Mass Murder in the United States

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9780139343087: Mass Murder in the United States

This book presents readers with a comprehensive and readable manuscript dealing with the social issue of mass murder. By examining each type of mass killer using the same format, the authors hope that readers will be able to distinguish between mass and serial murderers. Because looking at particular cases provides understanding as to the mentality and the mind of a mass killer, each chapter includes cases that illustrate the different types of mass killers. This coverage details the disciple mass killer, the family annihilator, the disgruntled employee mass killer, the ideological mass killer, the set-and-run mass killer, the disgruntled citizen mass killer, the psychotic mass killer, youthful killers in school shootings, and problems in mass murder investigation. For professionals in the fields of Criminal Justice, Sociology, Psychology, and Law Enforcement.

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From the Back Cover:

Mass Murder in the United States is the only book available that examines the various types of mass murderers. Each chapter deals with different type of mass killer and compares the common traits and characteristics of one type with the others. The chapters include thought-provoking case histories for each type of mass killer covered. Mass Murder in the United States also includes up-to-date mass killing episodes—as well as a chapter o school shooters!

Mass Murder in the United States is an excellent complementary text for a variety of courses: deviance and social problems courses, seminars on interpersonal violence; criminal justice classes such as homicide investigation, classes on murder, seminars on the criminal justice system, as well as abnormal psychology, sociology, and others. The text is suited for community colleges as well as four-year colleges and universities, and higher-level high school courses.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Preface and Acknowledgments

The writing of any book is a major undertaking. This is true not only in the world of fiction but also in an academic setting. First, one has to be concerned that the topic of the book will be interesting to the reader as well as worthy of the energy necessary for successful completion of a meaningful book. Steve and I have co-authored several books on murder and other topics: Profiling Violent Crimes, Serial Murder, and Contemporary Perspectives in Serial Murder. In each of these endeavors we were dedicated to the work and decided that the end product was worth the effort.

Our work in the past has centered around homicide in general and serial murder in particular. We have been able to gather valuable information about serial murder from a variety of sources, including personal interviews with serial killers and with police officers, prosecutors, and defense attorneys involved in serial murder cases. However, as we gathered our research data and information, it became more clear to us that there is another form of multicide that may present a more clear and present danger to our fellow citizens: mass murder.

The mass killer problem deserves special attention for several reasons. First, there is general confusion among many as to exactly what mass murder is. It is one of three forms of multicide in the United States, the other two being serial murder and spree murder. Most Americans are familiar with serial killers. The names of Larry Eyler, Ted Bundy, John Gacy, Henry Lucas, Glenn Rogers, and many others are household names and have become a part of American folklore. Even spree killers such as Bonnie and Clyde or Carol Fugate and Charles Starkweather are well-known names. With the exception of certain mass killers—Charles Whitman, Timothy McVeigh, and perhaps John List—most mass killers are invisible to the American public and receive little media attention. The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that there are about 3 5 serial murderers currently killing in the United States. The exact number is unknown. What we have found is that mass killers may be responsible for more murders each year than the known number of victims of serial killers.

There are other differences between mass and serial killers. For instance, a serial killer often kills complete strangers. On the other hand, the victims of mass killings typically are known to the killer. The common wisdom concerning this phenomenon suggests that the victims are equally likely to be strangers to both types of killers. This is not true, and this was one of the findings that surprised us in the writing of this book. There were others.

For example, the American public cannot protect itself from mass killers. With a serial killer, a general sense of awareness and refusal to place oneself in precarious and vulnerable circumstances reduce the individual risk of victimization. The same thing cannot be said in a mass murder scenario. Although steps can be taken to identify disgruntled employees or citizens or refer them for counseling, there is simply no way to engage self-protective measures to avoid falling prey to mass killers. Citizens cannot simply avoid walking alone at night or refuse to pick up hitchhikers. Unfortunately, with the mass killer, especially one who kills victims outside his or her family, there is often no behavior that can limit their vulnerability to attack. Thus from a broad perspective, each of us is at risk of becoming a victim of this type of crime, regardless of occupation or any lifestyle choice.

This book is deliberately arranged to lead the reader onto a path of understanding the mass murder problem and the various types of mass killers. For example, in Chapter 1, we deal with the basic definitions and statistics of the mass murder problem. We then move into a short examination of the history of the mass murder phenomenon. We deal with an older case of mass murder, the Charles Whitman shooting atop the University of Texas's clock tower, and follow it with the more recent case of Michael Carneal. This teenager went into his high school in western Kentucky and killed three schoolmates and wounded several others.

In the third chapter we develop a typology of mass murder and discuss the theory and classification of mass murder types. The behavioral backgrounds, motivations, anticipated gains, spatial mobility, and victim characteristics are discussed, with an emphasis on how these items affect the classification of mass murder types.

The next series of chapters deal with the various types of mass killers:

  • The disciple mass killer
  • The family annihilator
  • The disgruntled employee mass killer
  • The ideological mass killer
  • The set-and-run mass killer
  • The disgruntled citizen mass killer
  • The psychotic mass killer
  • School shooters

The final chapter presents some of the community reactions and problems in a mass murder investigation. The problems discussed deal with how cases are labeled and defined as mass murders, turf issues, determination of the type of mass killer, the training and education of law enforcement professionals, and identification of victims.

In each chapter we have introduced cases that illustrate the type of mass killer we are addressing. Looking at a particular case helps us understand the mentality of a mass killer. At the beginning of each chapter we have included short vignettes of mass killers to set the stage for the discussion in that chapter.

The goal of the book is to present to readers a comprehensive and readable treatment of this social issue. By examining each type of mass killer within a common format, it is our hope that readers will be able to distinguish one type from the others within the same framework. Also, by including in the last chapter problems that arise in the investigation of a mass murder case, we hope to move the book into an expanded market of readers, the practitioners. This group of readers has often been overlooked by academics. Our position is that this is a grave mistake. There must be a blend of theory, research, and practice.

One never finishes a book such as this without the help of others. We are indebted to many people who have listened, helped, criticized (in a most gentle manner), and offered encouragement. This is the time to mention their names: David Rivers, Metro-Miami Police Department; Jay Whitt, Greensboro, North Carolina Police Department; Tom Harris, author (Red Dragon and the Silence of the Lambs); Drs. Gennaro Vito and Richard Tewksbury, University of Louisville; Lt. George Barret, Louisville Police Department; Dr. Steve Egger, Illinois State University at Springfield; Dr. Eric Hickey, University of California at Fresno (may his problem be solved with Rogaine—he is such a nice guy, and he needs this special blessing); Dr. Neil Haskell, forensic entomologist; Dr. Arpad Vass, forensic anthropologist; Lucy Davis, DNA expert; Deb Fraunfelter, Hocking College, Nelsonville, Ohio; Dr. Sally Hillsman, National Institute of Justice; Dr. Bernie McCarthy, University of Central Florida; Dr. David Fabianic, University of Central Florida; Jim Massie, Kentucky Department of Probation and Parole; Dr. Jack Levin, Northeastern University; Drs. Eddie Latessa, Jim Frank, and Lorraine Mazerolle, all of the University of Cincinnati; and Dr. Bob Langworthy, University of Alaska. We would also like to extend our thanks and appreciation to the following reviewers for their many helpful critiques of the manuscript: Donald G. Hanna, Cedarville College, Department of Criminal Justice; Lou Holscher, San Jose State University, College of Applied Sciences and Arts; and K. Lee Derr, Penn State University, School of Public Affairs. We are certain there are others, but please accept our regrets for not mentioning you.

Of course, no book reaches fruition without the help of the family. Thanks.

R.M.H.
S.T.H.
2001

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