What I did is not such a great harm, with all these surplus women nowadays. – Rudolf Pleil (“The Death Maker”)
Though idealists prefer to deny it, Man is a predatory animal in whom the killer instinct is as natural as the sexual impulse. An infant, given the power to do so, would destroy anyone who displeased him; it is only through maturation and socialization that we learn to curb our murderous impulses, or at least to restrict them to non-humans. And thereby hangs the tale; some humans never internalize the wrongfulness of violence and only avoid it out of self-preservation (i.e., to avoid being caught and punished), while others find socially-sanctioned outlets for their violent impulses or sublimate them into non-physical forms. But in all these cases there is still usually a thick enough layer of civilization that the individual is reluctant to attack others he perceives as being like himself, and this is where the process of dehumanization comes in; if he can convince himself that someone is somehow deserving of violence, or better still is less than human, he thereby shakes off the psychic fetters imposed by his upbringing which prevent him from attacking (or even killing) other humans.
Cops provide the classic example of this syndrome; though most of them are capable of functioning normally in society without victimizing others, many of them rationalize brutal, animalistic violence as acceptable if their victims are “criminals”, and with the vast expansion of laws in the past century that classification is no longer limited to genuine malefactors. But even most cops reserve their most murderous rages for those officially (or personally) designated as subhuman, such as Jews, Gypsies or Negroes. Many police departments use the slang term “NHI”, meaning “no humans involved”, for crimes committed against individuals that police consider not worth investigating; the term seems to have originated in Southern California in the 1960s and gained more widespread usage in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Does anyone doubt that if crimes committed against such individuals are ignored by police when a stranger commits them, that they will not be actively covered up when committed by a “brother officer”? And since prostitutes are included in the “NHI” category, we are all too often raped, robbed, beaten or otherwise victimized by cops with almost complete impunity.
Because of our “outsider” status, it’s very easy for the weak-minded to dehumanize whores. Under a criminalization regime we are “criminals”, according to Judeo-Christian tradition we are “sinners”, to aging wives we are “homewreckers” and to insecure men we represent the unacceptable truth that women are in control of the sexual sphere; even neofeminists like Melissa Farley represent us as helpless, passive, faceless victims of men, thus justifying their constant attacks on our lives and livelihoods despite their claims of universal sisterhood. Sometimes dehumanization is very subtle, as in the case of the clients who raped me or the trafficking fanatic in my column of one year ago today who was quick to attack a real prostitute for daring to be something other than an undifferentiated thing to be “rescued”; other times it’s horribly overt, as in this hate-comment I received on the same column.
But the most extreme dehumanization of prostitutes occurs in the minds of serial killers, who target us with terrifying regularity. Sometimes the reason is practical; as the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgeway, expressed it, “I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.” Few people notice missing streetwalkers, and because of “NHI” attitudes police aren’t usually very eager to investigate such cases until mutilated corpses start turning up. But in other cases such as that of Jack the Ripper, the killer’s psychosis is specifically focused on prostitutes, probably because they are living representations of a female sexuality he hates and fears. And recently-identified serial killer John Boyer, whose story appeared in the Huffington Post on September 18th, appears to have been somewhere in the middle:
Long-haul trucker John Boyer…[is] accused of at least three slayings and is suspected in a fourth. Boyer has pleaded guilty to killing a woman in North Carolina and faces murder charges..in Tennessee and South Carolina…The similarities of the cases and the apparent lack of remorse from Boyer have investigators encouraging their counterparts along highways around the Southeast to review unsolved killings and missing person files. Even his own attorney in the North Carolina case felt uneasy around him and wondered what else he might have done.
“I think there are a lot more. There’s no telling. This guy traveled all over the country. Hopefully we’ll get more of these cases solved through DNA,” said detective Scott Smith of the Hickman County, Tenn., sheriff’s office. In the case Smith investigated, Boyer picked up 25-year-old prostitute Jennifer Smith in April 2005 and brought her to an abandoned parking lot just off Interstate 40. The two argued over money, and Boyer strangled the victim with the seat belt of his truck, dumped her body from the cab, and drove off…her body was found in 2005 by a highway worker, but it took two years for investigators to match DNA found on her body to a sample Boyer gave after pleading guilty in North Carolina. Boyer confessed to the killing…but he also went on a tirade against women…
The investigator was chilled by the hatred toward women from a man who had never been married and lived with his mother near Augusta, Ga…Darlington County, S.C., Sheriff’s Capt. Andy Locklair immediately got the same impression when he stepped into an interview room to question Boyer about a killing in that state. The first thing Boyer said to him was: “What [bitch] are you here about?” [The body]…of 34-year-old Michelle Haggadone…was found in April 2000 beneath pine straw at a parking area on Interstate 20 near Florence, about 30 miles from the truck stop where Boyer had picked her up. Boyer immediately denied killing Haggadone, lashing out at Locklair and an investigator with him. “He said he had slept with a lot of prostitutes and a lot of them were detectives’ daughters or prosecutors’ daughters,” Locklair said…”I’m not a behavior science expert, but he has some deep, deep issues with women.” Haggadone was strangled with a wire or cord after the two argued over the price of her services, authorities said. Her body went unidentified for a decade, until a DNA sample from a relative matched a sample from her body…Locklair and another investigator realized several aspects of the crime, like what the victim was doing and where and how she was killed, matched the earlier slayings linked to Boyer…[who] will be taken to Tennessee to face a first-degree murder charge after his North Carolina sentence ends. Boyer is serving a sentence of up to 12 years…after pleading guilty in 2007 to second-degree murder for killing Scarlett Wood in Wilmington four years earlier. Boyer said he was doing drugs with the 31-year-old prostitute when they had an argument, he pushed her, and she struck her head on furniture…but an autopsy found Wood suffered broken ribs and facial bones, and her pelvic bones showed signs of a stabbing.
…Boyer is [also] a prime suspect in the death of 26-year-old Rose Marie Mallette, who was reported missing in 2001, said New Hanover County Sheriff’s Det. Ken Murphy, a cold case investigator in Wilmington. The reported prostitute’s remains were found wrapped in a blanket in an industrial area of the city a year later, the back of her skull crushed…Monica Caison, founder of Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons in Wilmington, said investigators need to look at three cases where women disappeared over five months in 1995 in Brunswick County, N.C., just west of Wilmington. “We have a lot of unsolved missing persons in the general area…Mr. Boyer was known to frequent… that alone warrants a second look,” Caison said. At least two of the unsolved cases involve woman who were small and slightly built, like Boyer’s other alleged victims…
According to this two-year-old story from the Telegraph, Boyer’s not alone; the FBI suspects a number of serial killers are working as long-haul truckers, the better to cover up their monstrous deeds. Undoubtedly Boyer is responsible for at least a few of these 500+ unsolved murders, but the others are still out there. Still, as an FBI agent quoted for the article said, “Many of the victims have been prostitutes and other women with high-risk lifestyles…We don’t want to scare the public and make it seem like every time you stop for gas you should look over your shoulder.” And though he tacked on the obligatory “they didn’t deserve to die,” I think the general gist of his statement is clear; it isn’t real women who need to worry, only surplus ones.