A souvenir is oftentimes considered a memory from a certain place and time in our lives. It is an item used to “fuel a fantasy,” a souvenir goes hand in hand with happiness and joy when looked at or held. The same feeling we may get when we pick a shell from our trip to Fiji, is the same feeling serial killers get when they look at their ‘trophies’ from their victims. Although many serial killers keep an ID, jewelry, or clothing, some keep much more gruesome and for sickening reasons. Jeffrey Dahmer is an example of this serial killer souvenir, he kept the body parts, skulls, and photos of his victims for sexual pleasure, Dahmer stated that the reasoning for keeping these trophies was because of his fear of rejection. Holding onto the skulls, body parts, or photos, that way his victims were never to leave him. The psychology behind the notion of trophies is the part of the brain of the psychopath that is overconfident, almost as if they are better than everyone because they are committing these crimes right under everyones nose.

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Azul Zaragoza

27 thoughts on “Serial Killers Souvenirs

  1. This was a very interesting analogy to make between souvenirs and what killers keep from their victims. To think of the joyous memories that souvenirs bring vacationers being compared to what killers feel from their actions puts a disturbing perspective on their motivations and feelings.

  2. It is interesting to hear the explanation for why serial killer keep trophies. The trophies they take are related to the victims are therefore can be used as proof to charge them for murder once they are found. It sounds as if they cherish and keep something that have the potential to end their lives. Although it is not sure whether most of them are aware of it, I do think most of them probably do. That’s also how I understand “right under everyones nose” in the post means. It seems that the feeling of danger itself is charming to serial killers, since the act they decided to take in the first place (killing various people) is also something that will lead to their own deaths or a whole life imprisonment.

  3. It feels so wrong hearing those words all together ‘serial killer souvenir’ because as you stated, the word souvenir is mostly associated with having a little memory of an experience or somewhere you went. The reason why serial killers do these things like keeping a particular item or even the body part of a person they killed, I would imagine brings them the same joy or satisfaction of buying that one souvenir from your trip to remember it by. The only thing is, that the whole serial killer souvenir is 100 times more disturbing, it is scary to think that people want to even do this. Then again, I can’t speak on their behalf because to them killing people may be like the performance and execution of something that brings them power and happiness at the moment, but then their experience some to an end when they have to clean up or dispose of evidence, whereas compared to traveling this can be seen as the part of the trip when you have to get your things ready to come back home. Then the serial killer will find their chosen souvenir from their victim, just as a tourist buys their souvenir as they leave their destination. It is crazy to think how those two things compare and how disturbing it even is to think about it in that manner because it portrays the mindset of a serial killer and they obviously are not okay if they think killing people and keeping something to remember them by is like some sort of art collection.

  4. While serial killers and their antics are already disturbing enough, there is something interesting about the ones who decide to keep souvenirs. I believe it is comparable to say that the souvenir is their “trophy” because this implies a sense of triumph. However, this does not mean they “win” or have outsmarted anyone, rather quite the opposite. From my limited criminal knowledge, I think taking a souvenir, especially if a serial killer always takes the same type of souvenir, makes them that much more likely to be caught. It is a bit of a full circle argument as what provides them with their original sense of triumph may just as well be what leads them to their downfall.

  5. I like keeping small things as a souvenir because looking at them reminds me of the time and memories of that time. Memory can be a powerful tool that influences one’s emotions. Looking at some of these polaroid pictures it makes me emotional and want to experience those past memories again. Im sure that serial killers who keep a memento of every one of their killing have the same though of why they keep those. Since, we are all humans it makes sense that even though our reasonings are different we usually all act in a same way just like trying to keep a memento to remember the past.

  6. The souvenirs serial killers keep is disturbing to say the least. For serial killers, the souvenir that they keep is a sign of power and the reward for the crime they committed. It is a sick, twisted trophy for them, but it reminds them of a time they overpowered someone else and for them that is amazing.

  7. The entire thing seems really gruesome and creepy. However, I know that psychopaths tend to suffer with their inability to form solid relationships with others, so keeping souvenirs so they never leave them makes sense for a psychopath. But just the thought of a serial killer having someone else’s body parts or photos of them horrifies me. I feel bad for the victims whose bodies were not properly buried or cremated (based on a person’s religion), until the killer was found.

  8. A trophy is something that is typically kept as a symbol of achievement, victory, or recognition but in the case of serial killers it seems much more dark and disturbing. Serial killers seem to use these trophies as keepsakes of their crime or a way for them to get emotional satisfaction from their crime. The psychology behind this behavior may involve an overconfident sense of superiority of committing these crimes undetected or as a way to relive the experience.

  9. I substitute for the serial killer character. The trophies not only remind me of my subtle and brilliant killing schemes, but also give me the thrill of possibly being arrested for them. I myself would shoot pornographic videos with my different girlfriends and keep them after the breakup. I think it’s similar to this kind of memorabilia. Mostly, it brings back good memories.

  10. It is quite interesting that as a society, the United States has a huge fascination with serial killers. There are some people who are obsessed with these serial killers and will try their best to find out as much as they can about them. I think the fascination and obsession stems from the idea that the action of killing people are taboo and illegal. As humans we are naturally curious about things that we do not know about. I wonder if serial killers keep souvenirs as a form a diary of some sorts. That way people who will never commit the act may have some sort of insight as to what was going on in their mind.

  11. I have heard serial killers usually have this habit of getting some from the crime scene to keep as souvenirs. I find it particularly interesting as I can understand why they want to keep something as trophies to signify their power or satisfy their desire. I feel like those serial killers can replay the crime scene by looking at the souvenirs. However, it is still horrible to think that our souvenirs from travel can arouse the same response or mood as souvenirs brought back by serial killers.

  12. Though this isn’t uncommon to hear about killers keeping souvenirs from their victims, it is still disturbing to think about. I do not know what would drive a person to want to keep these “souvenirs”, but I am guessing it’s a progress checker or a way to remember “their accomplishments”. Whatever their reasoning is, I think it’s sick and very disrespectful to the victims (not that the killer would care much about being respectful).

  13. I watch a lot of criminal minds and was always intrigued in the episodes where the killers kept a small box of a girls hair stashed under their bed or a box of teeth shoved in the vent. Comparing those episodes I watched to the idea of family vacation was strange as souvenirs from serial killers are no happy memento. However, I can relate to this idea because I too often make it a point to pick up a trinket from the giftshop when travelling as a way to signify my experience. It makes me sick thinking of a serial killer keeping an item from a crime as a way to re-live it as it shows that they are acting out of pleasure and they enjoy the feeling that killing gives them. The psychology around keeping trophies was something that stood out to me because I was not aware that killers keeping these trophies was a sign of confidence in their crime. I guess it makes sense that, if they did not want to get caught then they would have to get rid of the evidence in order to not criminalize themselves. However, I think that killers that keep mementos are keeping these memento’s knowing that it is risky, however they can’t help themselves because they need to be able to relive the moment.

  14. Most of the criminals are having the habit of keeping a souvenir from the crime they had done. And some of them like to re-visit the crime scene. All these behaviors is because criminals would get a sense of achievement, they enjoy the feeling of crime, and they want it last longer. It’s like when you win a game, you got a trophy of winning the game. People would place the trophy in a prominent position, every time when they look at it, it would remind the feeling back then.

  15. I think that keeping souvenirs of their victims also serves as a form of recollection and identity for serial killers. Just like the souvenirs for ordinary people who get them from vacations, sports games, or professional careers, they serve as objects that remind people of past events and serve as meanings of identities in the form of the owner’s success.

  16. When most people think of how they would commit and get away with a crime, one of their first thoughts would be about disposing of all the evidence that could possibly implicate them. The reason we don’t see this thought process in serial killers who take souvenirs from their victims/crime scenes, is because psychopathy is a mental illness and the areas of their brain that dictate rationality, logical thinking, and like the author said, confidence, aren’t working properly. Whether it be an issue of neurotransmitters, cortical volume, or lesioning, something is disinhibiting these killer’s sense of reason. Fortunately, this flaw tends to be a helpful tool for police to use when investigating a crime. Along with reliving memories through souvenirs, many serial killers also find themselves unable to stay away from their crime scenes, making it all the easier to locate them.

  17. When I think about the souvenirs I get when I travel to places, it brings me good memories of when and where I was and who I was with. Like the post mentioned, there could be many different reasons of why a serial killer keeps souvenirs from the victims, possibly to remember the “pleasure” they get from killing or for other source of pleasures they get when look at the souvenirs. For me personally, I think it is not a wise idea to keep evidence as a serial killer. Since it increases the risk to expose conducted crimes.

  18. I believe trophies are a representation of success in the sense that the individual put in the work in order to accomplish something. In the instance of a psychopath, I think it’s interesting how they take that idea and implemented into their crimes. Like Maria Barragan mentioned how it’s a way to proudly know that they were able to commit the crime without getting caught.

  19. It’s fascinating yet sickening to hear about the proposed purposes of the “trophies” that serial killers collect from their victim. I read similar comments and theories about the idea of control as the drive behind these trophies. Many serial killers keep trophies to maintain a sense of control over their victim, even after they have died. Additionally these trophies serve as a way for the killer to relive their act and some are brazen enough to display their trophies in plain sight. In these cases where the killer finds ways to display their trophy of the victim in plain sight, it’s theorized that the killers probably feel a sense of control and thrill to know that no one else knows about how and why their trophies are on display. It’s interesting to note that amongst the obscene acts that have been done and the tragedy behind it, these people are enjoying and wanting to relive the experience and that these trophies act as memorabilia, dehumanizing the victim to just an object related to the experience.

  20. I think that this post is really interesting as it poses the question behind the motive of serial killers. More specifically it dives into the psychological reasoning of why serial killers commit the acts they do, for example the Dahmer example states that he killed people and then collected their remains due to his fear of rejection, however were the souvenirs solely there to make him feel less lonely or did they help him feel powerful and in some sort of control.

  21. I believe trophies serve as a reminder of the arousal felt from committing a crime in a discreet way. Trophies are sometimes everyday, mundane objects yet the attachment to the object transforms the humdrum object. For example, I can probably find the souvenir online but if I collect it I’m the one who knows the personal experience, and emotion connected to this item. The item is going to evoke a unique response and memory. In other instances it could be used to view the accumulation of trophies. The trophies are merely a physical tally of victims.

  22. This is super interesting, it seems to me like these trophies or souvenirs are a way for serial killers to track their progress too. I’m sure they get a kick out of looking back and reminiscing on their past murders, wishing they could relive it and experience it another time. Seeing the differences in what different killers keep as trophies is a good insight into their minds and motivations to kill in the first place.

  23. I may argue for an alternative proposed reasons for the taking of trophies stipulated above. I agree that these items may represent a memory, but I also think that they are prolonging of the control executed on the part of the killer. These killers often take pleasure in the power dynamic between them and their victims, as their actions exhibit a power over the life and death of another. The taking and keeping of a victim’s belongings is potentially a way for the killer to maintain a sense of control over their victims even in death. There are even occasions on which such killers have given these trophies to people close to them, or worn and used them themselves. This displays a control over the belongings of the victim, and by extension of the victim even after their life has been taken. To release the victim fully and unconditionally into death would be to relinquish control indefinitely.

  24. I’ve always heard of this idea surrounding souvenirs or “trophies”, that several murderers tend to have from the victims they have killed. It truly is crazy to think that some people may bring home a pair of Disney ears from Disneyland to remember their vacation, but a serial killer may steal all the wedding rings of his victims in order to signify all the instances in which they lived out their fantasies, at the expense of others. That is truly the difference when it comes to souvenirs in my opinion. Normal individuals have them to reminisce on positive memories, possibly even with those that we cherish fondly. However, these individuals tend to collect such items to reminisce on the harm they have imposed on others.

  25. The idea of souvenirs being the same as a trophy, I don’t believe to be exactly identical, because a trophy isn’t meant to be shown or kept, it’s something that the individual is certain that society frowns upon. On the other hand, souvenirs like shirts, hats, even mugs are meant to be shown, it’s a sign of pride in a way of what you did or were a part of, but its not the case with trophies, so I think that the mental process must be similar but not identical, and that’s why it requires more from people to just go around killing.

  26. This type of souvenir-collecting behavior and the motive/intention behind it is particularly interesting. Perhaps the actions of keeping “trophies” reflect the killer’s desire to have a record of their victims’ murders, allowing them to relive and re-experience the power they felt during those acts. Additionally, these items serve as a way to create a personal archive to remember and revisit their actions.

  27. I am a true crime junkie, so this post makes my mind go into overdrive thinking about each killer’s specific type of souvenir. The first Serial killer that comes to mind is Robert Berdella, the kidnapper, torturer, rapist murderer who would bleach the bones of his “sex zombies” victims after eventually murdering them, dismembering them and preserving their skulls. He owned an Antiques and Oddities store in the Kansas City area called Bob’s Bazaar Bizarre, after his arrest the police would go on to find two of his victim’s skulls displayed for sale at the curio shop.

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