12 Ways Serial Killers Stole Their Victims' Humanity

One thing that’s rarely talked about with serial killers is the narcissism that it takes to believe that you deserve to claim human lives as your own. While brutal serial killers are committing horrific crimes, they’re also stripping their victims of their very humanity in a variety of grotesque ways. For some killers, the way they dehumanize a person is built into their specific mania. For others, the dehumanization is a part of the “game” that they’re playing with their victims. Basically, dehumanization games are something to help a killer pass the time until they get bored and end the life of the person in their grasp. There are many ways to dehumanize a person, and - depending on the style of killer - you may see one specific dehumanization technique or a healthy medley of nightmare fuel used to make a person forget that they were ever born.

It’s likely that killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, and H.H. Holmes never even saw their victims as people, so the act of dehumanization came as second nature. But some killers, like David Parker Ray, enjoyed stealing a person’s humanity one torturous act at a time. As you’ll soon come to find out, some killers built elaborate homes and machines to beat the humanity out of their victims until they were nothing more than sniveling animals. Each one of these acts of dehumanization is real, and they’ve happened multiple times. The only take away from this is to be careful who you talk to on the street. 

  • Chaining Someone Into A Dog Collar

    Chaining Someone Into A Dog Collar
    Photo: Rob Gallop / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Serial killers love to put their victims into dog collars. Chaining someone up like a dog not only makes them feel like they're powerless, but it also sends the message that they're no better than a common animal. In 2016, a missing South Carolina woman was found chained like a dog to the interior of a metal shipping container, but killers, kidnappers, and psychopaths of all manner have been collaring folks for as long as anyone can imagine.

    In the late '80s, Robert Berdella raped, tortured, and killed at least six men in Kansas City, Missouri. His final victim escaped Berdella's dungeon wearing nothing but a dog collar

  • Tying Them To A Gynecologist's Chair

    Tying Them To A Gynecologist's Chair
    Photo: 9355 / Pixabay / CC0 1.0

    David Parker Ray, AKA the Toybox Killer, had a million ways of stealing someone's humanity. His first (but definitely not worst) method was to knock a woman out, kidnap her, then fasten her to a steel gynecologist's chair before she woke. Once she came to, she would hear a tape of Ray giving her the "welcome to hell" speech and informing her that she was about to be used as a human sex doll, and it would be a rare occasion that she would be allowed to leave the chair. 

    "I’m sure that you’ve already tried to get your wrists and ankles loose, and know you can’t. Now you’re just waiting to see what’s gonna happen next. You probably think you’re gonna be raped and you’re f*ckin’ sure right about that. Our primary interest is in what you’ve got between your legs. You’ll be raped thoroughly and repeatedly, in every hole you’ve got. Because, basically, you’ve been snatched and brought here for us to train and use as a sex slave. Sound kind of far out? Well, I suppose it is to the uninitiated, but we do it all the time."

  • Locking Them In A Human Cage

    Locking Them In A Human Cage
    Photo: jrmyst / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    The Toybox Killer gets multiple mentions on this list because he seemed to constantly be thinking up new ways to make someone feel like a non person. His worst method is one of the most frightening and disgusting things you'll hear about being done to a person. After he had kidnapped a woman and raped her, he would often throw parties where his friends would take turns with the kidnap victim - and then she would be put in a dog breeding cage. From there he would place the woman in his living room and allow both of his dogs to rape the woman repeatedly while he watched. He found a special pleasure in telling women about this before it happened to them. 

    "Here, your status is no more than that of one of the dogs, or of one of the animals out in the barn. Your only value to us is the fact that you have an attractive, usable body. And, like the rest of our animals, you will be fed and watered, kept in good physical condition, kept reasonably clean and allowed to use the toilet when necessary." 

  • Shocking Them With A Cattle Prod

    Shocking Them With A Cattle Prod
    Photo: davitydave / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Way down in the Lone Star state, Walter Ellebract Sr. and his son passed the time on their ranch by luring hitchhikers out to an empty field and torturing them to death simply because they could. Their favorite method of rendering someone inhuman was to shock them over and over with a cattle prod while recording them begging for their lives.

    In 1984, ranch hands told police that at least 100 victims had been tortured and chopped up in a wood chipper. 

  • Making Grotesque Displays And Artwork Out Them

    Making Grotesque Displays And Artwork Out Them
    Photo: YouTube

    This is a favorite pastime of serial killers from all walks of life that serves as a way to either make light of the horrific crime they've committed or completely strip the humanity from someone after they've killed them. Killers accomplish this feat by transforming a body into a trophy, or token, of the kill. For example, every iteration of the Boston Strangler would use a woman's stockings to tie a bow around her dead body.

    Although when it comes to grotesque displays no serial killer outdoes Ed Gein and his sickening use of body parts in every day appliances, as the well as the skin suit and nipple belt that he made himself. There's nothing that says "you aren't a human anymore" like making someone into an apron. 

  • Desecrating Their Bodies With Extreme Mutilation

    Desecrating Their Bodies With Extreme Mutilation
    Photo: YouTube

    You could argue that Jeffrey Dahmer loved his victims. He was a gay man living in the Midwest who had no compunctions about his sexuality, but at some point there was a disconnect in his head and he no longer saw the men (and Filipino boys) that he was sleeping with as sexual partners. Rather, he began to see them as toys that were meant to be used, cleaned, and put away.

    When investigators finally made their way into Dahmer's apartment they didn't just discover the heads of his victims in the refrigerator, but they also found a box where Dahmer kept the penises of some of his victims. By the end of his murder spree, Dahmer had stopped seeing his victims as anything but pieces of meat meant to be ripped apart.