I Don’t Recommend Selecting an Image Search

I have been doing research on cults.  Not mainstream cults and no, that is not an oxymoron.  The Kashi Ashram is a cult, but it is considered a mainstream cult, unlike The Brethren.  One could argue that neither or both of these cults are basically mainstream and I’m not sure I understand the difference between a mainstream cult and a run of the mill every day fringe cult.

Since a picture is worth a thousand or so words, when Google offered me an image search for modern day cults, I accepted the image results.  I don’t recommend it.  Cult life can be extreme and brutal.  Images of cult life are no different.  And you may or may not accidentally see death, destruction, and graphic nudity after hitting that image button.

I’m not sure what I expected from the image search, maybe starving yogis and pictures of bearded homeless men eating garbage (search The Brethren for more on that).  Maybe a few crime scene photos from The Heaven’s Gate Cult mass suicide or from Aum Shinrikyo’s  Sarin gas attack in Tokyo in the 1990s.

However, what it reminded me of is that cults can be very dangerous places depending on the leaders.  I try to keep that in mind every time I open my computer to start writing on a D&R book, because for the most part, the SCTU and The AHEAD movement are both basically cults.

Cults in and of themselves, are not inherently evil.  They exist, nothing more.  And every major religion practiced on the planet today started as a cult.    But when they are in the hands of a charismatic psychopathic leader, they can and usually do become a problem.  Everyone’s go to for this example is Charles Manson, but there are so many to choose from, Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, Adolfo Costanzo all spring instantly to mind, oh and that crazy Japanese guy Shoko Asahara, who organized and planned the sarin gas attack that took place in a Tokyo subway station…

Jim Jones managed to do two very terrifying things; convince some of his followers they wanted to die and convince other followers to kill those that didn’t want to die, which is why I consider him a double threat as a cult leader.  And of course, those crime scene images are available online if you feel the need.

Most of them I had already seen, they were used in a documentary about the Jonestown Massacre.  Called Jonestown: Life and Death of the People’s Temple, it is very eye opening.  Mostly because the film makers did a good job of tracking down survivors and getting them to go on camera about the event.

Then of course, you have things like the Children of God cult, which I also don’t recommend Googling in any way shape or form, especially not an image search, as the Children of God cult believes that sex is a manifestation of God’s love, and it should know no boundaries.  As far as we can tell the Children of God cult hasn’t killed anyone directly, but it does promote pedophilia.

This is the cult that Rose McGowan grew up in and guitarist Jimmy Spencer left the band Fleetwood Mac to join, which makes me scratch my head a bit.  But different strokes I guess.

 

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A Hitman’s Mistake?

The Mary Morris Murders are theorized to be the work of an idiot, unfortunately the idiot is probably a contract killer.  As someone that considers contract killer’s serial killers who really love their day job (much like me, but without the need to clean up after myself as often), I research contract killers the say way I research serial killers.  The only difference is we don’t know a whole lot about really good contract killers…

After all, if they weren’t good, we would know about all of them and they wouldn’t be employed for very long.  Sadly, to err is human and contract killers are human.

In October 2000, Mary Morris left for work in the morning and was reported that evening as missing by her husband.  It didn’t take long for the Houston Police to discover, Mary Morris had left for work at her normal time, but had never arrived there.

It didn’t take long after Mary Morris’s husband reported her missing for her body to be found.  It was parked in her car, not far from her house, dead.  Everyone was shocked.  Mary Morris didn’t live a high risk life style.  No one could imagine who would do such a thing.

Just three days later, another woman was found dead, in her car,   Like Mary Morris, this woman had left for work as per usual, and her body was found only a short distance from her house.  Someone had tried to make it look like a suicide.  Oddly, the victim’s name was Mary Morris and the theory of the inept Contract Killer was born.

With the Murder of Mary Morris One, there were no suspects.  The same was not true of Mary Morris Two.  Mary Morris 2 was a nurse who had until recently, been working with a male nurse that had creeped her out.  He had been fired just a week or so before, Mary Morris’s death.  Also, Mary Morris 2, was having marital problems with her husband.

Mary Morris 2 had a very large life insurance policy and her husband refused to let the police interview their daughter, who was his alibi.  Also, both Mary Morris victims were missing their wedding rings, but nothing else, including their wallets and cash were missing.  This is one instance where art imitates life, contract killers often remove identifiable pieces of jewelry such as wedding bands to provide to their employer to prove the job is done.

Two women murdered just a few days apart in a city as large as Houston, even with both of them named Mary Morris, could still be a coincidence. There were probably a dozen or more women named Mary Morris in Houston at the time.  However, the similarities between the two cases, including how the women were killed, and the fact that both Mary Morris victims even looked a bit alike, make it coincidence unlikely

Finally, after the murder of Mary Morris 2 there were no more Mary Morris’s killed in Houston in 2000 or in 2001.  Police actually suspect that Mary Morris 2 fought back against her killer.  The case has gone cold, but it is an interesting case.  A serial killer of the non-professional kind is unlikely, since serial killers are never that strict about their vicomology, that they would have to kill dark haired women named Mary Morris and try to make the crime look like anything other than a murder.  Also, if it were a serial killer, one would think there should have been more Mary Morris victims.

Sometimes, They Just Stop

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve heard the saying “serial killers don’t just stop” in movies and on TV.  The problem is, they really do.  Dennis Rader isn’t the only one and the more we learn, the more common we realize it is.

Rader became distracted by marriage and life changes.  Kids were born.  He gained status in his church… He just kinda quit in 1991, which really wasn’t a bad thing.  BTK had tormented Wichita long enough.

The capture of the Golden State Killer has brought this kind of stopping to light again.  No one is entirely sure why a serial killer just sorta decides to stop killing, we haven’t asked a lot of them, because there haven’t been a lot of them to ask.

It appears that like BTK, the Golden State Rapist/Killer just decided to stop one day.  He was terrorizing California one day and then there was nothing for a long, long, long time, so long that most people forgot the case had ever even existed.

We’ve talked to two known killers about their stopping, seemingly randomly, one day; Dennis Rader and Gary Ridgeway (The Green River Killer).  Rader said the above, life became busy.  Ridgeway mostly ignored the question, but a review by a forensic psychiatrist showed that Ridgeway was most active during his first two marriages, which were definitely not happy marriages, and then slowed to a crawl during his third marriage which was far more blissful than his first two marriages ever dreamed of being.

At some point, we’ll end up asking the Golden State Killer.  Right now, a forensic psychiatrist has brought up that the killings stopped after he turned 40.  It isn’t some mythical, magical, unicorn number, it’s just a number, but the majority of men start experiencing decreases in sex drive and testosterone levels after 40.  Surprisingly, the male equivalent of menopause might actually play a role in a serial killer’s desire to kill or not.

The majority of male serial killers are younger than 40.  Same goes for rapists.  While males are still loathe to discuss or accept it, men do go through some serious hormonal changes in their 40s.  This is the era of weird hair sprouting uncontrollably from ears and nostrils.  A widening of the waistline is fairly common as are digestive changes and a decrease in sex drive, that men associate with a mid-life crisis.

Also, by the time a guy is in his 40s, he’s sown his wild oats, probably has a couple of kids, a wife, a steady job because these life events create bills, and is looking towards retirement in the next decade or so, not long days at work followed by rape and murder.

It sounds a little tongue in cheek, but rape and murder are exhausting, no one wants to deal with that after work, and still race home for your favorite prime time show and an hour or two spent with the family before calling it a night.

Or doing all that, then waiting for the family to go to bed, so you can sneak out and hope your kid doesn’t have a nightmare and your wife wakes up to find you aren’t there, because you decided to go out raping and killing on a Tuesday night.  Then you have the “I didn’t get enough sleep last night” drag at work the next day.  As well as a call from your wife’s lawyer about divorce papers they’ll be drawing up in the next few weeks, because your nocturnal wanderings haven’t gone unnoticed and she’s convinced you have a mistress that you are sneaking off to meet in the middle of the night.

In other words, serial killing is a young man’s thing, not a middle aged guy’s thing.  There are exceptions, but they are an odd lot.  Pedophiliac serial killers tend to be a little older and the killer’s age doesn’t seem to matter.  The same is true of pedophiles though.   Which is why Albert Fish isn’t really an exception to the rule about serial killers not being of the older sort.

 

 

Skidmore, Missouri

The town of Skidmore doesn’t live up to it’s name.  It’s actually a nice quiet little town, so imagine the shock and disbelief surrounding a murder in Skidmore than no one will talk about.  Let me say if you knew or were related to Ken McElroy, my apologies.  I can only relate the case facts as I have found them.

July 10, 1981 was a strange day for a small Missouri town.  Ken McElroy was murdered in broad daylight, with main street full of witnesses that all claimed they didn’t see the shooting.

From what I have heard and read, Ken McElroy was not a nice person.  I’m sure like most people, he had his redeeming features, but I’ve never heard what those were.  Leading up to that morning in July of 1981, McElroy had been arrested and tried for several crimes, including statutory rape.  The witnesses or complaintants always backed out.

The Sheriff of Nodaway County Missouri was up to his elbows in tampering complaints.  McElroy seemed so untouchable that there were rumors the Missouri State Highway Patrol was going to get involved.  This is an important footnote, because in the 1980s and 1990s, the FBI actually sent FBI trainees to train with the Missouri Highway patrol.  They were known as an elite investigative force and much like the Mounties, they always got their man.

Skidmore is north of Kansas City.  So far north, it isn’t considered a suburb of the metropolitan area, meaning it is somewhere near Iowa and Nebraska.  As opposed to Kansas or Oklahoma, like much of western MO.  I’ve never been to Skidmore, so I couldn’t place the town on a map without Google Maps except to say it’s in Nodaway county way north of KC.

In 1980, McElroy was charged with attempted murder of a store owner he shot in the neck because of a disagreement regarding something stolen by either his child or grandchild.  Ken McElroy was eventually arrested for assault, a much lesser charge than the second degree murder charge.  However, it got the townspeople of Skidmore thinking about what they could do to stop McElroy.

The man had already gotten away with arson, statutory rape, and now second degree murder (although a number of people said it was premeditated which in Missouri would have made it First Degree Attempted Murder, not second degree attempted murder).  To clarify, McElroy was getting his day drink on when he was killed.  An angry mob, deciding vigilantism was the only way to stop McElroy stormed the bar where he was doing his day drinking.

The angry residents forced McElroy out of the bar by hurling verbal insults at him.  The group of them convened in the parking lot.  McElroy attepted to leave the scene which did not quiet the town residents down at all.  It was at this point that someone fired a shot at McElroy that killed him.

Surprisingly, despite the large number of people, they all claimed not to see who anyone fire a gun.  Sadly, they were mostly just glad to be rid of McElroy.  A newspaper headline read “Skidmore Bully Dead”.  Not murdered, dead.  That is a huge distinction.  Also, it emphasized McElroy was bullied the town and acted like he was above the law, in other words, it made McElroy out to be a bad guy, even though he’d been shot.

The Nodaway County Sheriff’s Office got flak for the killing, people claimed it wasn’t investigated very well at the time and that they failed to bring in the Missouri Highway Patrol to investigate the murder.  There are some theories about who did it, but it remains an unsolved murder case in a county that rarely gets more than a petty theft complaint, let alone murder complaints.  In the last decade, with cold case investigations gaining in fame and public interest, the Nodaway Sheriff’s Office has assigned more officers to the murder, however, when a town agrees they can live with a murder, it is unlikely that any amount of resources and personnel will solve it.

Not All Women Poison Their Victims

Occasionally, I get dinged by a reader for Battered Dreams, Tortured Dreams, or Mutilated Dreams because the killers are women who are not poisoning their victims.

There is a common myth that female serial killers poison their victims and that Aileen Wournos was an anomaly.  Except, it really is a myth.  The reason a woman kills dictates the method she uses to kill.

Women who use poison are more likely to suffer from Munchhausen’s by Proxy than women who beat their victims to death.  However, there is a Soviet case of a female serial killer who beat her victims to death, probably because of Munchhausen’s.  She claimed all the murders were self defense.  It’s a little harder to make that claim if you are slowly poisoning your victims.

In the case of Wournos and so many other women who kill, there was a lot of rage fueling the murders.  In other words, rage isn’t just a motivation for male serial killers.  The majority of female serial killers are okay with getting their hands dirty.

Another myth is that female serial killers almost always work with a partner.  Cases like Paul Bernado /Karla Holmolka and Myra Hindley/Ian Bradley feed into this myth, because these are women that probably wouldn’t have started killing without a male partner.

Unfortunately, like the whole female serial killers almost always use poison myth, it’s exactly that, a myth.  It is true that females are less likely to become serial killers, but again that seems to be dependent on motives and temperament more than whether they get involved with the wrong guy.

Female serial killers are harder to profile then males because we understand them less, primarily because psychopathy and sociopathy is less prevalent in females.  More interesting is that female psychopathy and sociopathy seem to have more genetic links than environmental.  Two children who grow up in the exact same environment, with only their gender being the difference can breed one male psychopath and one normal female.

There have been studies to try to prove that social engineering is a key difference in that boy children are supposed to be tougher and not allow themselves to be abused, but recent studies have found that in societies outside the US where macho personality traits are less favored by the general population, yield the same results as children in the US.  Much like the Double Y was thought to increase a male’s propensity for violence, people are starting to wonder if the X chromosome has something to do with antisocial personality disorder.

Sadly, this makes sense.  Boys only have a single X chromosome and they are more prone to ASPD with sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies.  Girls who have two X chromosomes would then need to inherit a gene on each X chromosome to trigger sociopathic or psychopathic ASPD thereby making it far more rare than it is in males.  It would also account for the slightly larger number of female serial killers with Munchhausen’s because it has predominately been a mental health disorder diagnosed in women.

When The Bogeyman Becomes Real

If you watch many true crime documentaries or horror documentaries, you’ll have heard of Cropsey.  Cropsey is possibly one of the scariest true crime documentaries out there, because it tackles the subject of when the Boogeyman becomes a real person.

Sadly, the story behind Cropsey was all too real.  Set in Staten Island during the 1980s, Cropsey is about the disappearance of children and mentally impaired adults on Staten Island.  It also delves into the reality of urban legends.  Cropsey is actually the name of the Staten Island boogeyman that parents warned their kids about in the 1980s.

Sociologists and historians have known for decades that most urban legends spring up from something that really happens.  You don’t tell boogeyman stories about aliens, because chances of your child running across an alien are slim, where as chances your child might run across a serial killer, pedophile, or human trafficker are much higher.

Which is what Cropsey started out as.  The disappearances weren’t originally linked.  They were suspected to be linked, but there was no hard evidence of it.  Like most quiet areas that are suddenly plagued by death, kidnappings, disappearances, and rape, some monster had to be responsible and before that monster had real name to apply to it, he was named Cropsey.

The disappearances didn’t start with 8 year old Jennifer Schweiger, but they gained national attention because of poor Jennifer.  Jennifer had Down Syndrome, which would later work to connect the cases.  Andre Rand was arrested and put on trial for the murder, kidnapping, and rape of Jennifer Schweiger.  He would be found guilty of kidnapping and rape, but not of murder.  There was some evidence to suggest Rand was guilty, but not enough to prove it beyond reasonable doubt.

Some of the evidence against him was witness testimony that stated “Rand looked like the kind of person that would kidnap and kill a child.”  Which isn’t conclusive evidence, not by a long shot.  Based on that evidence, I am probably guilty of murder.  After all, readers could attest to the fact that I understand the process of it and attest to the fact that I don’t like children very well, I have blogged about it in the past.

Here is where Cropsey failed as a documentary, there are an overwhelming number of criminal behavior scholars that do not think Andre Rand was behind the abductions and murders.  Rand had been a janitor at the Willowbrook Asylum, a mental instituion shut down because of neglect and abuse of patients as well as a variety of other problems.

Cropsey does not explore this.  Rand was an easy target.  He was mentally challenged himself.  Someone said they saw Rand with Jennifer Schweiger right before she went missing, and Rand, who was homeless and could only hold menial jobs, slept in the woods near where Jennifer’s body was found.  However, any and all eye witness testimony in the Schweiger case should be taken with a grain of salt, this was a period of mass hysteria, and as I pointed out above, people just thought Rand looked like a serial killer of children…  He was also the very first person the police focused on in the Schweiger disappearance and murder.  There was no physical evidence connecting Rand to Schweiger, just eye witness testimony from a single individual, and Rand could not be tied to any of the other disappearances around that time.

Thirty years later, profilers did decide all the disappearances were connected and that most likely there had been a serial killer on Staten Island.  That’s good news, but that also makes it far less likely that Rand was that serial killer.  Rand did not have the organizational skills to abduct and kill roughly a dozen mentally impaired children, teens, and even a few young adults and not leave any evidence.  More damning though, Andre Rand did not have a history of violence, at all.  Not just lacking a history of violence against children, he had been arrested for things like vagrancy, but not for bar fights or threatening people, or beating up random strangers because they wouldn’t give him spare change (which has happened).

The case is considered closed, but amateur detective groups (these are a real thing and are so cool), have looked into the case and believe they found cases that should be linked to Cropsey that happened after Rand was institutionalized for the disappearance of Jennifer Schweiger.  I don’t remember if any of this is mentioned in the documentary, but if it was, it was very briefly, because I watched it last year (2017) and don’t remember it being discussed, so it may have been mentioned in passing, but not explored deeply, if that makes any sense.

A 9/11 Did You Know Moment

Most Americans remember where they were when they heard planes had crashed into two towers of the World Trade Center complex.  I had turned 21 just 2 weeks before and I was at work, in a government office.

I remember my coworkers complaining that they wanted to close the office for the day.  We didn’t close and it would be well after lunch before we heard the word terrorism associated with it.  Since that day, terrorism has become a part of daily life.  Europe, Canada, the US, we have all had to deal with acts of terrorism in its many, many forms.

There has been something very big happen since September 11, 2001, Smartphones.  It is true that by 2001, cell phones had become fairly common place, but they weren’t capable of the video quality or storage capabilities that smartphones have.    This means we take for granted the fact that these days when an act of terrorism occurs in Europe, Canada, or the US it probably gets captured on about 200 videos.

That is not the case with 9/11.  There are only 3 known recordings showing the first plane’s impact with the World Trade Center.  There are only about forty or so videos of the second plane’s impact.  This is why when they replay video of the World Trade Center attacks, it is usually the smoking, collapsing towers, not the actual impacts.

I heard someone the other day talking about how they don’t show the impact footage on TV out of respect for those that died and the families.  This isn’t true.  It isn’t shown, because it is basically worth it’s digital weight in gold.  The videos that show the second impact, were actually being filmed not because people were expecting it to happen again, like conspiracy theorists suggest, but because people were filming the smoking hulk that was left of Tower One.

The most famous video was taken by a documentary film maker who wasn’t there for the towers, he was there filming fire fighters.  He heard the plane and saw it flying low over New York City and turned his camera skyward to see what was happening.  That is the only reason he caught the first impact.  The other two were tourist videos.  They are shaky, grainy, and not of good quality.  Like the documentary maker, they were filming something else when they heard the plane and just happened to look skyward, pointing their camera lens in the same direction as their eyes.

There is this myth that there are hundreds of videos of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, but they have been suppressed by the American government to cover up their involvement in it.  The truth is, that technology has progressed significantly since September 2001, but because we weren’t to that point at the time, there just aren’t many videos of the events until after the second plane impacts the second tower and the world had already changed by that point, even if it didn’t know it.

Zodiac & Golden State Killer

I read this article the other day and did a mental double take.  In short, with the capture of the Golden State Killer, someone has decided to develop the profile of the Zodiac based on DNA from the flaps of a couple of envelopes to run through DNA databases like they did the Golden State Killer.

I’ll ignore my feelings on DNA privacy and jump into what I consider a slightly scarier bi-product of this DNA profile..

First, we have done it before.  In the late 1990s or early 2000s, we developed DNA profiles from the stamps of a couple of the Zodiac’s letters.  I don’t remember if it was one stamp or two… It doesn’t matter because unless the witnesses were absolutely wrong about a really important feature of Zodiac, it wasn’t his DNA.

The DNA came back as female.  Well, that’s a serious problem because every witness identified Zodiac as male.  If he had random women licking his stamps, I believe it is possible that he had random women licking his envelopes.  Who knows, maybe some grad student he knew licked his envelopes and stamps and she had nothing to do with Zodiac.

In my head, this works out because I used to work as an assistant.  I was paid like a secretary and treated like a research assistant most of the time by a boss that I found overbearing when I worked for him, but decided I really liked as a boss once we got through the initial year and a half or so.  The reason this theory works for me, is because I can’t remember the number of times I gave my boss blank envelopes that I had either licked the stamp to put on (it was the 1990s) or that I actually licked the envelop flap on and then he put his own correspondence in it, addressed it himself, and usually mailed it himself.

So, if it hadn’t been the 1990s and my boss hadn’t been in his mid-40s, my boss could have been Zodiac and my DNA would be on the envelopes and stamps and I wouldn’t have known he was Zodiac.  I couldn’t even tell you where the majority of those pre-licked stamps and envelopes ended up.  I suspect Brazil because my boss was from Brazil and still had family there, but it really would be a guess.  I would bet money, my former boss was not a serial killer, I remember once he got mugged in NYC twice in one day, so him being a serial killer would floor me… But weirder things have happened.

Since I know I’ve had family members give DNA to places to test for ancestry, if someone ever knocks on my door wanting a DNA sample or because my DNA was found on something a serial killer sent to someone, I am going to be aware that it was probably my boss, but I grew up in the era of DNA.  In my life time, it has gone from not being something they can test for, to being something they can test if there is a large enough sample, to being something they can test using a person’s touch on any surface and then replicating it in a laboratory.

However, Zodiac was a 1960s -1970s killer… Long before DNA and long before we stopped calling secretaries secretaries, or stopped being able to demand our secretaries bring us coffee.  Meaning that if we ever identify Zodiac, I will not be surprised to learn the DNA profile from the stamps that we developed belonged to his secretary and I don’t hold out much hope that the DNA on the envelopes will actually belong to Zodiac.

 

Lizzie Borden – Wrongly Accused

Most people believe Lizzy Borden got away with a double murder, that of her father Andrew and her stepmother.  I’m not so sure she did.

Theoretically, at the time of the murders, Lizzie was in the backyard.  The maid was upstairs trying to take a nap.  Andrew was taking a nap.  And stepmother Abby was supposed to be at the doctor’s office, so it’s never been explained why Abby was upstairs in the guest room.

Based on the released information, I have never believed Lizzie killed her father and stepmother.  I also don’t believe that Andrew was killed first, like investigators claimed.

This is mostly based on the fact that Lizzie supposedly heard Abby come home while she was in the backyard.  I can’t help but wonder if what she actually heard was the killer leave.  If Abby was attacked first and killed upstairs and then the murderer crept downstairs and killed Andrew and then exited the house, it is possible that Lizzie heard the killer leave, not Abby come home.

Lizzie was really the only suspect from the beginning of the investigation.  She and Abby had many fights, mostly about Lizzie’s love life or lack thereof and the purchase of a house for Lizzie and Emma’s half sister.  Emma was 9 years older than Lizzie and both were unmarried.  Lizzie and Emma both blamed Abby for them becoming spinsters.  They claimed that Abby was determined to make sure neither Emma or Lizzie married so that the Borden estate would go to her daughter, Lizzie and Emma’s half sister.

Some interesting things that were ignored; Emma had just as much of a motive as Lizzie to murder Andrew and Abby Borden.  Also, Lizzie and Emma’s half sister was not happy with her father Andrew because the first time she fell in love, Mr. Borden forbid the couple from seeing each other.  Abby’s brother may also have a had a financial motive.  He had stayed at the house the night before the murders and his alibi could not be proven, but could be disproven.  Maggie the maid managed to not hear the murders, even though she testified that she was not yet asleep, which made some wonder if she was involved in the murders.

These things are actually the reason Lizzie was acquitted.  The jury felt that the police bungled the investigation by immediately focusing on just Lizzie and that the other suspects were as likely to kill Andrew and Abby as Lizzie.  As a matter of fact, many believed John Morse, Abby’s brother had the strongest motive to kill as he did inherit money from Andrew’s will and he had a business that was failing when Abby and Andrew were murdered.

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