Asphyxia is a condition of a severe lack of oxygen given to the body due to not being able to breathe normally. The lack of the ability to breath can come from multiple ways including physical strangulation and choking. Asphyxia can lead to death, coma, or brain damage.
Sexual asphyxia can be practiced both as an autoerotic activity and as a consensual sadomasochistic act between tow or more people. Conversely, nonconsensual sexual asphyxia would be for the needs of the person restricting the other persons oxygen source and is bet described as an intentional criminal act. (Criminal Profiling pg 214)
There are many different kinds of sexual fetishes and stimulations, some are legal and some are not. Sexual Asphyxia is one of the most dangerous because it has a severe chance of death. Sexual Asphyxia is legal if consensual or done alone. So it should not be treated like intentional homicide if there is an accidental death.
If an investigator is trying to decide if a death was a result of autoerotic asphyxia or suicide there are a few things to look for. First Evidence that death was not what was expected like pornography and sexual fantasy items can lead the belief that it was accidental along with padding to protect the neck while causing asphyxia. Evidence that it was not the first time and was repeated often. A way to escape most be available. The presence of semen and/or being nude help determine but the lack of it does not rule out autoerotic asphyxia.
The following are clues that point toward autoerotic death. The body being found in a secure private area where no one would intrude. If the person looks like they could have saved themselves by standing up or other means. The appearance of alcohol or drugs. The presence of self-rescue mechanisms. Items with sexual fantasy significance to the victim like handcuffs and leather harnesses. Healed masochistic injuries that show a past of self inflicted pain for sexual pleasure. Props like mirrors photos films or a recording method. If the victim had future plans and no apparent suicidal intent
It is also important to note that family members or friends that first come to the scene of an accidental death might destroy or move evidence to help protect the deceased image or their own.
Criminal Profiling Fourth Edition
Victomology is extremely important in most cases and allows a starting point for any investigation. Most violent crimes are committed by someone that knows the victim. In a case where a victim can testify that should be the starting point. Questions like did the victim know the perpetrator. Does the victim suspect anyone and why. Does the victim have a history of reporting crimes or have a history of crime. While not always accurate these questions can be useful.
Finding out why a person was victimized is very helpful to find a type of offender and also a type of potential victim. Serial offenders pick there targets and often try to find the ideal victim before acting. Finding out what victims have in common will help find potential victims and where an offense might take place. The type of victim and how the crime was committed show what kind of offender to look for.
While looking at the victim you can put together their last twenty-four hours and find where they where and who they might have been involved with. Finding a last known location can narrow down who had access, who was nearby, or give a pool of people to interview.
There is also risk assessment to take in account for the offender. If the crime to place in a High, Medium, Low Exposure. If there is a high risk of getting caught like a large group of people the offender is more likely to be experienced or skilled and knows what they are doing. There is also the exposure of the victim to take into account. Some people are at higher risk to be exposed to violence. Children have a higher risk do to lower mental and physical ability along with reliance on adults. Females are at higher risk. Elderly, immigrants, minorities, the depressed and the heart broken are also types that are at a higher risk to violence.
Lifestyle can also lead to being subjected to violence more often. Careers can cause someone to be more involved in violence. Law enforcement officers, drug dealers, and prostitutes are good examples of this. Even if someone is in an extremely high risk situation it is important to remember that it is not the victims fault, everyone is vulnerable to violent crime at some point.
Criminal Profiling Fourth Edition
Psychopathy and sadism by Elisabeth Jacobs
Psychopathy and Sadism
Psychopathy and sadism are two offender classifications that are behaviorally determined. The criminal profiler will adress both behavioral patterns as crime scene characteristics.
Psychopathy is a personality disorder evidenced by a distinctive cluster of behaviors and inferred personality traits defined by the Hare Psychopathy checklist-Revised (PCL-R) (Hare, 1991). A psychopath is an individual capable of enjoying what most would consider horrible, heinous acts, and recognizing the harmful consequences of those acts of others, but incapable of feeling remorse and unwilling to stop. In other words, a social predator (diagnosed with psychopathy) who often charms and manipulates his or her way through life; they are completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others; they take what they want and do as they please without the slightest sense of guilt or regret.
There are different characteristics which help you recognize a psychopath according to the Hare Psychopathy checklist-Revised: lack of empathy, conning/manipulative, criminal versatility, failure to accept responsibility for actions, glib and superficial, grandiose sense of self-worth, impulsivity, lack of remorse and guilt, poor behavioral control, … to list the most important. Their motivation isn’t really different then non psychopaths-criminals, they have the same needs and inducements but they will differ in the fact that they will do this to satisfy their needs.
Example cases: United States v. Aquilia Barnette (2000), Crawford Wilson, Leon James Preston.
Sociopaths are almost the same as psychopaths but with the explicit exception that they have a syndrome forged entirely by social forces and early experiences. Criminal behaviors use it to describe any perceived cruel act, without respect to specific motivation or context. In short it is any violent act whereby the victim suffers either psychological or physical abuse while she is still alive whereby the offender is sexually aroused. The forensic pathologist has to make a time schedule to know if the wounds and physical damage to the victim happened before or after she died because necrophilia is often wrongly appointed as sadism. They let the victim suffer and get dominance over her by restraint, blindfolding, padding, spanking, whipping, pinching, beating, burning, electrical shocks, rape, cutting, stabbing, strangulation, torture, mutilation, or killing.
People often confuse sadism with lustmurder. Lustmurder has been defined as any sexually motivated homicide. In literature some authors make the wrong assumption stating that sadism is synonymous with lustmurder (or an equivalent). If there is an occurrence of postmortem lustmurder, they will probably wrongfully refer to the criminal as a sadist. (De Burger and Holmes, 1988; Gebert, 1996; Birnes and Keppel, 1997). Other authors say that lustmurder is sadism even if the victim doesn’t suffer (Geberth and Turco, 1997).
In literature there are 2 common misinterpretations of sadism. They say that behaviors motivated by punishment and anger are immediately interpreted as sadisitic and postmortem necrophilic or mutilation behaviors. Two famous criminals that have been wrongfully accused of sadism are Ted Bundy and Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper evidenced both anger-retaliatory and reassurance-oriented behavior. Ted Bundy on the other hand wasn’t a sadist because he experienced sexual gratification through necrophilia. A few examples that were indeed sadists are: Neville G.C. Heath, and Paul .
Turvey, Brent E. Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis, Fourth Edition, Academic Press, 2012, pages 448-479