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.
Serial Killers Souvenirs
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7 thoughts on “Serial Killers Souvenirs”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.