Posts Tagged ‘ Ted Bundy ’

Inside the mind of a serial killer: a psychologist’s perspective

Original article here.

by James Morgan

Not the television show...

Not the television show…

 

Perhaps because of the extreme nature of their crimes, serial killers pose somewhat of an ethical quandary for society. What is the ‘correct’ response to those who devise and commit multiple murders? On the one hand, the actions of such individuals seem alien and abhorrent to the vast majority of citizens. Even so, the inner workings of serial killers’ minds have long since served to inspire morbid fascination amongst the general public.

Serial killing is also an area that is of great interest to psychologists as it represents one of the most extreme examples of human behaviour. How can actions so vile and uncompassionate be explained from a psychological perspective? An initial response might be to label serial killers as ‘mad’. However, evidence suggests that these crimes are often committed by individuals who – although very different from the rest of us – are completely rational. Even more worrying is the fact that before they are detained, many serial killers operate unnoticed within their communities for significant periods of time. By improving our understanding of the cognitive factors that help to create and motivate serial killers, psychologists are uniquely positioned to assist those tasked with identifying and incarcerating such criminals.

As part of last week’s Flavour of Psychology event organised by the Northern Ireland Branch of the British Psychological Society (NIBPS) and hosted at Queen’s University, Belfast (QUB), Professor Peter Hepper delivered a lecture on how psychology contributes to our understanding of serial killers. During his talk, Professor Hepper, a Member of the Behaviour Development and Welfare Research Cluster at QUB, addressed a range of related issues including why society is so intrigued by these individuals and how a person becomes a serial killer.

In a feature interview with ScienceOmega.com, Professor Hepper outlined the ultimate psychological quest: to unravel the mind of a serial killer…

Why are the minds of serial killers so fascinating from a psychological perspective? Can they teach us anything about the minds of – for want of a better word – ‘normal’ people?
I would argue that all forms of human behaviour exist on a continuum. The behaviour of serial killers can be found at the extreme end of this line. In one sense, serial killers are totally abnormal; they are different from everybody else in society. However, the processes that have driven them to this point are the same as the ones that have affected every other human being who has ever lived. In this respect, the only thing that separates ‘us’ from serial killers is the outcome. Psychologists want to understand the factors that drive individuals to become serial killers. It is psychology’s job to explain human behaviour, and serial killing represents one of the most extreme forms of human behaviour.

Could you provide an example of the type of factor that might increase a person’s likelihood of becoming a serial killer?
One of the biggest challenges within this field is to explain what a serial killer is. We can do this in terms of the specific behaviour; serial killers are individuals who kill three or more people with a cooling-off period in between murders. However, some researchers have attempted to produce typologies of serial killers and to group them together. In my opinion, this is where things have gone wrong. Other than the fact that they have all murdered three or more people, serial killers are members of an extremely diverse group. There are many, many different paths that can lead to a person becoming a serial killer.

John Wayne Gacy

It is possible to look for certain influencing factors. For example, some people have suggested that brain injury is important. In the 1970s, John Wayne Gacy killed 33 young men across Chicago. He had previously suffered a serious brain injury after being knocked unconscious by a swing. However, the ‘brain injury’ argument doesn’t necessarily hold true when you investigate other serial killers. Ted Bundy murdered 30 young women during the same period yet he exhibited no signs of brain injury whatsoever. This is one of the main problems with this approach. The backgrounds of two serial killers who have committed comparable crimes might have very little in common with one another. At present, it simply isn’t possible to say that factor x causes a person to become a serial killer. This behaviour is undoubtedly the result of some combination of factors operating at a certain point during an individual’s life, but what these factors are, we just can’t say.

Ted Bundy

Given the diversity that you’ve just mentioned, can it ever be useful to create psychological profiles of serial killers who have yet to be apprehended?
I think that this strategy is potentially helpful from the perspective of law enforcement. Whilst profiling is never going to be able to provide the name of the individual responsible for a crime, it can help to narrow down the pool of suspects. Psychology, however, is interested in getting inside the serial killer’s head. Unfortunately, there exists such a multiplicity of factors that we are not yet in a position to group these people together appropriately, or to identify the most important drivers.

Obviously, the actions of serial killers disgust most members of society. With this in mind, why do you think we find these individuals so fascinating?

Hannible

This really is a difficult question to answer. The crimes that serial killers commit are absolutely horrendous. In real life, nobody would want to be associated with these acts. However, for some unknown reason, books and TV programmes have been written with serial killers as their central figures. For example, in the Hannibal Lecter series, the title character has transmogrified into the antihero. Hannibal is now a ‘good’ serial killer in contrast with Buffalo Bill, who is a ‘bad’ one. In Showtime’s Dexter, we also see a ‘good’ serial killer. On reflection, this trend seems quite odd.

Dexter

Many of us have a slightly darker side that has a tendency to become fascinated with things that lie beyond our comprehension. I think that this is partly the result of inquisitiveness – an attempt to understand actions to which we just cannot relate – but I believe that it’s also related to fear. Although rare, serial killers are random. They can pop up at any time and in any place. I would argue that the public’s fascination with this group is, in part, an attempt to reduce the latent fear that is evoked by serial killers.

Map of Known Serial Killers

What, in your opinion, are the most interesting avenues of contemporary research concerning the psychology of serial killers? Has our understanding of this group continued to advance over the years?
Yes, it has. For understandable reasons, the vast majority of research into serial killers has been conducted by individuals who are linked to law enforcement. Only recently has it started to move into the psychological arena. We need to address this extreme form of behaviour from a psychological perspective; to try to understand just what’s going on in the minds of serial killers. What causes them to do the things that they do? Why have they developed in this way? What are the main differences between serial killers? Psychologists want to create a clearer picture of what exactly is going on.

042912_0102_SerialKille1.gif

Do you think that psychology will ever be capable of identifying markers for this extreme behaviour before a person begins to kill?
I think that we will because I believe that psychology can endow us with an understanding of human behaviour. However, I think that the ability to spot potential serial killers is still a long way off. We need to develop a better understanding of the factors that drive these people; how certain events that happen to an individual can increase his or her likelihood of becoming a serial killer. Psychologists must identify the factors that have some predictive value in determining future behaviour.

But presumably, any new knowledge in this area would be useful. Even if it isn’t possible to identify markers in advance, a greater understanding could facilitate those working to apprehend serial killers…
That’s right. It may also be possible to identify factors that suggest a person is not a serial killer. We just don’t know at this stage. It all comes back to the level of specificity that we are able to achieve. At present, we’re still at the level of very general factors but as we explore the scene, these factors will become more and more specific. In the future, we might even be able to identify indicators for particular behaviours further down the line.

Are any of your current research activities related to the psychology of serial killers?
There is a general theme in my research that is related to this group. I am interested in behaviour development: prenatal learning, how we recognise our siblings, etc. When I started out as a psychologist, we looked at the individual and his or her behaviour as a whole. I am slightly concerned about the path that psychology has since followed. We now tend to ‘chop off’ little bits of behaviour in an attempt to understand them better. However, we don’t always replace these bits within the big picture. I want to return to a starting point whereby I try to understand why a person behaves as they do. Serial killing is of interest to me because it encompasses gross and extreme examples of human behaviour. If psychology is to succeed in understanding ‘the mind of the serial killer’, it must start by finding out why certain individuals exhibit these behaviours.

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Ted Bundy’ s mother passed away

Ted Bundy’ s mother passed away

I always feel bad for the families involved, even the killer’s.

Louise had such a hard time accepting what Ted had done . I .can not imagine what it was like for her. I hope that she has peace now . 

An Interesting Video About Serial Killers

Serial Killer Ted Bundy Not Linked to Murder of 8 Year Old

Investigators were unable to link notorious serial killer Ted Bundy to the disappearance of an 8-year-old Tacoma girl, Ann Marie Burr, who vanished from her home some 50 years ago. Evidence from the unsolved case was sent to the Washington State Crime Laboratory for analysis back in August. Tacoma police reported this week that forensic scientists failed to develop a DNA profile from the evidence that could have potentially linked the girl’s disappearance to Bundy. Speaking of the DNA link, Police spokesman Mark Fulghum said, “This avenue hit a dead end, but the investigation itself is not over.”

Ann Marie was reported missing by her parents on August 31, 1961. Police believe the abductor entered the house from the back door and exited with Ann Marie out the front door. Many have speculated over the years that the girl was Bundy’s first victim. Bundy had a paper route near where Ann Marie lived, and an uncle he would visit in the neighborhood. Despite the DNA setback, detectives are determined to continue the investigation into the disappearance of Ann Marie.

Ann Marie Burr went missing August 13, 1961. Many believe she was the first victim of notorious serial killer Ted Bundy.
Continue reading on Examiner.com 

 

Charley Project Page

I had hoped that there would be a link so that her family could find some sort of closure.

 

Possible New Evidence Against Ted Bundy?

A vial of serial killer Ted Bundy’s blood has been found in Florida and investigators will use the newly discovered evidence to try to solve cases that went cold decades ago.

Before he was executed in 1989, Bundy confessed to more than 30 murders and was suspected of many more. A complete DNA profile couldn’t be developed for the serial killer until the blood was found. The full profile will be uploaded to the FBI’s national database Friday (local time), giving authorities key evidence to possibly link Bundy to long-unsolved crimes.

The vial was discovered after Florida authorities received a call from a detective working a cold case in Tacoma, Washington state. The blood had been taken in 1978 when Bundy was arrested in the death of a 12-year-old girl in Columbia County, Florida, The News Tribune in Tacoma reported.

Despite an order to destroy much of the biological evidence in the Florida case, the vial was still on file, said David Coffman, chief of forensic services at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Tallahassee crime lab.

“We were really surprised,” he said.

Coffman cautioned that it would be a challenge to find full DNA samples from so long ago, making a match unlikely. But if there is a match, authorities would know right away.

The Tacoma detective was investigating the 1961 disappearance of Ann Marie Burr, a 6-year-old who vanished from her home in the middle of the night. Bundy was among several possible suspects.

Bundy was 14 years old when she went missing. There was a footprint under her window from what police believe was a Keds sneaker size 6 or 7. The perfect size for a teen boy.

The Tacoma detective said they had letters Bundy had sent that might contain his DNA on the stamps or envelop and could be used to develop a forensic profile, and possibly discover if he was linked to the Burr case.

Coffman said the agency said it had some items to examine, too. There was a display case with evidence from Bundy’s trial in their lab. Among the items: dental moulds of Bundy’s teeth and the wax impressions that had been used to make them.

“After hanging up with her, I went back to our display and looked at it,” Coffman recalled. “I said, `there’s got to be something. DNA’s gotten so sensitive now’.”

He decided to try the moulds for traces of saliva, but there were a number of fingerprints on them, so it wasn’t a great sample. At about the same time, the Florida agency discovered the Columbia County clerk’s office had an original blood sample taken from Bundy. It resulted in a complete forensic profile, with all 13 core markers used in tests against the DNA database.

A bulletin will be sent to law enforcement agencies across the country when the DNA is uploaded. Tacoma police are among those waiting. Detectives there are sending evidence to the state crime lab to see if there is still DNA on it 50 years later.

Bundy sexually assaulted and killed several young women in Washington state, Oregon, Colorado, Utah and Florida between 1974 and 1978. He was sentenced to death in 1979 for the murder of two Florida college students and later for the rape and murder of the 12-year-old girl in Columbia County.

Article

 

19-year-old Serial Killer in Training?

According to Pierce County Prosecutors, 19-year-old Matthew Garrett Williams is a textbook example of a budding serial killer.

The Lakewood teen was arrested on July 8 when police found him passed out in his car, an air rifle in his lap and a ski mask on his face. Earlier in the day someone had called police stating that someone matching Williams’ descriptions had fired an air rifle at a man waiting at a bus stop.

When police pulled Williams from his car, they say they found .22 caliber rifle ammunition and a large machete inside, along with a bag of “marihuana.”

Upon questioning, Williams allegedly told officers that he’d bought the rifle thinking it was deadly and that he wanted to kill many people. He supposedly told them that he has great respect for Ted Bundy, and that “he enjoyed the ‘God-like’ feeling he got when he tortured and killed an animal.”

During the interview WILLIAMS stated that he was preparing to murder people. He stated that he had been increasingly strong desires to murder people and that he had been taking steps to prepare himself to carry out the murders, including steps to “desensitize” himself to murder. These steps included:He had identified a particular victim type, to wit: homeless people and/or “average” white men with no family connections.

He had killed 5-7 birds and squirrels, mutilating their bodies.

He had gone online and watched videos of people being tortured and killed.

 

Furthermore, Williams apparently told police about how he’d previously killed his father’s cat while he was gone over the Fourth of July. Court documents say Williams said he’d tried to strangle the cat, but it was taking too long, so he bludgeoned it to death with a flashlight.

Later he kept the corpse in his car for several days before finally driving it to a remote cul-de-sac and setting it on fire.

Williams drew a map for officers to find the cat’s corpse, and they supposedly found a burnt mark on the road and a singed cat collar.

Williams also apparently told officers that he didn’t think he could contain the urge to kill people much longer, and he agreed to be voluntarily committed to Western State Hospital.

He now stands charged with felony harassment, animal cruelty, two weapons charges, DUI, and possession of marijuana.

He was arraigned today.

More here.

Too Soon To Tell If Skeletal Remains Belong To Ted Bundy Victim, Expert Says

Story

There has been speculation online and in the media that skeletal remains found in Washington State could be linked to notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. It’s not the first time the discovery of human remains has sparked such a report, but at least one expert says it is far too soon to begin drawing any parallels between this victim and the dozens claimed by Bundy.

“It is reasonable to wonder but it’s also reasonable to be open-minded enough to realize that a lot of murders happen and they weren’t all committed by an infamous killer. As always, one has to look at the evidence to sort that out,” Dr. Park Dietz told The Huffington Post.

Dietz is president of Park Dietz & Associates, which has given court testimony or been consulted on numerous serial killer cases, including those involving Jeffrey Dahmer, the Green River murders and the D.C. snipers.

Twenty-two-year-old Kerry May-Hardy’s remains were found in a shallow grave near Suncadia Resort, a golf course in Roslyn, Wash., on Sept. 6. A backhoe operator was digging a waterline ditch when he made the discovery about two feet below the surface, police said.

When authorities exhumed the remains, they discovered the victim had been buried in blue clothing and wore a 14-karat gold ring.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office used DNA that was previously obtained from May-Hardy’s mother during the course of the Green River Killer investigation to make the positive identification.

Prior to the testing, family members had contacted law enforcement when they saw a forensic artist’s composite sketch of the victim. The family felt the sketch closely resembled their missing loved one, police said.

May-Hardy was last seen in June 1972, near the Capitol Hill area of Seattle. According to police, she was married at the time and her disappearance was reported to the Seattle Police Department by her mother.

“She was fun … she was my sister,” May-Hardy’s sibling, Carlee Norwood, told Seattle’s KIRO-TV Channel 7.

Even though she was just 9 years old when her sister disappeared, Norwood said neither she nor any of her family members has ever forgotten her.

“She was very close with our whole family, with everybody,” Norwood said.

Kerry Mayhardy
Kerry May-Hardy

Now that the identification of the victim has been made, officials have the daunting task of trying to determine who buried her in the shallow grave nearly four decades ago.

According to local media reports, the location where May-Hardy was found was isolated and wooded at the time she went missing. Its location is also about five miles from Interstate 90 — an area familiar to Bundy, who had dumped victims along the same corridor.

Bundy is believed to have murdered dozens of women in Utah, Idaho, Washington and Colorado throughout the 1970s. He was captured in Florida in 1978 following the murders of two college students and a 12-year-old girl.

Bundy received the death sentence for the Florida crimes. On Jan. 24, 1989, he was executed.

Before his execution, Bundy confessed to killing more than 50 women. Some suspect the true number could be nearly double that.

The majority of Bundy’s known victims were attractive young women with long, straight hair parted in the middle. A recent photo police released of May-Hardy is eerily similar to the images of many of Bundy’s victims, but Dietz warned not to put much stock in it.

“I know that it is considered one of the obvious truths among layman that serial killers look for a common type — and Bundy is one source of that myth — but it is generally not true,” the serial-killer expert said. “They look for whoever is available and attractive enough. So, any resemblance between this woman and Bundy’s victims, I don’t find very persuasive.”

The Kittitas County, Wash., Sheriff’s Office did not return calls for comment.

Speaking with Seattle’s KOMO News, Undersheriff Clayton Meyers said investigators were still looking into the possibility that May-Hardy could be a Bundy victim.

“We’ll look into everything,” he said. “We’ll be working with the Seattle and King County investigators who are responsible for those [Bundy] cases. We don’t have anything at this point — it’s very early.”

Investigators will have to start, Dietz said, by determining the “circumstances of this girl’s life before she disappeared and where Bundy was in 1972.”

Anyone with information regarding Kerry May-Hardy in 1972 is asked to contact Detective Andrea Blume at (509) 962-7069.

By David Lohr

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