The footprint that caught Richard Ramirez. At the time, Ramirez bought a new pair of shoes that were extremely unique and rather easily traceable. Were it not for this footprint, Ramirez might have still been killing to this day.
Profiling a Mass Murderer: Eric David Harris Pt. II
Name of Mass Murderer: Eric David Harris
Type of Mass Murderer: School shooter
Date of Killings: April 20th, 1999
Number of People Killed: 8 – one teacher, four students
Suicide Y/N: Yes.
Frustration: Harris’ frustration with the world around him was definitely a major catalyst in the massacre – as well as a major subject of discussion surrounding the event. Just a few days before the attack on Columbine, Harris is reported to have been rejected from the US Marine Corps. – an event he viewed as critical failure; disappointing his father whom was a successful airman in the US. Army. Another source of frustration is the reported bullying that he and Dylan Klebold experienced throughout their time in high school. Harris felt outcast and indignant; he is quoted in his journal – “I hate you people for leaving me out of so many fun things. And no don’t fucking say, “well thats your fault” because it isnt, you people had my phone #, and I asked and all, but no. no no no dont let the weird looking Eric KID come along, ohh fucking nooo.”
Psychological Disorders Present: Harris was being prescribed medication for OCD. This proved to be a very minor problem however, compared to the discovery concluded by psychologists after his death – Eric Harris was a sociopath. Based on writings in his journal, forensic psychologists have come to the conclusion that Harris – unlike Klebold – was sadistic and very aware of the weight of his plans.
Self-Concept: Eric Harris considered himself to be “God-like”. He definitely had a very strong superiority complex, and it showed in his behavior even before the massacre. Journal entries of his express a passion for Nazism. Harris is quoted – “Its ok If I am a hypocrite, but no one else. because I am higher then you people, no matter what you say if you disagree I would shoot you”
Poor Interpersonal Skills: Despite being bullied and “unpopular”, Harris is described to have been very good at socializing. It was Harris’ good interpersonal skills that acquired so much weaponry for both he and Klebold.
Abandonment Issues: N/A; homemaker mother, airforce father – stable family
Child Abuse/Trauma: N/A; good upbringing
Social Isolation: Harris expressed hurt at not being included by his peers in “fun stuff”. Social isolation and perceived outcast has been documented as a major factor.
Rejection: Rejection from the US Marine Corps was a big hit to Harris’ ego. Social rejection regarding perceived popularity and inclusion were also catalysts.
Victim of Bullying: Bullying is very hot topic in regards to Eric Harris’ actions. According to former schoolmates, both he and Klebold were subject to years of bullying throughout high school that went without intervention by teachers. “People surrounded them [Harris and Klebold] in the commons and squirted ketchup packets all over them, laughing at them, calling them faggots.”
Relationship with Parents: Harris’ mother was a homemaker; their relationship was good. Harris’ father was a former airman in the US Army; he is reported to have frequently spent quality time with Harris.
Prior Criminal History: Just a few months before the Columbine Massacre, Eric Harris acquired his first spot on an otherwise nonexistent criminal record – he was charged with felony theft for breaking into and stealing from a van.
Successes/Failures in Life: As mentioned, being rejected from the US Marine Corps was perceived as a major failure for Harris.
Forensic psychologists identify a cycle that a serial killers goes through when planning and executing a murder. It is generally six phases -
1.) The Aura Phase: This is where the motive to kill begins. A serial killer fed up with the stressors of real life will slowly begin to shift into a fantasy world. Here, the ideas of murder will begin to flourish; fantasies of the impending satisfaction and details of the killing will become an obsession. If the killer drinks or does drugs, use will increase tremendously.
2.) The Trolling Phase: Now the killer will begin to lurk and “troll” around for a potential setting - and potential victims for their crime. They usually seek areas that they are familiar and comfortable with.
3.) The Wooing Phase: Kinda self explanatory. The killer has focused in on his/her potential victim. Now they work on luring the individual in, whether through grooming, charming, or gaining their trust. The wooing phase leads to…
4.) The Capture Phase: Again, self explanatory. After gaining a victim’s confidence, the killer captures them. They are now in almost complete control of the individual.
5.) The Murder and Totem Phase: The killer’s vision is finally fulfilled. They finally indulge in a murder, satisfying themselves in whatever way they see fit - either for sexual, excitement, or financial/material gratification. This provides the ultimate high; a killer feels in control of his/her life in a way that is impossible anyway else. But the high cannot last forever, and that is why many serial killers take an extra step and keep some kind of totem. Whether it’s a photograph of the victim, a piece of clothing, or even a body part, many keep these little charms to try to lengthen out the feeling.
6.) Depression - But even a totem is not enough. Soon the killer snaps out of the delusion. The victim was a brief break from a reality, and depression sets in. We have now come full circle! Because the serial killer will soon grow exhausted and fall back into the Aura Phase, beginning the cycle again.
Los Angeles-based photographer David Orr has been photographing skulls in the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, then mirroring half of the image, with all of the skull’s oddities and history, to explore aesthetic and cultural ideals of perfection and symmetry.
But no brain scan or blood test or even DSM checklist can tell if someone is sane by law. The legal system has generated its own workable definition. But in other instances, it has a lot of catching up to do.
Fifty years later, what can science tell us about the Kennedy assassination–and the investigations that followed? The 1963 murder, in broad daylight in front of hundreds of witnesses, was a homicide investigator’s best-case scenario. Yet somehow the JFK assassination became a forensic nightmare, plagued by mishandled evidence, a controversial autopsy and, incredibly, a prime suspect murdered while in police custody before he could be tried–all of it captured on film.