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Criminal Mutilation of the Human Body in Sweden: A 30-year Medico-legal and Forensic Psychiatric Study

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 43 Issue: 3 Dated: May 1998 Pages: 563-580
J Rajs; M Lundstrom; M Broberg; L Lidberg; O Lindquist
Date Published
18 pages
All 22 cases of criminal mutilation of human bodies that occurred in Sweden during 1961-90 were studied with respect to the victim characteristics, the causes of death, the methods used in mutilation in relation to the perpetrator's occupation, the victim-offender relationship, and the offenders' behavior patterns and criminal activities.
Ten cases involved defensive mutilation to dispose of the corpse or make its identification more difficult, 4 cases involved aggressive mutilation following outrageous overkilling, 7 cases involved lust murder, and 1 case involved necromanic mutilation. The last mutilation involved a person who died of natural causes; the others all involved homicide. All of the perpetrators were males; they were assisted by others in six cases. In more than half the cases, the offender had an occupation associated with anatomical knowledge, including butcher, physician, veterinary assistant, or hunter. Most of the perpetrators of defensive and aggressive mutilations were disorganized: alcoholics or drug users with previous psychiatric contacts and criminal histories. In contrast, most of the lust murders were organized and had a history of violent crimes, drug abuse, and mental disorders. The mode of mutilation varied by the offender's occupation. Convictions were usually for the murder and not the mutilation. When the mutilation made it impossible to establish the cause of death, the perpetrators were acquitted despite strong circumstantial evidence. Figures, tables summarizing the characteristics of each case, and 108 references (Author abstract modified)


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