In Silence of the Lambs, how does Clarice and her friend deduce that the killer Buffalo Bill knew his first victim Fredrica Bimmel?

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I watched this particular scene several times, but still couldn't get it clearly. Probably mainly because I didn't understand what she meant by "The one he weighted down".

1 Answer 1


The key to understand it lies in what Hannibal tells her and what they're musing over in this scene:

What did Lecter say about the first principles?...What does this guy do? He covets. How do we first start to covet? We covet what we see...Every day.

The point here is that Buffalo Bill started with a victim he knew. This is supported by the fact that she was the only victim he bothered to weight down in the water, which is also the reason she wasn't found first:

First girl taken, third body found. Why? She didn't drift. He weighted her down.

This is what she means with "the one he weighted down", he tied rocks to her so that she doesn't drift up in the water. This is what makes her special and together with the idea that he must have known his first victim this is how they deduce he knew her.

Hot damn, Clarice. He knew her.

Of course this is all still ultimately speculation on their part based on Hannibal's and her theory of how Buffalo Bill thinks and how he started his murder series, but it's as good a clue as any other for investigating Frederica Bimmel's connections further.

  • Little better now. However I still feel it isn't a solid logic, especially considering this is what led to the killer's capture. Why did they assume that the other victims are not known to the killer? Going all the back to the 1st victim i.e the oldest case for possible leads - not so convincing.
    – Housefly
    May 30, 2020 at 20:10
  • 1
    Because according to Lecter it is only clear that he knows the first victim. But yes, of course it's just a theory.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    May 30, 2020 at 20:35
  • @Housefly In science a good theory makes predicitions which can be tested experimentally to prove or disprove the theory. If there is a fairly reasonably theory that a serial killer probably knew the first victim personally, investigating everyone who was close to the first victim may narrow down a small group of possible suspects to further investigate. If the theory is correct they may eventually identify the serial killer. May 31, 2020 at 17:31

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