Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Fetish Killer

The Transvestite

Schechter discusses this deviance, or paraphilia, in The Serial Killer Files. He mentions that horror films commonly depict men who dress in women's clothing as psychotic slashers who hate and want to kill women. He points to Psycho and Dressed to Kill as examples. Yet transvestites are generally nonviolent. Their penchant for women's clothing or undergarments does not turn them into rapists or killers, although it's often accompanied by feelings of shame. Rather, if they take up violence, their fetish may become part of whatever they do, but the desire for women's clothing is merely an expression of their particular erotic desires. Becoming violent is the manifestation of a different drive.

In fact, several mass and serial killers claim, as Brudos did, that they were forced to dress as girls when they were children, but unlike him most did not become transvestites. And some became cross-dressers without any help from their parents.

Dr. Lin Fraser, a San Francisco-based therapist with transgendered clients offered a lengthy discussion of the phenomenon as she saw it from her clients' experiences, presenting it at a conference in 1990 and posting it online. Among the many things she explains is a classification system for transsexualism in males to help interested parties make their way through this unusual world:

  • Early onset cross-gendered identity, in which there is no sexual arousal associated with cross dressing; their gender identity is female and they appear to be androgynous
  • Effeminate homosexuality, manifested by those who are talkative and uninhibited about sex
  • Late-onset transvestism; cross-dressing is associated with sexuality and is triggered by specific things, as the female orientation gradually dominates.
  • Cross-dressing without transsexuality
  • Cross-dressing, with a female fantasy in the form of an escape mechanism and without the desire to change gender identity

Brudos appears to be among the latter. Dr. Fraser does not address the erotic nature of the fantasy, but clearly that was the attraction for Brudos of the underwear and shoes. As he grew bolder in acquiring and wearing these items, he took advantage of his ability to sneak undetected into women's bedrooms to overpower one sleeping woman and rape her. She reported it to the police, but no one traced it to Brudos.

When he was 28, Linda Slawson came to his door. That was his first murder, and only after he described to police what he had done did the full extent of his sick fantasies come to light.

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