Sunday, March 30, 2008

The faith race

One outdated, misogynistic faith, Catholicism, has been surpassed in worldwide followers by another outdated, misogynistic faith, Islam. The Vatican spokesperson lamented that Muslims have been having more children in recent years than Christians, not including the fact that the children are no more Catholic or Muslim than their parents tell them to be, and should not be counted among the faithful. The spokesman (and of course it's a man) made it all sound like a competition, which it clearly is. Every religion wants to take over the world and force the entire earth's population to their knees, and now Catholicism's alpha-male position has been usurped by Islam. As the likes of Jim Bakker, Peter Popoff and their fictional counterpart, Elmer Gantry, have made clear, faith is a business, and a highly profitable one, and each sect wants to have the most customers to gain headway in the world faith economy.
Now for a personal disappointment. In addition to still sinking in debt, I just found out that the job I recently applied for that I very much wanted will not be given to me because I don't have enough experience. It was for a teaching assistant at Ivymount School's Model Asperger Program. Along with teaching being the only job I've ever had that I can tolerate, I felt that my own experiences with Asperger Syndrome would be of special benefit to the children in the program. I never heard that I needed any kind of certification for this job, and I got my current teaching assistant job with the same amount of experience, so I stupidly thought that it might be enough. But, as the vicious circle of employment continues, I need more experience to get the job I would be great at, and to get the other jobs that would qualify, I'll need yet more experience, and so on. This isn't just another job and paycheck that I feel I've lost, but I really thought I could make an impact in this program. But I guess my tutoring sometimes very difficult kids and my 25 years of living with, and overcoming, Asperger's Syndrome don't make me qualified for anything more that a pseudo-polite form letter telling me I'm not experienced enough to be a teaching assistant for the type of child I once was. With one golden opportunity passing me by, I'll have to go back to finding a way to sell my soul for rent money.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The brilliant disguises of serial killers

One thing I've always found interesting about Dennis "BTK" Rader is just how well he managed to blend into his community while hiding his murderous impulses. He isn't the first figure in criminal history to have a double life, but Rader never even got arrested before his crimes as BTK were linked to him, unlike another vaunted pillar of the community, John Wayne Gacy, who spent time in prison on a child molestation charge before he began burying the bodies of his teenage victims in his crawlspace. Some experts have credited Rader's ability to carry on his double life to an ability to compartmentalize his environment. One forensic psychiatrist who spent time with Rader believes that he was capable of genuine affection for his wife and children, who by all accounts he never mistreated, but anyone else, those who would become his victims or "projects," was not seen as human, but an object for him to achieve his goals of murderous fantasies. Rader's cold tone during his court confession shocked the members of his community, who had previously known him as a friend, church council member and Boy Scout troop leader.
Still, even Rader's facade started to crack before he was linked to the BTK murders. While working as a community "compliance officer," patrolling the community to make sure everyone's pets were on leashes and enforcing other community policies, he made several enemies with his lust for power and arrogance. Most often, as with BTK, the victims of Rader's arbitrary flexing of power were women. One woman says that Rader filed a report that her dog was off her leash, then had the dog put to sleep, just because the woman wouldn't get rid of her boyfriend, which Rader had told her would solve the problem. While Rader was working as a compliance officer, the BTK murders stopped. The forensic psychiatrist believes that since Rader was able to exercise his need for power and control as a compliance officer, he didn't feel the need to exercise control over life and death. A non-entity like Rader, who a former classmate said was remarkable in how unremarkable he was, with a need for power simmering under the surface had to make a name for himself in some way, to show the dominance he felt he had. Like many other serial killers, Rader was undone by his arrogance. After eluding capture for almost 30 years, a book written about the murders named someone other than Rader as the prime suspect, something that Rader clearly could not stand. He wrote a letter to a local TV station on a computer in his church. When forensic investigators linked the letter to the computer, and surveillance cameras placed Rader at that computer at the time the letter was written, BTK was captured.
Herb Baumeister was another midwestern serial killer who expertly kept his murders a secret from his wife and children. When his wife Julie thought Herb was out of town on business, he was trolling Indianapolis' gay bars, searching for victims. But Herb made the fatal mistake of leaving a surviving victim, who helped police identify the man responsible for the murders of several gay men around Indianapolis. After Julie found bones in their backyard, Herb gave a convincing, though false, explanation that they were animal bones one of the children had found. When police actively searched for Herb after finding human remains on his property, Herb fled, and eventually committed suicide. With the killer himself dead, the families of the victims, still desperate to blame someone, turned their rage on Julie, claiming she must have known what was happening in her house. But in an interview, Julie indicates that she was just as ignorant of Herb's true nature as their friends and community. And she probably was. Dennis Rader's wife didn't know her husband was BTK before the rest of the world found out. But because Dennis Rader was taken alive, his wife didn't face the accusations that Julie Baumeister did. The families and surviving victims of BTK could face the man who had terrorized them, but Herb Baumeister killed himself before the police could capture him, so the grieving families had to turn their need for revenge on the one who was closest to the killer, his wife, who must have known something living in the same house as the now dead killer. If Herb Baumeister was as convincing a liar as Dennis Rader or any other Jekyll and Hyde serial killer, Julie probably didn't know anything about her husband's true nature until the police told her, and was left with the knowledge that a man she trusted and built a life with was responsible for the deaths of innocents.
A similar situation happened when Wayne Henley, the accomplice of Houston serial killer Dean Corll, shot Dean to protect his friends. With Corll, the Svengali, dead, Henley and David Brooks, Corll's other accomplice, were left to answer for the crimes. Both Henley and Brooks received multiple life sentences for their roles in the murders, but, as one investigator noted, if Corll had been alive, he would have taken the brunt of the punishment, and Brooks and Henley would have only been tried as accomplices. But with their ringleader already dead, and questions arising as to how strong Henley's role was in the murders, Henley and Brooks were tried as the killers, with only their stories about Corll to defend them, although they both confessed readily to their roles in finding victims for Corll. An investigator in the case said that shooting Corll was either a smart move in self-defense, or the stupidest thing Wayne Henley could have done.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New bodies at Barker ranch?

An investigation of the former home of Charles Manson's "family" could turn up evidence of other victims of Manson and his followers. There are reports of hitchhikers who came by the ranch and were never seen again, and one of two women who came to the ranch and fled in the night to go to the police, claiming Manson had threatened them.
It is entirely likely that Charles Manson and the Family had more victims than the Tate-LaBianca murders indicated, but, as a former investigator says, those were the only murders they could solidly link to the Family. A criminal enterprise like the Family would have readily killed outsiders to keep them quiet, or the other victims could have been early casualties of "Helter Skelter."
Serial killers are frequently only charged with a portion of their crimes. Ted Bundy was charged with one murder in Utah, an abduction in Colorado, and five murders in Florida, for which he was executed. But according to other victims discovered and Bundy's own confession, he likely murdered at least 20 women. Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, is believed to have killed 49 prostitutes and runaways, but he said, "I've killed so many women I've lost count." Russia's Andrei Chikatilo has one of the highest confirmed body counts in the history of serial killers, at 53 known victims, but his count could also be higher. As we all know, serial killers are known liars. The reverse of this is also sometimes true. The hundreds of victims Henry Lee Lucas once claimed has since been scaled to a confirmed three; his mother, his girlfriend, and his former landlady. And there's no way to know how many of his patients Dr. Harold Shipman murdered, although some estimates place the number in the hundreds.
Happy belated Saint Patrick's Day. I hope you spent the evening like I did, getting drunk with my significant other while listening to a classic Irish rock band at an American version of an Irish pub. I also hope your hangovers are gone.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Missouri serial killer faces charges;_ylt=Aie2maeLIvsaVnH8Yn7cyUdbIwgF

A man who has confessed to murdering nine women in the 1970s and 80s is scheduled to go on trial for five of the murders. The murderer is described as frail-looking, now in his 60s. When he wasn't out killing women, he spent most of his adult life in prison on sex crime charges. The county sherriff views him as an "animal." But he's not an animal. Despite what he's done, he's human, which makes him and those like him even more frightening. When Richard Speck, murderer of eight student nurses, was captured after days on the run, as one journalist said, "We expected him to have horns growing out of his head." But all the public got to see was a poor alcoholic who had just attempted suicide. It's what's commonly called the "banality of evil." The monstrous deeds committed in a society are not committed by supernatural evil beings, but by those who look just like us. Who could have picked former law student and Republican party insider Ted Bundy or church council member and loyal family man Dennis Rader out of a crowd as vicious murderers? In the book I'm currently reading, The Human Stain by Phillip Roth, the narrator talks about the wish of societies to "put one face" on evil. But that's impossible. Evil comes in many faces, often those we trust. One of the most dangerous people in the world is a man whose wife has just asked for a divorce, at least if crime statistics are taken into consideration.
On the same topic, it's also almost impossible to predict whether a child is a future serial killer. Even if they come from an abusive family or enjoy hurting animals, this isn't a guarantee that the child will be violent as an adult. Most little boys grow out of burning ants with magnifying glasses and don't escalate to human targets. At the learning center where I work, there's an eight-year-old boy who appears to have many signs seen in the childhoods of violent criminals. I can't say for certain if his parents are abusive, but my boss told me that the kid's father dropped the f-bomb several times during a conference, and the mother seems to keep him on a short leash. He's unruly, often disruptive, makes threats (which we don't take too seriously) and appears to be obsessed with fire. If he also tortures animals and wets his bed, he would have the violence preindicator trifecta mentioned by John Douglas and Roy Hazelwood of the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit. Still, none of this means that this little boy will grow into a serial killer. As my boss and my coworkers have told me, this kid can sometimes be nice and quite charming, which also calls to mind the more cunning of serial murderers. Supposedly, he has a manipulative streak, which could just mean he'll turn into another clever narcissist, often found in the otherwise prestigious law, political and business fields.
More sad news for my favorite club Bound; Felix has kicked us out. The exact reason isn't clear, but according to some reliable sources, one of the owners got freaked out by the gay/lesbian vibe he saw the last time Bound was there. If they were hosting a fetish club, they should have known what to expect. Or maybe they expected some glamorized porno version of a fetish club, hot girls getting spanked with their boobs hanging out. Of course that can be seen, but it's not at all representative of the diverse Bound crowd, which includes gay, bi, lesbian, transgender, and many others that defy categorization. If that's too much for the owners of Felix, we can't force them to change, but we can let the DC club-going public know what happened, and let them decide if they want to support a venue run by this philosophy.