Four Basic Characteristics of Mass Murderers
These murderers are motivated by hate, anger, or revenge. Most mass murderers commit suicide at the scene, but these murderers plan for their escape as an antecedent to the event. This is particularly evident in the types of cases found with mass murder by arson, poison, or bombing. A good example would be the tampering of Tylenol bottles. This type of mass murderer usually does not directly observe the consequences of their actions.
Four Basic Characteristics of Mass Murderers
A study of adolescent mass murderers found the following characteristics:
The Virginia Tech Shooting
Mass murderer. Born on January 18, 1984, in South Korea. In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho carried out one of the worst mass murders in recent history in the United States. He and his family came to the country from South Korea when Cho was about eight years old. They eventually settled in Centreville, Virginia, and ran a dry-cleaning business. He was known as a shy child who liked basketball and did well in math. But according to an article in Newsweek magazine, Cho was also bullied by other children, including wealthy members of his church.
In high school, Cho was described as sullen and aloof. After graduating in 2003, he went on to study at Virginia Tech University. Located in Blacksburg, Virginia, the school has an extensive campus with more than 26,000 students residing there. Cho stood out as a near-silent loner who wrote gruesome poems, stories, and plays. He sometimes referred to himself as “Question Mark.”
One professor, poet Nikki Giovanni, had him removed from her class for disturbing the other students. She told Time magazine that “there was something mean about this boy.” She said that he was “a bully” and always came to class wearing sunglasses and a hat, which she would always ask him to remove. Cho was also photographing the legs and knees of female students in the class. Other members of the English department faculty were concerned about him as well. Lucinda Roy, the co-director of the school’s creative writing program, took him out of class and tutored him individually. She also encouraged Cho to get counseling.
In addition to his odd behavior and dark writings, Cho exhibited other potential warning signs. He was twice accused of stalking female students in 2005, but neither victim filed charges. A suicidal statement by Cho to a suitemate led to him being taken to a psychiatric hospital in December of that year. He was soon released with orders to receive therapy as an outpatient. Documents released in June 2007 indicate that he did attend at least one court-ordered counseling session at the Cook Counseling Center.
Five weeks before the shooting, Cho bought his first handgun and purchased the second one closer to the date of the attack. From evidence found in his dorm room, it was clear that he had been planning the assault on his fellow students and the faculty for quite some time.
On April 16, Cho began his rampage by killing two students in a dormitory after 7 a.m. He later went to a classroom building and began shooting students and faculty members, killing 30 people and injuring numerous others around 9:45 a.m. The spree only ended when Cho turned one of his guns on himself; he shot himself in the head. The entire nation was shocked and horrified by the events at Virginia Tech. Up until that point, the largest campus shooting had been in 1966 when Charles Whitman killed 15 people on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.
In between the two sets of attacks, Cho went to the post office to mail a package to NBC News in New York. Received two days after the murders, it contained video clips, photographs of Cho posing with his weapons, and a rambling document. In one of the video clips he rails against rich “brats” and talks about being bullied and picked on; he also attacks Christianity and positioned himself as some type of avenger for the weak and defenseless. Cho even referenced the notorious Columbine school shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
After the shooting, Virginia Tech and many schools across the nation began examining their crisis management plans as well as how they identify and handle potentially dangerous students.
Michael Robert Ryan - the Hungerford Massacre
Ryan used two assault rifles and a Berretta handgun to claim sixteen lives while wounding fifteen others. His own mother was one of the victims. He then killed himself.
Known as the Hungerford Massacre, one of the worst criminal atrocities in British history was conducted by an unemployed 27 year-old gunman, named Michael Robert Ryan.
Ryan was born at a hospital just outside of Hungerford on May 18, 1960. It was said that Ryan lived with his doting mother and had what was described by the British Press as an ‘obsessive fascination’ with guns and the Rambo movies. Between 1978 and April 1987, Ryan applied for and was issued numerous certificates to own various types of firearms. He lived his young adult life as a loner. Never seen with friends, he drank alone at the local pub and although he spent a lot of time at the firing range, never fraternized with anyone there either. It is believed that the spree began with Ryan shooting his mother at point blank range, then he drove to a local park and attempted to rape a young mother of two. She apparently tried to escape and was promptly shot 13 times in the back, yet the children were spared. He then began driving around and shooting at people in various locations around Berkshire, before taking refuge in a local college. After a five hour stand-off and surrounded by police, Ryan threatened them with a hand grenade and shouted:
'I wish I had stayed in bed'.
He then shot himself and died.
Woo Bum-kon was a South Korean cop, who undertook the largest killing spree in modern times. By the end of his rampage, he left 57 people dead, 35 wounded and then took his own life. After a drawn out argument with his girlfriend, he went to the police armory of the village he lived in, and proceeded to get absolutely tanked. He then stocked up on weaponry, including a rifle and grenades, and left. First, he went to the local telephone exchange, and shot three operators so no-one could make a phone call. Then he slowly and methodologically went door to door, gaining entry because people trusted him as a police officer. He shot his victims in most cases, but in one case he took out an entire family with a grenade. This went on for eight hours before he moved on to a neighboring village to continue. This went on until he had made his way through five local villages, at which point he strapped two grenades to his chest, grabbed three hostages, and blew them and himself up.
Differences Between Mass Murderers and Serial Killers
In both mass and serial murder cases, victims die as the offender momentarily gains control of his or her life by controlling others. But the differences between these two types of offenders far outweigh the similarities.
Marc Lepine - Ecole Polytechnique Massacre
Mass murderer. Born Gamil Gharbi on October 26, 1964, in Montreal, Canada. Marc Lepine carried out the deadliest shooting spree in Canada’s history in 1989. His parents separated when he was a child, and his father was reportedly abusive to him, his mother, and his sister. Lepine was obsessed with war movies and electronics. He tried to enter the military, but was rejected for being antisocial, according to newspaper accounts. Lepine also had difficulty in relating to members of the opposite sex.
In 1982, he changed his name to Marc Lepine, taking his mother’s surname. He wanted to attend the Ecole Polytechnique, the engineering school at the University of Montreal. Described as intelligent and well-spoken, Lepine was struggling with his night courses, which he had hoped would help him get into the Polytechnique.
Unhappy and frustrated, he bought a rifle at a hunting store. About a week later, he walked into the Ecole Polytechnique on December 6, 1989. It was late afternoon on the last day of classes before the end of the fall term. Blaming women for his problems, Lepine began shooting female students there. Entering one classroom, he told the men to leave and shot the remaining women. One witness quoted Lepine as saying “I want the women. You are all feminists.”
During his ten-minute rampage, Lepine killed 14 women and injured 13 other people before killing himself. He left behind a three-page suicide note in which he said that feminists had ruined his life. While he had problems with women, the depths of his misogyny had been hidden from others. Lepine didn’t have a record of violent behavior or psychiatric issues.
Much of what led to this rampage that has become known as the “Montreal Massacre” remains a mystery. In its aftermath, authorities reviewed the nation’s gun laws and the media coverage of the event led to an increased awareness about violence against women.
An individual who kills 2 or more people, over a short period of time, at multiple locations.
"Society’s had their chance." "I’m going hunting…hunting humans"
Mass Murderer James Huberty,
right before the San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre
Sharon Tate - Autopsy Sheet
In the United States, in 2008 there were 30 multiple-fatality workplace homicide incidents, accounting for 67 homicides and 7 suicides. On average, about two people died in each of these incidents.
Shootings accounted for 80 percent of all homicides in 2008 (421 fatal injuries). Co-workers and former co-workers were the assailants in 12 percent of all shootings. Robbers were the assailants in another 40 percent of cases in 2008. Nearly half of these shootings (48 percent) occurred in public buildings, thereby endangering bystanders.
Sales and related occupations accounted for 26 percent of decedents in shootings. Most shootings occurred in the private sector (86 percent) whereas 14 percent of shootings occurred in government. Of the shootings within the private sector, 88 percent occurred within service-providing industries, mostly in trade, transportation, and utilities.