A great wave of anxiety hit the North American public during the mid-1980s. New incarnations of serial and mass killers seemed to be among us everywhere, and we were no longer safe. The newspapers, television, magazines, books, films, and the Internet all dwelt in frenzied detail on these “new” killers while, as always, providing no context for understanding the phenomenon. To compound matters, the hysteria was legitimized by a U.S. Department of Justice proclamation that there were as many as one hundred multiple murderers killing in America at any given time, stealing the lives of thousands each year.
It was as if a bloodthirsty race of space aliens had come to live among and prey upon us. The intensely publicized cross-country rampages of kidnapping and sexual murder perpetrated by Ted Bundy on young university women (or believed to have been committed by Henry Lee Lucas), or by the lesbian killer Aileen Wuornos as she prowled the highways of Florida, or by James Huberty’s murderous siege of the McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, all seemed a declaration that what had in the past been a rare and isolated event was now the norm. We lived in an ugly new moonscape in which cold and remorseless killers stalked the land, invaded our homes, and murdered our loved ones.
To make the killers even more memorably frightening, the media, police, and public together often gave them nicknames. To Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac Killer, the Boston Strangler, and the Moors Murderers we now added the Nightstalker, the Green River Killer, the Hollywood Freeway Killer, the Son of Sam, the Vampire Killer, the Yorkshire Ripper, the Hillside Strangler, and the Singing Strangler, to name but a few. Thus the names sensationalized the unthinkable and contributed to the emerging national panic about crime–an anxiety that would be skilfully manipulated by both radical special interest groups and conservative “law and order” politicians.
Yet these claims of a new kind of menace were misleading. Far from being a new phenomenon, multiple murder had been with us for centuries; and far from suddenly and exponentially increasing, there had been a modest but consistent increase in rates throughout the twentieth century. But all was now brought to life by officialdom, television, and film.
Within a few years, the Department of Justice responded to criticism and renounced the inflammatory claims (for which there had been no evidence); but for many years gullible scholars, social activists, and popular writers continued to deploy these figures, finding that these inflated rates bolstered their political case. Politics makes strange bedfellows: In this instance, police, radical feminists, black activists, and conservative political and religious fundamentalist groups all found themselves using the same wildly distorted claims to justify their political arguments and make their cases for greater power and funding.
I first embarked upon this awful journey into the dead souls of modern multiple murderers because I was unable to understand the motivations that drove these multiple murderers or the satisfactions they seemed to derive from their killings. But after years of total immersion in the killers’ diaries, confessions, psychiatric interviews, statements to the press, videotapes, and photographs, I see the cultural origins of their motives as obvious and their deformed gratifications as intense. The uncomfortable conclusion reached in this book is that there will be many more such killers before this epoch in the social history of our civilization draws to a close.
Elliott Leyton is a professor of anthropology at Memorial University in Newfoundland. He holds research and faculty appointments in Ireland and England, has delivered lectures throughout Europe, the United States, and Canada, and is a past president of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association. Because of his recognized expertise in the psychology of the multiple killer he has established close links with police forces around the world. His books include Dying Hard, The Myth of Delinquency, Hunting Humans, Men of Blood and Touched by Fire (with photographer Greg Locke).
From the Hardcover edition.
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Description du livre Blake Publishing, 2001. Hardcover. État : New. N° de réf. du libraire P111903402069
Description du livre Blake Publishing, 2001. Hardcover. État : New. N° de réf. du libraire DADAX1903402069
Description du livre Blake Publishing, 2001. Hardcover. État : New. book. N° de réf. du libraire 1903402069