While the method of operation, also known as modus operandi consists of techniques, habits, and peculiarities consistent in serial killer’s behavior, the investigators may also encounter deliberate alterations of the crime scene or the position of victim’s body.
Sometimes the alterations are made to mislead the investigators and are merely known as staging, but in some cases, the alterations may serve the fantasy needs of a killer, which is considered a part of his signature and referred to as posing.
So, what is the real reason behind serial killers posing their victims?
In most cases, the posing of the victim has some obscure meaning known only to the perpetrator. Otherwise, it could serve as a way for the killer to send a message to the police or public.
A serial killer may dispose the body beside a “No Dumping” sign, or as in the case of Henry Lee Lucas, near the gates of a prison.
The “Gainesville Ripper,” Danny Rolling, left the head of one of his victims on a fireplace mantel, facing the door.
Another example is the “Boston Strangler,” Albert DeSalvo, who left his victims posed in a position exposing their genitals toward the door. After DeSalvo killed his sixth victim, 67-year-old Jane Sullivan, he left her body in the bathtub in a kneeling position. The victim’s face lay beneath about six inches of water, and her bare buttocks were exposed. After a while, investigators concluded that the victim had been killed in another room and then taken to the bathroom for posing.
After his arrest, Albert DeSalvo was questioned about posing his victims. The only thing he could say was, “I just did it.”
But experts believe that the real intention was to shock whoever found the bodies, just like in “Jack the Ripper” case, in which the victims were found with their legs spread apart.
According to the FBI, such posing is a sign of a disorganized personality serial killer.
The infamous cannibalistic homosexual serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer posed and photographed his victim’s bodies to be able to relive the events in future and stimulate his obsession with sexual sadism and necrophilia.
William Lester Suff, the “Riverside Prostitute Killer,” was convicted of killing thirteen women between 1988 and 1991. The majority of his victims were street prostitutes, and as a result, Suff left some of the bodies next to dumpsters with their arms turned outward to expose needle track marks. Such posing was a message regarding the worth of victims.