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  • Writer's pictureJ. Sutton

The Contract Killer

The contract killer is one of the most dangerous killers and one of the most under studied & under researched killers.

Gambino member and contract killer Roy DeMeo

Like a soldier these people are trained killing machines. They are efficient, well planned, quick and professional. Many will complete their contract in broad daylight with minimal effort. They can go unknown for years some are never found. They live among us, some will have other legitimate jobs and will blend in to a crowd easily.

The majority of contract killers have the ability to compartmentalise during the act. Meaning it becomes nothing more than a job, there is not sentiment attached to the victim. There is no remorse, regret can occur but it is often linked to job performance rather than regret of the kill itself.

Unlike a serial killer the contract killer doesn't have a cooling off period, their work is on demand. They won't necessarily get any type of thrill from doing it, and its not led by any desire to kill for pleasure. The same way a person working a regular 9 - 5 wouldn't get a thrill from going into work. By definition the contract killer is not a serial killer despite them having possibly killed many people, over the span of their career. Their motive and drive will be linked only to the goal of earning money and increasing their chances of more jobs. They are driven to do a job well done, be quick, efficient and keep a high priority not to get caught by law enforcement.

That said this doesn't mean a contract killer cannot become a serial killer. This was seen in the case of Roy DeMeo a member of the Gambino crime family. He started to enjoy killing, he would refer to his murders as 'the Gemini Method' making a name for himself in the crime world as very dangerous. He had begun to kill for the sake of it, rather than to benefit the crime family. In the end Roy was assassinated by an unknown person, it is said by his associates it was because 'he was out of control and had to be silenced'

Contract killing is not exclusive to street crime and criminal enterprises, it can be found in many facets of society. From data and cases avaliable it can be seen that this is a global industry that dates back to the formations of governments and empires. With many of those in power or coming into power would seek out the use of the contract killer. Assassins have been used by the military and secret services around the world, yet the act is criminalised on the street.

There are many reasons a person may become a contract killer. There is no specific profile for one, in that people from all walks of life have been found to be contract killers. It's frequency however is greater in specific social settings in regard to contract killing in the context of crime. In organised crime it is used more predominantly to maintain order in groups, to seek revenge on opposition, and to settle debts.

In other cases a contract killer maybe used by a regular citizen. We see this occuring within intimate partner relationships where a scorned lover may be seeking permanent revenge or for monetary reasons. Such as cases of fraud where a person may solicit a killer to claim on the victims life insurance.

Their killing style will be honed to their employers needs making them versatile killers. I have spent the last few years studying cases of murder for hire, talking to those who have committed such crimes, looking at the research available and at the people involved in such cases. The one thing I have learned during this time is that anyone could be a contract killer and many of us would never even know.

Image from CCTV footage - May 2013. An Italian Mob hit in Central Sanita, in Naples.

The victim was Mariano Bacio Tarracino (53) a criminal with Organised Crime ties.

A bit about my research

What do I do?

Part of my role as a criminologist is to study, record and analyse the behaviour of criminals.

One of the areas I specialise in is organised crime, I have focused my research over the last 3 years on the contract killer. This is an area in crime that is under studied and not always fully understood.

I am currently writing a 3 part book trilogy on contract killing it will be a comprehensive look at murder for hire from a local and global perspective. It should give a clearer idea of this area of criminal behaviour and explain why the Contract Killer is not a regular serial killer.

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Journey Giesbrecht

I'm researching contract killing for a podcast episode and this piece was very helpful!! I'm excited for your books to be released. Good luck with your research!!

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