offender’s MO, such as the type of weapon used, victim selection, or location selection(Ressler[37]). Attention to the offender’s MO as though it will never change between incidents can keep investigators from recognizing other significant behavioral indicators. As Geberth[16] reminds us, an MO is dynamic, being comprised of learned behaviors that develop over time and change with the offender’s experiences and confidence. Failure to understand and accept this concept can effectively blind investigators to potentially relevant possibilities.

Other major contributors to linkage blindness[43] are far less blameless, including the failure to resolve inter-jurisdictional conflicts, and the outright refusal of law enforcement to acknowledge occurrences or instances of serial sex crime within their own jurisdictions or those that neighbor them(Holmes et al[26]).

A Serial Rapist, for the purposes of this work, will be defined as a rapist who has raped two or more victims on different dates. The adjustment of this number down from three or more rapes is an attempt to address linkage blindness[43] and to help set the stage for a proactive mindset in what are typically reactive investigations. What is rape #1 for Law Enforcement Jurisdiction X, maybe the sex offender’s sixth rape? Waiting until there are three rape victims before investigative initiatives escalate to measuring, anticipating, and acting upon potential offender behavior is entirely misplaced, considering potential offender mobility and jurisdictional communication problems.

The implication of this definition is that, until otherwise established, all rapes should be investigated as though they were part of a series to avoid failures in collecting behavioral evidence.

Once linkage blindness[43] has been overcome and a series of rapes has been connected, investigators are confronted with the onerous task of disposing of a series of unsolved rapes with no known motives, and no known suspects. The investigators must go back to the earliest known rapes and look at them with a new eye. Often this means the arrival of new jurisdictional conflicts.

The solution to jurisdictional conflicts is a task force. If each agency is playing against another, then the only one being helped is the serial rapist. It is incumbent upon agency directors to get their investigators together on the same team working towards a common goal and sharing all of their information. Anything short of that puts agencies in competition with each other and provides for linkage blindness in future cases. In any event, behavior evidence must be recognized and collected from each known offense in meticulous, uniform detail for behavior profiling to be successful.


Although it bears a great deal of importance in understanding the relationship between fantasy, motive, and Modus Operandi, the concept of the crime scene signature was not explored in many works on serial sex crimes before the beginning of this decade (Holmes et al [8], Geberth[15], Hickey[24], Holmes[25], James[27], Keppel[28], Norris[36]). Although these are well-researched works with excellent content owing to the experience of the academics and investigators who wrote them, they are, with the distinct exception of Vernon Geberth’s critical work Practical Homicide Investigation, exercises in popular literature. Each work proposes, in its own far less than objective style, to recount in graphic detail the horrors committed by batches of the same popularized violent serial sex offenders. Almost in direct competition with pulp books written by true crime authors, these works leave much to be desired in the way of objectively analyzing known solved serial crimes and offering useful interpretations of motivation. More disappointingly, the truly useful material in these works is couched deeply in moral rhetoric.

This author would distinguish those works from actual research being done in the area of serial sex crimes by individuals and organizations the likes of Burgess, Geberth, Groth, Marshall, Quinsey, Warren, and the people of the NCAVC. These and others like them are the true pioneers of serial sex offender research, and our current understanding of MO behavior and the Fantasy Motive is owing to their efforts. With that in mind, it is safe to say that a more competent and objective understanding of the motives and MO of serial sex offenders has prevailed in literature since the beginning of this decade.

The precise definition of a signature, however often inferred, is still generally vague and elusive in the literature. The best specific definition of the term is proffered by the man who originally came up with the concept of signature, John Douglas[12]. Quite appropriately, he juxtaposes the definition of MO and signature: “Modus operandi – MO – is learned behavior. It’s what the perpetrator does to commit the crime. It is dynamic – that is, it can change. Signature…is what the perpetrator has to do to fulfill himself. It is static; it does not change.” Thiel[41], offers another insight into a signature, saying, “You should ask yourself what the offender did at that crime scene that he did not have to do”. A signature, it should be understood, is a product of the offender’s fantasy[6]. It will give insight into the fantasy motive, and it will be of help when determining if two seemingly unconnected rapes were committed by the same rapist.
The MO, however, changes over time with experience and confidence, meeting the needs of the rape behavior. It will evolve to allow the fantasy behavior, and whatever works will remain, and whatever fails to work will not be repeated[6]. In this way, rape is a classroom for the rapist, teaching him what will work and what will not.

A rapist has a fantasy that involves kidnapping adolescent schoolgirls, raping them, and pinching their nipples with pliers while harnessing their mouths with a horse’s bridle. He also wants to audiotape the victim’s screams so that he can play it back to later victims, something he believes will induce extreme fear. Over time he develops an MO as follows: he gets a van, sound-proofs it, gets an audio tape recorder, and begins to cruise in the neighborhoods near public middle schools at precisely the time each day that school is let out.

The signature in this example would be the particular, brutal nature of the torture the rapist wants to inflict on the victim. He also has a propensity for nipples, so that also must be considered part of his signature as well. If he played back an audio tape of a previous victim to a current victim, this would also be part of his signature. Additionally, the use of a horse’s bridle or something restricting the victim’s mouth would have to be included. These are examples of behaviors that he desires to do, that he takes time to do, and that he does not need to do to accomplish the rape. They are all, also, of the same theme: producing a combination of fear/ pain responses in the victim. This signature, an aggregate of all of that sadistic behavior, is a product of a rich and intense sadistic fantasy life.

The MO in this example is comprised of the facilitating behaviors and instruments. The MO would include the use of the soundproof van, the location selection, the time of day, and the acquisition of a tape recorder. Another important aspect of the MO is the need to find someplace safe to drive the van where he can park it undisturbed for several hours while he tortures the young girl. Any of these elements will change as flaws or circumstances fluctuate, or as the offender learns and becomes more proficient.

The relationship of the rapist’s signature to the rapist’s MO provides a useful classification for two types of behaviors that deserve close attention in serial rapes; Fantasy Oriented, which address the motive for the rape, and Modus Operandi Oriented, which are functional behaviors serving the successful completion of the rape. It must be understood, however, that the MO behaviors not only facilitate but can also later contribute to the expression of the fantasy behaviors over time and experience. In other words, the MO is developed over time by the offender to satisfy and contribute to the specific needs of the fantasy behavior which is the motive for the rapes.


An unknown subject rapes a woman in her home, using a rope garrote to control her while he rapes her, causing little or no other physical damage. The offense takes 10 or 15 minutes and then the offender leaves through the back door of the residence which shows signs of forced entry. Over the next two months, two more rapes are committed by the same rapist with roughly the same MO, each taking about ten to fifteen minutes, bringing the total rapes to three. Investigators are able to make the connections right away because of DNA evidence collected at the various scenes, and because they are all committed within a twenty-block radius in the same suburb. During rape number three, it is noted, the victim struggled a great deal and very heavy ligature furrows are observed on her neck. A week later, a fourth victim emerges. The fourth victim explains in her statement how the offender brought her in and out of consciousness intentionally using a rope garrote, and how the offender spent almost an hour with her. DNA evidence is unavailable for this fourth rape. Law enforcement decides to conduct a profile in the hopes of linking the rapes and developing an investigative strategy. The question arises: is victim number four related?

All else being equal, this is the same offender. What has occurred is that the offender, over time, has eroticized the use of the garrote. During the first rapes, the garrote was a means to acquire and maintain control of the victim (MO Oriented). Over time and experience, the offender developed a sexual desire to strangle his victims while raping them(Fantasy Oriented). This is not surprising given the strong association of the garrote with the act of rape during the first few attacks. The presence of an object or behavior during sex can quite easily lead to its eroticization and inclusion in fantasy and subsequently fantasy behavior.

As Keppel[29] notes in his recent publication embracing the signature aspect of violent serial crime, the MO contains only those behaviors necessary to commit the crime. Those behaviors may change as the rapist learns and finds more beneficial methods. Anything did that goes beyond the crime should be focused on by investigators for purposes of establishing linkages between rapes and establishing the rapist’s fantasy motive.<


Behavior evidence, for the purposes of this work, will be defined as any act or omission of an act indicative of a general or specific pattern of behavior, or indicative of a general or specific intent. The legal suggestion of this term is imperative because it directs that, just like physical evidence according to Lee[30], behavior evidence should be recognized, documented, collected, identified, compared, individualized, and reconstructed. Behavior evidence is a form of pattern evidence (Burgess et al[6], [30]). Failure to recognize and document offender behaviors is a failure to collect pattern evidence, and failure to collect any evidence is negligent.

The most common objective sources of behavior evidence are going to be, but are not by any means limited to:

  • Victim statements (i.e. written and audio-taped)
  • Crime scene documentation (i.e. maps, blueprints, sketches, photos, and video
  • Physical evidence and subsequent documentation (i.e. photos and actual evidence
  • Victim injuries and subsequent documentation (i.e. photos and video
  • Victimology (i.e. occupation/activity/history/ age/ physical traits)

The behaviors that a serial rapist uses in the preparation and commission of his rapes are evidence that can be used to classify and even identify him because of their collective uniqueness[5]. The investigator begins with a universal set of offender characteristics and then begins to ask questions about offender behavior that develop the unique set of characteristics. This process of going from the universal set to the unique set of offender characteristics begins with the recognition and collection of the above types of behavior evidence and is the absolute cornerstone of behavioral profiling.
Some important kinds of serial rapist behaviors are listed below (Burgess et al[2], Burgess et al[5], Geberth[15], Hazelwood et al[22], [30]). The list is useful for reference, but mostly demonstrates what is meant by the term behavior evidence, and the difference between MO Oriented and Fantasy Oriented behaviors :


1. Rape kit(is there one? content?)

2. Victim/victimology (age, occupation, activity, physical traits, history)

3. Language used/conversation (script)

4. Items were taken from the crime scene or victim

1. Foreplay/ fondling

2. Sexual acts

3. Nature of sexual acts (rough/submissive/protected etc.)

4. Order of sexual acts

5. Ejaculation (Yes or no/ where?)


1. Damage/injuries to the victim

2. Nature of the force used

3. Offender response to victim resistance

4. Victim bondage


1. Methods of gaining entry to a premises

2. Offense occurrence variables (day of week/time/interval)

3. Primary or secondary scene(how was the body moved?)

4. Sequence of actions taken

5. Location type (residence/vehicle/outdoors)

6. Victim risk

7. Offender risk

8. Materials acquired at the scene

9. Materials left behind at the crime scene


1. Vehicles used(why is it necessary for MO?)

2. No vehicle used(how did he get there without a vehicle?)

3. Routes taken

4. Distance between the location of the initial attack and the location of the rape


1. Style of attack used (blitz/ con/ surprise)

2. Weapons used

3. Disguises used

4. Verbal threats

5. Concealing behaviors (condoms/wiping up ejaculate/ covering victims eyes/ false information to the victim)

It’s important to try and assess which category rape behaviors are in because it becomes a tool to gauge offender escalation, progression, and experience. It can also help investigators to predict future offender behavior, potential location choices, and other investigative relevant factors. If you can know what kinds of behaviors the rapist is likely to develop and engage in during future attacks, you can often infer the victim type, the location, the time requirement, and the props that the offender will need to successfully engage his fantasy. Again, this is a proactive approach to the serial rapist investigation.

Also, be aware that this is not an all-inclusive list of behavior evidence, but it is a good place to begin thinking about the kinds of evidence that should be collected and reconstructed. Each case will present its own unique behavioral peculiarities that will have to be attended to, and for which there is no specific preparation except the investigator’s recognition abilities. In that sense, each serial rape case is a classroom with the investigators as its students.


Over the past decade, the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) and those associated with it have generated some of the most insightful work on the nature of serial rapists that exist anywhere in the professional literature. One of the most useful accomplishments of their research has been the continuing development of a rapist profile typology that is fairly objective to the offender’s point of view. Although it does not provide a dynamic scale that measures a rapist over time, it is an excellent way to assess a rapist at a particular moment. The typology provides a psychological snapshot of a rapist during an instance from which some reliable inferences can be made. Perhaps, if applied over time and several rape offenses, it may provide insight into both solved and unsolved dynamic rapist behavior.
The following are the five different rapist types as defined by A. Nicholas Groth[19], as developed by Marshall et al[34], as defined by the NCAVC in the Crime Classification Manual[6], as developed in articles published by the NCAVC regarding serial rape (Burgess[3], [5], [9], [10], [21], [22], [23]), as presented by S.A. Max Thiel(ret.)[41], and as discussed most recently by Holmes et al[26]. The five different rapist types outlined in this work are Power Reassurance, Power Assertive, Anger Retaliatory, Anger Excitation, and Opportunistic.

When applying this typology to solved or unsolved serial rape cases, the investigator will invariably notice that actual rapists are not generally represented by the typology in pure form. It is most likely that a rapist will fit into more than one of the categories below. What the investigator must discern is what characteristics the offenders have, and then decide which typology best represents a particular rapist, all the while with an eye to potential future behavior based on the recognizable overlapping. For example, a Power Assertive rapist could develop over time into an Anger Excitation rapist. The potential for that could be measured by Anger Excitation behaviors identified in early rapes, and watching them evolve from incidence to incidence, as the rapist gains confidence and experience.

Included below are the traits of each rapist type with specific examples meant to demonstrate key behaviors of each:
I. Power Reassurance
(AKA Compensatory)

Method of attack: Surprise
A. Fantasy Behavior

1. Verbal/Script
-Reassures victim he does not wish to harm her

-“You’re beautiful, I bet you have a lot of boyfriends”

-“You have nice breasts”

-“Tell me that you love me”

-“I’m so ugly, you’re so beautiful”

-Voices concern for victim welfare: “Am I hurting you”

-Possibly apologetic: “Please forgive me”

-May ask about her sexual interests, or may ask to evaluate his sexual skills, both of which serve reassurance needs

2. Sexual Behavior
-Foreplay attempt

-Will involve a victim

-Will do what the victim allows him to do

-Lacks confidence, may not force the victim to comply physically

-If the victim rejects demands, he may cease or negotiate
3. Physical Behavior

-Will rely on threats or the presence of a weapon

-Will not generally harm the victim, physically<

B. MO Behavior

1. Victims are strangers, generally, or live in the same area as the rapist
2. Targets several victims in advance

3. Engages in surveillance of victims

4. Engages in voyeurism

5. Makes obscene phone calls

6. Attacks occur in the late evening or early morning

7. Victims will either be alone or with small children

8. Will be the near same age as the victim

9. Attack will last a short period of time: duration will increase with the victim’s passivity

10. May take personal items; undergarments or photograph

11. Attacks are consistent, with the need for reassurance

12. Locations of attacks will remain within the same general vicinity

13. May keep a record of attacks

14. Most likely to terminate rape if the victim resists



A statement made by a Power Reassurance rapist regarding a conquest fantasy:
“The fantasies began with going to a bar and picking up a girl, and these changed to increasingly more drastic attempts. I’d think about either going to big parking lots or to a quiet area where there might be girls walking and confronting them. I began to have the thought that perhaps sometime if I did this, the woman would agree or perhaps almost attack me – perhaps just my appearance or whatever would just turn her on and she would almost literally attack me in a complete state of sexual excitement, that she would rape me as if I were just what she had been waiting for. I would fantasize about confronting a girl with a weapon, a knife, or a gun, and that she would tell me that I didn’t need it and that she wanted me, and that she wanted me sexually. She would say, ‘No, you don’t need it, you don’t need a gun, you don’t need any of this, you’re enough.’,”.

*Note: This is the only type of rapist that may attempt to re-contact the victim after the rape. He expected her to respond erotically to his advances. In his mind, she might be in love with him and she has enjoyed the rape. From his point of view, it was more of a date than a rape, and he may re-contact the victim for another date.

As pointed out in the CCM[6], the core fantasy motivating this rapist is that the victim will enjoy and eroticize the rape, and subsequently fall in love with the rapist. This stems from the rapist’s own fears of personal inadequacy, hence the term commonly applied to this rapist is “an inadequate personality.” The rape is restorative of the offender’s doubts about himself, and therefore sexually and emotionally reassuring. It will occur as his need for that kind of reassurance arises.
II.Power Assertive
(AKA Exploitative rapist?)

Method of attack: Con or Surprise
A. Fantasy Behavior

1. Verbal/Script
-Does not generally want the victim to be verbally or otherwise involved in the rape
-Gives sexual instructions/commands
-His pleasure is primary

-Very “macho”

-Uses a great deal of profanity

-Demeans and humiliates the victim

-Language is offensive and abusive

-Verbally explicit about sex

-“Do what I say and you won’t get hurt”

-“Shut up or I’ll kill you”
2. Sexual Behavior
-He will do whatever he wants to the victim, sexually or otherwise

-No fondling or kissing or foreplay behavior

-Repeated sexual assaults

-He may sexually punish or abuse his victims

-He may engage in pull, pinch, or bite behaviors

-His sex goal is to capture, conquer, and control

-Uses the victim as a prop only; an object for his sexual fantasy
3. Physical Behavior
-The rapist will choose locations that are convenient and safe

-He will engage in moderate, excessive, or brutal levels of force that increase with victim resistance or his level of sexual dysfunction during the offense

-The rapist may rip or tear the victim’s clothing

-The rapist may engage in repeated sexual assaults during an attack

B. MO Behavior[19], [14]
-The victim can be pre-selected or opportunistic(too good to pass up)

-Age range tends to be same, can vary with opportunity

-Victim was chosen by availability, accessibility, and vulnerability

-The location is victim dependent

-Weapon can be involved or substituted with higher levels of force

-Physical aggression is used to initially overpower the victim

-Victim may be held captive in some fashion while being raped


A statement made by a Power Assertive rapist regarding his reasons for rape:
“All my life I felt I was being controlled, particularly by my parents, that people used me without any regard for my feelings, for my needs, and in my rapes the important part was not the sexual part, but putting someone else in the position in which they were totally helpless. I bound and gagged and tied up my victims and made them do something they didn’t want to do, which was exactly the way I felt in my life. I felt helpless, very helpless in that I couldn’t do anything about the satisfaction I wanted. Well, I decided I’m going to put them in a position where they can’t do anything about what I want to do. They can’t refuse me. They can’t reject me. They’re going to have no say in the matter. I’m in charge now.”

This type of rapist has absolutely no doubt about his own adequacy and masculinity. In fact, he uses rape as an expression of his own male virility. In his perception, he is exercising his prerogative as a male to commit rape.

This rapist may grow more confident over time, as his egocentricity is very high. He may begin to do things that might lead to his identification if fully investigated. Police may interpret this as a sign that the rapist desires to be caught. What is actually true is that the rapist has no respect for the police, has learned that he can rape without fear of identification or capture, and subsequently does not take precautions that he has learned are unnecessary.

It is not this rapist’s desire to harm the victim but to possess her sexually. Power over his victim’s sexuality is his means of expressing his mastery, strength, control, authority, and identity to himself (psychologically compensatory). The goal of this rapist is sexual conquest and control, and he will use only the force he deems necessary during a particular rape to accomplish it.
span style=”font-size: large;”>III. Anger Retaliatory
(AKA Anger or Displaced rapist)

Method of attack: Blitz

A. Fantasy Behavior

1. Verbal/Script
-Verbally selfish

-May blame the victim for events and perceived events

-Very angry, hostile language

2. Sexual Behavior

-Sexually selfish

-Sex is violent, an extension of the physical attack

-No foreplay attempt

-May attempt to force the victim to perform acts that the rapist perceives as degrading or humiliating (fellatio or sodomy)

3. Physical Behavior

-Ripping of victim’s clothing

-Excessive victim force and damage

B. MO Behavior
-Unplanned attack

-There is an immediate application of direct physical force to the victim; the rapist attacks first, then continues into the rape as an extension of that attack

-Offenses are sporadic; occur anytime day or night (whenever he gets pissed off)

-Will use weapons of opportunity(found at scene)

-Victims are the same age or older and must be women

-Duration of attack is very short

-There is a lot of anger evident in the crime scene

-Victims often know the rapist well, but can be victims who symbolize people the rapist knows well

A statement made by a 24-year-old Anger Retaliatory rapist regarding his revenge fantasy:
“Right now I wouldn’t put anything past me. Some of the stuff that goes through my head – I could do anything. I’ve always been one that never let anyone fuck me over and get a second try. In fantasy, I take it out on anybody: Cops, judges, prosecutors. Usually, I think of a cop or prosecutor, and I think of his wife, daughter, or sister. I rape her in front of him, and then I kill her, and maybe I hurt him, but I always leave him alive so he’ll remember.”

The Anger Retaliation rapist is just what the name suggests. The rapist is offending on the basis of cumulative experienced or imagined insults from people that are in his world. The rape victim may be one of these people such as a relative, a girlfriend, or a coworker. Or the victim may symbolize that person to the offender in dress, occupation, and/or physical characteristics. Sex, in either case, becomes a weapon that the rapist uses for revenge.

The sexual control and humiliation of the victim is an extension of the offender’s physical attack. The main goal of the rapist is to service his cumulative aggression. He is retaliating against the victim for wrongs or perceived wrongs, and his aggression can manifest itself spanning a wide range, from verbally abusive epithets to hyper-aggressed murder.

It is important not to confuse this type of offender with the Anger Excitation rapist. Although they do share some characteristics, the motivations are wholly separate. Also, a distinct lack of planning and overall rapist preparedness will be apparent at the Anger Retaliatory rapist crime scene.

IV. Anger Excitation
(AKA Sadistic rapist)

Method of attack: Con

A. Fantasy Behavior

1. Verbal/Script
-The rapist will initially say things that lower the victim’s guard
-The rapist reads the victim and says things meant to gain trust and confidence while enticing them away from safe areas.

-During the rape, the rapist may demand to be called a certain name to indicate victim subservience(Sir, Master, Lord, etc.)

-The rapist may ask “Does it hurt?” or “Did that hurt?”

-“Beg for more.”
-Will call the victim demeaning, humiliating names attesting to his view of their worthlessness (bitch, slut., whore, etc.)

2. Sexual Behavior

-The rapist has an extensive collection of pornography

-Sexually stimulated by the victim’s response to the infliction of physical and emotional pain

-Rapes may be rehearsed in private and with compliant victims (i.e.- wife or girlfriend)

-Sexual bondage apparatus and behaviors will be involved

-Sexual experimentation on the victim, including biting, insertion of foreign objects in the vagina or anus, and the use of sexual torture devices

-Prefers anal sex followed in frequency by forced fellatio

-Prefers ejaculation on specific parts of the victim’s body

-Sexually selfish; the victim’s primary function is to suffer, sexually

-THIS OFFENDER IS THE MOST LIKELY TO RECORD THE RAPE FOR LATER FANTASIZATION (video, photos, journal, audio, maps, calendars, diaries, media clippings)

-These “trophies” will be hidden in a secret hiding place (home, office, vehicle, storage space, etc.)

3. Physical Behavior

-Brutal level of force used

-Brutality inflicted against specific areas of the victim’s body of sexual significance to the offender (feet, nipples, anus, vagina, mouth, etc.)

-The intensity of specified sexual brutality will increase with the rapist’s anger, which increases with the level of sexual arousal

B. MO Behavior[41]
>-The rapist selects an occupation that allows him to act as an authority figure which puts him in a position to identify and acquire victims (impersonate law enforcement, the victim responds to a classified ad, etc.)

-Rapes planned in exacting detail

-Rapes executing methodically

-Presents the image of a loving and sincere individual

-Assesses and chooses vulnerable victims for seduction

-Preference for adult victims

-Victims will likely be non-aggressive and have low self-esteem

-Rape kit brought with him to the scene, containing weapons, bindings, and any sexual apparatus

-Rape lasts for an extended period of time (majority last more than 24 hours)

-Rapist is very prolific; high victim count

-Victim lured to an area which the rapist has complete control over (his vehicle, basement, garage)


-Most likely to kill victims

Example:1, the practiced veneer[19]:

A portion from a diagnostic report made by clinicians after eight hours of interviewing an Anger Excitation rapist who has also killed a number of his victims:
“At his best, Eric impressed us as personable, likable, and friendly. He was able to express effects which ranged from warm humor to painful hurt freely, openly, and appropriately. He demonstrated the ability to describe people and situations clearly and to articulate his feelings well. Although rapport was well established, Eric appeared guarded and careful in the material he related… He related in a rather passive-submissive manner; he responded to our questions but asked few of his own and made very few demands while here at the center.”

Example: 2, the sexual sadist[6]:

Background/ victimology from a case study on sadistic (Anger Excitation) rapist: “On the occasion of his first rape, the offender, Martin, was at an after-school party and assaulted a 14-year-old girl. When she refused his advances, he choked her until she passed out. When she regained consciousness, he was still lying beside her. The commitment offense occurred one year later, when Martin, age 19, killed a 30-year-old woman by manual strangulation. He had met the victim in a bar, and they left together to go to a secluded area to engage in sex. To what extent the decisions leading up to the rape were mutual cannot be determined.”

This rapist is perhaps the most individually complex. This rapist is motivated strongly by intense, individually varying fantasies that involve inflicting brutal levels of pain on the victim solely for the rapist’s sexual pleasure. This rapist’s goal is total victim fear and submission. Sadism is defined quite consistently in the literature as the combination of aggression with sexuality[3], [5], [6], [9], [19], [34]. This rapist has learned to eroticize physical aggression. The result is that the victim must be physically and psychologically abused and degraded for this rapist to become sexually excited and subsequently gratified.

This rapist will also grow more confident over time, as his egocentricity is the highest of any rapist type. He believes himself brilliant and mentally superior to all others, especially law enforcement[10]. He may even find ways of exulting his success that can give an indication of his identity. Due to his perception of police incompetence, he may learn not to plan as carefully as he otherwise might. This could give investigators the false impression that he wanted to be apprehended, which he would happily indulge in.

The most alarming fact about the Anger Excitation rapist is that he exhibits all of the behavioral indicators of a sociopath (Hare[20]). This rapist considers the rules and expectations of society inconvenient and unreasonable impediments to the behavioral expression of his inclinations and wishes. He is by his nature a good liar and a good judge of people. He is also a master of impression management; whatever he wants you to perceive of himself, you do. He also has the ability to maintain complete control of his motives and actions while succumbing to frenzied displays of aggression. His behavior seems paradoxical and is nearly unpredictable to those of us who have been successfully socialized.

It is precisely for those reasons that this offender presents the greatest danger to the potential victim (Cleckley[7], [19], [34]). Anger Excitation rapists are able to surmise the weakest and most vulnerable victims, and then are further capable of luring those victims away to places where they are in total control. Once the Anger Excitation rapist has accomplished this, the victim is going to suffer until he decides to end the rape. In some cases, this means releasing the victim, but in most cases, this means escalating to homicide. In the course of raping, this offender has no compunction about escalating to homicide if he perceives it necessary to protect his identity or achieve gratification.

This rapist preserves his identity with great skill, however, because he is socially personable and lives his life competently with little or no leakage as to his true sadistic nature[19]. A study of criminal sexual sadists observed that 43% were married during the time of their offenses (Dietz[10], [20]). This may keep him from becoming a suspect well into any investigation.
V. Opportunistic

Method of attack: Any

A. Fantasy Behavior

1. Verbal/Script
-Verbally selfish

-Will control victims with threats

2. Sexual Behavior

-Sexually selfish

-Interested in immediate gratification

-Little or no fantasy behavior involved

-Victim is merely sexually convenient

-No paraphilic activity

3. Physical Behavior

-Minimal levels of force used

-Victim physical damage minimal

-Indifferent to the comfort or welfare of victims

B. MO Behavior

-Rape lasts a very short period of time

-Rape is committed hastily, and lots of evidence is left at the scene

-Drugs or alcohol may be used by the offender or used to disable the victim

-Victims can be strangers or known

-Rape is controlled by the context it occurs in

The primary motivation of this offender is to gratify his need to have sex with the victim. This sexual motivation is not based on any strong fantasy or predilection. He does not set out to accomplish this rape and he does not prepare for this rape in any great detail. During the course of the other activities he engages in throughout the day, the opportunity to rape someone occurs, and he seizes upon it. The context controls the rape process, and although there is no gratuitous use of force, the level of force is generally what the rapist feels is necessary to maintain control. If the victim is known to the rapist, the rapist will still rape with little or no concern for the effect it will have on the victim.

A number of these rapes occur during the commission of another crime, often burglars who happen upon sleeping women in the homes they burglarize. The crime scene of such a rapist will contain all kinds of evidence. Again, investigators may seize upon this and say, yes he left all of this evidence, I even found a business card with his name on it next to the condom he used that got lost in the victim’s sheets; he must have wanted to be caught. In fact, this rapist is merely sloppy, unprepared, and prey to the carelessness which is the hallmark of an unplanned rape. It is generally felt that these rapists suffer from extremely poor impulse control.

In assessing the Opportunity rapist, remember to look for any behavior that indicates preplanning such as evidence of victim surveillance, or the use of materials not found at the crime scene that might suggest a rape kit. It is not uncommon for investigators to mistakenly theorize that the violent predatory rapist types are actually Opportunistic rapists, and therefore less dangerous, because of a failure to recognize preplanning behavior.

One final note on the individuality of the fantasy motive: it has been suggested several times in this work that investigators should remain objective to the offender’s point of view. This means when reconstructing the fantasy motive, consider the crime scene, the victim, the offender, and subsequent behavior evidence in the light of the rapist’s fantasy. Not from the investigator’s interpretation of events, and not from the victim’s interpretation of events. View the behavior evidence through the eyes of the rapist. His fantasy is not about what factually occurred, it is about what he believes has occurred. What does the rapist believe has occurred? What fantasy was he trying to create? Keeping objective to that view, the fantasy motive will be much clearer to the investigator, and his understanding of future rapes will be increased.


There are three excellently detailed methods for developing behavioral profiles from behavioral evidence that has been collected and compiled about a serial rapist, his crime scenes, and his victims. Those are found in Burgess et al[5], Burgess et al[6], and most recently Holmes et al, 2nd Edition[26] which contains a very important discussion about forensic geography. They each have step-by-step analytical models with flow charts and everything.

The purpose of this section is to discuss in specific detail the types of investigative relevant inferences that can be made using behavior evidence, and that will comprise the body of a behavioral profile. The term investigative relevant arises from the observance that some of the inferences possible using profiling techniques have only “gee whiz” value until a suspect is generated. This section will therefore concentrate on those inferences that directly relate to developing a unique suspect set from a universal suspect set.

The inferences are listed below, each with an example of how that particular inference can be made and an explanation as to why it is investigative significant. The broader discussions about what can be learned from a behavioral profile, from which some of these have been referenced, may be found in Burgess et al[5], [6], Douglas[12], Douglas, et al[13], Geberth[15], [16], Ressler[37]. Please keep in mind that inferences should be made in aggregate, in consideration of each other, not each in a vacuum as though they exist separately. If inferences about a rapist are not consistent, the profiler should be prepared to explain why.

Physical Characteristics

The description of the rapist is an investigative staple. It is grist for the sketch artist and then the media. It will include information like age, height, weight, and hair color.
In the absence of witness testimony, which does occur with living victims who never see their attacker, many behavioral elements can be utilized to assess the rapist’s physical traits. Hair analysis of the victim’s clothing can give you potential hair colors, etc.

For this instance, assume that the rapist’s age is in question. A behavioral indicator of age can be the control exhibited during an attack. Younger rapists can tend to be less controlled, less experienced, and less patient with their rape behavior. If a rapist demonstrates extreme levels of control over his own behavior at the crime scene, this may infer an offender in the 30+ range.

This is significant because now investigators have a better idea of who they are physically looking for.
Intelligence is defined as the capacity for learning, reasoning, and understanding.

Behavioral indicators that infer an intelligent rapist include such things as altering MO due to information learned about an investigation in the media.

The papers print that the police have a rapist’s DNA from his sperm. The very next attack the lab reports that the semen sample that was retrieved from the victim had no sperm. However, the signature and MO are the same. Investigators may infer that this rapist has gone and gotten himself a vasectomy to avoid DNA identification in subsequent rapes. This is an example of learning, and learning is part of being intelligent.

This is investigative significant because from intelligence, future behaviors can be inferred, responses to mistakes made during attacks can be inferred, education may be inferred, and occupation can be surmised in concert with other inferences.


An important but often ignored behavioral indicator of education is language. This may not always be apparent to a victim but can be assessed more accurately when she is of one socio-economic class, and the rapist is of another.
The latest victim in a series of rapes is from a very low socioeconomic class. She has very poor grammar and speech habits. The victim reports in her statement that her attacker had good speech and smelled clean. She also reported that he did not use any offensive language.

From these very few details, it can be inferred that this rapist did not belong to that victim’s socio-economic class. His speech was different from hers so he didn’t belong to that immediate area. Due to his good speech, and the fact that derogatory language tends to flow quite freely from many less educated rapists, education may be inferred about this rapist.

She also noted his clean smell, so it can be further inferred that he wasn’t using alcohol and is possibly a non-smoker. Over time and offenses, these inferences may be substantiated.

This inference is significant because it does begin to landscape the type of occupation that this rapist may have. It also gives rise to inferences about his residence in relation to the site of the rape.

Inferences about the rapist’s residence in relation to the crime scene can be one of the most important investigative inferences available through behavioral profiling. It essentially asks the question of an offender, “Do you live here, nearby, or are you a stranger to this place? Does your interaction with the crime scene or even the selection of the crime scene require special knowledge?”

A teenage victim has been attacked in the morning on a secluded path that is rarely used by anyone. She was attacked from behind, dragged into some bushes off the path, bound and gagged with duct tape, and raped repeatedly. Upon investigation, it is learned that this path cannot be seen from nearby roads, and can only be entered into from neighborhoods that lay on either side. The path has a lake on one side, and a steep hill on the other with no residences along it. Investigators also learned that the victim had unexpectedly spent the night at a friend’s house and generally does not use that path. In essence, there was no way anyone could have planned for her to be on that path because she had not planned it herself and did not frequent it.

There are many good inferences possible from this small amount of information. One of the most important is that access to this path requires special information that only inhabitants of the neighborhoods on either side of the path might possess. Also important, only residences of either neighborhood would have occasion to use the path functionally. Functional use of the path is the only way the rapist would have encountered this victim, as he could not have preplanned to attack her there.

The relevant inference here is that this rapist lives or works in one of the two neighborhoods on either side of the path. He’s not some stranger to the area who just bussed in to commit rape and then will bus back out when he’s done.

So why did he have the duct tape?


When considering employment inferences, it is important to reconcile them with inferences regarding intelligence and education. Is this the kind of rapist who is very intelligent but might have a menial occupation? If so, make sure to explain why.
All of the victims in a series of rapes are younger teenage girls walking to the same school through a heavily wooded path between 7:30-8:00 AM. The wooded path brings them to a soccer field on the edge of the school property. Many students do this each morning. The rapist’s MO includes attacking the victim from behind, using verbal threats with no weapon present, and covering the victim’s face. The victim never sees the rapist. During the latest attack, the rapist asks the victim about her cheerleading practice later that afternoon. The rapist is described by all victims as being a larger, older man who is quite strong.

Again, there are many inferences possible from the information in the example. Regarding the rapist’s occupation, however, there are several that are key. First, he has semi-special knowledge of the wooded path used by students. Second, he always covers their eyes and never lets them see him, indicating that they might have contact with him at a later time. Third, he has specific knowledge about young girls’ after-school activities. It is inferable, from all of this, that the rapist works at the school. It may be inferable that this rapist is a teacher or administrator at that school, perhaps involved with extra-curricular student activities.

The relevant inferences from this particular example move the rapist to a unique set of characteristics almost immediately.

Hobbies and Interests
This area of inference is important because it will let you know what this rapist does with his time when he is not raping. It may infer involvement with clubs, or organizations, or require specialized equipment that can only be purchased from particular area vendors.
All of the victims in a series of rapes are women ages 20-35 living alone in different apartment complexes throughout the city. The attacks all occur between the hours of 1 AM and 3 AM after they have gone to sleep. He uses a short sword, ties them up with clothing he finds at the scene and wears a black mask. They also describe him as wearing a black outfit making him look like a ninja. Each of the victims further describes the rapist as a strong, lean, muscular individual. He has the particular habit of gagging his victims with a pair of underwear from their own clothes hamper, when available. There is no sign of forced entry.

As with the other examples, there are many potential inferences from this example. Relating to hobbies and interests, however, particular attention should be paid to the rapist’s outfit and props. He apparently has developed an interest in martial arts. Likely he belongs to martial arts clubs in the area or practices in a gym or dojo. He owns at least one sword, perhaps more. This, combined with those people who had access to the apartment complexes, begins to move this rapist into a unique set of characteristics.
Location Selection

Location selection is one of those very fantasy-dependent MO behaviors. It is dependent upon desired victim population, subsequent availability, the rapist’s knowledge of a given area, and the rapist’s own personal schedule. These elements converge in one place at one time for an attack location to be chosen.

All of the victims in a series of rapes are women getting into their cars in the same shopping mall during the day between 12:00 AM and 1:00 PM. They are generally carrying a lot of packages, have parked their vehicles some distance from entrances to the mall, and are raped in their vehicles. The victims are generally beaten without provocation by the rapist and forced to perform fellatio. The rapist is observed by several of the victims leaving on foot.

A primary location selection inference possible from this example is observing the time the rapes occur. The offenses all occur during the lunch hour, suggesting that the location is a function of the rapist’s schedule, possibly a work schedule. That the rapist can leave on foot, without a vehicle, suggests that he works nearby. This is significant because it helps narrow the suspect pool to men in the very local population who take their lunch from 12 to 1.

Other behavior evidence will help narrow the suspect pool further. As stated before, location is dependent on many offender variables. If it can be established why a location is chosen over another, and with consistency, then the motive will be that much more apparent.
Victim Selection

The type of victims that a rapist selects are also very Fantasy dependent on MO behaviors. They are an expression of what the rapist needs to make his fantasy real. If they have common characteristics, this will tell investigators about the particular requirements of the rapist’s fantasy. If they are not consistent with any characteristics, then this is also significant to the rapist’s motive.

All of the victims of a series of rapes are young girls aged 13 to 15. They go to different private schools throughout a metropolitan area. The MO is an attack on the victim from behind as she is walking to school between 8:30 AM and 9:30 AM, with a knife displayed to the victim. The rapist removes them to a pre-selected hidden area nearby. The rapist duct tapes his victims’ mouths, forces anal sex on them, followed by fellatio, and then leaves, taking all of the victims’ clothes with him. The victims each walk the same route to school every day. The victims all wear plaid skirts and white blouses. The victims all have the same general physical characteristics.

The precise signature behavior of this rapist(pubescent, attending private school, wearing specific clothing, of specific physical characteristics) demands that he can only predate certain locations. His MO must include surveillance and a great deal of other preplanning behaviors all surrounding private catholic schools at a certain time during the day.

Knowing this is investigative significant in this example because investigators will be able to establish generally where the rapist will be, at what time, and with which victims are in mind to make his fantasy(his preferred sexual behavior of choice) come true. This opens the door for a great deal of proactive investigative behavior in relation to future victims.

There are quite a great many other investigative significant inferences that can be from behavior evidence, more than can be listed in this work. These are just some of the major examples. They demonstrate the kind of thinking, reasoning, and association that is the grist of behavioral profiling. It is important, again, to keep in mind that these inferences should not be made in a vacuum, and should be kept consistent with each other. If they are not consistent over time, there should be a plausible explanation for it(i.e.- Rapist relocates, rapist goes to jail, rapist changes occupations).


Behavioral profiling is one tool of many that can be utilized to investigate a series of unsolved rapes when there are no suspects and no understood motive. The most important part of behavioral profiling is the recognition, collection, and reconstruction of behavioral evidence. Linkage blindness can prevent the collection of behavior evidence in early rapes. To avoid linkage blindness, every rape investigation should take the attitude that it is part of a series until it can be otherwise established. Additionally, future linkage blindness can be avoided by the formation of task forces to promote information sharing and prevent jurisdictional conflicts.

In distinguishing behavior evidence that has been recognized, it must be further determined which behaviors are static(Fantasy Oriented signature behaviors) and which are dynamic(MO Oriented learned behaviors). Also, the use of a rapist typology can give the investigator a psychological/behavioral snapshot of the rapist during a given rape. This will all provide for linking future rapes to the current series in the absence of strong physical evidence. It will also increase the investigator’s understanding of the rapist’s motivation and potential future behavior.

Once all of these considerations have been tended to, investigative relevant inferences can be made about the rapist from the behavior evidence and the suspect pool can be narrowed from the universal set to the unique set. Accomplishing this, investigative leads can be developed where before there appeared to be none, and the investigation is likely to stay on the right track.


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