Autoerotic Fatalities – Interpreting the Scene

Autoerotic 19The scene of an autoerotic death can hold a wide variety of problems and issues for the investigator. Filled with deceiving information and abnormal behavior, these scenes offer challenges to even the most seasoned investigator. However, it is vital that you get these scenes worked correctly. First and foremost, it is your job to get the correct answers for the family, the victim, and any insurance companies needing the information. The stigma attached to suicide and the autoerotic can have devastating affects on survivors, proper determination can only be achieved through good scene work and investigation.

Proper Scene Work

As in any investigation, you should never rely solely on what you see. Without doing a complete investigation you will never find the truth. DO NOT go in with preconceived ideas or basis. If you can not properly work a sexually charged scene then remove yourself and let someone else take lead.

The investigator must consider all aspects of the triangle of forensic investigation. There is an interdependence of all evidence, and none of these elements can be interpreted separately. Each of these elements are equally important.

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Without this integrated approach, homicides could be missed, or suicides and natural deaths could be misinterpreted as autoerotic.It is important to look at what is present as well as what is not present. Family, spouses, parents – may sometimes alter the scene to avoid the embarrassment of what they found, or to save the embarrassment of the deceased.Be sure to interview the person who discovered the body quickly and look for indicators as to alteration

When looking at the scene keep in mind that these scenes can look like homicide or suicide. Many victims of this deadly game like to act out fantasies of torture  and rape they want to do to someone else.

Hands and feet may be bound, gag may be in the mouth, and a hood over the head. On first glance you will see evidence of a homicidal scene. But look closely and ask yourself these type of questions; could this person have done this themselves, could they have gotten out if still alive, how much struggle do you see, is there an escape mechanism. These along with history investigation will determine your manner.

Proper History Investigation

These cases are not complete unless you do a good history investigation. Areas such as medical, psychological, and sexual history. Talk with family and friends to learn sexual behavior patterns. Talk with old girlfriends about sexual acts and fantasies. You should know the victims medical history and psychological history, could this have been suicide, did he just get “bad news” from the doctor .

Computers should be seized and forensically evaluated for evidence of sexual interest and searches. Did the victim enjoy this type of sexual games, who has he talked to, what chat rooms, etc. Computers give us a really good insight into a person and their interests.

Above all you must not have found any evidence of suicide ideation, suicide notes, or anything leading you to the suicide conclusion based upon the probability of the evidence. Better not to rule it autoerotic than to rule it wrongly.

This is only a very small fraction of the information needed to investigate these cases. Please take the time to find books, and articles on the topic and become familiar. You may not work many of these in your career and you can only learn from two sources; experience and education. Education is the key here.

The podcast attached to this post goes much deeper into this topic.

About the Author
Darren is a 30 year veteran of law enforcement and criminal investigations. He currently serves as an investigator for the Crawford County Missouri coroner’s office. He holds credentials as an instructor for the Missouri Sheriff’s Training Academy, has served as president of the Missouri Medical Examiners and Coroners Association, and is certified and credentialed in numerous fields of investigation. He holds the position of lead instructor and facilitator for the Coroner Talk™ community as he speaks and writes in the area of death investigation and scene management.

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