While the method of operation, also known as modus operandi, consists of techniques, habits, and peculiarities consistent in serial killer’s behavior, investigators might also encounter deliberate alterations of the crime scene or the position of the victim’s body.
Sometimes the alterations are made to mislead the investigators and are merely known as staging. However, in some cases, the alterations might serve the needs of the killer’s fantasy and are considered a part of his signature and referred to as posing.
In most cases, the victim’s pose has some obscure meaning only known to the perpetrator. It could also be a way for the killer to send a message to the police or the public.
A serial killer may dispose of the body beside a “No Dumping” sign, or as in the case of Henry Lee Lucas, dump it near a prison gate.
Another real-life example is the “Boston Strangler” Albert DeSalvo, who posed his victims solely to shock those who discovered the bodies. In most cases, DeSalvo left his victims with their genitals exposed toward the door.
After murdering his sixth victim, 67-year-old Jane Sullivan, DeSalvo left her body in a bathtub in a kneeling position with her bare buttocks exposed. Investigators determined that the victim had been murdered in another room and then taken to the bathroom for posing.
When DeSalvo was questioned about posing his victims, he said, “I just did it.”
However, as mentioned before, experts believe that the real intention was to shock whoever found the bodies, just like in the case of “Jack the Ripper,” who posed his victims with their legs spread apart.
According to the FBI, such posing is a sign of a disorganized serial killer.
The infamous cannibalistic homosexual serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer posed and photographed his victim’s bodies to be able to relive the memories in the future and stimulate his obsession with sexual sadism and necrophilia.
William Lester Suff, the “Riverside Prostitute Killer,” was convicted of killing 12 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.
Criminal psychologists believe this was Suff’s statement regarding the worth of his victims.