Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Killer I Met: your questions (pt. 4)

Been busy in court this week, so I didn't get to address the last of the questions about the killer Eric Nenno. But here we go:

Anon on 10/28: Does Texas law categorize the sexual penetration of a dead body as "rape" because the corpse cannot give consent? I didn't realize that an investigator would ever do something as personal as touch a homicide suspect very familiarly and continuously, as is described in this post. It seems highly unorthodox and it left me feeling a bit odd to read it, but I can't quite put my finger on why. Did it come up in postconviction in this case?

Good questions.

As to the 'sex with a dead body' question, you'll be glad to know I had to look it up. And it may surprise you that from my cursory search, necrophilia isn't expressly outlined as a crime. I saw one theory that it is a 'victimless' crime, for obvious reasons. The closest I could find was penal Code 42.08, Abuse of Corpse which outlaws treating "in an offensive manner a human corpse." It's a Class A misdemeanor, so punishable by no more than a year in the county lock up. Doesn't seem right, does it?

As for touching the suspect, that's an interesting one. Certainly, there's nothing illegal or improper about it so I'm sure it wouldn't have come up in the post-conviction case. Repulsive for the agent, maybe, but not improper. In fact, in my recent cold case the detective spent several minutes rubbing the suspect's back and touching his shoulder during the five-hour long interview. It's a very effective way to build trust, to show compassion and break down barriers. The hard thing, as I've said, is bringing yourself to do it, I imagine. Especially in the case of a man who's just killed a little girl.


  1. When a child in your family has been killed, you want the detective or agent or investigator to do whatever it takes to build trust with the suspect and try to get a confession. I think I would have felt better going to court with a confession than with a bunch of circumstantial evidence. It does seem odd to the rest of us but these are trained investigators and mimicking compassion for the suspect whether it is with body language, a smile, kind words or a touch is merely a means to an end. They are trying to solve a crime and stop more people from being harmed or killed. It's just manipulation, plain and simple. Their job is to get the suspect to tell them what he or she knows. I don't see anything wrong with putting the suspect at ease and making them comfortable so that they WILL talk. I know it is repugnant but as I said, these are professionals. They get paid to do this kind of work and I think it takes an extraordinary person to be able to do it day in and day out. I am sure they have to compartmentalize quite a bit though.

  2. I can see how necrophilia wouldn't really be a crime, but... EWWW. You know? Just so icky.

    There's really nothing we can write about that hasn't actually happened in real life. Blows my mind sometimes.

    Interesting how touching a suspect (rubbing shoulders, etc) can build trust. Detectives have such hard jobs.

  3. Saw your deal in my Publisher's Weekly email this morning! I may have squealed a little.

  4. Jen, someone showed me that. I may have squealed a little myself :)


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