Head Injuries and the Serial Killer.
"A Russian man who claimed he wanted to record a murder for every square on a chessboard was found guilty yesterday of killing 48 people in Moscow.
A jury took less than three hours to convict Alexander Pichushkin, 33, of the murders, most of which occurred over five years in a sprawling park in southern Moscow. After the five-week trial he was also found guilty of three attempted murders. The judge read out the hour-long verdict to a courthouse packed with journalists and relatives of victims."
The longer story can be found on the Guardian's website. This man was a cold blooded killer, determined to make a name for himself, proud of his diligence, scornful of the police and seemingly unaware or untouched by the enormity of his crimes. It is a good thing he has been caught because he is remorseless and there isn't a doubt in my mind he'd carry on killing.
But something struck me as I read of his exploits this morning, a throw away line in the Guardian piece that rang a bell in my subconscious.
"His mother charts the beginning of Pichushkin's downfall to when he was hit on the head by a swing aged four."
Ridiculous right? She's his mother, of course she's going to look for answers for the child that she delivered into the world.
But like I said it pinged about my coffee starved head until I remembered why it resonated with me.
I trundled upstairs to the bedroom, over to the book case. I scanned the books and laid my fingers on my copy of Manhunters, Criminal Profilers & Their Search for the World's Most wanted Serial KIllers, by Colin Wilson.
I opened the book and flicked through it and on page 145 my connector beckoned.
"Certainly the number of sex killers who have suffered head injuries is so high that it is hard to deny the probable correlation. The following lists only some of the most prominent.'
He then provides an interesting observation, to whit...
The French Ripper Joseph Vacher - Suffered from head injury after attempted suicide.
Fritz Haarmann German 'Cannibal Killer' -Suffered concussion from a bad fall in his army days.
American Earle Nerlson- knocked down by car and unconscious for six days as a child.
Albert Fish- developed a stutter and dizzy spells after fall from tree as a child.
Raymond Fernandez-perfectly normal man until he fell through a hatch while at sea, knocking himself unconscious.
JOhn Christie (british) KNocked down by car on arival in london, unconscious for several hours.
Richard Speck- Chicago- Suffered a number of head injuries as a child, but began having blackouts at 16 after being struck on the head by a police man for fighting.
Gary Heidnik- Fall from a tree rendered him 'mentally abnormal' Deforming the shape of his head so badly schoolchildren called him 'football head'
Randy Kraft-California- Fell down a set of concrete steps as a child and knocked unconscious for several hours.
Henry Lee Lucas- violently beaten as a child by his mother, and once knocked unconscious for three days after she struck him with a piece of wood.
Bobby Jo Long-fracatured skull after a motercycle accident, after which he developed an unquenchable desire for sex, then began to murder. He's interesting, after every attack he would wake up after a very heavy sleep unsure if he had even committed what he 'dreamed of' until he would read of his action in a newspaper. After an examination it was revealed Long had more than one head injury-one after falling from a swing as a child and one from being knocked down by a car. A PET scan showed he had a damaged left temporal lobe and an abnormality of amygdala, the part of the brain associated with violence.
Fred West-British- two serious head injuries-one form a motercyle accident that left him unconscious for a week and one the result of a fall form a fire escape- unconscious for 2 days.
Dennis Rader= dropped on his head as a child.
All of these men went on to abduct, murder, rape, sodomise, and in some cases eat their victims. They showed no remorse-except for Bobby Jo Long- and plenty of guile and cunning. But why? Could there be a connection to their injuries?
Of course this is all speculation. These were all violent predatory men, and who is to say what particular set of circumstances unleashed the base longing to torture and kill again and again. But as I read that article in the Guardian this morning I wondered. Is there a connection? Could it be possible that somewhere along the lines these murderous empathy free sadists have no control? Or is a head injury just the key that unlocks the door to an already vicious predator, a predator preordained to inflict as much misery and pain as he can while he still breathes.