History has shown that during their teenage years, the majority of serial killers avoided social events, such as parties, which did not let them experiment with sexual activities among their peers. Without having any solid social structure in their lives, the killers were unable to embark on healthy sexual relationships. The lack of motivation to engage in social interaction caused them to prefer auto-erotic activities, such as masturbation and pornography. Many serial killers did not stick to these activities and became intensely interested in voyeurism, fetishism, and other paraphilias from an early age.

In 1977, Richard Ramirez moved in with his older sister, Ruth, and her husband, Roberto, an obsessive “peeping Tom” who took Ramirez along on his nocturnal exploits (AP Photo)

A person may start to display his deviant behavior by starting out as a harmless peeping tom, but usually, it doesn’t end at this point. In most paraphilias, bondage and dominance feature so strongly that it may cause a killer to move on to housebreaking, rape and finally, start a killing career.

Most serial killers indulged themselves in violent and sadistic fantasies. One of the studies by the FBI has shown that 81 percent of the sexual or serial killers surveyed listed pornography as their primary sexual interest. It was also noted that the killers were “characteristically immersed in fantasy.” Another study, conducted by the North Carolina State Police have found that 75 percent of defendants in violent sex crimes “had some kind of hardcore pornographic material” in their homes or vehicles.

Special Agent John Douglas, head of the FBI’s Investigative Support Unit, holding folders w. crime file folders as he peruses file shelves at the FBI Training Facility; he was a consultant for the film Silence of the Lamb’s. (Photo by Robert Sherbow/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

In his book Journey Into Darkness, a former special agent and unit chief of the FBI, John Douglas, reported that serial-rape murderers are commonly found with an extensive pornography collection, either store-bought or homemade. He also states that FBI research has shown that certain types of sadomasochistic and bondage-oriented material can fuel the fantasies of those already leaning in that direction.

Ted Bundy – the Product of Pornographer?

Just before his execution on January 24, 1989, serial killer Ted Bundy granted an interview to a psychologist and famed fundamentalist Christian author James Dobson. In the interview, Bundy revealed the agony of his addiction to pornography. The killer went back to his roots, explaining the development of his compulsive behavior and addiction to hardcore pornography, which, in his opinion, fueled the terrible crimes he committed.

When he was thirteen years old, Bundy discovered “dirty magazines” in a dump near his home and was instantly captivated by them. As time passed by, the killer became more and more addicted to violence and torture in pornography. The only way he could climax was making by his fantasies become a reality.

In his interview, Ted Bundy felt the need to warn others of the dangers of hardcore pornography and explain its relationship with his murders:

“The most damaging kind of pornography – and I’m talking from hard, real, personal experience – is that that involves violence and sexual violence. The wedding of those two forces – as I know only too well – brings about behavior that is too terrible to describe.

“Before we go any further, it is important to me that people believe what I’m saying. I’m not blaming pornography. I’m not saying it caused me to go out and do certain things. I take full responsibility for all the things that I’ve done. That’s not the question here. The issue is how this kind of literature contributed and helped mold and shape the kinds of violent behavior.

“In the beginning, it fuels this kind of thought process. Then, at a certain time, it is instrumental in crystallizing it, making it into something that is almost a separate entity inside.

“Once you become addicted to it, and I look at this as a kind of addiction, you look for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Like an addiction, you keep craving something which is harder and gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach the point where the pornography only goes so far – that jumping-off point where you begin to think maybe actually doing it will give you that which is just beyond reading about it and looking at it.”

When Dobson asked how long did Bundy stay at that point before actually assaulting someone, he answered:

“A couple of years. I was dealing with very strong inhibitions against the criminal and violent behavior. That had been conditioned and bred into me from my neighborhood, environment, church, and schools.

“I knew it was wrong to think about it, and certainly, to do it was wrong. I was on the edge, and the last vestiges of restraint were being tested constantly, and assailed through the kind of fantasy life that was fueled, largely, by pornography.”

Bundy remembered what pushed him over the edge and motivated his decision to “go for it”:

“It’s a very difficult thing to describe – the sensation of reaching that point where I knew I couldn’t control it anymore. The barriers I had learned as a child were not enough to hold me back from seeking out and harming somebody.

“That’s one way to describe it – a compulsion, a building up of this destructive energy. Another fact I haven’t mentioned is the use of alcohol. In conjunction with my exposure to pornography, alcohol reduced my inhibitions and pornography eroded them further.

“Those of us who have been so influenced by violence in the media, particularly pornographic violence, are not some kind of inherent monsters. We are your sons and husbands. We grew up in regular families. Pornography can reach in and snatch a kid out of any house today. It snatched me out of my home 20 or 30 years ago.

“I’m no social scientist, and I don’t pretend to believe what John Q. Citizen thinks about this, but I’ve lived in prison for a long time now, and I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence. Without exception, everyone of them was deeply involved in pornography – deeply consumed by the addiction. The F.B.I.’s own study on serial homicide shows that the most common interest among serial killers is pornographers. It’s true.

“As we have been talking, there are forces at loose in this country, especially this kind of violent pornography, where, on one hand, well-meaning people will condemn the behavior of a Ted Bundy while they’re walking past a magazine rack full of the very kinds of things that send young kids down the road to being Ted Bundys. That’s the irony.”

The killer was executed at 7:15 a.m. the day after this interview.

The body of Ted Bundy arrives at the Medical Examiner’s office after he was executed in Florida’s electric chair.

Once Ted Bundy was apprehended, Brad Keirns, the vice president of the anti-pornography organization “Citizens For Decency Through Law,” had stated that “Bundy is the product of the pornographer.” His statement became controversial and enraged critics, especially American Civil Liberties Union member Barry Lynn, who had claimed that “even without the pornography, Bundy’s mind would have continued being consumed with perverse thoughts.”
Stephen Michaud, who had personally interviewed Ted Bundy and written a few books about him, immediately debunked this Keirns’ claim:

“Look,” Michaud had stated.” The last time Bundy was caught, you know what he had in his car? A stack of well-thumbed pamphlets for cheerleader training schools. He was into cheerleader pamphlets, and he wasn’t using them for scratch paper. He also got off on his college physiology text, which had diagrams of female genitalia.”

Ted Bundy was not the only serial killer to blame the pornography for his actions. Andrei Chikatilo, a Russian serial killer, who had murdered at least 53 women and children, suffered from obsessive masturbation. He even had awful scarring on his penis due to the aggression that accompanied his masturbation. In his prison cell, Chikatilo had pictures of naked women and blamed pornography as the cause of his troubles.

Prison photo of Andrei Chikatilo.

Does Pornography Have Any Impact on Serial Killers?

It should not be a surprise that people who are obsessed with sex and fantasies have some link to pornography. For example, John Wayne Gacy’s wife had stated that she filed for divorce because “Gacy’s moods had become erratic, and she had found Gacy’s pornographic magazine collection which was all centered around young boys.”

Pornographic magazines found in Gacy’s house.

Dennis Rader, the BTK killer, kept meticulous records of his fantasies and crimes in what he called his ‘mother lode’ collection of pornography. A serial killer and necrophile Edmund Kemper, also known as the Co-ed Killer, used pornography and detective magazines for erotic stimulation.

The list could go on and on, including other serial killers, such as Arthur Gary Bishop, David Berkowitz, Richard Ramirez, Ottis Toole and, although technically not a serial killer, it’s worth mentioning Ed Gein, who had accumulated a library of anatomy books, porn magazines, horror and adventure novels.

RELATED: A Spine-Chilling Tour Inside Ed Gein’s House of Horrors

Various forms of media, such as detective magazines, have obscene stories of sex and murder that can also serve as an additional form of arousal – linking sex and killing together. Dietz, Harry, and Hazelwood (1986) have suggested the contribution of detective magazines to the development of sexual sadism. They have stated that detective magazines facilitate sadistic fantasies and that they might serve as training manuals and equipment catalogs for sex criminals.

A collection of 1970s pulp magazines.

Despite all these findings, most researchers agree that a correlational relationship between pornography and murder does not prove anything. In their opinion, pornography or detective magazines not likely incite someone to murder.
Almost two weeks after Ted Bundy was executed and his last interview was aired on TV, Dr. William Wilbanks published an article, named “Expert Warns: Don`t Swallow Bundy`s Line,” saying:

“I have been surprised and disturbed by the ready acceptance of the Bundy interview “message.” The public seems to believe that a great deal of criminological significance should be given to statements “straight from the horse`s mouth,” especially when the words are part of a “death-bed confession.” As a criminologist, I would like to issue some notes of caution to those who swallowed whole the Bundy interview.

“First, criminologists know that when one goes “straight to the horse`s mouth” one is more likely to get what comes out of the other end of the horse than some objective truth. The naive view that Bundy`s interview reveals the true causes of his murderous behavior wrongly assumes that Bundy knows the “real reasons” for his behavior and that he would reveal those reasons to us if he knew them.

“The criminal`s view of the causes of his own behavior is likely to be far less accurate than that of observers since his own view is biased by an elaborate set of rationalizations. Bundy wanted to believe that some alien force (pornography) was responsible for his killings rather than that he was an evil person who chose to do wrong. By placing the blame on porn, Bundy absolved himself of personal responsibility and portrayed himself as a victim of porn. His suggestion that he was not trying to avoid responsibility was either a self-deception or a final “con” on the public he so despises. Bundy`s failure to look the interviewer in the eye during his “confession” would lend support to the “con” explanation.

“Second, the interviewer had a clear bias that distorted the interview. Bundy had been corresponding with Dobson for a year and was receptive to Dobson`s suggestion that his violent acts were caused by pornography. The correspondence between the two likely was similar to the “coaching” of a witness by an attorney. I am not suggesting that Dobson consciously coached Bundy, but his crusade against porn clearly biases his view of cause and makes it likely that he elicited and reinforced the responses from Bundy that would promote his cause and absolve Bundy of responsibility. The message of the interview thus was a quid pro quo (tradeoff) for Bundy and Dobson.

“Third, the research literature does not support the Bundy message about the danger of porn. Clearly, depictions of violence can lead (in some individuals) to violent acts, but violent pornography is dangerous only because it is violent. There is no evidence that porn (i.e., “dirty pictures”), apart from depictions of violence, causes violence. Dobson was simply trying to tie his “pet evil” (porn) to the violent acts of Ted Bundy to promote his crusade against soft-porn. The “porn leads to violence” theory was promoted by the Reagan/Meese Commission on Pornography (of which Dobson was a member) but has been rejected by the very researchers quoted by the commission.

“Fourth, the Bundy message about the dangers of porn carries the label of “addiction” to the point of absurdity. Bundy told Dobson he was “addicted” to porn, thus suggesting that somehow his behavior was uncontrollable. The term “addiction” first was used to describe the drug habit, but now we are being told that there are gambling addicts, sex addicts, food addicts, shopping addicts, chocolate addicts, etc. It is to be hoped that the extension of the term to Bundy`s preoccupation with porn will lead the public to re-evaluate the accuracy of this label.”

Stephen J. Giannangelo, the author of Real-Life Monsters: A Psychological Examination of the Serial Murderer, supports this theory and comes to a brilliant conclusion in the relation of pornography and serial murder in his book:

“The matter of pornography deserves a study of its own. It might be believable that pornographic addiction could relate to a sexual offender. In considering the needs of a pattern murderer, the person who kills, not just sexually assaults, there’s a missing link in the argument. It would appear that pornography is to the serial killer as gasoline is to the arsonist. Both are tools of the sexual criminal. Both are immersed in fantasies and have the motivation to fulfill their erotic desires. Magazines and movies definitely help fuel the fire. However, without gasoline, the arsonist still finds a match. Without the pornography, Ted Bundy kills scores of women anyway.”

Want to learn more of Ted Bundy’s dirty secrets?

The second issue of True Crime Magazine features an exclusive story written by Michael Butterfield, revealing 10+ reasons why Ted Bundy is the least elusive serial killer of all time. Read about Bundy’s escapes, shoplifting, credit card frauds, twisted obsessions, as well as the final verdict of his clumsy, careless misdeeds by claiming our back to school discount.

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