Serial Perpetrators: What’s so Surprising?

By Jeanne Sarson | Jan 4, 2013


Probably like many others, I have been reading Forsaken The Report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry or listening to Wally Oppal speak about his report that gave names and womanhood value to 67 women who had for years been forsaken and invisibilized.[1] Mr. Oppal’s report speaks to the fact that when the police were notified that women had gone missing these concerns got lost in the squabble between police departments and whether there was or was not a serial killer on the loose. And if not departmentally squabbling over what ought to have been recognized as a common reality that serial killers exist—that they walk and work among us—efforts, it seems, were also spent on actively rejecting the comments of individual police who did suggest that the women who were missing and found murdered may have been victims of a serial killer. This regrettably was the experience of ex-policeman, Kim Rossmo. When working with the Vancouver police department he was unable to convince colleagues and his superiors of the possibility that the women were being murdered by a serial killer.[2]

As long as patriarchy is the status quo glue within all global societies, attitudes of misogyny and sexism will mix with other isms such as racism and childism and be contributing factors to the trivialization and negation of the many forms of violence inflicted against women and girls. Such factors further combine to objectify and deem women who are prostituted as less worthy, as were some of the missing and murdered women. There is no country on this planet that is exempt; there is no community, no system including police forces that are exempt from the detrimental effects of the destructive attitudes embedded in patriarchy.

In Canada, trivializing and invisibilizing the severity of forms of violence suffered by women and girls (or by any other citizen) is evident by our government’s refusal, for example, to criminalize torture perpetrated by private individuals or non-state actors. This creates a due diligence blind spot in how communities, systems and the police respond to reports of non-state torture. Likewise, if communities, systems, and police do not illuminate that serialization of many crimes occurs then blind spots interfere in their ability to respond effectively. For instance, Mr. Oppal identified that one of “seven major pitfalls in police investigations” of serial killers is that “investigators are often unwilling to admit they have a serial killer in their jurisdiction” (p.27). I find such a statement disturbing as it validates how such an attitude creates investigative blind spots in police investigations. It also affirms why for almost 20 years Linda and I have been repeatedly told by persons who have survived serial non-state torture victimization that they were not believed by police when they tried to tell. Many tried to tell repeatedly.  Just as Mr. Oppal speaks of how the missing and murdered women were marginalized and socially discarded—considered “Nobody”—women who survived non-state torture also speak of their social marginalization, of being labelled mentally ill, or how they felt they were treated as “non-persons”. Some women also tell of how this social reality reinforced the torturers destructive statements that they were a “Nobody”; that no one would listen to them or believe them if they tried to tell, and that no one would care.  

Since it is identified that there is often unwillingness on the part of investigators to admit there is a serial predator, a serial killer, in their jurisdiction, in this blog I will focus on exposing my position on the reality of serial perpetrators. Serial meaning that a person commits acts repeatedly in the same way. I will expose my perspective on just how prevalent various serial perpetrators and predators are and the many forms of serial perpetration they commit. Obviously there is a need to routinely think about the serialization of crimes and serial perpetrators if prevention and protection are to be achieved. My list of who ought-to-be-considered violent serial criminal perpetrators and predators who operate in the ‘so-called’ domestic or private sphere includes:

  1. Serial partner or spousal physical batterers who repeat their patterns of relational violence over and over again—they can repeatedly perpetrate their violence for a life time.
  2. Spousal or partner rapist who has a serial pattern of repeatedly inflicting sexualized violence.
  3. The adult serial perpetrator, for example, a person who repeatedly batters a friend, a professional who uses their positional power to repeatedly rape a client, or a stranger who repeatedly stalks women to rape.
  4. Pedophilic parents who incestuously serially rape their children, predominately girls, as it is not unusual to read in the media that a girl child was raped for years.
  5. Pedophilic non-familiar rapists who serially rape multi victims over extended periods of time, for example, the Catholic priests who were known pedophiles but were transferred from one congregation to another which facilitated their serial victimization of innocent girls and boys.
  6. Serial pedophilic organized family and like-minded torturers whose pleasures are specifically focused on inflicting acts of classic torture. Their serial patterns can involve multi victims of a specific gender, age, or developmental characteristic as well as include the serial torturing of one child for years. Some of these serial perpetrators also incorporate ritualistic patterns into their serial criminal acts, such as performing pedophilic “marriage ceremonies” or having organized like-minded group “parties” where little children are family/group/gang raped and tortured including being psychologically tortured to believe such acts of torture are normal adult-parent-child relationships. 
  7. The serial ‘client-perpetrator(s)’ who repeatedly pays to rape, gang rape, and torture persons who are prostituted. Their serial pattern can include, for example, repetitive raping and torturing of a girl or woman who is held physically captive and confined or they may seek a different non-captive but vulnerable person each time to rape and torture.
  8. The pornographer who serially records and or distributes multi pedophilic or adult rape and torture images including snuff images having successfully found parents who rent out their child for such victimization, or who grooms, entraps, or hunts for vulnerable and ‘disposable’ persons.
  9. Serial human traffickers who manipulate then rape and torture numerous young women before holding them captive and renting them to serial client-perpetrators.
  10. There are ‘sex-tourists’ who knowingly and repeatedly fly to countries with lax laws so they can perpetrate serial raping of children or women with impunity.
  11. Then there are the serial BTKs of the world[4]—bind, torture, and kill serial predators—such as Canadian ex-Col. Russell Williams who began as a serial burglar with a fetish for photographing him-Self cross-dressing in the girl’s and women’s panties and bras, taking home 100s of such stolen items as trophies. He then progressed to serial binding and raping, then to binding, raping, torturing, and murdering including taking necrophilic pictures of his act of killing.[5]     

I’ll end here. Although there are many less serious serial criminals among us, for instance, those who repeatedly steal and who are considered petty thieves.

Had the police initially given serious consideration that a serial killer was active, as stated in Mr. Oppal’s report, Robert Pickton, serial murderer, may have been stopped earlier before according to Robert Pickton he murdered and destroyed the bodies of 49 women. Actively acknowledging and pursuing the existence of serial perpetrators and predators, including serial killers, should be considered a common social and investigative reality. It seems this could help make the world somewhat safer if it promoted perpetrators and predators being captured earlier.


[1] Oppal, W. T. (2012, November 19). Forsaken The report of the missing women commission of inquiry executive summary.
[2] Warick, J. (2012, December 31). Former Sask. Man lauded in Pickton report. The StarPhoenix
[3] BTK was the MO term given to Dennis Lynn Radar, an American serial killer who bound, tortured and killed ten people.
[4] Duffy, A. (2011, August 19). Williams’ victim claims police left her naked, bound until photographer arrived. PostMedia News.
The question mark is by capital9


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