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Posts Tagged ‘Albrightsville’

Photo by Tim Hüfner on Unsplash

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Yesterday the face of the cowardly alleged murderer who took the lives of four young people in their beds was revealed to the world. The 28 year-old suspect in the Moscow, Idaho killings was taken into custody after fleeing across the country to his parents’ home (that speaks volumes right there). His mug shot radiates a smug insecurity.

Curiously, many media outlets did not instantly refer to him by first, middle, and last name as they do in most spree or serial killing cases. That practice unfortunately feeds a serial killer mythos, rewarding murderers with a special kind of notoriety. It seems to reward some of the worst criminals, making their names more memorable as if they’ve joined an elite pantheon of evil.

I won’t use his name. Not in this piece. Anyone who finds pleasure in premeditated brutality against others, who feels powerful by attacking and killing people in their sleep, is a coward. Pure and simple. This is someone who doesn’t even have the stones to take himself out, instead projecting whatever injustices he hasn’t processed correctly onto human beings who didn’t cause them.

There’s nothing about these crimes that will be remembered as “brilliant” or have people saying “what a mastermind.” As investigators said early on in this case, you can’t commit such a violent crime and not leave evidence behind. They were correct. It sounds like the suspect’s DNA was found at the scene. His car was captured on video. This was far from meticulous. It strikes me as someone who believed they were smarter than everyone else, a legend in their own mind. This isn’t the 1970s, an era before all of our modern technology and resources.

The suspect’s education is similar to my own. Unless the curriculum has changed radically since I graduated from the same school of criminal justice and criminology, students spend a lot of time studying older cases, “pre-CSI” cases. I have a master’s degree in forensic psychology, something he had an interest in, emphasis on psychology, not science. People often say, “Forensic psychology– oh! Like a CSI.” No. It’s psychology within a legal framework, not intensive crime scene investigation.

There was an absence of sexual assaults in this case, which could have left more evidence, but the act of killing itself can be its own high for this type. His fellow students are now speaking out, saying he was more engaged and outgoing after the murders. Clearly, if he is indeed responsible, he went on with life as usual, returning to class and going home for the holidays.

If he thought that getting an education along this track would make him a better killer, or help him commit the perfect crime, that’s illogical. Acquiring the mindset of a killer through studying other murderers may actually give you a false sense of your own confidence and skills. In this case the education was likely used to enhance feelings that were already there. Worse, he likely felt that taking others’ lives was justifiable based on his own adverse life experiences. Or even that people who “had it better than him” or he saw as “lesser” than him deserved this.

Earlier this week I told someone that the Moscow suspect is like those firefighter or fire investigator arsonists who set fires themselves and watch as others respond. Or they respond themselves and are lauded as the “hero” because they happened to be in the area, responded first, saved someone from it, or “solved” the case. They gravitate towards the profession due to a love of power and control. Having the uniform, the degree, the professional acclaim, the authority can be a powerful narcotic for those predisposed to a “little g” god complex.

Already accounts from fellow students and former friends are noting a pronounced degree of narcissism in the suspect. One said that she ended the friendship because he would chide her that she wasn’t as smart as him. She seems to have recognized that she wasn’t in a friendship, but a toxic put-down relationship which he used to feel better about himself. He’s worked as a security guard in a school, which in context could support his power and control issues. I’ve had the thought that perhaps he even planned to sail in with the “solution” to the Moscow murders as if his alleged brilliance had solved the case, probably thinking he’d be hailed as the next John E. Douglas.

Washington State is known for its serial killers and many are familiar with the narcissism involved in some of them. Quite often in conversation, we Washingtonians find that we know someone involved in the case or know someone who knows someone who knew the killer. They note, in retrospect, red flags that something was wrong. A high school friend of mine’s mother, for example, counted Ted Bundy among her neighborhood playmates. She said that even as grade school kids he always had to be the “in control” figure when they played together, including an oddly macho version of Superman.

Robert Yates, the so-called Spokane Serial Killer, targeted prostitutes, who to him were disposable. He had that all too-familiar “I’m so intelligent and everyone else is an idiot” complex. I believe he even had a bumper sticker to that effect. He was so self-confident that he buried some of his victims next to his house where his wife planted flowers and his kids played. There are other local examples. Sometimes their arrogance is their downfall.

I offer these examples to illustrate such narcissism is common among those who feel entitled to end others’ lives, not to classify the Moscow suspect with Bundy, Yates, etc. There are differences. Underneath them all, though, you will likely find a deeply insecure person who has been rejected, bullied, or who feels different, who tries to hide a fiery rage against the rest of humanity. As a person of faith, I note that allowing yourself to irrationally project your rage onto others means you’ve fallen for the original lie, that you shall be as gods. It creates portals into your soul where dark forces take refuge.

We live in a society in which it’s increasingly common for those who feel wronged to kill others. Look at how many people, mostly women, are killed by their partners every day. Look at how many school shootings we’ve had. There are up to 50 serial killers on the loose in the U.S. at any given time, although they are responsible for just a fraction of the times people choose to rob others of their lives. As we collectively more towards living our own truths and away from a more universal concept of good and evil, we are developing young men and women with an inability to resolve conflict, who see murder as an acceptable solution to their own inner pain.

We’ve heard of the term “thrill kill.” Some have wondered if this was purely such a type of crime. Others have speculated that the killer was sexually frustrated and/or may have had a fixation on or was stalking one of the victims. This is all possible. I don’t doubt that at minimum he chose his targets and planned this. He might have had this fantasy brewing for a while. His social media posts networking with convicted killers for a study he’d planned could well have been intended for his own schemes.

He probably spent a lot of his time alone with his own thoughts, playing out various scenarios. Also, who or what did he practice on? Has he done this before? Would he have done this again? We may learn more as he’s extradited to Idaho, where he will receive an objective trial, but the collective, righteous rage of the community should not be underestimated. It will lead to positive change and a powerful repudiation of this evil.

These are not people who have been cowering in fear. These are men, women, adults, teens who have been working together to improve each others’ safety and minister to each others’ needs. Out of this incident fierce advocates for others are arising, who are not only going to speak out on behalf of others, but whose advocacy is going to save lives. The suspect’s classmates who are currently stunned by learning the killer was in their midst will go on to serve others, to educate others, not to kill others. In time they will overcome their trauma and shock because they will seek appropriate resources and heal through connection with others.

Murdering four defenseless people in their beds was not a dazzling act of brilliance. It does not display a mastery of anything. To some it may be surprising that a criminology and forensic psychology student is responsible. But some know or know of people who are attracted to related professions for the wrong reasons, so it isn’t a huge surprise. These murders are actually a supreme act of cowardice.

While the suspect may be convicted, file appeals, and fight the legal system for decades believing that he can game it, there is a point at which he will have to give an account of himself before the Creator. While an increasing number of people don’t believe in God, and therefore have no regard for the rules he set for human behavior, I believe in both a love and a justice infinitely more consequential than anything humanity can mete out. If this killer does not confess and cooperate, he won’t get away with this forever.

May love rule.


Please visit the University of Idaho’s memorial page to learn how to support the victims’ families and scholarship funds established in their names. You may also contribute to a fund that supports students in crisis.


©2022 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com

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