Victim demographics are a
good example of how time spent in fantasy can be viewed as minimal or
excessive. The offender who uses minimal fantasy to fuel the crimes, will
not spend much time in fantasy, which Hazelwood & Warren (2001) categorize
as impulsive. These offenders, according to Hazelwood (1996) only utilize
the victim demographic and self-perception when fantasizing about their
crimes. Fantasies such as these are not elaborate, and the offender only
views himself as a man (self-perception), and the victim as a woman (victim
demographics). This is a caveman mentality or fantasy, where the offender is
simply taking what is perceived by him as a privilege of being a man. In my
opinion, there is more to these fantasies than meets the eye, and by viewing
the Fantasy Wheel the reader can see that there are variables that
contribute to each of these components without actually being observed at
the crime scene.
Offenders who are much more specific when choosing a victim are what
Hazelwood & Warren (2001) label as ritualistic offenders. These individuals
spend a longer period of time in fantasy while creating their perfect
victim. Victim demographics with these offenders will cross, or spill out
upon the theorized crime scene behavior area. Such victims will many times
resemble each other in characteristics such as age, race, gender, hair
color, hair length, body type or life style. All victims of such an offender
may be Caucasian females in their 20's, with long, dark hair, a thin body
type and hitchhike. However, if the offender cannot find a perfect match for
the ideal victim, he may also have settle for short, light colored hair, yet
maintain the rest of the ideal demographics for victims.
Lifestyle of a victim can also be a matter of risk that the offender takes
into consideration while selecting his victim. Holmes and De Burger (1988)
classify some serial murderers as Mission-Oriented because he seems to chose
victims based on those he sees as a threat or disgrace to society. Examples
of this kind of victim include prostitutes and homeless persons. This may be
true in some cases, but there is a more functional reason for choosing such
a victim. Prostitutes and homeless persons are easy prey. Prostitutes are
easily accessible because they will go with the killer for payment and many
times will go unnoticed or unreported when missing. Homeless persons may
also not be missed for long periods of time because of their nomadic life
style and as sad as it is to say, it seems that many times these type of
victims are not given the same priority by law enforcement when attacks take
place. These factors lower the offender's risk of capture because the
victims are of lesser value to society, and so although the type of victim
may hold some symbolic significance to the offender, they may also be a
vulnerable victim chosen to reduce risk.
There are offenders that seem to have no identifiable victim pool. These
offenders may kill many different types of victims. Richard Ramirez, known
as the Night Stalker was one such offender who seemingly did not have a
specifically targeted victim. His victims were men, women, and children of
all ages and races, and he attacked these victims in their homes. In
offenders such as Ramirez, the Fantasy Wheel proposes that these individuals
view victims in general terms or as objects. For these offenders, it is not
the specific type of victim that is intrinsically appealing, but rather that
they are simply humans with emotions to be exploited.
In essence, there are offenders who choose victims based on physical
characteristics and will be quite specific, and others who choose
non-specific victims for the emotional response. Still other offenders will
have an intrinsic motivation for both physical characteristics and the
emotional response. In any case, as each of these variables become more
specific for the offender, the more time he will spend in fantasy and the
more likely it will be evidenced in the crime scene.
Victim demographics can be as simple as gender, and although the offender
may also kill men, the overkill or sexual aspects of the crime scene may
reflect that in fact a woman was the main target for the crime. An example
of this sort of evidence is presented in the Zodiac case. Although men were
also murdered during the series, the women had overkill type injuries that
reflect the primary victimology or demographic.
Hazelwood, R., & Warren, J. (Editors) (2001). Practical aspects of rape
investigation: A multidisciplinary approach (3rd ed.). Boca Raton, FL:
Hazelwood, R. (1996). Audiotape. Violence and criminality conference.
Presented by Specialized Training.
Holmes, R.M. & De Burger, J. (1988). Serial murder: Studies in crime, law
and justice, Vol. 2. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.