Criminological Theories on the Motives of Serial Killer

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The term serial killer was coined by Robert Ressler (Ressler & Shachtman, 1992,1997) in the 1970s in order to replace the label of stranger killings and in order to reflect the repetitive nature of those murderers. But as much as the denotation of this term reflected the senses of murders committed by the same perpetrator at different times, the connotation of Ressler’s definition brought up an issue of several motivation where ‘serial’ became a twofold term, which meant a series of killings on the one hand and their sexual nature on the other hand. As a result of this notion, at the present time there are two approaches to using the term ‘serial killer’ one perspective holds that a serial killer is the offender who commits repetitive sequential homicides of any nature (Dietz, 1986; Lane & Gregg, 1995; Pallone & Henessy, 1994) while another perspective views a serial killer as a sexual murderer who commits repetitive sexual homicides.

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This study examines a serial killer by name Ronald Dominique who killed at least 23 men in southeast Louisiana between 1997 and 2006. I choose to look into this case study considering the fact this was a young man loved by his parents and who seemed a generous person but turned serial killer due to the adversaries surrounding him including the fact he was bullied at school to the point he couldn’t bear any longer and found it difficult to attend school.

The literature on serial killers will be discussed and applied to Ronald’s crimes and his life. In as much as Ronald Dominique was a serial murderer he was loved by his family and friends and liked by many in the small community of Bayou Blue, Louisiana where he lived. Bayou Blue is east of Houma, Louisiana. Ronald Joseph Dominique was born January 9, 1964. Ronald Dominique spent much of his youth in the small bayou community of Thibodaux, LA. He attended Thibodaux High School where he was in the glee club and sang in the chorus. Classmates who remember Dominique say he was ridiculed about being homosexual during his teen years, but at the time he never admitted he was gay. As he got older he seemed to live in two worlds. There was the Dominique who was helpful to his neighbors in the small trailer parks where he lived. Then there was the Dominique who cross-dressed and did bad impersonations of Patti LaBelle at the local gay club. Through most of his adulthood, Dominique struggled financially and would end up living with his mother or other relatives. In the weeks before his arrest, he was living with his sister in a singlewide trailer. He was suffering from declining health, having been hospitalized for a severe heart condition and forced to use a cane to walk. Outwardly, there was a side to Ronald Dominique who enjoyed helping people. One Christmas his family could not afford Christmas presents; Ronald bought all the presents the family needed to have a normal Christmas. His godchild commented how generous he was to her and her mother. He joined the Lions Club just months before his arrest, and spent Sunday afternoons calling out Bingo numbers to senior citizens. The membership director said he was well liked by everyone he had met through the Lions Club.

A one-time event was that he once saw his mother having sex with her brother when he looked in the window of a small trailer in Hahnville Louisiana. This was while she was still married to his father. This certainly destroyed all sexual boundaries. Dominique was also involved in two alleged rapes before he went on to his serial rapes/killings. The first victim was in 1993. In 1993 a man from Houma, Louisiana told police that Dominique raped him. But police in the nearby town of Thibodaux where the rape occurred chose not to make an arrest. The victim allegedly met Dominique 2 days before the rape. They spoke and planned to meet again; allegedly to buy marijuana. Two days later they met and drove back to Ronald’s house. When they got to Dominique’s house Ronald asked the man to go into the bathroom so that he could not see where he hid his drugs. When the guy came out the bathroom Dominique had a gun. He handcuffed the victim and took off his clothes and started having anal sex with the man. The victim was living on the street, had a crack-cocaine habit, and a history of mental problems. After sex Dominique told the man to get dressed and get out. When the man ran through the neighborhood another person shot at him; and police were called. The police heard the man’s story but could find no evidence of rape. The man was picked up by a relative. When police questioned Dominique, he told them the sex was consensual and after sex he pulled a gun on the man because he was scared of him, and made him leave. No charges were filed. There was no further investigation. The second victim was in 1996. Three years later a second man came to the same police department and same officer (now a detective) with a similar story. (This fdied in the line of duty in 2003). This victim met Dominique and they were going to buy drugs. The two men went to Ronald’s house where Ronald pulled a gun on the man and tied him up. Ronald raped the man while holding a knife to his throat; after which he was told to leave. Dominique was questioned about the similarities between the 1993 story and this one. Dominque said both incidences were consensual He said he was afraid of both men and was going to back out of both agreements –but to reduce his fear and make him more comfortable both men requested that he tie them up. After the sex, in both cases, the men demanded money and Ronald pulled a gun on them and demanded they leave. After the police hear his version of the events Dominique was charged with aggravated rape in the second case, on August 15, 1996, the charge was later reduced to forcible rape. Ronald spent 3 months in jail during which he was raped. Dominique was released from jail on November 7, 1996. Ronald was released because the alleged victim in the second case disappeared and could not be found; normally this is an action of the District Attorney’s office.

However, the trigger to Ronald becoming a serial killer is this second victim going to the police and his going to jail where he was raped. That experience pushed him to kill his victims after sex. He began killing his victims because he never wanted to leave a witness who could send him to prison. Ronald did not want to go to jail again where he was so brutally raped his rectum had been ripped. On July 14, 1997, 8 months after Ronald was released, the body of David Levon Mitchell was found in a canal near Hahnville, Louisiana. This would be the first of Ronald Dominique murder victims. Over the next decade at least 22 more men would be killed by a stifle process in south Louisiana. After one potential victim escaped and led police to Dominique he was arrested in December 2006. He confessed to killing 23 men because that is all the bodies that police had found. He said there were probably more but he could not remember them. The number is not exact because Ronald said there were more but he could not remember where he had thrown their bodies and no one was looking for most of these victims

Although many serial killers select victim that apparently are not missed or, if missed they are given up as runaways or adults who have nothing left of their own volition, it is equally difficult to estimate the annual number of serial killer murder victims. Many serial offenders are adept at hiding their victims, and some inflate the number of their victims. Like Gary Ridgway the green river killer confessed to killing 48 women and he skillfully hid their bodies, also was the long haul truck driver Keith hunter Jespersen also known as the Happy face killer because of the smiley face he drew on his many letters to the media claimed to have killed 160 persons in multiple states, although he later recanted these assertions but took great pride in the fact that he had been killing for over a year before any of the deceased bodies were found. An examination of the victim selection of known serial murderers will reveal that killers prefer groups of people offering easy access, transience and tendency to disappear without seeming to cause much alarm or concern. The strongest determining factor in victim selection is their vulnerability or east availability which is evident to the pattern joseph franklin used in attacking an interracial couple and bombing of the synagogue. It should be noted that although serial killers begin their murderous careers by selecting highly vulnerable victims. They may as their killings continue, gain substantially more confidence in their ability to abduct more challenging victims. Fortunately, very few serial killers become this successful before they are arrested. 

The preferred method of killing strangers with no apparent consensual relationship between the offender and the victim. This lack of relationship in serial murderers makes identifying suspects difficult. A frequent question usually asked is, what risk factors predispose a person to become a serial murderer. These serial killers just like every other human being are products of their genetic make up, their upbringing, their social environment and ultimately the developmental path that circumstances lead them to take. Just as in the case of joseph franklin as earlier mentioned who was drawn to white supremacist ideologies at such a tender age and dropping out of high school as a circumstance. There is no single identifiable causal factor in the development of a serial killer, all form of criminal behavior and intent evolves from a complicated mixture of various factors and influences surrounding the individual. The same factors and influences that lead to violence very likely play a significant role in serial killers appear to be based on some combination of psychological rewards such as control, domination, media attention and personal or sexual excitement rather than identifiable material gain. Their actions are predictably planned, organized and purposeful and they seem to take delight in playing games with the law enforcement community and the public at large. Many serial offenders are drawn to committing murders that attract media and are incomprehensible to the public, more so as the case of Keith Jespersen who became irritated that the killings were not highly publicized, so began writing letters to the media and signing his letters with a smiley face.

The evidence doesn’t really correlate with any notion that serial killers kill on the basis of some compulsion or irresistible urge. Rather the murder appears to be more a result of opportunity and the random availability of a suitable victim would be a mistake to assure that serial murderers are seriously disordered or emotionally disturbed according to traditional clinical or psychiatric standard, some are, but most are not. Although the cognitive processing and values of serial murderers may be considered extremely aberrant when it comes to sensitivity and concern for their victims, a vast majority of serial killers fail to qualify as seriously mentally disordered in to traditional diagnostic categories of mental disorders. However, some would likely qualify as having “anti-social personality disorder” a category that is virtually indistinguishable from psychology. This would include sodomy or an assortment of torture with deviations or as well rape. Hickey (2013) suggest there are two different types of these murderers, the sex murderers and the lust murderers. The sex murderer would often kill out of fear and a desire to silence his victims while the lust murderer happens to harbor deep seated fantasies. Dominque happens to be a sex murderer who never went in with the intention to kill but was faced to do so as to deny the victim any false allegation of rape. Apprehending serial killers has proven not to be an easy catch because they usually go about their everyday life living a normal life and raise no suspicion although often blending into society and join groups that lead them away from questioning.

Two groups of mainstream criminological theory are best used to explain serial murders are on gets to deal with victims while the other is the pleasure of thrills some criminal get from committing a crime and escaping of their criminal skills. With the criminological theory, routine activity theory and rational choice theory fall under a group of theories which share a focus on situational factors and are sometimes grouped under opportunity theory. The routine activity theory suggests that for any crime to occur, there would be convergent of 3 elements which are a motivated offender, the presence of an attractive target and the absence of capable guardianship. Although this routine theory identifies these three elements, the availability of motivated offenders is usually not taken seriously. Therefore, capable guardians can discourage offenders from committing the crime in the first place and as such is the most significant element (Forsyth. & Forsyth. C, 2018). The idea of victim availability determines victims for serial killers and also that most victims are members of vulnerable groups such as the homeless and hookers, who make the theories correlate.

Usually criminals are motivated by the excitement and challenge that crime offers, in this case the sociological connection between pleasure and crime was subculture. Subcultural focal concerns or values serves as a deterrent for understanding the motivations or reasons for a particular criminal behavior. Differential social association and differential affiliation experienced through the bearing images of social and subcultural life are solid factors influencing criminal conduct. Serial killers have developed to an unreasonable symbol in American culture, therefore both the structural and cultural context that attracts and affects behavior is an occurrence that begs for an understanding of how they work. 

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