Reaction Paper #1
In the scholarly article, “Rape and Rape-Murder: One Offender and Twelve Victims,” a psychologist discusses a convicted rapist and murderer, whose deviant behavior began at the age of 12. Between the ages of 16 and 20, the offender had committed twelve rapes and five murders. Each of the murder victims were included in the twelve rapes. The victims ranged in age from 17-34, and all were at least one year older than the offender at the time of the rape/murder. Unlike many rapes, the majority of these offenses were committed against complete strangers to the offender. Of the victims, three the offender knew by sight, and nine were total strangers. This is rare because the majority of rapes are committed by a friend or acquaintance of the victim. Most of the victims in this case were approached at knife point entering the elevator in an apartment complex. The offender lived with his mother in an apartment there, and was comfortable with the building. When the attacks started happening, detectives began searching for an outside assailant. They had no reason to suspect a teen living in the apartments with a parent, so he was not apprehended. To add to that, all of the rape-murder victims were killed in different locations after being abducted from the apartment complex. Because of this, police did not suspect there was one person behind all of the crimes.
In this study, researchers collected data through searching police reports, court records, medical examination records, photographs, and interviews with the offender. This study had some limits because much of the data came from the offenders description of the crimes. In addition, the offender admitted to 6 additional rapes after being incarcerated for a period of time. Because of this, there was no physical data of these last 6 offenses, such as police reports or court records.
The researchers found that the offender grew increasingly violent over time, and rape escalated to rape murder. In addition, the crimes became more frequent over time. The offender
was under psychiatric supervision and probation when he committed all but the first rape. This is of interest to the researchers because it shows the importance of knowing the signs of violence and aggression in mental health patients. The research also found that of the five rape murders committed by the offender, none were linked to a single person. In other words, the police treated each of the murders as separate from each other, and never considered there could be one person responsible. In addition, the bodies of the victims were found fully clothed, therefore the crimes were not initially treated as rape cases. Authorities were not aware of this aspect of the murders until the offender was apprehended and described the crimes.
One major societal downfall is highlighted in this case. The offender committed his first rape, at the age of 14. Understandably, any judge or jury would have been apprehensive about sending a person his age to prison for what he had done. Instead, he was sent to a residential psychiatric facility for treatment. He stayed there for 18 months, and then was discharged with the recommendation that he stay with his mother in her apartment and continue going to school and outpatient therapy. The therapists at the residential facility did not realize the criminal potential he had. They did not seem to truly understand this offenders recidivism rate, the likelihood to repeat the offense. After he was discharged, mental health professionals were actively working with this individual while he was committing such heinous crimes. This shows that we need better screening and research of mental health problems. None of the trained psychologists had any reason to believe he would go on to rape eleven more victims and murder five.
This case also proves that the policies and programs set up to help sex offenders often do not have good outcomes. In 2005, researchers known as Marque and colleagues set out to research the recidivism rate of incarcerated sex offenders that were serving time for child sex offenses and rape(Przybylski). This study, known as the California Sex Offender Treatment and Evaluation Project, is often referenced because of it’s use of random assignment (Przybylski).This study compared the recidivism rates of 204 sex offenders receiving treatment to the recidivism rates of two control group. One control group consisted of offenders who asked for the treatment but were not chosen, and the other consisted of sex offenders that did not want treatment. The results of this study showed that the sex offender who received treatment had a similar recidivism rate to those who did not. Eight years later, the recidivism rate for the treatment group was 21.6%. The non-treatment control groups were found to have a 20% recidivism rate for the group who wanted treatment but didn’t get it, no 19.1% for the group that did not want treatment (Przybylski).
When solving and studying a sexual homicide case, there are various professionals from different backgrounds interested in different aspects of the crime. Because of this, it is sometimes difficult to see the “bigger picture,” or for these professionals to communicate and relate to one
another. This is important when solving crimes, as many people work together towards the common goal of finding justice for the victim.
Przybylski, R. Office of Justice Programs. Retrieved from https://www.smart.gov/SOMAPI/sec1/ch7_treatment.html