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Who is the Suffolk Ripper?

14-12-2006

As the police hunt continues for the Suffolk Ripper, there's much talk of the "psychological profile" of the killer. But what about those he's murdered? Who are the kind of people who would put themselves at risk by choosing to join the oldest profession? The Stirrer's resident psychologist Dr Mike Drayton offers a few clues.

Five women - all prostitutes - have been murdered over the past few weeks in Suffolk. A lot of the media attention has been on the killer, but what about the victims? These are horrible, and horrific killings and I want to consider the murderer and the victim and the psychological and political forces that have brought them together in the brutal act of murder.

First of all, the victims. I have met a few prostitutes in my professional life. Many have been very depressed and angry women. Many have been mistreated or abused as children. Some have been very businesslike and treated their work as simply a job.

However, all the prostitutes I've met have had one common characteristic: they were all addicted to heroin or crack cocaine. That's not to say that all prostitutes are addicts but the one's I've met were. Whether they work the streets to finance their drugs habit or get off their heads to cope with the emotional ravages of working as a prostitute is another question.

The women I knew didn't work the streets to “put food on the table for their kids”, as a spokeswoman from the English Collective of Prostitutes claimed on the radio this morning. That's what the welfare state does. They work as prostitutes to put heroin on the tables of their pimps and themselves. That's the real tragedy. The women are victims many times over; victims of past abusers, drug dealers and last of all psychopathic killers.

What about the killer? What sort of person is he?

His actions, by definition means that he has an anti-social, psychopathic personality disorder. A number of characteristics are associated with this personality. He will have a history of petty crime going back to his late teens. He will have a disregard for the rights of others which usually results in a history of fights and conflict. However, he probably isn't a monster or loner because people with this disorder usually possess a glib and superficial charm.

He is a man who is angry and confused about women and sexuality. He might have been abused, let down or humiliated by a domineering mother.

Sexual murder is about power and humiliation. The killer is a man who is not in a stable relationship with a woman. He is probably a man who has never experienced a relationship with a woman. He is quite impotent. The murdered women are all quite young. Therefore, he is attracted to younger women. He's going to be a little bit older than them because he needs, psychologically, to be stronger than them. He sees younger women as less threatening, which would also suggest that he had a dominant mother. He is a very damaged man who is driven by shame and destructive rage.

I think the killer will be someone in his late 30s. He has got the self-control of an older man in that he is able to keep driving around the area looking for a woman who is isolated. But he won't be very old because he gets very excited very quickly. The short periods of time between the murders suggests that the killer seems to be losing control, just like a drug addict who needs his fix. His killing is like obsessive-compulsive behaviour, that is out of control. It is likely that he will either kill again or kill himself.

The killer and victim. Both damaged in different ways. The killer will act out his distorted perception of the world to assuage his rage and the victim will die.

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