Monday, July 21, 2014

Killers Among Us

Murderers and serial killers hold a morbid fascination for me. I'm not sure why.

How is it that some of our fellow humans can snuff out another human's life as casually as the rest of us swat a fly or stomp a cockroach?

Years ago, when my lady friend used to live across the street from me, we often spent Saturday evenings together watching television. One of the shows we regularly watched was America's Most Wanted. Some of the most gruesome killings imaginable were reenacted on that show and I have to tell you: it often left me with a severe case of the willies. I don't mind confessing that I would usually ask my lady friend to stand at her door and watch to make sure I made it home safely in the dark night.

Another scary thing about cold-blooded killers: they often look just as normal as the rest of us. Heck, Gacy was a clown (literally). Bundy was an intelligent, articulate, handsome fiend.

And it isn't the case that all killers are testosterone-driven males. Television movies, especially, have made us aware of "Black Widow" killers. Or consider the movie they made about Aileen Wuomos, Monster, starring Charlize Theron. That one can sure change your outlook. Evil not only can often have a normal face, but a soft, pretty one as well.

Evil. That is a word that is hard to resist in discussing cold-blooded killing. These dastardly killers bring out our archetypical ideas about the Devil. Reading the life stories of some of these people can leave you thinking that maybe demonic possession is not so far-fetched after all.

Mental illness? To be sure. But how is it that of the thousands of ways one can be mentally ill, there are those who develop into heartless killing machines? Dennis Rader, the infamous BTK killer, actually combined both of these ideas into an explanation: "I actually think I may be possessed with demons, I was dropped on my head as a kid.”

I know I don't sleep in my bed quite so soundly when I pause to think about this segment of humanity. I once had in my employ a young man who (we found out later) was scheduled to be on America's Most Wanted the weekend before he was finally apprehended. None of us knew this because he was working under an alias (and with an altered hairstyle and contact lenses to change his appearance). He was wanted for gunning to death two men in a drug deal gone bad. While he was in my employ he sold one of my coworkers a stolen truck with forged documents that fooled even the DMV. All of us were blown over when he was arrested and we leaned who he really was. He was both courteous and a very hard worker. All a role he played to cover his secret life.

Oh, I forgot to mention how we all shuddered in fear when our coworker told us how he and his young bride had met that killer alone, late at a night in a fast-food parking lot, to exchange five thousand dollars in cash for the truck!

And so it goes in this crazy world of ours....


  1. Now, I know I really like you! We really should have a discussion about serial killers sometime. If one can have a 'favorite', mine is/was Jeffrey Dahmer. Now, there's a true picture of sick through and through! Did you ever watch Dexter when it was on? The show had a great twist to it.

    1. I heard about Dexter but never watched it. And, yes, Dahmer was a real piece of work. The human mind can reach dizzying heights and also such depraved depths. Fascinating to me.