FOLLOWING THE murder of a Spanish businessman whose dismembered remains were found in the Chao Phraya River earlier this month, Thai psychologist Wanlop Piyamanotham has tried to explain the motive behind such a gruesome killing.
He said the perpetrator might have held a grudge against the victim and dismembered the body both to express rage and to conceal the crime. Studies have found that murderers who dismember their victims are characterised by a form of subconscious cruelty and can broadly be categorised into three different groups.
First are those familiar with dismemberment from their previous life experience – such as medical professionals or butchers. The latter group, who are familiar with butchering animals, might be desensitised to the act of dismemberment even if the corpse is that of a human.
Second, people who have suffered a trauma of some sort, perhaps from being assaulted, often suppress pain and rage. Former victims might later in life commit crimes to release these hidden feelings, Wanlop said, giving the example of a Songkhla case in which a boy saw his parents murdered by strangulation. He survived and in adulthood committed similar crimes, strangling and dismembering his victims. Third are persons who suffer acute psychotic episodes associated with rage. The case of the Spanish businessman killed and dismembered might have involved money, fraud or a past incident that enraged the killer so much that he resorted to murder and dismemberment. The dismemberment was possibly an act of rage and an effort to conceal the crime.
Natee Jitsawang, a criminologist and former director-general of the Corrections Department, said murderers who dismember the bodies of their victims often display other deviant behaviour and a tendency towards excessive cruelty. He said such individuals might appear normal in ordinary circumstances, although they might be introverted. Natee agreed that murders involving dismemberment were often linked to a killer’s professional experience or childhood trauma.