On Dexter

The Psychology of Dexter’s Kills

An Investigation of Modus Operandi, Signature, and Victimology

By Marisa Mauro

There is an old police adage that every crime scene tells a story. We all know, thanks to the multitude of television shows depicting police and crime themes, that it is up to the detectives, investigators, and various forensic experts to decipher these sometimes convoluted tales. But armchair analysts are finally getting their turn in the hit television series Dexter. Main character Dexter Morgan, Miami City Police Department blood spatter analyst and part-time serial killer, has had a lot of close calls over four fantastic seasons, but has yet to be apprehended for his dark nighttime deeds. This has left viewers with a great deal of time to think about Dexter’s story–what makes their unlikely hero tick, his murders, how he accomplishes them, and even why he does it.

Police departments, federal agencies, and criminal researchers have invested substantial resources in uncovering answers to questions just like these in pursuit of real serial killers. Why? Because answering questions that help investigators understand the method and motivation behind killings facilitates the apprehension and conviction of murderers. Clearly Dexter fans are not out to catch their serial killer. They are, however, out to understand the whole story behind the Dark Passenger, much of which is yet unanswered by the show. Why does Dexter use particular strategies and tools for his kills? What motivates him to kill? And certainly, what is with that cut he makes on his victims’ cheeks?

Some conclusions to these and other questions can be drawn using the same techniques used  …

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