Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Craigslist killer and Alabama shooter


Phillip Markoff, the "Craigslist Killer" still has his fiance by his side, who sounds too typical of a suspected killer's loved ones who are still in shock. She says "he couldn't have done this" and that this is "not the man I know." It never is. If Markoff is the Craigslist killer, he's hardly the first to duck under the cover of a "normal" life to cover his deviant desires. No one suspected devoted family man and Boy Scout troop leader Dennis Rader of being Wichita's feared BTK killer, or attractive law student Ted Bundy of murdering 30-plus women, but both turned out to be true. With surveillance video showing Markoff leaving the scene of the murder and an earlier robbery, a victim also contacted on Craigslist, and items belonging to the victims found in his apartment, there is a strong case against Markoff as another Jekyll/Hyde killer, despite the understandable reluctance of his loved ones to believe it.
Phillip Markoff is the one at fault here, not Craiglist. Even though the site offers services that some may find distasteful, not all people who use the service turn out to be murderers. Just because many serial killers target prostitutes does not mean that prostitution is the cause of serial murder; killers target prostitutes because, unlike other women walking down the street, prostitutes are willing to get into a stranger's car. There are no men who suddenly become murderers because they see a prostitute on the street or an ad for erotic services on Craigslist. Markoff, if he is the Craigslist Killer, was intently looking for victims, and thought Craigslist would be a good place to find them. While this should make people who advertise on Craigslist more cautious, it should not place the blame on the site itself.
Markoff is not the first killer to look for victims through personal ads. The "Want-Ad Killer" got his name because he targeted his first victim by placing an ad for an employee at his gas station. The "Lonely Hearts Killers," or "Honeymoon Killers," found victims through the dating mail-order services popular among aging singles in the 1950s. Albert Fish found his last victim, Grace Budd, after placing a help wanted ad for a farm he didn't have, but took the applicant's sister after her 18-year-old brother, who answered the ad, turned out to be far too strong and adult for the aging sadist and pedophile's tastes.


The man who killed 10 on a shooting spree in Alabama last month, starting with his mother, before setting her house on fire, sent a letter to relatives explaining his crime. It seemed like another case of a down on his luck, angry young man who thought he could restore some kind of balance to the universe through murder, except for one factor. In his letter, he said his mother had cancer, which was not found in the autopsy. His mother had recently been laid off, and in his letter, he says he wanted to make people pay for how he and his mother had suffered. Why this involved killing his mother and burning her corpse, I can't say. The mental processes of these offenders are never easy to navigate. He had also trained to be a Marine, but was discharged from basic training after failing to mention on his application that he had chronic shoulder displacements. His commanding officer also said that he "didn't seem too bright." Unlike the more sophisticated serial killers, who can go for years without getting caught or even suspected, the mass murderer, who commits his crimes out in the open with only self-destruction and the destruction of others on his mind, appears to be on the lower end of the mental spectrum of the criminal.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Joseph Fritzl: Austria's "Dungeon Dad"


This featured story on Crime Library caught my attention. An Austrian man, who had been raping his daughter since she was 11, constructed a dungeon in his basement to keep her prisoner. Not surprisingly, he himself grew up under the iron fist of a violently domineering mother.
Next to the US and Great Britain, Germany has produced an unusually high amount of serial killers and sexual sadists. The "Dungeon Dad" was technically Austrian, but there are strong cultural similarities. Among Germany's contributions to the hall of infamy are Fritz Haarmann, the "Vampire of Hanover"; Georg Grossmann; Peter Kurten, the "Monster of Dusseldorf"; and, most recently, Arwin Meiwes, who made headlines for killing and cannibalizing a willing victim. Cannibal killers are also oddly prevalent in Germany. Although the country has also given us Albert Einstein and other great minds, German history often recalls the Inquisition, the Holocaust and sadistic killers.
I haven't posted in a long time. Things haven't been great in my life. Along with the rest of the country, I'm having money troubles and can't find a job. This has forced me to move out of my apartment and into a house that I have to share with someone else. It will be a tough adjustment, after living on my own for so long. And I can't bring my cat. But this is a time for sacrifice.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

57 victims of mass murderers in past month


A while ago, I wondered if the economic crisis would spawn a spate of mass shootings. And many of the gunmen responsible for the high body count had recently lost their jobs, along with the men whose wives had left them. In one case, a man in Georgia had not only lost his job but was lashing out at Obama's supposed plan to ban gun ownership. What better way to prove that every citizen should be able to own a gun than by proving just how dangerous guns can be in the wrong hands, murdering police officers because of a predicted amended gun law?
Cases like this illustrate the mentality of the mass murderer, a man (usually) who has a predisposition to violent behavior combined with recent stresses, like losing a wife or a job. Which makes times like this potentially conducive to more homicidal outbursts. These men likely felt wronged by their circumstances, and were for whatever reason unable or unwilling to deal with their problems in a rational manner, like most of us respond to stress. One more reason this economy needs to be put on the road to recovery as soon as possible.