Monthly Archives: May 2012
Serial killers hold the fascination of the public whether in real crime news accounts of individuals such as Ted Bundy and the “Killer Clown” John Wayne Gacy or fictional characters such as Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs.” Serial killers seem so purely predatory and unremorseful that the general public simply cannot help but display a macabre interest in them. Although they account for no more than 2% of the approximately 17,000 homicides in the U.S. annually, serial killers receive a disproportionately high level of media attention due to the incomprehensible savagery of their deeds.
Significantly, serial killers differ from mass murderers and spree killers. A mass murder involves the killing of multiple people at a single location where the victims may be either randomly selected or targeted. A mass murder often occurs when the perpetrator who is usually deeply troubled suffers a psychotic break from reality and strikes out at his perceived tormentors. A mass murderer is often killed at the scene of the crime; sometimes by his/her own hand.
A spree killing involves the murder of multiple people at different locations over a short period of time (the maximum duration is usually seven days). The perpetrator in spree killings often but not always knows his/her victims and frequently targets family members or romantic partners. There is no emotional cooling off period between murders on the part of the killer.
The most commonly accepted definition of serial killers was created by the FBI, which identifies a serial killer by three criteria:
1. The perpetrator kills at least three people.
2. The murders take place in separate events and locations.
3. The killer has an emotional cooling off period between the murders.
The key distinction between serial killers and mass or spree killers is the emotional cooling off period between murders in which the killer blends back into his/her seemingly normal life. The predator reemerges to strike again when the urge to kill becomes overwhelming. The duration of the cooling off period can vary from weeks to months or even years, and varies by killer. For example, Dennis Rader, a.k.a. “Bind, Torture, Kill” (BTK) confessed to ten murders committed over a span of nearly 30 years upon his capture in 2005. In between murders, he lived a remarkably normal outward life with a wife and two children.
There is some disagreement over the serial killer definition among experts, mostly about the number of killings required to be a serial killer. There is also debate as to whether organized crime hit-men should be considered serial killers. Doc Bonn argues that they are not serial killers because their motivation is purely business and their murders fulfill no emotional needs on the part of the killer.
Serial killers are driven to murder by urges and fantasies they may not even comprehend but which are insatiable and undeniable. Thus, the defining characteristic of serial killers which distinguishes them from other murderers who also have multiple victims is their disappearance from the public eye during an emotional cooling off period and their shocking reemergence when their desire to kill again becomes overwhelming and uncontrollable.
Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Criminology at Drew University and a media expert. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq.” He is currently writing a book on the public’s fascination with serial killers. Follow him @DocBonn on Twitter or email him directly at email@example.com.
- Was Charles Manson a serial killer? No, says Doc Bonn. (docbonn.wordpress.com)
- Dr. Scott Bonn Writes to Serial Killers (docbonn.wordpress.com)
- Are you both intrigued and repelled by serial killers? You are not alone. Doc Bonn knows why. (docbonn.wordpress.com)
- Aileen Wuornos isn’t the First Female Serial Killer in America..or Many Other Places for that Matter (krackedkillers.wordpress.com)
- Serial, spree and mass (blackfoxes.wordpress.com)
- Crime Wire: Part II Dr. Scott Bonn Discusses the Long Island Serial Killer (imaginepublicity.com)
Do you know the name Julia Davis? She is the most important whistleblower you have probably never heard of. After exposing serious problems in the processing of aliens from suspected terrorist countries, admitted into the U.S. without proper scrutiny, former Customs and Border Protection Officer Julia Davis became a target for the beleaguered agency.
She was falsely branded a Domestic Terrorist, accused of being a convicted murderer, maliciously prosecuted for alleged immigration violations and weapons charges. Nevertheless, Davis ultimately prevailed over her accusers in the court of law.
The public needs whistleblowers. Why? Whistleblowers keep the system in check by telling the public about alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in a government department, a public or private organization, or a company. The alleged misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health/safety violations, and corruption.
As Julia Davis found out the hard way, whistleblowers frequently face reprisal, sometimes at the hands of the organization or group which they have accused, sometimes from related organizations, and sometimes under state or federal law.
Unlike U.S. Army whistleblower, Private Bradley Manning, who has received an outpouring of support and has even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize after being arrested on suspicion of passing classified documents to the whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks, the ordeal of Julia Davis has been largely absent from the media and public discourse. That is about to change.
Julia Davis is now seeking justice in the court of public opinion. A documentary film “Top Priority: The Terror Within” about Julia Davis is finally breaking through the wall of cover-up and obstruction in the U.S. This incredible but true story exposes whistleblower retaliation of an unprecedented magnitude, unleashed by the Department of Homeland Security against one of its own law enforcement officials. The film sheds the light on what is perhaps the most suppressed story of a prevailing whistleblower in U.S. history.
The Department of Homeland Security’s best kept secrets will be unveiled with the premiere of “Top Priority: The Terror Within” on May 16th, 2012 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, CA.
This is an important story and documentary film not to be missed.
Follow Julia Davis News Blog
Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Criminology at Drew University. He is an expert in state crime and elite deviance. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq.” Follow him @DocBonn on Twitter or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The world community has been concerned about genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes throughout the centuries. Finally, in 2002, a treaty-based court, called the International Criminal Court (ICC), was established in The Hague, The Netherlands, for the prosecution of international war crimes committed on or after that date.
The ICC is the first ever permanent international institution, with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals responsible for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. The ICC was established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, so named because it was adopted in Rome, Italy on July 17, 1998 by the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court. The Rome Statute is an international treaty, binding only on those states which formally express their consent to be bound by its provisions. Upon ratifying it, these states become formal “Parties” to the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute entered into force on July 1, 2002 after ratification by 60 countries. To date, 121 countries, with the notable exceptions of the U.S. and China, have become Parties to the Statute.
The ICC is an independent international organization, and is not part of the United Nations system. However, the jurisdiction and functioning of the ICC are governed by the Rome Statute, which is a treaty that was initiated by the United Nations. The ICC has jurisdiction over the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, i.e., genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Each of these crimes is clearly defined in the Rome Statute and other relevant texts such as the Geneva Conventions. The Rome Statute clearly stipulates that acting in an official capacity as a head of state, member of government or parliament or as an elected representative or public official in no way exempts a person from prosecution or criminal responsibility. Superiors or military commanders may be held responsible for criminal offenses committed by persons under their effective command and control or effective authority and control.
According to the Rome Statute, the specific crimes of war that may be prosecuted by the ICC include:
- Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, such as:
1) Willful killing, or causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health 2)Torture or inhumane treatment
3) Unlawful wanton destruction or appropriation of property
4) Forcing a prisoner of war to serve in the forces of a hostile power
5) Depriving a prisoner of war of a fair trial
7) Taking hostages
- The following acts as part of an international conflict:
1) Directing attacks against civilians
3) Killing a surrendered combatant
4) Misusing a flag of truce
5) Settlement of occupied territory
6) Deportation of inhabitants of occupied territory
7) Using poison weapons
8) Using civilians as shields
9) Using child soldiers
- The following acts as part of a non-international conflict:
1) Murder, cruel or degrading treatment and torture
2) Directing attacks against civilians, humanitarian workers or U.N. peacekeepers
3) Taking hostages
4) Summary execution
However, the ICC only has jurisdiction over these crimes where they are part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes. Additionally, the ICC only tries those accused of the gravest crimes, and due to resource limitations (as it is primarily funded by state parties) it is not in a position to bring to justice every person who has committed crimes of concern to the international community.
The ICC is intended to complement, not to replace, national criminal justice systems. In this regard, the ICC is a court of last resort. Proceedings before the ICC may be initiated by a state party, the prosecutor or the United Nations Security Council. It will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system unless the national proceedings are not genuine; for example, if formal proceedings were undertaken solely to shield a person from criminal responsibility. Also, the ICC may exercise jurisdiction over international crimes only if they were committed on the territory of a state party or by one of its nationals. These conditions, however, do not apply if a situation is referred to the prosecutor by the United Nations Security Council, whose resolutions are binding on all U.N. member states, or if a state makes a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC.
Although the U.S. originally voted against the adoption of the Rome Statute, President Bill Clinton unexpectedly reversed his position on December 31, 2000, and signed the treaty but indicated that he would not recommend that his successor, George W. Bush, submit it to the Senate for ratification. On May 6, 2002, the Bush administration announced that it was nullifying the U.S. signature of the treaty. The main objections to the ICC offered by the Bush administration were interference with national sovereignty and a fear of politically motivated prosecutions. President Barack Obama has taken no action to change the U.S. position on the ICC he inherited from G.W. Bush.
The refusal of the U.S. to recognize the authority of the ICC over its citizens places it at odds with almost all of its staunchest international allies. Ironically, however, it puts the U.S. in alignment with China, a nation that the U.S. has frequently accused of human rights violations. Similarly, Iran, Iraq and North Korea do not recognize the court’s authority. The refusal to recognize the ICC thus aligns the U.S. with the G.W. Bush administration’s so-called axis of evil in rejecting international consensus on war crimes.
How does the refusal of the U.S. to recognize the authority of the ICC make you feel? I’d like to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please submit your comments below or email me directly at email@example.com. Follow me @DocBonn on Twitter.
Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq” and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with serial killers.