Category Archives: Multiple Murderers

Crime and Science Radio: Deadly Doctors, Killer Nurses and other Medical Miscreants

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Join Jan Burke and I for a lively interview with Bea Yorker. We will delve into the very odd and not all that rare Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome as well as healthcare professionals who commit serial murders.


BIO: Beatrice Crofts Yorker is the Dean of the College of Health and Human Services at California State University, Los Angeles where CSULA’s forensic science program is located. She is renowned for her own research into Munchausen By Proxy, her landmark study of medical serial killers, and her publications on other topics that bring law, psychology, medicine, and ethics together.





Medicine Net: Munchausen Syndrome:

Munchausen Syndrome, Cleveland Clinic:

Munchausen By Proxy: Cleveland Clinic:

Kid’s Health: Munchausen By Proxy Syndrome:

Medicine Net: Munchausen By Proxy:

Angels of Death: The Doctors: Crime Library:

Angels of Death: The Female Nurses: Crime Library:

Angels of Death: The Male Nurses: Crime Library:

Serial Murder By Healthcare Professionals by BC Yorker, et al:

Serial Murder By Healthcare Professionals by BC Yorker, et al: As PDF File:

Psychology Today: The Medical Murder Club:



CRIME AND SCIENCE RADIO: Dr. Katherine Ramsland Interview: The Devil’s Dozen: What Makes the Bad Guys Tick?

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1-4-13: Dr. Katherine Ramsland Interview: The Devil’s Dozen: What Makes the Bad Guys Tick?

Join DP Lyle and Dr. Katherine Ramsland for a discussion of bad guys, who they are, what they do, and why they do what they do. Several cases from her excellent book THE DEVIL’S DOZEN will be discussed.

Dr. Katherine Ramsland

Dr. Katherine Ramsland




Katherine Ramsland Website:

Katherine Ramsland Blog:

Psychology Today: Shadow Boxing:


The Devil’s Dozen: How Cutting-Edge Forensics Took Down 12 Notorious Serial Killers:

The Sex Beast (new):

The Ivy League Killer:

The Mind of a Murderer:


Evil, Part One: Its Manifestations:

Evil, Part Two: The Heart of Darkness-Reframing Evil:

Criminal Profiling: Part 1 History and Method:

Profiling, Interactive:

Criminal Profiling: the Reality Behind the Myth:

Geographic Profiling:

Offender Profiling, Wikipedia:

Female Offenders, Crime Library:

Women Who Kill, Part 1:

Women Who KIll, Part 2:

Arthur Shawcross, the Genessee River Strangler:

Necrophiles, The Crime Library:

Bite Marks as Evidence to Convict:

Haunted Crime Scenes:

Team Killers: Male:

Forensic Toxicology:

Sex Slaves: The Psychology of Mastery:

The Vampire Killers:

Serial Killer Groupies:

Stalkers: The Psychological Terrorist:


Dr. Michael Welner on Mass Shooters


My friend forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner speaks on the psychology that drives mass shooters:


Albert Did It



For years, controversy has surrounded the famous Boston Strangler case. Albert DeSalvo, who was killed in prison in 1973, confessed to around a dozen murders, then recanted. One of the cases at the center of the controversy was the murder of 19-year-old Mary Sullivan. Many felt Albert was responsible; others said no. The controversy can now be put to rest.




The Boston Police Crime Lab tested DNA obtained from Mary’s remains and then using Familial DNA techniques compared it with a fraternal nephew of DeSalvo’s. The results suggested that a relative of the nephew’s could be the killer. That is, it could be Albert. This was enough probable cause to obtain an exhumation order to retrieve Albert’s DNA. A match was then made between his DNA and that found in the corpse of Mary Sullivan.

Albert did it.

Familial DNA also played a role in the identification of the Grim Sleeper as Lonnie Franklin


Hickock and Smith: Beyond IN COLD BLOOD

Perry Smith (Top) and Dick Hickock

Perry Smith (Top) and Dick Hickock

Perry Smith and Dick Hickok murdered the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas back in the 1950s. This gruesome killing of four innocent people, fueled by the duo’s belief that Mr. Clutter had a safe filled with money in his home (not true), rocked the citizens of Holcomb and indeed the nation. The story of the brutal murders caught the attention of Truman Capote who brilliantly rendered the story in his landmark book IN COLD BLOOD.

In Cold Blood

The killers were convicted and executed in a Kansas prison in 1965.

Flash forward to 2012. Investigators in Sarasota County, Florida believe that this dynamic duo might also have murdered the Walker family in 1959. There is a great deal of evidence to suggest this but the proof will come through DNA. Maybe.

Christine Walker was apparently raped before she was murdered and samples obtained from her have yielded DNA. This profile has been matched against several suspects but none have panned out. Now the police have exhumed the bodies of Hickock and Smith and taken bone fragments for DNA testing.

Stay tuned.


Connecticut Massacre Not New, Just Disturbing

Multiple murderers are often classified as Mass, Spree, or Serial Killers. The definitions vary from expert to expert but the general classification is:


MASS MURDERERS: Those who kill more than four people in one place at one time would fit this classification. These killers often have a clear agenda and want to send a message. This is the killer who walks into his workplace and shoots several people in a rapid-fire assault. The attack often ends with the killer taking his own life or in a “blaze of glory” with the police killing him in an exchange of gunfire. The motive is often some perceived wrong by his co-workers or employer. Examples are the University of Texas Tower shooter Charles Whitman, Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and Virginia Tech University killer Seung-Hui Cho.


Charles Whitman

Charles Whitman


SPREE KILLERS: These individuals kill several people at two or more locations with the killings linked by motive and with no “cooling-off” period between. The spree killer goes on a rampage, moving from place to place, city to city, even state to state, leaving bodies in his wake. It is as if an underlying rage pushes the perpetrator to act, and once he begins, he doesn’t stop or deviate from his goal. As with mass murders, the spree often ends in suicide or a confrontation with law enforcement. Andrew Cunanan offers an example of a spree killer.


Andrew Cunanan

Andrew Cunanan


SERIAL KILLERS: These offenders kill several people at different times and loca- tions with a cooling-off period between the killings. The cooling-off period, which may be days, weeks, months, even years in duration, distinguishes se- rial from spree killers. The catalog of serial killers includes some very famous names: Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Henry Lee Lucas, Gary Ridgway, Jeffrey Dahmer, Randy Kraft, Dennis Rader, and many others.

Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy


They all look so innocent don’t they?

The events in Connecticut would be classified as Mass Murder. This is always a shocking crime but when children are involved the shock is greatly magnified. Sadly, the mass killing of children is not confined to small town Connecticut and is definitely not new.

It just happened in China, and in her article “Who Shoots Children?” my friend Dr. Katherine Ramsland puts it in historical perspective.


Posted by on December 15, 2012 in Forensic Psychiatry, Multiple Murderers


Blog Repost: Katherine Ramsland: Self Reflections From Serial Killers

Self Reflections from Serial Killers

A nineteenth-century French pathologist invented criminal autobiographies.

Published on November 7, 2012 by Katherine Ramsland in “Shadow Boxing”

It was an innovative idea: get incarcerated offenders to tell their life stories. Collectively, they might thus offer clues about the nature of criminality. And it wasn’t a psychiatrist who thought of this, but a Jack-of-all-trades pathologist.

By the late 1800s, Dr. Jean Alexandre Eugène Lacassagne, a medical professor from the University of Lyon, had already initiated or invented a number of forensic practices, and to this list he added criminal autobiographies.

He believed that solid data might come not just from scientific observers like himself and his medical colleagues but also from the subjects themselves. Lacassagne first tried a few interviews, but then he devised what he viewed as a more productive idea that would benefit the offender as well. He identified those who wished to express themselves, either in writing or with drawings, and he encouraged them to do so.

Lacassagne supplied the instruments they needed and told them to address their writings or drawings to him. Each week, he visited the prison to check their notebooks, correcting and sometimes guiding the budding authors into productive directions. If they filled a notebook, he gave them another, and sometimes he would publish their work in his professional journal. Occasionally, he paid them.

From both males and females, Lacassagne collected more than sixty such manuscripts, averaging about twenty-five pages. However, one inmate, set for execution, had filled six notebooks.

If Lacassagne thought a manuscript was not acceptable, he made the prisoner rewrite it, but he usually left the choice of material to the subject. A few participants came to view Lacassagne as a friend or father figure, especially those who felt improved by the experience. Many were keen to work with a such a prominent scientist to try to understand themselves.

As his theory suggested, Lacassagne learned from these writings that many prisoners’ family histories were full of violence, tension, poverty, and disease. This taught him a great deal about the origins of, and influences on, criminality.

Some of the men had never had a relationship with a woman, he discovered. They often had little education and only a precarious means of supporting themselves. Their marginality contributed to their impulse to commit crimes and most had started young, earning numerous short prison sentences.

Writing their life story, some attested, made them feel slightly less anonymous, as if they might actually have something important to say. A few made observations about other prisoners they’d met, too.

Scholars who have studied these documents suggest that some offenders had deliberately blackened their character or mentioned a background that supported Lacassagne’s theory simply to capture the doctor’s attention. However, he had no sympathy for malingerers, and he caught a few.

Yet this is, indeed, a primary concern with the scientific study of criminal personalities via personal contact. Examiners have difficulty veiling their interests as they listen, and astute subjects who want to impress them figure out what to say. Despite the oft repeated desire to “assist science,” either party can become more interested in his own goals.

A few offenders wanted to be viewed as experts in crime or at least in their particular variety of crime (sort of like incarcerated serial killers today who want to help the FBI). Some of Lacassagne’s subjects even believed that the “docs” had it all wrong: these professionals viewed criminals through the distorted lens of a pet theory. Because they want the crimes to make sense, i.e., to have an understandable motive, they leapt too readily to their own conclusions.

One killer of four claimed that while the professionals who evaluated him attributed his offenses to greed, he saw the influence of a childhood head injury, lifetime substance abuse, and the sudden blinding sensibility that preceded each stabbing event. No one who examined him had even considered these items as causal, and in this, said the offender, they were remiss.

Lacassagne once said, “Societies have the criminals they deserve.” Although he believed that disease and addiction, passed on to successive generations, could cause mental and physical degeneracy, he leaned toward the idea that poverty, social marginalization, and other such factors were significantly involved.


Dr. Katherine Ramsland has published 46 books and over 1,000 articles. She teaches forensic psychology and her area of specialization is serial murder. Her latest book on the subject is The Mind of a Murderer.



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