Serial Killer Instincts
According to Cesare Lombroso an Italian Physician, he could identify criminals by the look on their skulls. He advanced that biological factors were more important than the environmental factors when studying criminality (Wilkinson 32). According to the father of criminology, the brains of a criminal was different from that of a normal person. He advanced that criminals had large ears, big eyes, protruding canning teeth and a long sloping forehead among other features that were not normal with other human beings. His theory has been discredited but formed the basis of the study of crimes like killer behaviours. Today, the subject of the debate is weather killer behaviours are genetically inherited as some studies suggest or environmental factors cause a person to kill. As such, it will be discussed herein that indeed actions to kill another person are driven by personal experiences and exposure in the environment, movies, music, abuse, then through genetics which just sets the stage for the crime.
Lois, in his presentation postulated by defence attorneys of killer criminals, is that the criminal killers genetically induced actions that drove them to kill. This notion is entirely wrong and should be debunked as follows. While it is true that there are inherited genes that cause criminal actions, these genes do not take the actions but an individual. The genes just set the stage for the actions. This means that a person will be likely to commit a crime if he has the criminal genes in him/her than a person who doesn`t have the genes. However, the drive to commit the crime is not catalyzed by the gene since not all gene holders are criminal or killers.
There are two scientifically common genes found to be dominant in serial killers; these are monoamine oxidase-A (MAOA) and CDH13 (Lois). A version of the MAOA gene is tasked with the production of monoamine oxide-A enzyme. This enzyme metabolizes dopamine erratically hence leading to more antisocial and aggressive behaviors. Conversely, CDH13 is the specific gene assigned to connect the brain with the neurons. As such, a person with lower orbital cortex action with CDH13/MAO-A genes are carries of killer deeds. These genes are responsible for a lot of killer instincts and behaviors hence setting the stage for the action. Thus, it is important to note that MAOA is responsible for breaking down the critical neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. If such intoxicating chemicals are not checked and controlled can trigger loss of impulse hence increased anger and violence.
Lois explains in her article of a case in court involving one Bradley Waldroup who lived in Southeastern Tennessee. He carried his hunting 22 caliber rifle. His wife and her friend Bradshaw Leslie dropped Bradley`s four kids from school. He then began to argue with his wife and the friend. In the course of the argument, Bradley Waldroup shot eight times his wife`s friend to death before cutting her head open with a knife. He then chased his wife with a machete and the same knife to their trailer. He cut off her pinkies and dragged her before his children. He asked his kid to bit the mother goodbye since she was never going to come back hence was the last time to see her. Miraculously, the wife escaped the death trap.
During his trial three years later, he admitted all allegations against him and apologized for his cruel actions. He said he was ashamed of the situation and deeply regretted it since he snapped. He was then convicted of felony then sentenced to death for murder. His legal team took an unprecedented step to save his life from the death penalty. The legal team sent a sample of his blood test to a molecular laboratory for genetic testing. The Vanderbilt University labs who were instructed to look for a specific gene found a variation in his X chromosome which contained MAOA enzyme. The lawyers made an assertion that it was his genes that made him commit the crime hence be taken off the death penalty.
(Harrison, Murphy, Ho et al. 410) Posit that while the above mentioned genetic disorder might be a contributing factor, it is not the real course of being a serial killer. Environmental factors contribute a lot to the actions and inactions of a person. The mere fact that a person has a gene that increases the risk of acquiring colon cancer does not make an individual to get cancer. Have the fact that a person`s genes are linked to schizophrenia does not mean the individual will develop it. As such, genes are just but programs that run the cells’ activities of the body all the time. If a person, therefore, inherits such genes, they set him or her on a path but does not determine the fate, which one must end up as a serial killer. Only the environment a person is exposed to define the actions. If anything, several people carry the killer genes just like Waldroup Bradley, yet they will never kill people in their entire life.
Some environmental factors like malnutrition, poor education, economic and social strife are some of the drivers of violent of killer behaviours. For instance, psychologists note that child abuse is a leading contributor to violence (Harrison, Murphy, Ho et al. 387). Boys who were exposed at childhood to coercive, erratic, and punitive parenting possess increased risk of becoming violent. It is important to mention that not all abused boys become violent just as the fact that one has some genes qualifies him to be a killer.
Joel and Booker assert in their writing that in February 2018 in the USA, a mass shooting was experienced in Marjory Stoneman High School, In Florida. The shooter was a 19-year-old former student. He killed seventeen people and with fourteen being taken to the hospital. The perpetrator was Nicholas Cruz Jacobs. He was adopted at birth and in 2004 the adoptive father died. The adoptive mother died on 2017 November. As such, since the death of the mother, he was left for relatives and friends to take care of him. Before his shooting, he posted the incident on YouTube and other social media sites on how he wanted to buy a gun and kill people.
Essential to mention is the fact that his social environment compelled him to commit the crime and not his genetic inheritance. He planned the crime and knew the school well having been a student there. He used tricks from the Hollywood movies where he triggered a fire alarm for the noise and create confusion. He used the same fire alarm trick to escape his scene of crime. He is reported by the New York Times to have been a bright student who got grade A and B in most subjects. However, they also report that he had been admitted into a school of children with emotional instability. His social media account identified he posed anti-black and anti-Muslim slurs. According to CNN reports, Cruz was in private Instagram groups which advocated for the elimination of Mexicans, gay and black people and perceived white ladies in interracial relationships as turncoats.
The advent of the social media has advanced a lot of perception and relations in some ways. The radical extremist groups use the social media to recruit their followers across the globe. White supremacists use the social media and the internet to connect with their colleagues and advertise their divisive ideologies. Per se, killer heroes have emerged from such interactions. It is witnessed where killings are being made while live streaming. The Hollywood industries have played a significant share in spreading the hate messages. The contents are meant for entertainments, but not filtered enough to have strong humanitarian, moral lessons. For instance, terrorist activities are posted to be done by Muslim characters, or people who have Islamic teachings. They are the bad guys who get investigated or suspected first. Also, for a very long time, the evil person in a Hollywood movie was projected to be the black person. The blacks were the antagonist and causes of all significant evils in a film. As such, it was the prerogative of the good and holly white man to save the day. When people like Cruz see such contents, they are inspired by hate against the black community and followers of Islamic religion. To make matters worse, in such films, most of the heroes are the ones who have killed a lot of people to rescuer technology. This celebration inspires more serial killers.
In summation, there has been a notion that serial killers have inherited genes that catalyze their killer actions. These genes have been identified to be MAOA and CDH13. However, the fact that a person has a gene does not translate to the same person going on a killing spree. Environmental factors like childhood abuse, social and economic challenges, mental health problems and the puzzle of the content aired by Hollywood have been a significant factor for the serial killers to commit such crimes. To solve such a menace, the film industries must stop depicting serial killers as the heroes of the day. The contents must have a humanitarian theme and unite ideologies as a people. Social media must also be enhanced to report potential criminal cases of violence posted. As such, to end the mystery of the serial killing, the citizenry must desist from painting an excuse that it is genetically inherited and confront the societal values and norms that accommodate such evils.
Eric Levensen and Joe Sterling. These are the victims of the Florida school shooting. CNN. (February 21, 2018). https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/15/us/florida-shooting-victims-school/index.html
Harrison M, Murphy E, Ho L, Bowers T, Flaherty C. Female serial killers in the United States: means, motives, and makings. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology [serial online]. June 2015; 26(3):383-406. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 3, 2018.
Joel Rose and Brakkton Booker. Parkland Shooting Suspect: A Story Of Red Flags, Ignored. The National Public Radio (n.p.r). 2018.
Lois Parshley. Can Your Genes Make You Kill? Popular Science. (April, 2016). https://www.popsci.com/can-your-genes-make-you-kill
Wilkinson A. The Serial-Killer Detector. New Yorker [serial online]. November 27, 2017; 93 (38):30-35. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 3, 2018. Pg2-7