Souvenirs and scared rituals.
If you’re like me, you love bringing home souvenirs home from a vacation as a nice reminder of the great trip you had. During Covid-19 lockdowns or confinement, you might’ve stared at a souvenir, even handled it, in your home. In so doing you might’ve brought back great memories of that trip. This gives zest to your Covid day which otherwise would seem like just another blah day in a string of endless Wednesdays.
Serial killers often do the same thing, tho obviously it’s much more macabre and evil. They sometimes keep an item (or trophy) from their victim after killing them. Thus, each time they look at or touch the item, they are taken back to the murder they committed and the sick pleasure they got from it.
Way before Covid, serial killers felt low, often subject to generalized depression. Counseling psychologist Joel Norris believes serial killers frequently enter something he calls a “totem phase” after they commit a murder. (It’s one of seven phases that he proposed years ago.) During this phase, souvenirs, and the sacred rituals surrounding them, come into play.
Examples of this include the following:
Brudos’ High Heels and Feet
Housed in the same Oregon state prison as The Executioner, a killer I write about in my forthcoming book, Jerome Brudos had a foot fetish, to say the least. He was the longest incarcerated inmate in the history of Oregon, in jail for 37 years before his death in 2007 from liver cancer. Authorities knew he had stacks of women’s shoe catalogs in his cell, which he called his “substitute” for pornography.
At the age of 5 Brudos found a pair of women’s shoes in a junkyard and kept them until his mother discovered them. She scolded him roundly for having them, and years later did the same when she encountered him masturbating.
Brudos’ obsession with women’s shoes continued to escalate, and he would later stalk women and follow them home simply based on their shoes.Known as the Lust Killer, he was apprehended after killing four women.
Police found he’d kept the left foot of his first murder victim Linda Slawson, and would use it to model shoes from his huge collection.
Dahmer’s Trophy genitals.
During his killing spree that spanned from 1978 to 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer would drug, rape, sodomize, beat, murder, and dismember his many victims.
Dahmer did not stop after dismembering. He often kept many of his victim’s body parts as trophies. Most bizarrely and most notably, he’d keep their genitals, preserved in acetone.
Bundy’s Knives & Heads
Ted Bundy was fascinated with knives at the age of 3 and struggled to fit in with peers later on. While getting a college degree in psychology, his girlfriend broke his heart. Later on, many of the women he raped before killing, resembled the woman who broke his heart.
Furthering the sexual nature of his crimes, Bundy would often sever his victim’s heads. He would then take the heads back to his home as trophies and use them as masturbatory aids.
Not well-known in the US, Ukrainian serial killer Anatoly Onoprienko killed 52 people over the course of six months. When arrested, police found over a hundred items belonging to the victims in Onoprienko’s possession, including a pair of underwear from all his female victims. When apprehended, he recounted each murder in horrific detail, and claimed that he had gifted some of his trophies to his girlfriend at the time.
Onoprienko’s mother died when he was four. His father would later turn him over to an orphanage, while keeping his older brothers under his care—a fact that haunted Onoprienko for the rest of his life.
Often his MO was to find an isolated home and kill the entire household. He’d start with the husband, then the wife, and finally end with the children. He would then burn the house down.
Onoprienko was found guilty but escaped capital punishment, as Ukraine had recently abolished it. He died in prison in 2013 at the age of 54.
Do you engage in any sacred rituals? I won’t tell.
These sacred rituals are subsets of what police often refer to as “ritualistic crimes.” The MO of many criminals involves ritual, as do many of the habits us everyday folks. Of course, it’s more fascinating to look at big league players like serial killers and ritual murderers than us average Joes.
Ritual murder includes a wide variety of both sacred and secular acts committed by groups and individuals. Police most often label murders as ritualistic if done by practitioners of occult ideologies such as Satanism, Palo Mayombe, Santeria, or other magical traditions. I sometimes call this religious violence.