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By Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, PhD
EDITOR’S NOTE – CONTENT WARNING: The following article contains subject matter that may be disturbing or upsetting to some of our readers, as it includes descriptions of violent crimes and deviant criminal behavior.
They are the world’s most elusive hunters. Using their looks, their status, and their personalities, female sex killers can be the most difficult to catch. I have studied serial killers all of my adult life and am the only profiler to interview a large group of female serial killers and create their profiles. I work with police on such cases around the United States, and from first- hand experience, I can attest to the fact that female rape murderers are clever.
Though rare, such predators are more common than the general public knows. Why? In most instances, when a female rapes and kills a victim, the act is done in conjunction with a male partner. As such, when caught, the females play innocent and blame the male. This strategy has proven highly effective over the years because people are hesitant to believe that a woman could rape and murder. But it does happen, and sometimes, the female will act alone.
Out of all the interviews I have done with male and female serial killers, the only offender who ever made me uncomfortable was a female sex killer. She had a long history of violence and killed with no remorse. What made her unique is that she was very open about her love for drawing blood using knives, and she said if she ever got out of prison, she would kill again.
These offenders are a unique breed in that they have a real taste for hurting helpless victims. They enjoy the feeling they get when using objects to rape. In fact, female rape killers will often use jagged instruments when they attack. These women are especially brutal with female victims, and almost always, they will mutilate the genitalia. Such women have told me that they chose to hurt their victims so viciously because it turned them on. Like their male counterparts, it was sexually exciting.
To capture their prey, these women use a rouse to trick their victims who are always smaller in size. They use their gender as a cover for their evil intentions because most people find it hard to believe that the fairer sex could rape and kill a child. However, children are not their only victims. Such offenders have been known to target adults since everyone is less wary of a woman. This allows these super predators access to almost any type of victim.
The killers are drawn to traditionally “feminine” jobs such as nursing, caregiving, teaching, or the sex trade. These fields give them natural cover to get close to victims. Like their male counterparts, female sex killers fantasize about rape and murder. However, unlike men, women tend to be less selective about the type of victims they choose. For instance, male sex killers typically prefer certain types of victim such as 20-year-old blondes. But for the women, victim age and gender are less important than opportunity. Female predators search for that which is easy to get. If she works in a nursing home, she may go after the elderly and rape them in their beds. If the woman works as a prostitute, she will target customers. If she teaches, she often sets her sights on students. These women crave what is familiar to them, and they watch their prey over time to assess how easy it would be to attack.
The killers tend to have spotty work histories as well as a string of failed relationships. They dabble in sexual relationships and will try everything from lesbianism to child molestation. Emotionally they find it hard to be “centered,” and family will cover for the women when they engage in strange behavior. In looking at their backgrounds, their life pattern tends to be as follows:
* Child abuse (victim of)
* Acting out (violent against animals & other children)
* Sexually promiscuous
* Psychopathic behavior (stealing, fire setting, lying)
* Attaching to steady figure (older male)
* Increased time alone
* Practicing violence
The interesting part of this pattern is that when looking back, it is easy to see how the women progressed. And there is almost always someone who knew about the increasingly dangerous behavior but did nothing to stop it. There is a tendency in families to hide problems, and those that produce female rape murderers are no exception. The crimes are so aberrant that even those close to these women find it hard to believe that their child/friend/spouse could do such things. The women are well aware of this and use it to their advantage. At every turn, they will plant doubt into the minds of those who question. They will act strange on purpose to try to confuse people. Then they turn on the water works and cry to appear innocent. The thing that tends to be consistent with these killers is that people around them will say that the women were “strange” or “unusual.” Others will even say that the women made them feel uncomfortable at times, but again, because of their gender, people are reluctant to be suspicious.
Once caught, the women go to emotional extremes and will do everything from attempting to seduce investigators to acting out in an almost psychotic like way. When female rape murderers are cornered, they are more likely to talk than other female killers. However, their ‘confessions’ will be self serving and filled with lies. They will be flamboyant and spin tales of their own horrific abuse in order to garner sympathy. However, make no mistake, such women are devious and know exactly what they are doing. They use the rarity of their crimes to hide the truth of what lies beneath their façades. These types of crimes are actually becoming more common, so parents must become educated about this ‘newer’ predator that is stalking their children. As awareness grows, expect to see the discovery of more of these types of crimes. When society realizes what has been hiding in its midst, an innocence will be lost, but protection will be gained. People will be shocked when they discover what happened in the Sandra Cantu murder case. But the horror will provide the necessary wake-up call and education that parents need in order to be forearmed in the future.
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