Explainer: How does mental illness affect sentencing?

Just last week, the Victorian Court of Appeal significantly reduced the sentence given to Akon Guode, a mother who killed three of her children after driving her car into a lake in Melbourne. The main reason for the 8½ year sentence reduction was that the trial judge had not sufficiently taken Guode’s major depression into account.

While the circumstances of this offence were unusual, it is common for offenders to have mental health problems. Surveys have shown that almost half of Australian prison entrants report being affected by a mental disorder. With that in mind, how are mental health issues taken into account during the criminal justice process?  more

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The Real Life Horror Tale of the Twisted “Co-ed Killer”

Ed Kemper is a genius, psychopath and necrophile.

Ed Kemper

Read the following true tale of horror at your own risk.

Edmund Kemper III, a psychopathic serial killer and necrophile who became known as “The Co-ed Killer,” was born December 18, 1948, in Burbank, California. He was arrested in April of 1973, at the age of twenty-four, after murdering six female students, his own mother, and her mother’s best friend.

Despite his relative youth upon capture, Kemper had actually committed his first two murders nearly a decade earlier. Kemper was an extremely intelligent child but he engaged in psychopathic behavior early on. For Kemper, this behavior included the torture and killing of animals, which is a common childhood practice among nearly half of all serial killers.

During childhood, Kemper was physically and emotionally abused by his alcoholic mother, Clarnell, who was divorced from his father. Clarnell frequently locked her son in a dark basement alone at night.

Not surprisingly, Edmund grew up to hate his mother and at the age of 14 ran away from home in search of his father in Van Nuys, California. After locating but being rejected by his father, young Edmund was sent to live with his paternal grandmother and grandfather in North Fork, California. Kemper claims that his grandmother, similar to his mother, was very abusive and he disliked her intensely.

In 1964, at the age of 15, Edmund shot his grandmother in the head allegedly just to see what it felt like. He then killed his grandfather, too, because he believed that his grandfather would be angry at him for killing his grandmother. Kemper was subsequently committed to the Atascadero State Hospital for the criminally insane. To his chagrin, he was released into his mother’s care in 1969 after less than five years of confinement and treatment. His juvenile criminal record was expunged.

As a young adult, Kemper stood six-foot-nine and weighed 280 pounds. He frequently thought about killing his mother by 1970 but was not yet ready to do so. The prospect of killing his mother without first perfecting his murder skills on others was too overwhelming for Kemper.  more

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Jack the Ripper Identified

Unmasking Jack the Ripper 127 years after his murders suddenly stopped.

The tale of Jack the Ripper involves five extremely brutal slayings of prostitutes between August and November of 1888 in the Whitechapel area of London, England. Legend has it that the perpetrator called himself Jack the Ripper in letters he sent to the London police—taking credit for the crimes. It was commonly believed that the Ripper was a medical doctor due to the significant cutting of the victims’ bodies.

The Ripper case was the first serial killer story in history to cause a widespread media frenzy and that was due to the proliferation of inexpensive broadsheet newspapers in Victorian London in the late 19th century. By the fall of 1888, at the height of the Ripper’s killing spree, one million newspapers with updated stories on the case were sold each day—an unprecedented circulation of newspapers at the time.

The Jack the Ripper case has generated a glut of conspiracy theories concerning his identity over the years. In fact, there are at least 100 different theories about the identity of Jack the Ripper. One of the most colorful involves a British royal family connection and the Freemasons. Indeed, much of the legend of Jack the Ripper is pure mythology, including the iconic image of the top hat wearing gentleman that accompanies this article.  more

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The preferred jobs of serial killers and psychopaths

Serial killer job breakdown

  • Top 3 Skilled Serial-Killer Occupations: 1. Aircraft machinist/assembler; 2. Shoemaker/repair person; 3. Automobile upholsterer
  • Top 3 Semi-Skilled Serial Killer Occupations: 1. Forestry worker/arborist; 2. Truck driver; 3. Warehouse manager
  • Top 3 Unskilled Serial Killer Occupations: 1. General labourer (mover, landscaper, et. al.); 2. Hotel porter; 3. Gas station attendant
  • Top 3 Professional/Government Serial Killer Occupations: 1. Police/security official; 2. Military personnel; 3. Religious official

Obviously, not everyone occupying these jobs is a serial killer, nor are they likely to become one.

What about the psychopaths?

As we begin to redraw the map of serial murder and career paths, it might also be useful to look at the otherwise better-known index of occupations over-represented among psychopaths.

While not all psychopaths are serial killers, psychopathy —or at the very least, the possession of psychopathic traits —is a common denominator among serial killers, sex offenders and most violent criminals. Have a look at the Top 10 occupations according to an Oxford University psychologist:

  1. CEO or business executive
  2. Lawyer
  3. Media personality
  4. Salesperson
  5. Surgeon
  6. Journalist or news anchor
  7. Police officer
  8. Religious official
  9. Chef
  10. Miscellaneous civil servant (military, city council, corrections, etc.)

more

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Unsane: how film’s portrayal of mental illness is (slowly) improving

Steven Soderbergh: Unretired. The director announced in 2013 that he was quitting because “movies don’t matter any more”. But he has continued to work steadily since – in television and, since last year, film again. The film he made before announcing his “retirement” was Side Effects, a psychological thriller exploring big pharma, that followed a young woman (Rooney Mara) detained in a psychiatric hospital against her will. His new film, Unsane, is a psychological thriller that follows a young woman (Claire Foy) detained in a psychiatric hospital against her will. It is clear, then, that Soderbergh finds mental illness and psychiatry interesting topics to explore.

He’s not alone. But how has the onscreen treatment of mental illness evolved over the years?

One of the screen characters we most associate with mental illness is Jack Nicholson’s Mac McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest who, lest we forget, was not insane, just hoping to avoid a prison sentence. Miloš Forman’s film, based on the Ken Kesey novel, was praised at the time for a sympathetic treatment of the inpatients, its “battle against the system” narrative and the more-or-less accurate portrayals of the often inhumane treatments routine at the time (lobotomies and electroconvulsive therapy without muscle relaxants).  more

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Why does it seem like serial killers all wear the same glasses?

A brief history of murderers and their chosen eyewear, from Jeffrey Dahmer to the BTK Strangler to the Zodiac Killer

A teenager with red hair swooping over one eye takes a selfie at an eyeglass store and posts it on Tumblr. “I saw these Jeffrey Dahmer-like glasses,” he writes in the caption. “I feel like [they] look cute on me. Is that bad?” He tags the photo #serialkiller.

The list of serial killers who wore glasses is long and bloody, from Dahmer to BTK to Harold Shipman and his professorial frames; even the Zodiac Killer, never caught, wears a thick-rimmed pair in a police sketch. The aesthetic of “serial killer glasses” is so pervasive that it pops up everywhere from Urban Dictionary (“Eyeglasses with heavy or severe frames that live somewhere between fashionable and creepy”) to TV Tropes (where “a guy who is cold, emotionless … or even a soulless monster” is given glasses “to quickly tip off the audience to his personality”), and countless Tumblr posts in between.  more

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Former teammates paint disturbing picture of Aaron Hernandez in Patriots locker room

Hernandez a headache for Brady

It didn’t even matter if Hernandez caused problems for Brady.

Lloyd told The Globe about an incident involving New England’s five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

“(Hernandez) was out at the walkthrough in flip-flops trying to run around,” Lloyd said. “He was laughing. He was loud. And Tom keeps it serious in the walkthrough. And Tom says, ‘Shut the f— up. Get the f— out of here.”

Hernandez did not respond well to Brady’s demands.

“It was like he went from this child-like, laughing, disruptive behavior and he storms off in a fit of rage,” Lloyd said.

Mood swings

Lloyd painted a picture of an erratic Hernandez who would shift gears from macho and angry to sensitive and insecure.

“There would be swings where he’d be the most hyper-masculine, aggressive individual in the room, where he’d be ready to fight somebody in fits of rage,” Lloyd said. “Or he’d be the most sensitive person in the room, talking about cuddling with his mother. Or he’d ask me, ‘Do you think I’m good enough to play?’”

The Globe noted that Hernandez suffered multiple brain injuries and went on to play the week after a concussion, his second documented brain injury.  more

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‘Voices in my head telling me to rape women, murder people’, said UPSC aspirant who murdered security guard

New Delhi: Shocking developments have emerged in the death of a 65-year-old security guard who was murdered by a  civil services aspirant on Wednesday. About two weeks ago, 25-year-old Benzi Singh woke up in the wee hours of the morning and mentioned that he had been hearing ‘voices’ asking him to ‘rape women and kill people’, saying his roommates.

One of Singh’s roommates, upon the condition of anonymity, told The Hindustan Times that Benzi came to him the night of the incident around 3.30 am. A shivering Benzi told me that someone had been talking to him which scared him so much that he slept next to me that night, said Singh’s roommate. The boy further added that Benzi’s friends took him to a psychiatrist the other day and that they could never have imagined that would kill someone.  more

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What should you do if you have constant anxiety about being murdered, even when you know your are safe?

If someone is chronically anxious about murderers, then it is almost certain that they are also acting in a defensive way, such as checking for possible murderers (under the bed), or avoiding situations  where there may be murderers (dark alleys). It is this constant acting as if you are in danger that makes our anxiety worse.

Anxiety is a primitive defense mechanism that does not understand the world, but guesses from our actions whether or not the world is safe.  more

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