Murder, porn connection in Seminole Heights killings ‘not that unusual,’ expert says

Hillsborough County

Tampa police believe the accused Seminole Heights serial killer watched porn after murdering three of the four victims last fall. 

Police tracked the data in the iPhone belonging to Howell Donaldson III and poured through information in his social media accounts. 

Police concluded in newly released evidence that, “In summary, Howell Donaldson III showed a pattern of visiting this adult-themed website after committing three homicides.”

The name of the site has been redacted from documents but a site called CamSoda is the only adult-entertainment site on the list of warrants. 

Users who view the content are able to interact by live streaming video. 

“Pornography has historically been associated with serial killing in general,” said Dr. Bryanna Fox. 

Fox is an associate professor at the University of South Florida and a former FBI special agent who specializes in criminal psychology. 

She said there are usually two main connections as to why pornography would be associated with serial killings. 

“We do see in general that there is a link with a heightened sense of arousal after committing a crime, i.e. you feel excited. Arousal is just feeling excited in any sense of the word,” Fox said. 

She also says there could be a connection to violence. 

“In more sadistic sexual offenses, we tend to see the association between violent pornography and commission of those types of crimes,” Fox said. “Since this wasn’t a sexual or sadistic type of murders that we were seeing here in Tampa, it makes it a little more unusual for there to be a pornography link with the suspected offender.”

Fox said porn has appeared in some of the most high-profile serial killing investigations. 

“In one of the first studies done on serial killers by the FBI, they had 36 of the most severe offenders, and they found that 81 percent of them had looked at pornography either immediately before the crime or some point during the offense,” Fox said. 

The results of Donaldson’s mental evaluation are set to be released during a two-hour court hearing on June 29.  

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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