The Human Predator by Katherine Ramsland
-001-viii: …they all have this in common: Their actions derive from a complex interplay among three basic factors—specific cultural conditions, individual processing of those conditions, and opportunity.
-002- viii: after the 1980s, the activities of serial killers tended to get repetitive.
-003- viii: Killers absorb a given culture’s emotional nexus, and because they have low impulse inhibition, they are more apt to act out the nuances of covert dynamics…
-004- x: Serial killing is most often either a profitable crime, a crime for thrill and self-gratification, or a lust-driven crime where the killer may operate compulsively within an erotic ritual. Occasionally, it’s about revenge, which might be included in the “thrill” category. In many cases, the killer is relieving pressure, either sexual or from some other type of need, and generally does not desire to be stopped or caught. Once the deed is done, the need subsides. In all likelihood, such killers cannot stop, although they may have a period of dormancy that can last years.
-005- x: The NIJ’s definition indicates that the motive is often psychological and that the behavior at the crime scene will show sexual overtones. While that’s a common notion, it’s too restrictive. Not all serial killing sexually motivated.
-006- xi: [Ramsland definition of serial killers] A serial killer murders at least two people in distinctly separate incidents, with a psychological rest period between, which could be considered a time of predatory preparation. He, she, or they also choose the murder activity, such as stabbing, strangulation, shooting ot bombing and may either move around to different places or lure successive victims to a single locale. They view victims as objects needed for their ultimate goals, and manifest an addictive quality to their behaviour, so that choosing murder is a satisfying act rather than merely a reaction or instrumental goal.
-007- xii: [the FBI] know that even with their vast resources, predictive interpretations must nevertheless be flexible. At any given time, a serial killer could be or do something unexpected, derailing carefully crafted analyses. Anomalies are consistent with human nature.
Distinct historical periods have framed the phenomenon of serial murder differently from one another, so laying out cases chronologically, with the inclusion of major historical incidents and dominant value structures, shows just how the behaviour of these offenders reflects social and cultural dynamics. Many absorb a culture’s pathology, creating an association that becomes a feedback loop between their individual modes of processing and the context in which they act that encourages more of the same behaviour.
-008- p3: During the middle stretch of this impressive reign (which eventually devolved into decadence and cruelty), a few decades after the death of Christ, the notion of forensics was born. … the first known application of medical expertise to determine the cause and manner of death in a legal arena occurred when Roman physician Antistius announced which of the twenty-three stab wounds inflicted on Caesar had actually killed him. … this is the option of the word ‘forensic’–‘before the forum.’
-009- p4: Locusta, noted by many criminologists as the first documented serial killer.
-010- pp6-7: While Christian sects were persecuted throughout this period, especially because they refused to worship the emperor, the religion gained status with a significant event. During the Battle of Milvian Bridge in a.d. 312, Constantine the Great experienced a vision of a cross. He won the battle and subsequently converted to Christianity. This allowed the religion to thrive and to form an established church. From a.d. 324 to 330, Constantine established a new capital for the empire at the city of Byzantium, in the east, calling this city Constantinople, the New Rome, thus, according t some historians, ushering in what would come to be known as the medieval period. The collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 476 established this shift more firmly. While Islam gained ground as a religion in the Near and Middle East, Christianity continued to flourish as a government-sponsored faith. It gained strength when the Emperor Justinian insisted that all of his subjects become Christians. Religion then merged into politics as church leaders sought to influence ruling bodies and to fashion themselves into an elite class invested with God’s authority. But after Justinian’s death in a.d. 565, Eastern and Western Europe developed in quite different directions.
The five centuries between a.d. 500 and 1000 are called the Dark Ages. Many of civilization’s gains receded as trade, intellectual life, and manufacturing declined. Warrior tribes attacked and lawlessness increased across the land.
-011- p7: Thus, the basis for medieval civilization was religion, and what flowed from it into modern times in terms of ideas about good and evil would also influence how society viewed serial killers, as well as how quite a few serial killers would come to view themselves.
-012- p8: The Holy Roman Empire was established in a.d. 800 with the Pope’s crowning of Charlemagne. … The popes had the ‘Evil One’ to consider: the fallen angel, Lucifer, who went about tempting the faithful to sin. In part, this entity derived from pagan religions that worshiped seductive gods or feared the Lord of the Underworld.
-013- p8: …poisoning, considered the ‘coward’s weapon’…
-014- p9: The Chinese recognized that fingerprints appeared to be unique to individuals and in the 700s began to use them to authenticate documents. During the eleventh century, as Europe awoke from the Dark Ages, Quintilian, a Roman attorney, proved that a set of bloody prints had been meant to frame a blind man for his mother’s murder. In other words, he was able to use physical evidence in a forensic case to acquit someone. By around 1247, Sung Tz’u, a Chinese lawyer, was featured in His Duan Yi—literally, ‘the washing away of wrongs’–the first work of forensic science. It included instructions on how to distinguish between suicide, homicide and natural death, which made it the first record of this type of forensic medical knowledge.
-015- p17: …escalating conflicts between Christianity and pagan practices would precipitate such strong inner torment over deviant fantasies that some men would come to believe they had transformed into genuine monsters.
-016- p20: At that time [1500-1600] , the criminal personality was thought to be the result of demonic influence or possession, with the devil inspiring his followers to take different shapes. Some viewed themselves as cursed with an animal compulsion.
-017- p21: For those with a strong sexual drive and poor impulse control, a pact with the devil was a perfect excuse, a way to ‘accept’ that whatever they did was beyond their control. In fact, the entire history of serial killers is framed by whatever excuses are in vogue at the time for mitigating accountability in vile acts.
-018- p33: Arsenic has different effects depending on degrees if ingestion. It is absorbed from the bowels into the bloodstream and then into the organs. The liver, which takes up toxins, gets the brunt of its effect, but when delivered in one large dose, this poison quickly hits the brain as well. When delivered in smaller doses over a period of time, the poison affects the peripheral nerves, stripping their insulating sheaths. Victims feel a prickly heat, like hot needles, and the skin may blister. They will also suffer severe headaches, nausea, numbness, and general weakness.
-019- pp37-8: In 1878, Johann Daniel Metzger devised a means of detecting arsenic in solutions. He discovered that when arsenious oxide is heated with charcoal, it forms a black mirrorlike deposit on a cold plate held over the coals. That substance is arsenic. His invention prepared the way in the next century for bringing science into the courtroom.
-020- p38: The only known method for arsenic detection then was observation. The organs of these victims showed an unusual state of preservation—sufficient proof that they had been poisoned.
-021- p38: Yet even as this case was being investigated, the detection of arsenic advanced another step in 1806, when Valentine Rose discovered how to locate it in human organs. he used nitric acid, potassium carbonate, and lime, turning that mixture into powder form and treating it with coals to get the telltale mirror substance.
-022- pp41-2: [Vidocq] was aware of the notion that perception is truth and used it to his advantage. Supposedly, he once told author Honore de Balzac the secret to passing as someone else: ‘Observe what you would become, then act accordingly and you will be transformed.’
-023- 44: rigor mortis: state of muscle rigidity
algor mortis: body’s cooling temperature
livor mortis: lividity—blood settling in the body at the lowest point of gravity.
-024- …by the late 1700 French physician Pierre Nysten had observed the subtle changes in rigor mortis from flaccid to stiff to flaccid and penned “Nysten’s law” which held that the process begins in the face and neck and moves downward throughout the body.
-025- 45: burking: killing a person in order to sell their body to science. Named after William Burke, who worked with William Hare at this in the 1600s. (Their method was to hold the person in an armlock around the throat or sit on their chests while pinching their noses shut.)
-026- 47: Also during the 1830s, James Marsh tested the coffee of a victim of poisoning, but was unable to convey to a jury how he had detected arsenic in it, so he decided to make his methods more demonstrable to uneducated minds. In a closed bottle, he treated poisoned material with sulfuric acid and zinc. From this bottle emerged a narrow U-shaped glass tube, with one end tapered, through which arsine gas emerged to hit zinc and escape. The escaping gas could be ignited to form the expected black mirror substance. This method became known as the Marsh Test.
-027- 52: The subjects of sex, crime, and scandal, heretofore believed to be unfit material for those of higher moral character, were about to become the primary target of enterprising reported. Bennett’s success with ‘yellow’ journalism, as it would later be dubbed, forced other papers to follow his lead. His accounts shocked his readers, but transfixed them as well. Even as they criticize, they demanded more salacious content.
-028- 55: In 1843, the Belgian Surete Publique took the first known mug shots of criminals, making them the ancestors of judicial photography. The daguerreotype process involved a mirror-polished silver-plated copper sheet that was treated with iodine fumes, which converted its surface into a thin coating of silver iodide. After the plate was exposed in the camera, it was developed with a vapor of metallic mercury.
-029- 56: In 1845 the American Journal of Insanity, published in New York, started to include articles about the notion of self-control in cases of insanity, as well as on such topics as the importance of sleep in preventing insanity. the influence of the weather on mental states, and homicidal impulse.
-030- 69: During his sensational trial, moralists blamed his violence on lurid dime novels.
-031- 72: In 1876, an Italian anthropologist, Cesare Lombroso, a professor at Turin in Italy, published L’uomo delinquente. Experienced in the methods of phrenology (reading head formation), he had made numerous measurements and studied many photographs of criminal offenders. Believing that human behaviour could be classified through objective tests, Lombroso was convinced that certain people were born criminals and could be identified by specific physical traits: for example, bulging or sloping brows, apelike noses, bushy eyebrows that met over the nose, small close-set eyes, large jaws, and disproportionately long arms. In other words, delinquency was a physiological abnormality that could be observed in someone’s simian appearance. Also, only criminals bore tattoos, which Lombroso considered a reversion to ancient tribal rites, primitive races, and the craving to torture, mutilate, and kill. The police, it was suggested by those who supported these ideas, could make arrests more accurately if only they’d train themselves to spot the right traits. And the public could better protect itself from a stranger with an obvious criminal appearance.
-032- 73: People without remorse and yet with their reasoning skills apparently intact weren’t exactly mentally defective, but something did seem to be lacking. Philippe Pinel introduced the label “mania without delirium” in 1809, and more than two decades later, British physician James Prichard called it “moral insanity,” to indicate that one’s faculty for moral behavior and reasoning had been affected. He thought it was caused by illness or trauma. In1881, German psychiatrist J.L. Koch introduced “constitutional psychopathic inferiority,” which covered a multitude of disorders but emphasized the loss of impairment of the power of “self-government,” and four years later William Stead called such people “psychopaths”–those to whom nothing is sacred.
-033- 75: He proposed ideas toward the end of the nineteenth century that would have ramifications far into the future on how certain psychopathic criminals perceived and excused themselves. In 1886, Nietzsche published Beyond Good and Evil, in which he spelled out how morality is illusory and then postulated that crime might be regarded as an invigorating condition to make the human species stronger. Exploitation within society is normal, because “life itself is essentially appropriation, injury, overpowering of what is alien and weaker.” In other words, life is a “will power,” his title for a more forceful book in which he described the human ideal as an intense Dionysian affirmation of the world as it is, including violence.
Morality, Nietzsche said, was a system of judgments that coincided with the conditions of the moralist’s life. There was a master morality and a slave morality. People who could assimilated the will to power ould survive, accept the aggressive instinct, become leaders, and determine themselves what is good and what is evil. The greatest enjoyment, Nietzsche said, was to “live dangerously,” i.e., to live on one’s own terms. In the century to come, those who learned these ideas and desired to “live dangerously” would adopt Nietzsche as a patron saint…or sinner.
-034- 84: …he distinguished between the epileptic criminal, who had an abnormality of the brain, and the insane criminal, who was mentally deficient due to “atavism,” a reversion to primitive evolutionary states.
-035- 85: By the turn of the century, in academic circles at least, the idea of the born criminal was losing ground, and gaining ground was a tendency to attribute criminal behaviour to social conditions.
-036- 87: At trial, toxicologists determined that Sutherland had died of morphine poisoning, although she failed to display the characteristic narrowed pupils. It was discovered that to foil the experts, Buchanan had put drop of atropine in her eyes to dilate them. … Professor Victor Vaughn showed how a cadaveric alkaloid mimicked morphine in qualitative tests.
-037- 90: phrenologist, John L. Capen, made an analysis… He described the “repulsive” face and pointed out that great murderers “have blue eyes.” Holmes’s expression, Capen said, was cruel and inhuman, and his ears, twisted out of shape, stamped him as a criminal. That was all evidence of deviltry and vice.
-038- 94: Pathologist Karl Landsteiner first detected distinct human blood groups in 1900, and the next year, in Germany, Paul Uhlenhuth devised the precipitin test to distinguish primate blood from that of other animals.
-039- 96: She enjoyed administering morphine, which caused a patient’s breathing to slow and the pupils to contract. Then she gave them atropine, which produced the opposite effects.
-040- 96: As a female murderer, she was unique in that she killed people not for gain but for erotic enjoyment.
-041- 98: It seems that someone had used hydrochloric acid to “treat” their illnesses, the symptoms of which imitated diphtheria.
-042- 98: The twentieth century in general would see an increase in these crimes, in part because better record-keeping made linking crimes easier and in part because high-stress conditions inspired pathology and created opportunities.
-043- 98: Fingerprint evidence got a boost in 1903 when a convict named Will West came into Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas for processing. An agent located his card, but West protested that he had never been there before. Yet his measurements matched those of the “Will West” on the card and his face was similar. Looking further into the matter, they found a William West in the prison, and were baffled by the coincidence. This was a blow to the system of anthropometry, but there was one thing that did distinguish these two men: fingerprints.
-044- 100: In 1888, a Dr Langreuter had opened the skulls of fresh corpses, scopped out the brains, and watched what happened inside as his assistant choked the corpses or used cords to strangle them. He had recorded his observations for other forensic physicians, notably that a victim of manual strangulation would show specific bruises on the neck and dotlike facial and muscle hemorrhages, called petechiae.
-045- 103: Cesare Lombroso indicated that among criminal types, females were worse than males. The mothering instinct present in normal females is suppressed or absent in these women, who generally use poison, he said, adding that , in fact, they take pleasure in torturing their children and their enemies. … She suffred from either epilepsy or hysteria, like all great female criminals, and she exhibited “a superior intelligence for doing evil.”
-046- 107: The microscopic became the first scientific tools to be used in a murder case in the U.S. when a Massachusetts-based homicide was solved with the microscopic analysis of threads from a coat that had lost a button at a crime scene.
-047- 111: In Russia, famine and a civil war threatened whole populations, so Lenin offered a New Economic Policy that encouraged a free market, as he founded the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics. When he died in 1924, Stalin took charge, ordered large-scale purges, and communalized farms, which would precipitate another devastating famine. The U.S.S.R. also concentrated on armaments, intent on becoming a world power as a communist state. For different reasons in different countries, a general feeling of dissatisfaction developed throughout Europe.
-048- 113: Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb—both nineteen, brilliant beyond imagining, educated, and wealthy—were close friends. Loeb worshiped power and Leopold was willing to do anything for Loeb. Leopold was enamoured of the idea espoused by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that superior men have no moral boundaries. He had proposed the idea of the ubermensch who made and lived by his own rules. The two young men decided that they were among those exceptional beings, and set out to prove it by committing the perfect crime: They would kidnap and murder a child.
-049- 115: menschenfleischpsychose: the irrational fear of eating meat that might be human.
-050- 115: Scholar Maria Tatar linked these killers to the phenomenon in Weimar Germany of the appearance in art of the victims of serial murder. Having noted the sheer number of canvases from the 1920s entitled Lustmord–”sexual murder”–she found it unsurprising that someone like Haarmann developed as he did, and she viewed his behaviour as symptomatic of something larger.
The artists, apparently, became quite involved in these paintings, as if they could capture the killer’s perception and feelings. They turned the mutilated female body into an object of fascination, riveting and repulsive. Was there such hatred in the air for women at this time? Or was this artistic movement a disguised defense against losing so many men during the war? It seemed to be a violent strategy for managing collective social and sexual tension, and Tatar believes it was an intellectual attack on a woman’s biology, both in hatred and in love. In fact, commentaries from those times excused murder as justifiable hatred against either Jews or women—those who threatened the social order, inspired self-doubt in males, or deviated from strict roles (such as women taking over male occupations or flaunting their sexuality.) They had to be punished via disfigurement and death. Yet these violent artistic expressions may have been more a matter of internal panic for man than outright anger, a fear that letting females too close could deplete or overwhelm an already wounded gender. Better to kill and mutilate them instead.
-051- 116: Murder, then, became an “eroticized release of hatred” and supposedly an opportunity for transcendence. It was thought to be a “retaliatory pleasure” for those who perceived themselves as victims, taken at the expense of those who deserved it.
-052- 116: That in turn triggered condemnation against the press for its coverage. People felt that crime reporting had a negative effect on youth, while the police believed that the publicizing of the meries of murders had triggered other types of insanity in society at large.
-053- 121: hybristophiliac: one who finds violent adventures erotic.
-054- 121: In the attempt to fight crime with theory, Dillinger’s brain, along with those of other criminals, was examined. None showed the expected defects described in then-current physiological theories, which had helped to spur a new movement in criminal anthropology.
-055- p125: Walter Specht did experiments with the molecule luminol, first synthesized in 1853, and saw that it offered a luminescent reaction in the presence of blood. If someone tried to wipe up evidence, an investigator cold use luminol to locate the position and size of the former stain.
-056- p125: Then scientists at the Institute of Experimental Pharmacy of the State University of Kharkov, Nikolai A. Izmailov and Maria Shraiber, developed a simple think-layer chromatography, which aided toxicological analysis. With this process, a sample was placed in a vertical get film and subjected to a liquid solvent that separated it into its constituent parts. This made it possible for scientists to replace the tedious process of extraction with direct testing.
-057- p130: …the classic psychopath, with traits crystallized in psychiatric terms by psychologist Hervey Cleckley in 1941. He listed sixteen criteria for identifying them in The Mask of Sanity, such as their being manipulative, exploitative, self-centred, unable to bond, and lacking in empathy or anxuety. Also, compared with other offenders, they were more violent, more likely to recidivate, and less likely to respond to treatment.
-058- p131: in 1952 the label ‘psychopath’ would be replaced with ‘sociopathic personality’
-059- p146: Her apparent motive was simply the thrill of having the power to kill someone—a difficult idea for many to accept about a female.
-060- p159: Norman Bates, who could present a personable front while harbouring a compulsion to fatally stab women who aroused him—its effect, killing an unacceptable part of himself.
-061- p160: [1960s] England and Germany remained on an equal footing with each other, while the U.S. outpaced all
other countries in how often multiple murders occurred, with an average of more than one series per month.
-062- p167: For him, killing was an exciting venture for the solitary explorer ‘consciously thirsting to experience that which the majority have not and dare not.’ Killers like himself, he wrote, are ‘unavoidably a failure in many normal walks of life,’ lack patience, and eschew the boredom that others accept. ‘The serial killer has chosen to live a day as a lion, rather than decades as a sheep.’ Once he has committed homicide, [Ian] Brady continued, he accepts his acts as ‘normal’ and views the rest of humanity as ‘subnormal.’
-063- p169: Then William Dale Archerd was arrested in Los Angeles on the suspicion that he had murdered a nephew and two of his seven wives. He became the first American to be convicted for using an insulin injection as a murder weapon. He was also suspected in the deaths of three others, going back as far as 1947.
-064- p170: [Lucien Staniak] said that he had started killing as the result of the government’s not prosecuting a blond woman who had unintentionally killed his parents and sister in a car accident.
-065- p182: The idea was to use rational means against an irrational foe, to show people that they could feel safe once these killers were figured out.
-066- p187: The easy availability of erotic materials that treated women as sexual—even expendable—objects influenced the types of violence that arose. In fact, many serial murders appeared to be scripted by SM literature. [PN: Compare to Japan]
-067- p188: [Dr Robert] Hare listed twenty-two items (twenty in the revised PCL-R) to be evaluated by clinicians working with potential psychopaths, and including both personality traits and antisocial behaviours. He defined psychopathy as a disorder characterized by such traits as lack of remorse or empathy, shallow emotions, deception, egocentricity, glibness, low frustration tolerance, episodic relationships, parasitic lifestyle, and the persistent violation of social norms.
-068- p193: To devise a multidimensional profile, psychological investigators examined such aspects of the crime and crime scene (usually murder but other crimes as well) as the weapon used, the type of killing and body dump sites, details about the victim, the method of transportation, the time of day at which the crime was committed, and the relative position of items at the scene. The basic idea was to acquire a body of information that revealed common patterns for producing a general description of an UNSUB (unknown subject) in terms of habit, possible employment, marital status, mental state, and personality traits.
-069- p194: Special Agents John Douglas and Roy Hazelwood devised a typology based on what they called ‘organized’ and ‘disorganized homicides.’ Some cases seemed carefully planned, with awareness of investigative methods, while others were spontaneous and even sloppy, which was often evidence of a specific kind of psychopathology. Profilers also observed whether the offender used a vehicle and whether he or she was criminally sophisticated or appeared to be enslaved to a sexual fantasy. They examined the type of wounds inflicted, the risks an offender took, and his or her method of committing the crime and controlling the victim, and looked for any evidence that the incident might have been staged to look like something else. Many killers left a ‘signature’–a behavioural manifestation of an individualizing personality quirk.
-070- pp195-6: Initially, they contacted different types of offenders, from mass murderers to assassins to serial killers, and also collected data on 118 victims, including some who had survived an attempted murder. Finally the team devised a questioning routine that covered the most significant aspects of the offenses. The goal was to gather information about how the murders were planned and committed, what the killers did and thought about afterward, what fantasies they had, and what they did before the next incident.
-071- p196: The initial study, meant to include one hundred convicted offenders, compiled data fromonly thirty-six. But when all was said and done, the researchers had gained statistical information that proved highly useful for developing profiles. A third of the offenders were white, nearly half had a parent missing from the home growing up (usually the father), three-fourths reported having had a cold or negligent parent, a majority had a psychiatric history as well as a history of unsteady employment, the mean IQ was bright normal, three-fourths had sexual fetishes, and the same percentage reported enduring some form of physical or psychological abuse.
-072- p197: The gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-MS) was first evaluated in the U.K. For forensic use in 1976. Chromatography is a method by which compounds can be separated into their purest elements, as inert gas propels a heated substance through a glass tube where a detector charts each element’s unique speed for a composite profile. The mass spectrometer, linked to it, them affirms the identifications via patterns of spectra. With this equipment, forensic scientists could analyse such items as hair samples for drugs or poison, charted remains for accelerants, and the composition of explosives.
-073- p198: …in 1989 [Dr William Bass III] broke ground for the Anthropology Research Facility. It would eventually be dubbed the Body Farm.
-074- p201: …through [Bundy] criminologists did learn about the way killers can compartmentalize different facets of their personality.
-075- p204: His motive in each murder, save one, had been to conceal his crimes; his half-brother he had simply disliked.
-076- p213: Later, former detective Kim Rossmo applied his newly created computerized Criminal Geographic Targeting program to this case to test its spatial mapping capability. This involved an analysis of a suspect’s geographic patterns: where a victim is selected, where the crime is actually committed, the travel route for body disposal, and where and how the body is dumped. Rossmo hoped it would show something about the suspect’s mobility, method of transportation, area of residence, and ability to traverse barriers. Using the data from the Olson case, he was able to correctly pinpoint, within four blocks, where Olson lived.
-077- p214: [Arnfino Nesset] was convicted in twenty-two murders but given only twenty-one years, which in Norway was the maximum term possible.
-078- p218: Around the world during the next decade, a serial killer was caught, suspected, or in clear operation at some point on an average of one every three days. U.S. Residents were already accustomed to seeing a new killer almost every month, and since the early sixties, the homicide rate in general had tripled.
-079- p219: The Republican penchant for clear categories of good and evil was grounded in a conservative religious perspective, and it wasn’t long before the country was engulfed in waves of psychological hysterias that fed off fundamentalist rigidity.
-080- p228: [An unsub in Florida, 1984] seemed to be what police would classify as ‘organized’. Passing as ‘normal,’ he would be argumentative, self-centred, selfish, and exhibit little or no emotion—all common traits for a psychopath.
-081- p229: His case defied the serial killer stereotypes that had developed to that point. At thirty-eight, he was successful, good-looking, sociable, and lived in a beautiful home. He had no trouble meeting and attracting women, although one of his victims had rejected a marriage proposal. His case forced criminologists to reexamine ideas that serial killers came from abusive homes and had experienced brain traumas or had substance abuse problems. Some were clearly exceptions, and professionals would have to look for other types of causal factors. A few researchers looked at brain processing connections rather than brain damage, but definitive answers eluded them.
-082- p232: David Mulcahy (the first killer to be identified in England with psychological offender profiling)
-083- pp233-4: Nevertheless, even with all this activity around the world, by the end of the decade the U.S. Had to admit to having spawned over two-thirds of the world’s known serial killers. That had to say something about it’s culture, and many blamed permissive standards, the failed family structure, and increased sex and violence on television. But at the same time, the U.S. Was also a leader in developing crime investigation methods.
-084- p234: The FBI put a national computer database into place. This had been the dream of L.A. Detective Pierce Brooks in the late 1950s during several murder investigations, and he had pushed for it for nearly three decades. It was called the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP), and was slated to become the most comprehensive computerized database for homicides nationwide. Police departments around the country would be invited to record solved, unsolved, and attempted homicides; unidentified bodies in which the manner of death was suspect; and missing-persons cases involving suspected foul play. (Canada later introduced VICLAS—the Violent Criminal Linkage Analysis System—which was multilinguistic and applicable in other countries.
-085- p235: Not fay away, in Leicester, geneticist Alec Jeffreys had mapped human genetic profiles via markers in specific regions of the DNA. He had also discovered the profile’s consistency across different types of body cells, and since each ‘map’ was unique for each person, aside from those for identical twins, he named his discovery DNA fingerprinting. He used a process called restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP).
-086- p236: In Alabama, Jerry Marcus, a black man, offered investigators a lengthy treatise about serial killers like himself, after confessing to seven murders of women between 1970 and 1986. … He thought that people should be aware of shy personalities, for they could hide dangerous souls.
-087- p238: The problem with investigating health-care workers accused in these crimes is that they generally knew what medicines the body would absorb. But the males often confessed, in part because the confession itself felt powerful to them.
-088- pp242-3: In a ‘would culture,’ where people openly displayed their past damage on talk shows, serial killers were the superstars, as both perpetrators and sufferers. They were the ultimate traumatized children, and many were willing to play this to the hilt. While child abuse was evident in many cases, it did not characterize all of them, but details were made up or exaggerated into ‘poor me’ tales for the public. For television cameras, these killers spoke about their lack of self-esteem, their abuse, and their unrestrained cmpulsions to erase the lives of others in order to feel alive themselves. Crime analysts thought they were trying to level things out by making others as powerless as they felt.
Newspapers noted how the rash of killings seemed rooted in the critical tensions of unspoken social values—what widespread public behaviour truly indicated rather than society’s stated ideals. Instead of family values, the culture clearly glorified violence.
-089- p244: Morality was reassessed as postmodern ideas trickled from academic circles to the masses. A reliance on absolutes, dissolved by political scandals, yielded to a cynical reaction that truth was a protean concept.
-090- p247: it became easier to categorize this type of killer into such types as lust killers; rape-murderers; gay killers like Juan Cordoba and Herb Baumeister; delusional killerssuch as Long Island murderer Joel Rifkin and ‘Railway Killer’ Angel Maturino Resendez; those motivated primarily by gain, such as the Tene Bimbo Gypsy clan who victimized elderly men; and episodic killers who moved from one situation to another via erasure of witnesses or people considered to be burdens.
-091- p248: From the mid-1980s to the end of the century, twenty-nine [sexual-thrill killers] were caught around the country. Dr Bukhanovsky studied the brains of these killers, finding structural abnormalities in the frontal lobes. One of the most devilish of these offenders was a man who invaded homes to slaughter whole families with a shotgun.
-092- p252: …there was nothing in [Aileen Wuornos] background indicative of abuse or deprivation. She merely appeared to enjoy the feeling of domination…
-093- p254: In Without Conscience, Robert Hare wrote about the high percentage of psychopaths among us. There were not easy to spot and since many used a chameleonic persona, they might get away with secret crimes for quite a while. Their drive was based on the need for power and control. They viewed the world in terms of ‘givers’ and ‘takers,’ feeling justified about being takers. According to some of Hare’s neurological studies, the apparently failed to process emotions the way ordinary people did, potentially undermining their bonds with others and their ability to develop empathy and remorse—the typical hindrances to aggression.
-094- p254: Researcher Adrian Raine, from the University of Southern California and long interested in the neurological correlates of psychopathic behaviour, found brain deficits in several areas that appeared to contribute to violence—specifically the limbic system (the emotional centre) and the prefrontal cortex. Psychopaths, he found were impulsive, fearless, less responsive than others to aversive stimulation, and less able to make appropriate decisions about aggression toward others. They also tended to seek out sensation-stimulating activities. Predatory murderers were lacking in affect and were much more likely to attack strangers than were those whose violence was reactive.
-095- p258: By that time, some experts indicated that around 20 percent of all serial killers were male-female teams.
-096- p260: Colin Ireland was among those men who fantasized abut being a serial killer and then decided to act on it, rather than being driven to it by compulsion; he just wanted to be thus identified.
-097- p264: Criminologists and sociologists set about looking for factors to blame, from violent videos to parental neglect.
-098- p264: …epinephrine and potassium chloride – [deadly—used by Orville Lynn Majors]
-099- pp268-9: A recent development was the brain-fingerprint, although similar tools had been in the works in Robert Hare’s lab in Canada since the 1980s. Psychiatrist Lawrence Farwell developed this technology in his brain research laboratory in Fairfield, Iowa, claiming that it was 99.9 percent accurate. Since the brain is central to all human activities, he said, it records all experiences. A crime scene would then be stored in the brain of the offender and a brainprint would offer measurable evidence. The suspect’s electrical activity was monitored via a headband with sensors, while the subject was exposed to ‘prod’ words or images that were both relevant and irrelevant to the crime. If his brain activity showed recognition of the relevant stimuli—a distinct spike called a MERMER (memory and encoding related multifaceted electroencephalographic response)–that meant he had a record of the crime stores in his brain. Innocent people, the scientist claimed, would display no such response. If the suspect offered an alibi for the time of the crime, scenes from the crime scenario could be analyzed as well to elicit MERMERs.
One flaw was that if the person was at the crime scene but did not commit the crime, there was no way to make that distinction; he or she might also recognize some part of the scene, or the victim. The best images were designed to trigger the memories of those with very specific knowledge about a crime.
-100- p273: Vacuum metal deposition (VMD) involved an expensive process that coated evidence with gold and zinc to develop the latent prints into near-picture quality by absorbing the oils from the prints and bonding the zinc and gold.
-101- p274: While criminologists and profilers espoused the belief that serial killers are too compulsive to stop their crimes, both the Green River Killer and Robert Yates in Seattle had done so, and then another serial killer who had not been caught during the 1970s emerged again after twenty-five years of silence.
-102- p279: Clearly, both the good guys and the bad guys were going through cycles of social opinion, from heroes to fall guys, from monsters to antiheroes. They seemed to represent parts of ourselves about which we were ambivalent—but it was an ambivalent easily camouflaged with uninformed social commentary. That is, they were among the many social narratives designed to form and inform our culture. The ‘truth’ was decided by the media and a public willing to accept its analyses.
-103- p280: Multiple murders by a single offender appear to be related to specific forms of pressure associated with modes of power in a given society. Serial killers share a common attitude about victims-as-objects, but the way they exploit victims to acquire and sustain a sense of power is influenced by their cultural context. A study by Kaori Aki comparing 82 Japanese to 402 American serial killers indicated that Americans were more likely to be sexually motivated while Japanese offenders tended to kill for financial gain and were more likely to have accomplices and to choose male victims. Historically, culture had also played a role: Peter Stubbe attacked people as a dreaded werewolf, Erzsabet Bathory as an indulged aristocrat, Jeffrey Dahmer as a secretive loner too nondescript to be noticed.
Our monsters derive from covert social values, exacerbated by social tensions, that encourage violence as power and control, and there are always people who move easily into such roles—committing the same violence repeatedly as it continues to satisfy a personal need. A review of how such killers have behaved throughout history indicates that they represent part of the human condition that emerges under pressure and in times of social dissonance. What people are told and what they sense is true about society’s values may be so at odds that there appears to be no foundation. People with low impulse control and poor coping skills may internalize the stress of this disparity and play it out in aggression.
Based on historical patterns, global destabilization and its concomitant pressures will likely increase the number and diversity of serial predators. But it’s not just about environmental factors. Neurological research, too, supports the notion that culture affects just how such killers act out. While they may not necessarily be born predators, they may have physiological conditions that yield to certain influences and support the predatory path.
-104- pp281-3 : Debra Niehoff, a neuroscientist and the author of The Biology of Violence, sought to understand in her review of significant literature on the subject the interplay of genes and the environment in the development of violent behaviour. In her opinions, each modifies the other in such a way that an individual may uniquely mentally process a situation toward a violent resolution. Thus any given factor may have different effects on different people, and these effects can be modified positively or negatively over the course of a lifetime. That is, some people with a brain abnormality may become violent, others may not, and others with no such disorder may turn to violence. The same can be said about the contribution to violence of childhood trauma, childhood abuse, substance abuse, violent role models, violent video games, pornography, and other factors. What each person does to sort out and manage his or her situation depends on a unique interplay of external and internal factors.
A person’s brain, Niehoff says, tracks experiences through chemical codes and makes habitual associations with the past. Every experience involves dedicated chemicals that influence and control emotions, moods, and reactions, so that our feelings derive from the sum of many diverse chemical and physiological states. Each new interaction gets handled via a specific neurochemical profile, which has been influenced by attitudes that derive from our array of encounters and experiences; in other words, those attitudes have influenced our brain chemistry. After every interaction, the neurochemical profile gets updated, either confirmed or altered. If we’re paranoid, for example, we will process a new situation suspiciously, and how it turns out may continue the tendency toward caution or relax it. The brain adjusts along with the attitudes.
With some people, the ability to properly evaluate a situation becomes impaired and may trigger aggression. While most violence occurs under some type of provocation, certain people initiate it for pleasure and erotic stimulation. (We’ll see why in a minute.) Yet even for them, such behaviours become part of a cumulative exchange between their experiences and their nervous systems. It all gets coded into the body’s neurochemistry as a physio-emotional record. The more they succeed and feel the high, the more likely it is that they will return to this behaviour, especially if impulse control or empathy for others is lacking.
As mentioned, Dr Adrian Raine found brain deficits in violent individuals—specifically in the limbic system (emotional centre) and the prefrontal cortex These deficits may influence certain people to be impulsive, fearless, less responsive to aversive stimulation, and less able to make appropriate decisions about aggression toward others. In addition to this research, we have information about excitement, reward and fascination that also indicated how experiences are perceived and acted on.
The behavioural machinery of the brain involves neurotransmitters, which choreograph the body’s information processing system. Serotonin is implicated in moods, for example. When we’re confronted by novelty, dopamine and norepinephrine levels surge, triggering the brain’s reward system. Thus, we approach with anticipation those behaviours and situations that may feel good, and dopamine in particular provides and edgy high that spurs us to seek the experience again. It helps us to notice particular stimuli. Thanks to this neurotransmitter, we have a biological investment in life’s twists, an appetite for what’s still around the bend.
The ‘salience theory’ about dopamine’s function indicates that it’s quite involved in helping up to focus. That is, when something important happens, the release of dopamine assists us in being alert to new material and to make sense of it. So novelty stimulates the brain into action. Dopamine is involved in the thrill of being alive and may be implicated in the sense of enlargement beyond ourselves that follows activities that make us learn, grow, and feel in control.
Yet the brain also adapts to keep balance. Dopamine keeps track of whether we actually get what we anticipate getting; the levels of it increase or decrease accordingly. When dopamine levels diminish, the person seeks more stimulation and new avenues of reward. In addition, research indicates that those people with fewer dopamine receptors in the brain seek more stimulation and may thus be vulnerable to addiction or compulsive pleasure-seeking. Add in the neurochemical feedback look from Niehoff’s theory, and you have the notion that the reward expectation threshold may be subject to influence from physiology and adjustment by experience. Whatever our latest results are in terms of anticipation and reality, that’s what will influence how we look to our future experiences. If we get a lot, we anticipate a lot and thus want a lot.
If the prefrontal cortex fails to function as an inhibitory agent, increased desire and reduced control may lead to our seeking what the neurons reward—that which fascinates and interests us. For those who grow fascinated with certain types of violence—and who have that fascination repeatedly rewarded in fantasies and activities—it feels better to act out on than to imhibit the impulse, and they grow bolder in pursuit of it. If they succeed at getting it, they anticipate getting it again.
Yet it’s not quite that straightforward. Other bodily processes affect the dopamine surge as well. Comfort hormones such as oxytocin may diminish dopamine’s effect, so that new stimuli are required to reproduce the high. Elevated testosterone levels also increase dopamine production, and adrenaline can kick in during risky situations. The longer reward is delayed, the more the brain produces these hormones, and frustration can actually have a facilitating effect.
In the brains of adolescents, which are as malleable as the brains of infants, neural pathways strengthen for those behaviours that the person is engaging in more often, while other pathways weaken. In other words, certain rewarding behaviours can become habitual, and if begun during adolescence, can become firmly entrenched in the neurochemical profile.
To make this specific to the development of a predatory serial killer, I propose an environmental-physiological feedback mechanism akin to Niehoff’s neurochemical profile adjustment. I call it the spiral of erotic enthrallment. Let’s take someone like Jeffrey Dahmer. As a boy he found dead animals fascinating. His brain repsonded with pleasure, rewarding his interest in roadkill. When he grew board, he sought more stimulation, which for him was associated with dead things. No doubt, these actual experiences informed his fantasies. Then one day, while bored (low dopamine level), he picked up a hitchhiker. This excited him (elevated dopamine). When the man decided to leave, Dahmer killed him and now had a human body at his disposal (novel, and this stimulating and neurological rewarding). Even if initially shocked by his action, he was also fascinated and aroused. The act of killing and handling the corpse stimulated him and ensured that erotic enthrallment with the dead would continue.
-105- p284: Now let’s add the influence of a particular historico-cultural context. In medieval France, for example, when the witch-finders hunted down ‘werewolves’ as Satan’s spawn, the excitement of this form of the forbidden could cause a mentally unstable person to begin to find wolflike behaviour enthralling, particularly when viewed as supernatural and powerful. Or the anticipatory focus of a budding killer in Germany as the country’s resources declined and imperial Nazi came into power—can we really be surprised that so many in a cluster were cannibals? Or in the U.S., as restrictions relax on depictions of sex and violence, encouraging much more exposure, those with less impulse control may well act out what the culture affirms.
-106- p284-5: But some serial killers act from anger rather than erotic enthrallment, so let’s add what we know about the brain and revenge. When we act aggressively to punish others for a wrong we believe they have done, we feel satisfaction. Researchers have found that this activates the dorsal striatum, which is also implicated in enjoyment. People who show greater activation in this area—a stronger flow of cerebral blood and higher oxygen consumption—are more willing to accept greater costs to themselves in order to mereout punishment. Whatever the cost, the satisfaction that derive encourages the act and adds increased leves of dopamine to the sense of anticipation. However, the prefrontal cortex helps weigh satisfaction against cost is disturbed, so might their decision-making and subsequent behaviour be.
-107- pp285-6: Yet when we reach for the empty high of drugs,sex,money, status, and other social lures, we’re skin to killers who chase their own transcendent acts but in the process empty themselves rather than achieve inner fulfillment. While they may achieve a transient sense of vitality, the effect wears off and demands to be sought again and again. We, like such predators, seek more intensity as a way to connect with vitality. Thus, Bundy’s and Dahmer’s and Wuornos’s experiences are not set entirely apart from ours.
-108- p286: It’s our accommodation of evil (getting used to serial killers, for example) and our blindness to how it arises from within us that allows it to proliferate. From within our own needs, we create a world that supports the serial narrative, the drive to repeat the focus and anticipation that feels so good. Since serial killers analgamate our covert social practices and reveal something about us in their behaviour, there’s little question that in our current social-cultural frame, we will see more cases, more diversity in these cases (blacks, women, adolescents), and greater geographical spread. In other words, the more self-indulgent and self-centred we become as a world community—which will only increase global power struggles—the more escalation we will likely witness in the serial killer phenomenon.
|by V. L. Craven|
The Human Predator by Katherine Ramsland