Less than a year after the rampage at Virginia Tech, another American university suffers an attack by a pissed-off young man toting a gun. As expected, those close to the shooter described him as "happy" and "stable," but unlike many other mass murderers, he revealed a darker side long before he picked up his gun. He was reportedly abusive toward his on-and-off girlfriend, and had a history of mental illness. The exact type of illness isn't identified, but it was reported that in the weeks before the shooting, the gunman had stopped taking his medication. An untreated mental illness can have tragic consequences, particularly if the disorder in question is paranoid schizophrenia. Plagued by hallucinations, a schizophrenic is so detached from reality that they sometimes do the unthinkable. Herbert Mullin killed random victims in Southern California because he heard the voice of his father telling him to "sing the die song." In northern California, Richard Trenton Chase murdered three people, including a mother and her child, and drank their blood because he believed that his own blood was turning to dust, and by drinking the blood of others, he could replenish his own veins. And in the twisted world of Scientology, Jeremy Perkins, whose schizophrenia went untreated due to the cult's hatred of psychiatry, stabbed his mother to death. But even if the NIU shooter wasn't schizophrenic, stopping his medication could have led him to take extreme actions. Since, like most other mass murderers, he ended his shooting spree by taking his own life, he very likely had a history of depression, and, with his mind inflamed and his rage level high, he wanted to take others with him when he ended it all.
In older crime news, a forensic anthropologist is examining the remains found in Belle Gunness' Indiana home over 100 years ago to determine whether the body could have belonged to this infamous black widow. I saw a documentary about Gunness a few years ago, and in the annals of black widows and female killers, she had a unique savagery. Most female murderers prefer the delicate administration and clean, and excruciatingly slow and painful, method of poison, or, like Aileen Wuornos, the quick and detached method of gunfire. But Gunness' victims were chopped up and burned, either in lieu of or in addition to being dosed with poison. The controversy surrounding her own death came after her farmhand confessed on his deathbed to helping Gunness dispose of her victims. When authorities arrived at the house, they found it burned to the ground, with 20 or 30 charred corpses buried in the ground. Three relatively fresh bodies were also found, supposedly those of Belle and her two children. But some found it difficult to believe that Belle was actually dead. The corpse that was supposed to be hers was decapitated, removing the distinctive facial features. Also, Belle was a large woman, and the corpse seemed to indicate a lighter build. While the new forensic evidence indicates that the body could belong to someone of Belle's height, it remains unclear whether the truth will come out. But Belle Gunness was nothing if not crafty, and self-serving, so no one would put it past her to fake her death to elude prosecution.