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  • My Serial Killer Theory :)

    Hi, I wasn't sure where to post this, I hope here's okay. It kinda-sorta pertains to JtR, in that its focus is specifically on mutilators.

    I have this here theory.. pertaining to a specific set of serial killers who share a certain set of similarities. Here's the criteria:

    -- Mutilated victims, entirely or mostly postmortem
    -- No severe abuse or deprivation in parental home
    -- Aberrant sexual behaviours/violent crimes in youth
    -- Severely bullied by peers in youth
    -- Lived outwardly normal lives during murder period
    -- Had at least one "domineering" parent, posited as a contributing factor to behaviour.

    Here's my list of subjects (please feel free to suggest others, if they fit):

    -- Edmund Kemper
    -- Dennis Ferguson
    -- Peter Dupas
    -- Jeffrey Dahmer

    and, as a comparison for home environments with verified abuse/deprivation

    -- Ed Gein

    My theory is this:

    The "domineering parent" appears over and again in cases of serial killings, where the killer also mutilates his victims. In several of these cases, parental "domineering' is pretty much universally cited or suggested to be causative of the killer's compulsion to kill and mutilate.

    I believe that this ain't necessarily so.

    In the cases of all of the main 4 killers I've found who fit all of the criteria, the "domineering" or "overbearing" parent/s could have been reacting to the aberrant behaviours of their child, rather than their "domination" of the child being a primary cause of the aberrant behaviour.

    This is not to say that the "domineering" behaviour did not exacerbate the fledgling killer's desire to kill and mutilate. Just that it may not be a primary cause, but rather the parents' (ineffective) method of dealing with a child who is already exhibiting violent and disturbing tendencies.

    I also suggest that peer bullying is more likely to have contributed to later violence than the actions of the parents.

    If you're interested in reading an exceedingly rambly precursor to this thread, here's a link: http://www.websleuths.com/forums/sho...ken-or-the-egg

    Otherwise, I'll here try to at once elaborate and ramble a good deal less.

    Next post: particulars.

  • #2
    Dear Ausgirl. What is the criteria here for severe emotional abuse? I do think Kemper's mother, perhaps because of her own mental condition, was abusive to her son, contemptuous towards him, even as an adult, and belittled him. He was obviously a deeply troubled child, exhibiting various behaviours which would be red flags to any parent today, and I aren't saying that she was the reason behind his childhood behaviour. Nevertheless, her attitude towards Kemper may well have exacerbated some of it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Another thing worth mentioning, is that in these cases, where siblings are present in the parental home, it is only the killer alone who is the target of the majority of 'domineering' parental behaviour.

      Why weren't ALL the kids subject to this apparently causative emotional and physical abuse? Because, I believe, the killer's siblings were not scaring and/or embarrassing the crap out of their parents.

      It seems likely to me, after looking extensively into the available information on their early home lives, that the relatively better treatment of siblings goes toward proving my theory.

      Also to be taken into account is that the majority of these men are highly sociopathic and are habitual liars, who'll say anything to minimise responsibility for their crimes. Most comment bitterly on the cruelty they suffered at the hands of their parents, or at least talk about an oppressive environment, to the point where the vast majority of research is suggestive of parental domination as a cause.

      I call shenanigans. Of course they'd complain bitterly - their parents *were* restrictive and hostile. But I think these parents were so because they didn't know how to, or just didn't want to, deal with a killer-in-the-making.

      Ed Kemper, whose mother famously locked her HUGE teenaged son in the basement at night because she thought he'd rape his sisters, is often viewed as the 'natural' product of a single-parent, abusive home.

      His mother is cited as a shrewish, abusive drunk. So of course she's partly to blame, right? Problem is, most of that information comes from Kemper himself.

      Peter Dupas was "coddled" by his mother, say the police over and again. She was "overprotective", it's said, with the clear implication this is again somehow causitive.

      Dennis Ferguson, like Dupas, was NOT from the "classic" single-parent-abuse-and-deprivation background. He had two parents, very middle class Aussie folk. He too was an 'early developer' for sick behaviours. Like Kemper's mother, like Dupas' parents, the Fergusons are said to be "domineering" and "controlling". Like Kemper's mother, they didn't treat all their kids the same way - just the one who was mutilating neighbourhood cats and the like.

      Dahmer is a slightly different case, I'll discuss him later in detail.. but again, he breaks the single-parent-abuse-and-deprivation mold.

      All of these men committed unspeakably violent acts in their mid-teens -- and had been exhibiting disturbingly violent and sexually aberrant behaviors for years before they did so.

      So why isn't it assumed that the parents were ineffectively attempting to control their already imbalanced sons (while by and large also approaching the issue from a perspective of denial)?

      Research into sociopathy and psychopathy, serial killers and their minds, has come a long way since these men were killing. But almost every text on these four men STILL states, or hints, that the parents made their kid into a killer.

      What if they didn't?
      Last edited by Ausgirl; 02-03-2015, 05:10 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Rosella View Post
        Dear Ausgirl. What is the criteria here for severe emotional abuse? I do think Kemper's mother, perhaps because of her own mental condition, was abusive to her son, contemptuous towards him, even as an adult, and belittled him. He was obviously a deeply troubled child, exhibiting various behaviours which would be red flags to any parent today, and I aren't saying that she was the reason behind his childhood behaviour. Nevertheless, her attitude towards Kemper may well have exacerbated some of it.
        Oh I agree, she probably did not help him any and clearly was at the core of a good deal of his later rage (which *may* explain the mutilation but not, I believe, the rapes and murders).

        My question is more this: was she really living in terror of her son (who was exhibiting some truly disturbing behaviour including shooting both his maternal grandparents to death) and doing so without many resources - and possibly the desire to find any -- thus, not coping with it very well?

        eta: In fact, a deal of Clarnell Kemper's "emotionally abusive" behaviour appears to be levelled at protecting others from her son. She put him in the basement at night, perhaps quite justifibaly worried he'd attack his sisters (Kemper's lip wobbles every time he speaks of this - but what if he WAS a danger to them). She also, and despite her apparent disdain, took Ed back in after he murdered his grandparents and the state thought he was "cured".

        Or did her alleged (by Kemper....) abuse make him disturbed in the first place?

        If the latter -- why aren't his sisters equally disturbed? From what I can tell, they're not at all. Same with Dahmer's sibling, same with Ferguson.

        Oh -- and as for Clarnell's "mental condition"? It's cited everywhere that she HAD a mental illness. Okay. But who diagnosed her? When? What authority has ever stated -anywhere- that she was mentally ill? Not a single one I can find. What I do find is authors of articles 'diagnosing' her and that taking off round the traps as fact. If anyone can find me a solid medical source for her "mental illness", I'll be happy to concede the point.

        Most of the information we have on Clarnell comes from her serial killer son.
        Last edited by Ausgirl; 02-03-2015, 05:35 PM.

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        • #5
          Oh for ef's sake .. NOT "Dennis Ferguson" -- I meant "Derek Percy".

          Been researching Ferguson this week, got him on the brain!

          Percy is a suspect in the Wanda Beach double murder and a pile of other unsolveds, and was jailed for life at age 21 for the murder/mutilation of a young girl.

          Dennis Ferguson was a psychopathic pedo. My apologies for the muck up!

          Comment


          • #6
            Anyway.. nomenclature disasters aside..

            All of these families are nothing like the 'classic' serial killer-producing environment, there's no slum orphanage, no mum selling herself in the same room, no drug abuse, one instance of alcohol abuse, etc etc --by and large these are average working families, raising their kids in relatively nice places.

            The one consistent - and pervasive - 'issue' they perceptibly had was mum and dad being "controlling" or "dominating".

            But to put this in perspective -- the era wasn't kind to aberrant people, particularly sexually violent ones, of any age. These parents, to whom respectability was, in most cases, very important, were dealing with kids who tortured cats, molested other kids, stole lingerie and wore it, mutilated dolls, and so on.

            Their options were.. what? Pack junior off to a psychiatrist, or an institution (which would involve admitting how sick their pride and joy actually was, among other problems) or keep him at home and do their best to a/ force him to behave normally and b/ make sure he doesn't harm anyone or cause the family intense humiliation.

            How would any of us cope, even today, with a sexually predatory, violent young son who likes stabbing the family pets? Reading recent forum posts by parents who are doing exactly that, I've found not much has changed since the childhood of Kemper, or Percy, as far as resources go. By and large, the kids are medicated and sent home. And the parents are terrified both for and by their kids.

            I'm seeing mention of siblings there, too, as being normal, relatively happy children. The parents are bewildered, angry, hurt. Some admit to hating their kids, though they take good care of them, for robbing the family of a normal life. Sad and probably disturbing, but at least they're being honest - and providing a valuable insight, perhaps, into the home lives of the next generation of serial killers/mutilators.

            Link to example: http://anarchistsoccermom.blogspot.c...commentPage=19
            Last edited by Ausgirl; 02-03-2015, 06:27 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              One thing you should probably factor in is that it is not at all uncommon for an abusive parent to concentrate on a single child.

              Certainly we see it in sexual abuse, one child is the preferred target. Sometimes that child will age out of the abusers preference, and they will move on to a younger child. But it's also sadly not uncommon for a child to be raped by an abuser from age 7 or 8 until the child is in her 20s, and presumably moves away.

              It is also fairly common for female abusers to exclusively abuse boys. Especially in Borderline Personality disorder, because a female abuser sees herself in daughters, but not in sons.

              My grandmother was a Borderline abuser, and the power she had over my father lasts to this day, and she's been dead for 15 years. It was intense emotional abuse.

              I think Kemper got locked away earlier than his teens. I think he was 9, right after his parents divorce. Which would make sense. His mother would not have been able to help transferring her anger towards her husband onto her son. But I can also see it at the onset of puberty, so maybe? I'll have to see if I can dig up his interviews. And his sisters were also abused, but in a more traditional Borderline fashion. They had to reflect well on the mother, and they were discouraged from developing any personality traits or preferences that were not their mothers. Essentially they had to be perfect in order to glorify their mother.

              His abuse was confirmed. First by the hospital he was admitted to, and after his arrest his sisters confirmed it. Though it is unclear as to whether or not they saw it as abuse. They described their mother as "hard", but did not react to suggestions that what they went through was abuse. It is, but it seems that they did not consider it abuse at the time.

              There is no way of knowing whether it's the chicken or the egg here. Clearly the woman vented a lot of rage on him. His self esteem was so shattered that he wanted to die, and have everyone die with him. He sincerely believed that no living woman would ever let him touch them. Which was a direct quote from his mother. And he killed his grandparents because of his rage towards his mother. Well, he killed his grandfather as sort of a mercy killing, but that's a different thing. So the seeds are there. His mother dictated how he saw women. That he became a rapist and a killer is a direct result of his conditioning.

              But the fantasies mixing sex and death, the animal mutilations, That's something different. It doesn't seem like it, but there is a very big cognitive leap between "Women would have to be dead to let me have sex with them" and "I want to have sex with dead women". The first belief is not unheard of. It is a function of low self esteem, extreme disconnect between self regard and reality. Most people react to this belief by either trying prostitutes or not having sex with a partner. It would not occur to people to have sex with dead women. In Kemper's mind, having sex with dead women was desirable. That's not his mom talking. The necrophilia is his own. Killing, raping, that we can trace to the mother. The necrophilia we can't.

              I have no doubt that in no way shape or form was she trying to contain a serial killer. I think it was straight abuse, and that in truth she knew very little about him. Her fears were not based on his actions. But his actions would have justified her fears if she had picked up on it. But she would not have been able to. Borderline people are not known for sensitivity and curiosity about others.
              The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thing is, Errata - part of my research into this was spending literally a week or so - day in, day out - trying to find the source for this "Mrs Kemper was Borderline" information, some kind of indication it was actual diagnosis. Can I find it? Nope. I'm still looking.

                Her workmates said she was always pleasant and friendly. She held down a good job at the University. Her daughters don't acknowledge abuse. She likely did have a drinking problem, but that doesn't always equal abuse.

                And what I'm wondering here is.. why is Clarnell's BPD 'status' *never* questioned, though the source of the diagnosis is nowhere to be found? Is it easier to assume it's so, seeing as her kid is a famous killer, ergo there must be something wrong with her?

                Is there no doubt to be had, that Kemper might be pushing the "Mummy made me do it" angle, the same way he pushed the "I have MPD" thing?

                It's plain to me he's a slick, efficient liar, perhaps one of the best I've seen in the serial killer ranks. So establishing things he claims as factual, particularly things that aid him in negating responsibility for the murders, is important, IMO.

                Because Kemper's sick fantasies started very young. And I've read (and heard and seen) mothers of boys like this (not as bad, but you never know, bad enough I suppose) who are some real nice people, not abusers at all.

                But I also see some bizarre coping mechanisms they develop, just to keep things calm and safe. This is what set me off wondering if these men had similar parents.

                There's no question in my mind that the rage and hatred of these men is real; I am sure Kemper really did hate his mother. But did he hate her for disallowing him the freedom to express his aberrant self, kiboshing his desires to mutilate dollies and such, experiment on his sisters... Did he hate her for not kowtowing to his desired way of life? Or maybe for doing so? (I have seen this happen)

                Or was she truly abusive? I think Kemper is the last person anyone should look to for the truth of it.
                Last edited by Ausgirl; 02-04-2015, 12:29 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Errata View Post
                  That he became a rapist and a killer is a direct result of his conditioning.
                  Killing, raping, that we can trace to the mother. The necrophilia we can't.
                  I'm going to have to think about this...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi Ausgirl
                    for what its worth I think that serial killers are born and made, along with decision (free will). That is they have to have been born with the predisposition(hardwired) to be a serial killer in combination with environmental factors, along with lack of control (free will). And I would stress the first as being most important.

                    However, unless they are totally insane (like a chase for example), in no way does this excuse them or deflect blame in any way, as we are all endowed with free will and choice.

                    Also, I believe Dahmer (and other serial killers) are known and basically have admitted that they had "normal" childhoods, with no abuse.

                    No way its environmental factors only (nurture, abuse, mommy's fault)-if that were the case every other person would be a serial killer.
                    "Is all that we see or seem
                    but a dream within a dream?"

                    -Edgar Allan Poe


                    "...the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn
                    quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

                    -Frederick G. Abberline

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ausgirl View Post
                      In the cases of all of the main 4 killers I've found who fit all of the criteria, the "domineering" or "overbearing" parent/s could have been reacting to the aberrant behaviours of their child, rather than their "domination" of the child being a primary cause of the aberrant behaviour.
                      This is quite thoughtful theorizing, Ausgirl.

                      I was just wondering about the possible mixed-race nature of the sons and whether that was a factor in the mother's inability to relate and respond to them in a nurturing way.

                      She might not understand his temperament and consider what might be natural behavior as unnatural and aberrant and mete out sever discipline because the son had the father's traits, let's say. This could happen regularly if there is a divorce, or the father dies or is away and isn't there to temper the dominant mother's reactions, or provide male discipline to the son which sometimes would be preferable to a male child, again depending on his natural temperament.

                      I know Gein was Irish-German and his mother a pious German.

                      I believe Dahmer was German and Welsh-English or Irish. Perhaps Kemper too (wasn't his grandmother Maude Kemper Riley); however in the latter two cases the father was German and not the mother.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ausgirl View Post
                        Thing is, Errata - part of my research into this was spending literally a week or so - day in, day out - trying to find the source for this "Mrs Kemper was Borderline" information, some kind of indication it was actual diagnosis. Can I find it? Nope. I'm still looking.

                        Her workmates said she was always pleasant and friendly. She held down a good job at the University. Her daughters don't acknowledge abuse. She likely did have a drinking problem, but that doesn't always equal abuse.

                        And what I'm wondering here is.. why is Clarnell's BPD 'status' *never* questioned, though the source of the diagnosis is nowhere to be found? Is it easier to assume it's so, seeing as her kid is a famous killer, ergo there must be something wrong with her?
                        You won't find any record of Clarnell being diagnosed as Borderline because the diagnosis didn't exist until 1980. The condition was known, but it went through some changes, being thought a type of schizophrenia for instance. During her lifetime, if she ever saw a shrink, she would not have been diagnosed Borderline because she had no symptoms of schizophrenia. But full blown Borderline is unmistakable. There is only supposition, on the other hand, if you line up her reported behavior to the DSM, there are more than enough symptoms to conclusively diagnose her. However, a potential sufferer has to be interviewed extensively, so there is no official diagnosis, and never will be.

                        Is there no doubt to be had, that Kemper might be pushing the "Mummy made me do it" angle, the same way he pushed the "I have MPD" thing?

                        It's plain to me he's a slick, efficient liar, perhaps one of the best I've seen in the serial killer ranks. So establishing things he claims as factual, particularly things that aid him in negating responsibility for the murders, is important, IMO.
                        It's possible. But Kemper has been surprisingly cooperative. He does not blame his mother. He thinks it's something inherently broken in him. And he is right. He certainly does not try to make himself look more normal or more sympathetic. The MPD thing was a therapists reactions to the description of his killing behavior. He was trying to express the duality he was experiencing, and it was interpreted as multiple personalities. Kemper apparently has long sought an explanation as to why he is what he is, and he seized on that for a little while. He doesn't think that now. Not last I heard. Which was in 2004 maybe?

                        Kemper is one of the serial killers that participated in brain examinations and genetic testing. He does not have the warrior gene. He does however have the signature defect in his brain that goes along with sociopathy. Our major center for empathy is a spot right above each eye. On his MRI's and Pet Scans, that area was underdeveloped and dead. Some serial killers have that brain matter missing entirely, but usually it is simply damaged. Kemper is one of those. Clearly it never developed, and eventually atrophied to non existence. It doesn't make him a necrophile. It did contribute heavily to him being a serial killer.

                        Because Kemper's sick fantasies started very young. And I've read (and heard and seen) mothers of boys like this (not as bad, but you never know, bad enough I suppose) who are some real nice people, not abusers at all.

                        But I also see some bizarre coping mechanisms they develop, just to keep things calm and safe. This is what set me off wondering if these men had similar parents.
                        Originally it was thought that an abusive environment was necessary to breed a serial killer. It's not true. Serial killers do come from loving families. It's a trend, not a rule. It's like the McDonald triad. Not every serial killer wets the bed, tortures animals, and starts fires. If someone does all three it is likely they will become a serial killer, but it's a clue, not a cause.

                        There's no question in my mind that the rage and hatred of these men is real; I am sure Kemper really did hate his mother. But did he hate her for disallowing him the freedom to express his aberrant self, kiboshing his desires to mutilate dollies and such, experiment on his sisters... Did he hate her for not kowtowing to his desired way of life? Or maybe for doing so? (I have seen this happen)

                        Or was she truly abusive? I think Kemper is the last person anyone should look to for the truth of it.
                        Think of it this way. Whatever Kemper says, whatever anyone else says, we can read behavior. Kemper was locked in the basement from time to time because his mother was afraid he would rape his little sister.

                        Let's be moms for a minute. If you are afraid your son is going to rape or kill your daughter, sure maybe locking him in the basement is a sort of panic stricken reaction. It's clearly illegal, and abusive, but I get it.

                        But then why would you let him out back to his room for days or weeks on end and then lock him up for a month, let him out, lock him up. Send him away, bring him back, send him away again.... If your daughter is in danger from your son, she's in danger. She's still in danger a month after you locked him in the basement. Why would you ever let him out if the threat was real? Why would you keep him in the house at all? Are you doing him any favors, helping him in any way by locking him in the basement? And why would you fear him raping his sister for maybe two weeks, and then not for two months?

                        This was abuse. He was angry with her, and he blamed her. But oddly enough, not for that. It was what she said to him, how she spoke to him that hurt him. Not getting locked in the basement.
                        The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There's a lot of reasons why I think Kemper, as a sociopath and an extremely convincing liar, bungs on the semblance of remorse and self-awareness of his wrongs, while not really giving a toss (check out the way he refers to his victims, for example) and likely seeking reduction of prison time (as he did before, when incarcerated in the mental hospital for the murders of his grandparents).

                          Given his history and what I can see and read of him, I am not at all inclined to give him an inch of credibility when it comes to anything he says. Including what he says about his mother.

                          So if we remove ALL of Kemper's claims as to his mother's nature and mistreatment, what are we left with? No evidence Clarnell *ever* saw a psychiatrist, nor that she was *ever* diagnosed with *anything*. If she was moody and unstable, it never happened while she was at work.

                          Where do the claims regarding the frequency and duration of his cellar confinement come from? I don't actually know, and must look into it further. If it comes from say, his sisters, that's one thing. If primarily from Kemper, that's another, because as I have said, the man is a classic sociopath who fooled a lot of professionals, doctors and cops alike, into thinking he was harmless.

                          Watch his interviews carefully, though and he slips, in important and telling places. He cries (tearlessly) over his mother's memory -- wry laugh! -- and then talks about his victims like they were objects. Yet overall, he projects a very calm and affable persona -- wasn't it Ressler who said he was the nicest serial killer he'd ever met? He's a manipulator through and through.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MayBea View Post
                            This is quite thoughtful theorizing, Ausgirl.

                            I was just wondering about the possible mixed-race nature of the sons and whether that was a factor in the mother's inability to relate and respond to them in a nurturing way.

                            She might not understand his temperament and consider what might be natural behavior as unnatural and aberrant and mete out sever discipline because the son had the father's traits, let's say. This could happen regularly if there is a divorce, or the father dies or is away and isn't there to temper the dominant mother's reactions, or provide male discipline to the son which sometimes would be preferable to a male child, again depending on his natural temperament.

                            I know Gein was Irish-German and his mother a pious German.

                            I believe Dahmer was German and Welsh-English or Irish. Perhaps Kemper too (wasn't his grandmother Maude Kemper Riley); however in the latter two cases the father was German and not the mother.
                            This is certainly something to think about.

                            But why, when sociopathic tendencies can now be visibly seen in the brains of children, and the possibility that some kids are 'just born that way' is looking more solid all the time, do we *still* look to the mother as the most likely "cause' of a serial killer's nature?

                            I don't mean it should not be looked at as a factor, where severe abuse is indicated (and verified by someone other than an imprisoned sociopath, with every possible motive and inclination to lie). After all, I am also looking at schoolyard bullying (a thing ALL OF these men have in common) as a factor, so I cannot very well dismiss the "nurture" angle. However, of these 4 killers. *three* were not from broken homes, though the marriages were not perfect.

                            We might think automatically, as per popular theory, "Oh well, there ya go, marital instability causes lalalala" -- but should we stop to ponder what the effects of having an inexplicably violent, sexually aberrant child has on a marriage? Mine was just a handful, at age 8, a great kid bless her heart, I love her more than life, but a bloody -handful- and even that relatively manageable level of misbehaviour put enormous strain on my marriage and self-esteem as a parent who by all standards had done everything "right". Okay, I didn't lock her in a cellar, but then I didn't think she might kill me in my sleep, you know?

                            I do hear parents of sociopathic type kids stating that the old "spare the rod" thinking has the -opposite- effect on their children, it just exacerbates things to unbearable levels. These kids need different strategies. We kind of know that.. now. So I do wonder what role "normal" discipline for the 60's might have had on a different-brained kid.
                            Last edited by Ausgirl; 02-04-2015, 09:33 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Have you ever taken a look at the background of Port Arthur killer Martin Bryant, Ausgirl? I expect you have, and OK, he was a mass killer not a serial murderer.

                              However, many of the same traits were there in childhood and teenage years that have been discussed here. Strange behavioural traits from toddlerhood, isolation from his peers at school. A sibling, too, who was perfectly 'normal' and parents who sought help for their son but disagreed in how to help him.

                              I realise that he does not fit into the mutilation killer mode that you are looking for, but Martin Bryant is a fascinating case-study all the same.

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