Connecticut Massacre Not New, Just Disturbing

15 Dec

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


3 responses to “Connecticut Massacre Not New, Just Disturbing

  1. Pat Marinelli

    December 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I’ve read your books and now this column. A week later and I’d have been at the NJ site when Cunanan shot the park ranger. My friend and I had been there doing reseach and talked to the ranger. We were horrorified when we read what had happened in the newspaper.

    Being a writer of mysteries, I think makes things like this latest mass murder in Conn. harder on us because we’ve studied all the ins and outs of how and when after a crime is commited. At least that’s who I see and feel this one. And it being children is just unfathamable to me. I’m a mom and a grandmother and that just adds another layer. The mother in me hurts for the parents and can’t stand to suffer hearing about any more, but the writer in me wants to know more…not only more but all that the LEOs can find out about the who, what, why of this event. Sometimes, I really hate that writer part of me.


  2. cj swanson

    January 2, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    if we do not get the pharmacuetical and psychiatric companys to stop overprescribing pain killers and drugs that dont go together, and the psychiatrists and FDA to list and tell patients the true side effects (violence) of the medications to both children and adults how can we stop a lot of these fueled by legal or illegal drugs.


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      January 2, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      That is true in some cases while in other cases these meds allow those folks to function. It is often a double edged sword and a combination that might cause problems in one person are very useful in another. Medicine is simply too complex and individual to condemn any drug or treatment with a broad brush. But as the new medical bureaucracy continues to marginalize thinking physicians you can expect more of this. Medicine is now ruled by the bottom line and not by science and compassion. Sad but true.



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