Friday, February 29, 2008

The demon parents of Cromwell Street

The Biography Channel recently did an interview with Mae and Stephen West, children of notorious British murderers Fred and Rosemary West. They consider themselves lucky that they survived, since their sisters Anne Marie and Heather were murdered by their parents. Throughout their lives Mae and Stephen were told that if they misbehaved, they would end up under the house "like Heather." After the police raided the house, the children found out that this was not an idle threat. The body of Heather, along with several other young women who either worked for or were acquaintances of Fred and Rose, was found under the house.
Predictably, Fred and Rose were abusive parents. Fred frequently sexually assaulted his daughters, and they brought home their other sex partners, and Rose never hid the fact that she was a prostitute from the children. Both parents physically abused the children, and Anne Marie's death was likely the result of a beating gone too far. Hearing Mae and Stephen speak about their childhood, they show little emotion, but Mae frequently looks down, and both speak softly as they relive their experiences and how they wished for "normal" parents. Sex was so out in the open, they say, that they felt like they weren't allowed to be children. Add to that the horrific abuse, and it's surprising that Fred and Rose West's surviving children didn't become murderers themselves, although Fred's cousin was arrested shortly after the Wests for sexually assaulting young women.
Teresa Knorr was another sadistic parent that frequently turns up in the backgrounds of serial killers. Teresa killed her first husband and drove away at least three others with her possessive and jealous nature. After claiming self-defense in the murder of her first husband, saying he was abusive, a claim that may or may not have been true, she was found not guilty. She had several children with her many husbands, and was abusive to all of them, especially her daughters. When her daughter Susan died from a gunshot wound inflicted by Teresa, the mother ordered her two sons to help her dispose of their sister's body. Susan Knorr's body was discovered, and Teresa was charged with murder. On a TV show about Teresa, her surviving daughter wonders what kind of person she will be after having a mother like Teresa Knorr. While not all children of parents like the Wests and Teresa Knorr end up violent criminals themselves, coping with this type of trauma is never easy, as seen on the faces and heard in the voices of Mae and Stephen West.
It's rare to hear about a serial killer's children, because most of them don't have any. If they can't sustain a relationship, as most psychopathic killers can't, they usually don't get as far as having children. But the ones who do, either because they are experts at hiding their secrets from their families, or, like the Wests, have found a kindred evil spirit, inflict untold damage to their children, either physically or when the child discovers that their father (or mother) has been keeping such a horrific secret.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Muslim misogyny and theocracy reaches new lows

This just in from my blogger buddy Big Heathen Mike: a woman is facing execution in Saudi Arabia (which for some reason is still considered a "key ally" to the US) for being a witch. Apparently in Saudi Arabia, the Middle Ages never ended. For all their oil and wealth, they still believe in the evil nature of women and the existence of witchcraft, and their government is backing them up. Only intervention from the Human Rights Watch could possibly stop this innocent woman from being executed for a nonexistent crime. Even if we eliminate the ridiculous charge, this woman wasn't even allowed to face her accusers or hear the specifics of the charges against her. But I guess the Saudis don't consider women complete citizens, so they aren't entitled to the same rights as men. There's so much bullshit here I need a shovel and a protective mask.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Profile of NIU shooter;_ylt=AgymPcpjhy0n8HwsONEU3lxbIwgF

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.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Two sexual predators

The first in the Valentine's Day recollection of vicious sexual predators is Moses Sithole, responsible for the murders of 37 women and one child in South Africa, a nation plagued with violent crime. In a post-apartheid South Africa, Sithole conned impoverished women into his company by offering them employment, then led them to an isolated field, raped and strangled them. Sithole was the African Ted Bundy, deceptively charming to those who met him, and unspeakably cruel to his victims. Sithole, like Bundy, blamed all women for the wrongs inflicted on him by his mother. Also, when a woman accused him of a rape he swore he didn't commit, Sithole began his murder spree after being released from prison. In his mind, yet another woman had screwed him over, and he wanted revenge on all women. In the minds of the more rational, murdering women to correct a supposedly false rape accusation appears counterintuitive. If any authorities thought Sithole might be innocent, that feeling evaporated when they saw how brutally Sithole murdered his female victims. "I was wrongly accused of rape by a woman, so I'll kill 37 women and one woman's child to get back at women and prove my innocence." It makes no sense, but that's just the warped logic characteristic of serial killers.
On Investigation Discovery a while back (one of my favorite cable channels), I saw a show about a serial rapist who, right before his arrest, went by the name Ian Thorne-Green. His real name, which I don't remember, was revealed when Thorne-Green's crimes were matched to a string of other sexual assaults. As far as I know, he never killed anyone, except his domineering mother, who he beat to death with a baseball bat during an argument, but his female victims were left in critical condition. Like Ted Bundy and Moses Sithole, Thorne-Green was charming to the point where he could lure unsuspecting women to their doom. Even the arresting officers were disarmed by Thorne-Green's pleasantness and intelligence. I wish I could remember more about this case, or find something about it, but all my searches have come up empty.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Crime stories;_ylt=AhQI9dIA.TqZ1aimzKykL3dbIwgF

A West Virginia police officer stabbed his wife because she wanted a divorce, one of the major reasons for her decision being his violent tendencies. If that's not crazy enough, the officer chose to stab her in front of her fifth-grade class. So he not only caused his wife critical injuries over a request for a divorce and traumatized their son, but he also traumatized several other children in the process. Often in my life, I wonder what's wrong with most people, and stories like this just reaffirm that many members of the human race are beyond reason and undeserving of being a member of our species.;_ylt=AvaXZgbmuSI66oIBDcIooftbIwgF

Many years after the death of John Gotti, the Gambino crime family faces indictment in several unsolved murders. Some cases are 20-30 years old, and a few are even older. I'm always thankful for an excuse to keep the ever-declining world of organized crime and La Cosa Nostra in the headlines.;_ylt=AvABZ9VjNJspNZc6S1fEl6ZbIwgF

An even better mob-related story; a former New York cop who allegedly served as a mob hitman faces tax evasion charges. A lot of people with violent urges look to careers in law enforcement, from serial killers to more mundane rageaholics. They enjoy the power that comes with such a position, and it provides an excuse to act on their impulses if the opportunity arises. But for this particular cop, the life of a police officer wasn't satisfying his bloodlust, so he went to the other side of the law to get his fix. I'm sure the mob loved having such dirty goods on a cop. Of course, this is all just speculation.;_ylt=AgsCmXa_qFQ3HVjViJ7o3ixbIwgF

Mitchell Johnson, who was 13 when he and a friend shot up their middle school, is now 23 and charged with another gun-related offense, namely possessing a gun while under the influence of a controlled substance. Johnson had been in juvenile and federal prisons until he was 21, and now, two years into his freedom, he's looking at another lengthy term.;_ylt=Ah5b97_ehRB.sVQnci_GhFlbIwgF

Over in Georgia, an accused rapist now faces murder charges after going apeshit in the courtroom, overpowering a security guard, stealing her gun and shooting four people. His defense team will try an insanity plea, but judging from the other similar cases I've studied, this defense is rarely effective.;_ylt=AiSYPg9.JpZRZeduPEuxASRbIwgF

A man accused of killing a hiker in Georgia has been linked to a similar murder in North Carolina. The killer claims his motive was robbery, but who knows. From the photo, he looks like something out of Deliverance. But maybe that's the Southern prison doing its work.;_ylt=AoYVY0b5WwI8KDXLiEUtuYZbIwgF

Yet another man accused of killing his wife. This type of homocide is almost mundane to crime watchers, but this case gets notice for creativity. Like the man described in the first case, this killer stabbed his wife after she threatened to leave him. But this one, instead of stabbing her in front of schoolchildren, hacked her to death with a machete while she slept. It's different, and even the authorities were at a loss as to why this man kept a machete under his bed. What kind of person keeps a machete in the house if they don't live in Africa or South America? Maybe that's why his wife wanted to leave him.

Yes, it's been a busy couple of weeks in American crime. Too busy to provide substantial analyses of the various violent acts that occurred. But they caught my interest, and I love to share strange and crazy crime stories with my readers.