The Irish Ripper (Chapter 7)

Weeks, then months passed and Sean had heard nothing from Billy.  But he knew it was only a matter of time before he came knocking.  The gang warfare had continued its incessant onslaught.  Bodies were showing up in all corners of the city, sometimes killed execution-style with a bullet to the back of the head. 

Sean had given up hope of anything ever happening with Laura. In fact, she said that was now with someone and happily so.  It made him feel ill just to think about it, it was probably someone boring.  Laura had been clear about it though.  They may have had a night of passion once, but it was just fun.  It never meant anything and now she only saw him as a friend.  Deep down Sean knew he would be thinking likewise if not for his injury, officially telling her he was pleased she had found someone. 

At least it was now June and there was a persistent high over the country.  Even Sean couldn’t help but be cheered by the warm weather.  It made his transfers easier; his hands were no longer frozen and at night time he didn’t have to worry about his paralyzed legs turning blue. 

But it was so much more than too, if only it could be summer all year round.  This particular Monday morning was a joy.  There was no need to bring a coat to work, he was hit by the warm air once he opened the front door and wheeled towards his car. 

He wondered what his day would hold as he turned on some pop music for his trip, having long got tired of listening to the depressing news in the morning – something strangely that never bothered him pre-accident.  Better to start the day in a good frame of mind. 

Everything seemed normal when he reached his desk.  There was still the large pile of files on his table that he needed to go through.  Better get straight into it, he thought, so that he could leave early and enjoy some of that sun.  He even considered taking a half-day. 

It was only after an hour that he realized there was something untoward when Laura frantically burst into his office. 

“Have you received anything yet?  I don’t believe it.” 

Somewhat bemused, Sean asked her what was she on about. 

“The Ripper has struck again.  That’s the nickname he’s been given.  Did you not hear from the news?” she said with incredulity.  

He quickly searched through the top of his pile but he hadn’t received anything yet.  Laura, who he probably shouldn’t have told about even his small role in the case informed him that the latest murders were reported to have happened on Saturday night in County Mayo, the other side of the country to the first ones.  It was another couple.  The pathologist had visited the scene the previous day, Sunday. 

Sean couldn’t help but be excited.  So much time had passed, but he was back.  Once again, the now so-called “Irish Ripper” was the talk of the station.  Everybody had a theory of what his motivations were and who he was; from the absurd to the sublime.  Some thought it was just a copycat to cover another reason for killing the latest couple; others were saying that the notorious killer from the seventies Bundy had been reincarnated. 

He waited impatiently for the pathologist’s report to arrive.  It wouldn’t have to wait in a pile.  But the hours passed by and it wasn’t long till lunchtime started to approach.  He was disappointed but thought it was likely to come in the afternoon. 

It was still not there on his return but there was a note telling him to attend the Superintendent’s office at three o’clock.  He suddenly felt queasy; perhaps Laura had not been keeping her mouth shut and he was about to be disciplined.  Then, taking a deep breath, he knew he had to calm down; it was unlikely Laura would betray his secrets. 

It quickly became clear that this wasn’t a disciplinary meeting.   There were far too many smiles and handshakes for that.  A special unit was being set up to investigate the murders.  There was a serial killer on the loose and he had to be stopped.  Long hours would be on the cards and they would mostly be unpaid. 

They wanted to know if Sean was prepared to be part of the unit.  He didn’t have to think twice and answered a very affirmative yes.  There were two other people in the room, the Superintendent and Sean’s new superior officer David DeRossa. 

Sean would continue to work from the same office but may have to attend meetings, both formal and informal throughout the country.  Also, he should now be prepared to field calls at any time.  This was exactly what Sean needed in his life, something he could focus on.  This was Sean’s first-time meeting DeRossa who looked close to retirement in his suit.  He had a full head of grey hair and a heavily wrinkled face with a warm, gregarious smile. 

The Super then insisted on telling De Rossa how proud he and everyone else at the station was of Sean and how well he had done getting over his injury.  It made Sean cringe, but he tried to outwardly smile; asking himself if they would say the same if they knew the whole story. 

Once that ended Sean headed back to his desk, but not before DeRossa handed him the pathologist’s report of the latest murders and other documentation, which he was told to read.  Full of intrigue, Sean wondered if he has ever loved his job quite so much, and he wasn’t quite sure what that said about him. 

On reading the report, it became clear that the news media reports were somewhat lacking in accuracy.  The two bodies had been found in a rural house close to Ballaghaderreen in Roscommon, not Mayo – although it was close to the border.   The corpses had laid there; undiscovered for approximately two weeks before discovery and had started to decompose. 

The scene was eerily similar to the previous one.  Her right breast had been removed after her death due to multiple stab wounds.  This time her intestines had also been removed though, carefully placed to the right of the body. 

Once again, the woman was the first to die.  Her male partner, whose body was found in the same room had died from just a single stab wound to the heart.  He had been strapped in a chair pointed towards her body.   

Sean studiously scanned, then entered all the relevant information onto the database.   Then he began the arduous task of reading all the documentation he was told to.  Most of it was from the FBI in the United States.  They had a behavioral unit seeking to understand the minds of serial killers, originally called sequence killers since the seventies.  An agent called John Douglas played a particularly important role.  They searched for the worst of the worst and tried to understand the motivations for what they had done.  Some killers such as Ed Kemper aka “The Co-ed Killer”, a monstrously intelligent killer of ten people that included his own mother were all too happy to divulge their secrets.  With others, it had to be slowly teased from them. 

The documentation included a speculative, psychological profile from their current behavioral analysis unit that they hoped would be of assistance.  It stated the following about The Irish Ripper – 

  • An emotional age equivalent to a 25 to 31-year-old. 
  • Engaged in paraphilic behavior and brutal sex in his private life. 
  • Engaged in sex with prostitutes. 
  • Had some knowledge of police investigative methods and evidence-gathering techniques. 
  • Sexually functional, capable of ejaculation with consenting and non-consenting partners. 
  • Enjoyed an audience. 
  • Dressed well and would not stand out in upscale neighborhoods. 
  • Good physical condition. 
  • May have a small penis. 
  • Skilled, experienced cat-burglar, and may have begun as such. 
  • Had a criminal record as a teenager which was expunged.
  • Had some means of income, but did not work in the early-morning hours. 
  • Hated women for actual (or perceived) wrongs. 
  • If married, probably had a submissive spouse who tolerated his sexually-deviant behavior. 
  • Intelligent and articulate. 
  • Probably began as a voyeur in his late teens or early twenties. 
  • Neat and well-organized in his personal life, and drove a well-maintained car. 
  • Peeped in the windows of many people who were not attacked. 
  • Possibly unmarried, and did not enter into long-term relationships. 
  • Self-assured and confident. 
  • Would continue committing violent crimes until incapacitated by prison, death, or other intervention. 
  • Would have been described by those who knew him as arrogant, domineering, manipulative, and a chronic liar. 

At least now they had some sort of idea about who they were looking for and there seemed to be plenty of avenues to look into.  Sean hoped he could be a part of that as he excitedly kept reading.   There were also other notes on the general characteristics of serial killers. 

According to the paperwork, there are two types of serial killers; those who are organized and those who are disorganized.  Organized crimes are premeditated and well-thought-out so few clues are left behind.  They are generally antisocial with strong psychopathic tendencies but know right from wrong, are not technically insane and have no remorse.  They take their time and inflict horrendous suffering on their victims. 

Organized killers are likely to be intelligent, attractive, married or living with a domestic partner, employed, educated, skilled, orderly, cunning and controlled. They have some degree of social grace, may even be charming, and have often been thought of as pillars of their community, talking and seducing their victims into being captured.  

With organized offenders, there are typically three separate crime scenes: where the victim was preyed on by the killer, where the victim was murdered, and where the victim’s body was disposed of. Organized killers are usually very difficult to apprehend because they go to inordinate lengths to cover their tracks and often are forensically savvy, meaning they are familiar with police investigation methods.  

They are likely to follow the news media reports of their crimes and may even correspond with the news media.  In rare circumstances, they have even contacted investigators. 

Disorganized killers were very different.  Disorganized crimes, in contrast, are not planned and the criminals typically leave evidence such as their fingerprints or blood at the scene of the murder. There is sometimes no attempt to move or otherwise conceal the corpse after the murder. Disorganized criminals are often young and under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or mentally ill. They often have deficient communication and social skills and may be below average in intelligence. 

The disorganized offender is likely to come from a broken or dysfunctional family and have often have been abused physically or sexually by relatives. They are often sexually inhibited, sexually uninformed and may have sexual aversions or other pathologies. They are more likely than organized criminals to be compulsive masturbators. They are often isolated from others, live alone and are frightened or confused during the commission of their murders. They often do not have reliable transportation, so they kill their victims closer to home than organized offenders. 

There could be no doubt in anybody’s mind that this Ripper was at the extreme end of the organized variety, Sean thought to himself.  The murders were meticulously planned and there were no clues.  They were bordering on perfection.  He must be someone of great intelligence, who was most probably, highly educated. 

Sean continued to read vociferously hoping that his mind would absorb everything.  In addition to the organized/disorganized dichotomy, a serial killer may leave traces of one or both of the following behavioral characteristics: MO (modus operandi or method of operation) and signature—the personal mark or imprint of the offender. While every crime has a MO, not all crimes have a signature.  

The MO is what the offender must do in order to commit the crime. For example, the killer must have the means to control his victims at the crime scene such as tying them up. Significantly, the MO is a learned behavior that can change over time.  

A serial killer will alter and refine his MO to accommodate new circumstances or to incorporate new skills and information. For example, instead of using rope to tie up a victim, the offender may learn that it is easier and more effective to bring handcuffs to the crime scene. 

The signature, on the other hand, is not required in order to commit the crime. Rather, it serves the emotional or psychological needs of the offender. The signature comes from within the psyche of the offender and it reflects a deep fantasy need that the killer has about his victims. Fantasies develop slowly, increase over time and may begin with the torture of animals during childhood. 

The essential core of the signature, when present, is that it is always the same because it emerges out of an offender’s fantasies that evolved long before killing his first victim. The signature may involve mutilation or dismemberment of the victim’s body.  

An investigator, he read, may also encounter deliberate alterations of the crime scene or the victim’s body position at the scene of the murder. If these alterations are made for the purpose of confusing or otherwise misleading criminal investigators, then they are called staging and they are considered to be part of the killer’s MO.  

On the other hand, if the crime scene alterations only serve the fantasy needs of the offender, then they are considered part of the signature and they are referred to as posing. Sometimes, a victim’s body is posed to send a message to the police or the public. 

For a few moments, Sean put down the books and thought about the killer.  In this case, the Gardai knew very little about the MO but a signature was apparent.  The male was in both cases bound to a chair facing the direction of the female who was raped and mutilated, before the killer’s focus turned back to him. 

The killer wanted an audience.  That must be part of the fantasy and where he gets his sexual exhilaration from.  But he must also have had some deep-seated hatred of women leading to the mutilation of their bodies. 

For a moment, Sean felt a chill down his spine.  This killer would not stop of his own accord.  There could yet be dozens of future victims. 

Or was the killer just posing? Sean wondered.  Making potential investigators think it was about sex when it wasn’t?  That didn’t seem likely though, surely no ordinary person could do this? 

Just before Sean left the station to go home for the night, he received details about the victims that would be released to the media within the hour.  It made for particularly depressing reading. 

Both of the victims worked in the medical profession in the Mater hospital in Dublin.  They had told their colleagues they were going on holiday to an undisclosed location and had been butchered in the man’s holiday home.  Even their friends didn’t know where they were going but the Ripper somehow did.  They must have been murdered shortly after their arrival. 

He was a 41-year-old anesthesiologist named John O’Hara, renowned worldwide in his field; she was a much loved 26-year-old nurse originally from the Philippines called Mary.  The callous murder would not only affect them and their colleagues but also an unknowable number of patients. 

He was athletic, tall, handsome and Sean imagined that he would have given the attacker some difficulties.  But there were no signs of a struggle.  A photo of Mary was enclosed.  She was petite with long, flowing hair.  Sean shuddered when he thought about what she must have gone through. 

There were some similarities with the previous murder as regards the location.  They were both one-story.  That would have made it easy to survey all the rooms prior to launching an attack or maybe, it was that he could easily escape if things didn’t go according to his diabolical plan. 

Sean, his eyes now tired and sunken turned off his computer to go home.  It had been a long day.  That night, while lying in bed, he wondered what the future would hold both for him and everyone else.  The news on both the radio and television was filled with interviews from ordinary people about their fears of being the next unfortunate victim.  There was now an atmosphere of fear permeating the country. 

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