Lady Killers’ Pharmaceuticals

Today we’re discussing one of my favorite topics, lady killers and the drugs they use as murder weapons. I’m also thrilled to introduce you to James Murray, a long time author friend and pharmacist who has agreed to answer some questions for us.

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Jim has experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management. Medications and their impact on a patient’s quality of life is his expertise. He draws on past clinical practice as a pharmacist along with an infatuation for the lethal effects of drugs to weave tales of murder and mayhem.

Diane:

Good morning, Jim! Thanks so much for joining me today on my blog!

Jim:

Good morning, Diane. It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me. Ask your first question. I’m locked and loaded.

Diane:

I know it’s out of the norm for women to kill. In fact, women do only 11-15% of ALL MURDERS. Is that correct?

 

 

 

Jim:

That’s right. Criminologists agree that women who murder are not the norm, and that murder is a predominantly male trait. Women commit only 11-15% of all murders according to recent statistics, and women account for a mere 2% of mass murders.

 

Women are also not usually serial killers. Women tend to know their victims and, according to statistics, are more likely to kill just one person. Serial killings account for only 1% of all murders, and women represent only 17% of serial killers.

The usual victims of women who kill are their significant others (a spouse, an ex-spouse or someone the murderer is dating up to 60% of the time), and women tend to use poisons or drugs that don’t produce violent side effects to put down their intended victim.

Diane:

What types of drugs do women often use and how do they affect the body?

Jim:

The types of drugs most commonly used by women as murder weapons include those that sedate their victims—drugs that cause the victim to fall asleep and never wake up. These include toxic doses of alcohol, opiate painkillers, and sedatives-hypnotics. Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of these general categories:

 

 

Alcohol: These might include spiking a drink with too much alcohol and then injecting the victim with a lethal dose after the victim is too intoxicated to fight back. Methanol and isopropyl alcohol (the kinds of alcohol used in rubbing and disinfectant alcohols) are the most lethal to inject. Ethylene glycol (a form of alcohol used in antifreeze) is a most effective poison to add to flavored drinks.

Opiate Painkillers: Opiate drugs include some of the most popular prescription painkillers. Some are natural opiates derived from opium poppy seed plants. These include the familiar drugs codeine and morphine. They are powerful painkillers, and larger than therapeutic doses will suppress the central nervous system to produce an opiate coma and eventual death.

Other often-prescribed painkillers are synthetic drugs manufactured to function as opiates in the body, are usually much stronger medications, and work faster as lethal drugs. These synthetic opiates include oxycodone (Oxycontin), oxymorphone (Opana), hydrocodone (Vicodan, Lortab, Norco), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol) and fentanyl (Duragesic). These are much stronger painkillers and, therefore, more effective and efficient when used as murder weapons.

 

 

 

For instance, a mere 7.5mgs of hydromorphone is equivalent to a larger 30mg dose of morphine. To view a chart of therapeutic dosing and duration of actions, and click http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2138678-overview for equivalent dose comparisons of the various opiate drugs. A normal one-week supply of any of these medications, as is often prescribed for severe pain, would be more than enough to kill a victim—with a few pills left over to calm the killer’s nerves.

 

Sedatives-Hypnotic Drugs: These medications, like the opiate drugs, cause body functions to slow down—and in large enough doses cause the body to cease functioning at all, resulting in death.

 

The barbiturate and benzodiazepine classes of drugs predominate the sedative-hypnotic drug categories. The barbiturates include all the “…bital” drugs: secobarbital, pentobarbital and phenobarbital most notably. The benzodiazepines include Valium, Librium and Tranxene tranquilizer drugs.

Some non-benzodiazepine drugs include the popular sleep medications Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata.

 

All of these sedatives-hypnotics are lethal in larger than therapeutic doses and are readily prescribed by physicians these days to patients with sleep disorders. Click here to review some of the specifics of these potentially deadly medications.

Diane:

Thanks so much for the information, Jim. Jim also has some great books out. A list and links are provided below.

Jim:

Diane, I have a new novel coming out in May 2016 that is the sequel to Lethal Medicine, and it’s also an international thriller, mystery, police procedural. It’s called IMPERFECT MURDER. And you’re very welcome. I had a blast. And I’m offering Lethal Medicine FREE to your readers for the next 5 days (March 2nd-6th). Just click on the Lethal Medicine link below.

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

Jim’s social networks:

Website: http://www.jamesjmurray.com/

Blog: https://jamesjmurray.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamesjmurraywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JamesJMurray1

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/jamesjmurray

Goodreads Author Page: www.goodreads.com/jamesjmurray

Lethal Medicine (Free for the next 5 days)

Clinical pharmacist Jon Masters seems to have it all. But, still haunted by his days in Special Forces, Jon’s life implodes when evidence found at a murder scene implicates him in an elaborate scheme to distribute a pharmaceutical quality street drug disguised as an experimental medication. With the help of a trusted army confidante, Jon reenters the world of covert ops and cyber intelligence and embarks on a global mission to save his reputation and regain control over his life. He uncovers a complex international conspiracy to redefine the nation’s recreational drug culture.

Cuffed (A Short Story)

It’s not easy to work the graveyard shift, and pharmacist Sam Delaney finds out that the overnight shift can be deadly when a dangerous patient from an ER steps into his pharmacy and presents a questionable prescription. Concern turns to panic as Sam calls the police and is told that they will be delayed. A storm and its inevitable fender benders leave Sam to deal with the situation on his own.

Available at: Amazon, iBook/iTunes, B&N/Nook, Kobo and Smashwords.

Unforeseeable Consequences:

Six short stories (including one from Diane) of intrigue and suspense created by five talented authors about the consequences of actions. The lives of the characters in each story are forever changed as a result of the choices they make and the unforeseeable consequences.

Available at: Amazon, iBook/iTunes, B&N/Nook, Kobo and Smashwords

Almost Dead (A Murder Mystery):

Detectives Rosie Young and Vince Mendez chase an elusive villain when not one but two victims turn up alive less than twenty-four hours after they are pronounced dead. The body count continues to climb as the detectives investigate how two seemingly unrelated victims share an almost identical near-death experience but have no memory of the event. The trail of evidence leads to startling revelations of deceit, greed, and an international conspiracy in this entertaining murder mystery.

Available at: Amazon, iBook/iTunes, B&N/Nook, Kobo and Smashwords

IMPERFECT MURDER. Coming out in May 2016.

{No cover yet}

While mourning both professional and personal losses suffered in the recent past, clinical pharmacist Jon Masters learns that his trusted friend and mentor, Dan Whitmore, has died. Although the police have ruled the death a suicide, Dan’s wife, Sheila, insists that her husband was murdered and asks Jon to help prove that. Pushing through his tremulous emotional state, Jon convinces the police to reopen the investigation.

When Jon retraces the last hours of Dan’s life, he uncovers evidence that proves Dan was not only murdered but was also involved in an international conspiracy to undermine the nation’s drug delivery system.

Blog edited by: Sally Berneathy

Resources used in blog:

Statistics of women murderers/serial killers

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/5-myths-about-serial-killers-and-why-they-persist-excerpt/

How women kill

http://www.bustle.com/articles/127381-statistics-on-female-murderers-show-theyre-predictably-less-common-than-male-killers

Women are more likely to use poisons to kill

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/05/07/poison-is-a-womans-weapon/

List of Opiates

http://www.opiate.com/opiates/a-list-of-opiates/

Chart of Opiate dosing comparisons

http://mcintranet.musc.edu/agingq3/calculationswesbite/convchart.pdf

List of Sedatives-Hypnotics

http://www.well.com/user/woa/fsseda.htm

 

 

Stephen King Part Five

Diane Kratz at Stephen King Book signing event. November 13, 2014 KC, Mo.

Diane Kratz at Stephen King Book signing event.
November 13, 2014 KC, Mo.

What happens when you finally get to be in a room with a legendary author you fell in love with as a teen? Would you fear being disappointed? Well, I did, and I wasn’t disappointed!

 

On November 13, 2014, this chick went to a Stephen King event in Kansas City, MO. Rainy Day Books put on the event. My sisters from Midwest Romance Writers and I all went as a group.

 

Stephen King  on stage, wearing a Royal ball cap.

Stephen King on stage, wearing a Royal’s ball cap.

He came out on stage wearing a Kansas City Royals ball cap, and of course the crowd roared. (Read the blog above this one)

 

He even read an excerpt from his new book, Revival. How cool is that!

 

 

As a wanna-be author, I was enthralled especially when he talked about his writing process. He’ll see a story on the news and it will stick with him or, as he said, “percolates” for a few weeks or even months. The idea begins to beg him to write about it. Once it does, he sits and writes his story. The writing takes about four months, sometimes longer. But his bottom line was, “it takes as long as it takes, but if you don’t keep at it, you don’t pay the bills.”

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Of all the authors I’ve ever read, he is the one that sticks out as the “Great One” and always will be. Carrie scared the hell out of me when I was fifteen and went to the movies to see it with my girlfriends. That part where Carrie’s hand comes up from the grave and grabs her friend’s hand, just when she about to lay flowers on her grave, still gives me the willies. I think about it every time I visit the cemetery.

 

stephenking.wikia.com

stephenking.wikia.com

That, my friends, is what you call great writing—if the image is still with you from something you’ve read or seen a couple of decades ago. He talked about being called the “King of Horror” and how he never thought of himself as writing horror. He told about an older lady who came up to him in the grocery store and said, “I know who you are. You’re that man who writes all them horrible books and I don’t read those. Why can’t you write something like Shawshank Redemption or The Green Mile?”

 

Ha! He wrote them both.

 

One of the questions he is always asked is, “What happened in your childhood that would make you write the kind of stories you write?” He didn’t have a bad childhood. His mother was a “hardcore” Methodist. He himself doesn’t like organized religion because it forces people to act, believe and think like the institution and not for themselves.

 

He read an excerpt from his new book, an excerpt about music. He loves rock and roll. The Rain Day people had a guitar brought in and he played song “Gloria” by the Doors for us. It was GREAT!

 

‪He talked about being offered a cameo part in Sons of Anarchy (one of my favorite TV series). He loves Kurt Sutter’s writing. He said, “Ordinarily I would say no but he said he’d put me on a Harley, so I agreed.” Sutter also assured King that his character would be doing something “suitably nasty.”

 

latimesblogs.latimes.com

latimesblogs.latimes.com

 

Stephen King played “Bachman” in Season Three, Episode Three, titled “Caregiver.” Also interesting for me is that King wrote two novels under the pen name of Richard Bachman—The Running Man (1987) and Thinner (1996). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1559911/

 

King has been getting some bad press here in Kansas from Kerri Rawson, daughter of Dennis Rader (aka BTK serial killer from Wichita, Kansas), over his screenplay and upcoming TV movie from a story inspired by Dennis Rader. “A Good Marriage” is a story in a collection from his book published in 2010, Full Dark, No Stars. See Associated Press article dated September 27, 2014: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/09/27/daughter-btk-killer-publicly-criticizes-stephen-king/

 

insidemovies.ew.com

insidemovies.ew.com

I am happy he is making the movie because his last stop before he came to KC was in Wichita, and I assume that was what brought him to our state. I love Stephen King books. As a writer, we get our ideas from the environment around us. Anyone who says different is in denial. I can’t wait for the movie to come out, and I ordered “Full Dark, No Stars” and got it today. I can’t wait to start reading it!

 

And so does Heidi Senesac!

And so does Heidi Senesac!

One disappointment was Stephen King only signed a certain number of books. I didn’t get one.  But our wonderful president of MRW did and e-mailed me asking if we could trade because she knows I’m a big fan! Thank you, Heidi! You’re the best friend ever and a wonderful president of our group!

 

What a year it has been! Life just keeps getting better and better!

 

Until next time,

Happy writing,

Diane Kratz

Blog Edited by: Sally Berneathy

 

 

 

 

Only a Kansas City Sports Fan would…Part Four

October 26, 2014

 

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Only a Kansas City Sports Fan would chant, “Let’s Go, Royals” for their professional baseball team (who made it to the World Series) at a Kansas City Chiefs football game!

http://fansided.com/2014/09/30/lets-go-royals-chant-breaks-kansas-city-chiefs-win-video/

 

I’m not from Kansas City. I live on a small farm in Kansas. I can tell you, coming from a small town doesn’t make you any less of a Kansas City sports fan. We love our sports teams!

 

Not so surprising when you think about small towns. Our kids play football, soccer, and baseball from the time they can hold a bat. There’s not much else to do in a small town.

 

Both my mother and father were diehard Chiefs fans. While they were married, they held season tickets. After their divorce, they only agreed on one thing: their love for their Chiefs would never die. And it never did.

 

I have memories of Sunday dinners and watching the game. We’d scream at the top of lungs when the team was about to make a touchdown or had made an interception. My mother once lost her false teeth screaming so loud for a Chiefs player to run. Her teeth went flying across the room and hit the TV. Even our dog barked when we yelled!

 

My husband won driver of the month at his company and was given KC Chiefs football tickets as a reward. On October 27th, 2014, I took my grandson, Alex, to his second game. It was his first one with me.

 

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Alex knows football. When I say he knows football, I mean he knows the players on every team in the entire NFL. No, he didn’t learn it from me; instead, he learned it from the PlayStation Madden NFL game he plays with his friends. He knows all the players’ stats in the NFL. Alex learned to be an analyzer of players so he could pick the best teams for his Madden game. Plus, he plays as a defensive tackle on his junior high football team.

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He also enjoys telling me what I don’t know about players.

 

But Alex didn’t understand what it was like to be a Chiefs fan until he went to the game with his grandma.

 

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I screamed and banged on my seat when the opposing team had the ball. (In case you don’t know this already, Arrowhead is in the Guinness World record book for being the loudest confirmed stadium in the world.)

 

http://www.kcchiefs.com/news/article-2/Arrowhead-Stadium-Breaks-World-Record/47d77f49-e8cb-4e19-b6a4-8c17ff027bbd)

 

He kept hushing me, and I’d scream louder. Alex is a little shy. As I said earlier, he’s an analyzer of the game. I chanted when we got a touchdown or a first down.

Finally in the fourth quarter my grandson started to yell, chant and bang on his chair. My duty as a Chiefs fan and as his grandma had been fulfilled.

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Alex also got to experience a couples engagement two rows down. Three KC Chief’s band members showed up beating the drums in our section. KC Wolf followed them. KC Wolf showed the gal he stood in front of a chalk board. On It read: “Emily will you marry me? Blake”

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And she said yes!

I told Alex, ” Now, that’s a game she’ll never forget! I’d marry him!” LOL!  All of the couples family stood behind me holding up signs. It was great!

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Both my parents are gone but I felt their presence at this game when I saw my grandson loosen up and scream for the Chiefs. He wasn’t an analyzer anymore; he was a Chiefs fan. My parents would have been so proud of the fans when we chanted for our Royals in Arrowhead Stadium. Win or lose, we love our teams!

 

And even then!

And even then!

We won against St Louis. It was the first time I ever went to a game where the Chiefs won. Alex is my lucky charm. As a writer, we must write words that evoke emotions. Sitting in that stand, feeling the power of the love for a team from all of the KC Chiefs fans is a emotion I know he’ll never forget. I know I never have!

 

Diane Kratz with her grandson Alex. at Arrowhead Stadium, KC, Mo.

Diane Kratz with her grandson Alex, at Arrowhead Stadium in KC, Mo.

 

Happy writing,

Diane Kratz

Blog edited by Sally Berneathy

PSWA Conference 2014 Part Three

 

July 10-14, 2014

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Another year, another wonderful conference put on by the PSWA (Public Safety Writers Association) July 10-14 at the Orleans Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas! The conference is open to anyone writing crime and mystery fiction or non-fiction technical writing for public safety magazines in print or online or anyone interested in writing.

 

This is a small conference filled with public safety officers from all walks of life.

 

We had former undercover DEA agents, FBI agents, CIA agents, Naval Intelligence agents (that’s a whole lot of agents!), and detectives/police officers from all over. EMTs and firefighters were also in attendance as were seasoned mystery writers, therapists and social workers.

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This year I volunteered to be a contestant to play CSI Jeopardy. I was the only non-law enforcement person to play.

and Diane Kratz

Joe Haggerty and Diane Kratz

I was up against Pete Kilsmet whom you met here on my blog. He wiped the floor with me. Even though I came in last place, everyone rooted for me. It was a great experience and lots of fun!

2014-07-11 09.59.53

Pete Klismet and Thonie Hevron

 

This year’s panels were a mix of the writing craft and expert knowledge.

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Panel- Madeline Gornell, Janet Greger, Marilyn Olsen and Marilyn Meredith.

 

Flexibility in Your Plotting

Writing Articles in Today’s Competitive Market

What are Setting and Dialogue and How Should You Use Them?

2014-07-11 10.58.16

Mike Black put together this years conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Point of View: What is it, How to Use it Best

Working with an Editor, the Art of Revision, and How to Edit Yourself

The Aspects to be Considered When Writing a Series

 

 

On Expert Knowledge:

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Dave, a former DEA agent , gave a presentation on Working Narcotics Undercover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working Narcotics Undercover

The Medical Side of Wounds and Forensics

Weapons for Writers

Defense Criminal Investigative Organizations in the Military

The Evolution and Aspects of Fire Fighting and Arson Investigation

The Art of Interview and Interrogation

 

They also have a competition every year. No, I didn’t send anything but the entry fee is only $10.00 per entry.

 

Competition categories were:

Michelle Perin officiating Judge

Michelle Perin, PSWA award spokeswoman

 

Fiction:

Books, Short Stories, Flash Fiction

 

Non Fiction:

Books, Creative-Non-Technical, Creative-Technical, and Technical Manual

Poetry

Screenplay

 

 

editing-manuscript

Also, if you join this group, you are entitled to a free one-time manuscript review.

 

On the last day we had our awards luncheon where the winners of the competition are revealed. I didn’t attend this because we met up with family.

 

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This year I got to meet in person, two people I’ve become friends with over the web in other writing groups. Sam Bradley, my KOD sister, joined PSWA this year and fit right in to the group. She volunteered to be on three of the panels.

 

Diane and Sam

Diane and Sam

 

Rayne E. Golay, an Elements group sister, also joined PSWA this year. She volunteered to be on two panels. I had a great time and learned a bunch.

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Rayne E. Golay

 

I can’t say enough about this group of writers. I love, love, love PSWA!

 

If any of you would like information on or would like to join PSWA please go to their website at: http://policewriter.com/wordpress/

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

Blog edited by Sally Berneathy

The Blog Hop Stops Here

 

jackiebuxton.blogspot.com

jackiebuxton.blogspot.com

Last month I was invited by Linda Williams Stirling who has a blog called, Ramblings of an Eclectic Mind, eclecticstirling.com, to participate in a blog hop tour. I don’t like blog hopping but I love Linda’s blog and her eclectic mind. Since my blog is supposed to have information about writing, I sighed and said “ok.”

Linda Sterling

I had to find three people to jump on the blog hop with me. I guess everyone else must hate hopping as much as I do, because I only had two takers. The first was the incredible, ultimate Alfie Thompson and, bless her heart, she doesn’t even have a blog!!!!!

Second was the sassy, sidesplitting (from laughter), multi-talented Sunny Cole. Since the blog hop stops here, I’ve decided to have them answer the BIG FOUR QUESTIONS on my blog. You’ll read more about my MRW sisters later.

writing

humansareweird.com

Now the hard part…my answers to the BIG FOUR about MY writing process.

1. What am I working on?

I’m working on a couple of things. First, I’m writing a self–help book on teen suicide. It’s for parents, siblings and friends who have lost someone to suicide. After my December blog, “Surviving Christmas Grief,” I realized there were lots of folks out there who have lost someone to suicide who weren’t finding any resources to help them cope with their grief. This is what the book is for.

And I’m working on my prequel to the Victims of Love series. It’s about an FBI profiler who runs across a cunning and prolific female serial killer. She has been killing since her teens and getting away with it. It’s set in 1986 before DNA when profiling was just taking hold as an investigative tool for law enforcement.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

My son Eric.

My son Eric.

In my non-fiction book my focus is on teen suicide because I lost my sixteen-year-old son to suicide in 1996. I know what others have gone through after losing someone and I’ve done extensive research on this topic since I lost my son. I found books which helped but a lot more that didn’t help at all. In fact some of the literature out there feeds into the stigma associated with losing someone to suicide.

This book will pull all the right information together and have resources where the grieving can go to find help. It explains the brain chemistry, hormones and depression of the adolescent. I haven’t found one book out there that emphasizes those topics and teen suicide. My book also focuses on societal views of suicide and the facts vs. myths associated with suicides.

In my Victims of Love series, my villain is a female serial killer named Jillian. In almost all serial killer books I’ve read, the villain is a man. If you read my blog than you know statistically men serial killers do kill more often than female serial killers, but female serial killers kill over a longer period of time. What makes better killers for me are the next-door neighbor types. Like real psychopaths, they hide behind a mask. Jillian Black does it with expensive clothes, a sexy body, a butcher knife and syringe hidden in her Gucci handbag.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Obviously I’m working on my nonfiction book because my son’s death has taken root inside me. Mental illness is hard for people to understand, and death is taboo to talk about. Suicide is the worst of all of these. Just hearing the word suicide gives most people an image of someone with a dark, tormented soul. It leaves an invisible “x” of guilt planted on the minds and hearts of survivors who loved them and are left behind. I want to change this. I want people to understand the un-understandable.

For my Victims of Love series, psychopaths fascinate me as they do a good percentage of the world’s population. Shows like, Dexter, Criminal Minds and my all time favorite, Law and Order Criminal Intent (which started my writing career of writing fan fiction) are incredibly popular. I love to figure people out. It’s what I did as a therapist and it’s what I want to do as a writer.

4) How does my writing process work?

My process for writing fiction has changed over the years. When I started out I just wrote what I felt without realizing writing is a craft. Some are born to do it while others learn how to do it. I’m the latter.

I still write what I feel, but I’ve learned there must be a reason for every sentence in a book. It took me a while to accept that some sentences I really love may not add anything to my story and must be deleted. I basically had to go back from scratch and think while I wrote. A total re-write for me. Now when I read some of the early things I wrote, I can’t believe I wrote so poorly!

Every chapter has to have goal, motivation and conflict in it. Any moron can write. I’m proof of that! But if you don’t have these three things, you don’t have a story anyone wants to read.

Writing nonfiction is easier for me than fiction. You must research both types, but with fiction you also need deep POV (Point of View) within your characters to make them real to the reader. In nonfiction you are basically the narrator of the facts. And I’m very good at that.

Luckily I have great support from my local writing group, Mid-West Romance Writers, and my on-line group KOD (Kiss of Death) that allows me to be in a critique group eloquently named Lethal Ladies. These ladies (and gentlemen) know how to bloody up a chapter in red! They keep me on track and focused. I’ve learned so much from them all. Thank you everyone! You ROCK! I’ve learned the most from my next guest, Alfie Thompson. In a fictional story, she would be my mentor. In real life she is just that!

Alfie’s Bio:

With over 5 million books in print, Alfie Thompson’s 10 Harlequin and Silhouette novels have been published under the pseudonym Val Daniels in 29 languages and in 33 countries. Alfie has presented writing workshops from New York City to Hawaii for local, regional and national groups and conferences, and her non-fiction book, Lights, Camera, Fiction: A Movie Lovers Guide to Writing a Novel was published by Running Press.

Alfie T. Book Cover Lights Camera Action

WOW! Now doesn’t Alfie make a fabulous mentor?

Recently she self- published one of her most popular workshops as an e-book, Point Of View: Understanding Which POV is Best for your Story and Using It Effectively. During her five years on the Board of Directors of the Romance Writers of America, she initiated the first ever RWA “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing which has raised over $825,000 for literacy since its inception in 1990.

Alfie T. POV Book Cover

Isn’t she AWESOME!!!!!

Alfie, now it’s your turn to answer the BIG FOUR Questions…

1)     What am I working on?

When I suffered through a severe attack (several years) of Writer’s Block, what brought me back to writing was non-fiction. After selling a book on the subject of writing (Lights! Camera! Fiction! A Movie Lover’s Guide to Writing a Novel) to Running Press, giving programs and daylong workshops to writers’ groups kind of became my “writing” thing for several years. I’ve finally come full circle and am writing fiction again for the first time in a decade. It feels so good.

I’m writing a series of traditional romances that I haven’t decided if I will submit to traditional publishers or not. I may self publish them. (And I love, love, love my wounded hero in the first one.)

And I’m trying something brand new. This one is really difficult to write because it is different than anything I’ve done before. It’s a futuristic (30 years in the future) and I’m not sure if there is a futuristic genre it might “fit” in. My characters are also unique in that they are neither traditional in today’s times or that imagined distant future. They don’t “fit.” With this one, I’m just having fun, but my critique partners tell me they love it.

everlite.deviantart.com

everlite.deviantart.com

I’m also working on another e-book based on another of my popular workshops, Writing For The Reader. I hope to have it available in the next month as the second in my series, Tips, Tricks and Tools of the Writer’s Trade.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The futuristic one differs from anything I’ve read so I don’t know if it even has a genre. Maybe I’ll start my own.

My traditional series fits snugly into the traditional romance genre. The three stories are three brothers (two they have to find) who inherit their father’s ranch. It has many of the hot elements traditional publishers consistently request. The unique (I hope) element is that none of them knew this man was their father or that they had brothers. And they all have to “learn” to be cowboys. They’ve never worked or been around a ranch before.

Barthle Brothers Ranch sfbfp.ifas.ufl.edu

Barthle Brothers Ranch sfbfp.ifas.ufl.edu

3) Why do I write what I do?

I’m one of the lucky writers. When I first started writing, what I loved to read was exactly what I wanted to write.

For most of my writing life, people (writers) have been discussing writing from the heart vs. writing for the market. Which is the right approach? I’ve always argued that we should be doing both. Successful writers figure out how to write the story in their heart in a way that fits into the current market.

The current trends in publishing make it possible to successfully reach readers with either stories from the heart or stories written directly with the market in mind. I still believe writing from the heart for the market will be the way authors find the most success. So my traditional series is aimed directly at writing what the market wants (length, format and expectations) with three stories (and characters) I dearly love.

My futuristic is definitely “from the heart.” It is a book most knowledgeable people would have considered me to be wasting my time on a decade ago. There is no clear genre where it fits. I am trying to write the characters in such a way that any person reading it can identify with and totally understand their motivation.  I am “writing it for my (potential) reader.” If I can’t find that reader through a traditional publisher, I will definitely try to find him or her by way of self-publishing.

Whatever I write–fiction, non-fiction, traditional romance, futuristic, whatever–I write with the enjoyment of the reader in mind. In all cases, that means I have to love it, whatever it is, as I’m writing it.

Man Reading Book and Sitting on Bookshelf in Library
4) How does my writing process work?

My life is way too chopped up to work well as a writer’s life. (I didn’t fully appreciate how wonderful I had it when I had contracts and deadlines and no one expected anything from me if they knew that deadline was approaching.) I have several part time jobs that I love (freelance editing for one), that are flexible and let me schedule most of my work as I want to. That should mean I get lots of writing done, right? What it means is that I tend to put my writing last. I’m getting better at realizing my writing does not get done if I don’t put it on my list—with deadlines–like everything else.

I’m a total SOTP (seat of the pants) writer until I get about a third of the way into a story, then I have to stop and become a plotter and planner to figure out where I am going. I use my 5 Star Plotting techniques from Lights! Camera! Fiction! (which is a structural checklist of sorts) to get successfully to the end of the story.  At some point, the story veers and I become a SOTP again—though I do refer to my checklist frequently, and seeing specific things I need to achieve on that list becomes a great idea generator.

I’m still learning to do this. Thanks, Alfie, for bailing me out today. You will always be my mentor! And thank you so much for taking the time to teach me the craft of writing.

Next, a fellow writer and someone I consider my friend, Sunny Cole. I can’t say enough good things about this lady. She is talented and sidesplittingly funny. I have the utmost respect for her and all her talents. Continue reading and you’ll find out what “dramedy” means…

Sunny’s bio:

Bobbie Cole, aka Sunny, has written approximately 60 books under various pen names, ranging from women’s fiction to fantasy, and from erotic romance to romantic suspense. Her 2013 books included a romantic suspense for Harlequin Australia as Bobbie Cole, called  and an essay for disco diva Gloria Gaynor’s nonfiction, How We Survived.

Sunny's Book Cover

1) What am I working on?

I’m writing quirky women’s fiction involving cancer, recovery, bread baking, and blizzards. The first book in the Survivor series is MJ’s story. MJ has what she calls cancer of the soul. She fortunately fails a suicide attempt at the beginning, and the rest of the book revolves around her interactions with true cancer survivors. What she learns from their recoveries eases her into repairing relationships with her mother and others. The second book, a work in progress, is Kendra’s story. She’s just had a double mastectomy and gone through her second divorce when both her parents wind up in a nursing home.

Each book reflects the lives of women who can’t escape the harsh realities of life. With the help of their support group, they learn not only to survive but also to thrive. To grab reality by the throat and choke until they are able to architect the lives they want. Life doesn’t just happen to them. They impact life–theirs and the lives of others.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Most writers seem to feel their books are their babies. Mine are my parents, each one teaching me something I haven’t learned until I meet them. I’m not as interested in telling a story as I am showing the human condition and the process of growing from despair to joy. Characters, like their real counterparts, make mistakes and (hopefully) learn from them. They have feelings, motives, fears and inadequacies. Like I do. Like readers do. My books in this series are intended to offer hope, to swing the reader from tears to laughter, then ultimately to satisfaction…and maybe acceptance if they share traits or conditions with these characters.

3) Why do I write what I do?

It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and I figured there were others like me wearing Milk Bone underwear. I don’t sugarcoat emotions. My critique partners won’t let me. It’s difficult for me to bare my soul, but I’ve found my writing rings true when I do. I’m learning along with my characters that life can be joyous when I find my authentic self and when I’m not afraid to be open to risk and let others know the real me. Life doesn’t change. It is what it is. We change, and those changes fascinate me.

4) How does my writing process work?

What I feel I do: Character development then plot. Apply meat to seat and write until blood drips from every orifice.

What is more accurate: I grapple with subjects in which there’s little humor, and I find characters who exemplify what traits, abilities, and understanding are needed to overcome tragedies. I write dramedy. Drama with comedy. Difficult situations are plentiful. Characters/people who make the best of lousy situations and go on to succeed despite obstacles are trickier to find. But that’s what keeps my interest.

Mine too! And Sunny is great at it! Her books are sad but funny at the same time. Dramedy.

You can connect with Alfie at:

https://www.facebook.com/alfie.thompson
Twitter   @valfie

http://www.pinterest.com/valfie/

And my girl Sunny at:

https://www.facebook.com/bobbie.cole.73

http://safariofthewriterssoul.blogspot.com/

What’s your writing process?

Happy writing,

Diane Kratz

Blog Edited by: Sally Berneathy

Analyzing Cops

Ever wonder where law enforcement officers and their families go for help for mental health issues?

Meet Ellen Kirschman, MSW, PhD., who I am thrilled to have on my blog today! Ellen has worked as a police psychologist for over thirty years.

Ellen Kirschman, MSW, PhD.

Ellen Kirschman, MSW, PhD.

Can you tell us something about your background?

I’ve been a police psychologist for over 30 years. I started out as a clinical social worker and eventually got my PhD. My dissertation was titled “Wounded Heroes.”

It was what we call an intensive case analysis of three officers all of whom began their careers in good mental health and wound up retiring on stress related disability retirements – kind of a cross between Sigmund Freud and Mickey Spillane.

Dareen Mcgavin as Mickey Spillane

Dareen Mcgavin as Mickey Spillane

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud

People ask me all the time if I’m married to a cop or a fire fighter. I’m not. I like to keep clear boundaries between my work and my personal life.

My husband is a retired contractor and a talented photographer. He took that great author photo of me. We love to travel, cook and hang out with friends. In addition to writing and holding workshops, I train peer supporters and volunteer at a wonderful organization, the First Responder’s Support Network.

We hold retreats for psychologically injured officers and their families. If your readers are interested, they can go to www.frsn.org to learn more. My husband also volunteers at FRSN, cooking for the Spouses and Significant Others (SOS) retreats.

Are there any differences you’ve found in counseling police officers vs. Joe Citizen?

You have to earn a cop’s trust. That’s hard work. Cops are protectors and may try hide some of their most pressing issues because they don’t want to injure their therapists. They are skeptical about the value of psychotherapy and the worry more than the average client about confidentiality. In particular, they are concerned their departments will find out they are in treatment and this will jeopardize their jobs as well as their standing with co-workers.

Tell me about your new book, Counseling Cops, What Clinicians Need to Know.

Counseling Cops, What Clinicians Need to Know

I co-wrote this book with two colleagues, Mark Kamena and Joel Fay, both of whom are psychologists and retired police officers. Our collaboration made the book so much richer than it would have been had I written it alone. As lead author, I was responsible for blending our voices into one readable narrative using  plain English, not psycho-babble, to describe various dimensions of the police culture, de-mythologize cops as super-human or super-aggressive, and challenge clinicians to examine their own biases. We talk about the prevalent mental health issues cops and their families experience and offer evidence based strategies we know will work for these problems and this culture.

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rapgenius.com

Our aim is to help clinicians become culturally competent to treat this unique population. Police officers are very reluctant to seek counseling, fearing it means they are weak or crazy. When their suffering is so great that they finally reach out for help, they deserve to be treated by clinicians who understand them and the culture in which they work.

For example, one of our clients needed treatment after two terrible shooting events. The first question his new therapist asked him was, “Are you ready to stop being a trained killer?”

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investigations.nbcnews.com

This was a very inappropriate statement and upsetting to the officer who felt himself to be the victim of these two events. Needless to say, he didn’t return to that therapist and would have given up on therapy completely had a peer supporter friend not helped him connect to a therapist who understood cops.

As a therapist, I can see the value in reading this book. The book is grounded in clinical research, extensive experience, and you have a deep familiarity with police culture, this book offers highly practical guidance for psychotherapists and counselors.

You vividly depict the pressures and challenges of police work and explain the impact that line-of-duty issues can have on officers and their loved ones.

ct.counseling.org

ct.counseling.org

You offer numerous concrete examples and tips showing how to build rapport with cops, use a range of effective intervention strategies, and avoid common missteps and misconceptions. And you have practical approaches to working with frequently encountered clinical problems such as substance abuse, depression, trauma, and marital conflict, which the book discusses in detail.

When making an assessment, clinicians are trained to consider the whole of their client’s assessments. This would include the police culture. Can you explain what a  police culture is?

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Hard to do in just a paragraph or two. Let me approach the question by listing the attributes of people who want to be cops. They are action oriented, rule abiding folks who value emotional control and structure. Like social workers, they want to make a difference in their communities. They have great senses of humor, a bit coarse for some, but it’s what gets them past the ugly stuff, and they see plenty of ugly stuff.

coppschicago.com

coppschicago.com

They are comfortable working in a para-military setting, taking and giving orders. They are decisive, sometimes a bit too black and white.  They love variety, take great pride in their work, and are fiercely dedicated to each other. They are protection oriented and may have assumed the role of protector or rescuer in their families as they were growing up. They are extroverted, perfectionistic and have high standards for themselves and others.

phyang.org

phyang.org

They are great in a crisis and rate high on mental toughness, at least when they are first hired. although for some, this can change over time. They are willing to use physical means to achieve a desired end and they are courageous enough to do what the rest of us couldn’t or wouldn’t.

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Policing is also a story culture. Stories are how cops transmit norms, values, tactical wisdom, and model behavior. I have hundreds of stories circulating in my head. They are wonderful teaching devices and fodder for my new career as a mystery writer.

Can you explain what an FFD is, when they are used and why they are needed?

The acronym stands for Fitness For Duty.

Police employers have a legal duty to ensure that cops under their command are mentally and emotionally fit to perform their duties. Failure to do so can result in serious breaches of public confidence, danger to the officer in question and his or her co-workers, citizens in the community and the department’s reputation.

Circumstances that trigger a request for a FFD vary greatly. Some relate to on-duty actions (excessive force, emotional outbursts, repeated problems with judgment, reckless behavior and so on).

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Others may pertain to egregious off-duty conduct such as intoxication, driving under the influence, drug abuse, domestic abuse, stealing, and other behaviors that raise questions about the officer’s fitness to serve. Suicide attempts, psychiatric hospitalization or a disability claim for mental health injuries will also trigger an FFD.

An FFD is a complex and lengthy procedure often entailing numerous legal complications. It is painful for the officer and should never be used as punishment or in lieu of discipline. The requesting agency should be able to articulate the problematic behaviors in question. The FFD examiner can be a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

Unlike therapy, the client is the requesting agency, not the officer.  Under these circumstances, the officer has no confidentiality.

What types of mental conditions do you see often of with police officers? 

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thepainbehindthebadge.com

Post traumatic stress injuries. We call them injuries because disorder sounds so permanent and we know that, with the proper care, cops can and do recover from trauma. Cops experience a whole range of common psychological problems, just like the rest of us:  substance abuse and addiction, relationship problems, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, depression, and anxiety.

What are the suicide, domestic violence, and PTSD statistics within this group of clients?  

Some of these statistics are hard to find. For example, statistics around suicide are controversial and there is disagreement among professionals.

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blogs.psychcentral.com

The most important statistic, in my opinion, is that cops are two to three times more likely to kill themselves than to be killed in the line of duty.

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abcnews.go.com

That’s alarming. The prevalence of PTSD is also debatable, but certainly less than we see in returning combat veterans.

On the other hand, combat is time limited, cops work for 30 years, so they have plenty of exposure to trauma. Soldiers don’t get sued for going to war, but cops get sued a lot.

techcrunch.com

techcrunch.com

Trying to find out about domestic abuse is also difficult. What I do know is that psychologists are doing a better job of screening out applicants with the potential to commit abuse.

What would you like to see changed or improved? 

Good question. I would like to see every agency, big and small, have a confidential peer support program, family orientations at first hire and again every five years, a chaplaincy program,

supervisors who are knowledgeable about spotting mental health issues and compassionate when talking to their officers, and easy access for officers and their families to culturally competent, confidential, low cost counseling.

As a writer, I can also see where this book would help me in understanding my fictional LEO character’s flaws, inner thoughts and would help me construct the conflict.  Can you tell us how your book can help writers create more believable LEO characters?

I can’t tell you how many writers tell me they have dog-eared copies of my first book, I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know, on their desks.

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Written for families, this book describes what police families experience and what they can and can’t do to help themselves. It’s true to the popular bumper sticker that says, “If you think it’s tough being a cop, try being married to one.” Their are literally hundreds of stories in I Love A Cop, all of which provide grist for the writers mill.

Counseling Cops, What Clinicians Need to KnowCounseling Cops: What Clinicians Need to Know will give writers a deeper understanding of the emotional and psychological challenges facing officers and their families. The book is also filled with with stories as well as  a suggested dialogue. Readers can  learn what good and bad therapists say during a counseling session. I’ve tried hard in  both these books to  describe officers as three dimensional human beings who are both the same and different from the rest of us, not like the one dimensional characters you see on TV.

scOw9In Burying Ben readers will see police psychologist Dot Meyerhoff struggling to find her footing in the Kenilworth police department as a civilian, a woman, and a politically liberal character whose allegiance to the cops is shaken by memories of her father, a student activist, who was beaten and injured for life by police. Her world and her sense of self is shattered when Ben, a rookie cop she is counseling, unexpectedly commits suicide and leaves a note blaming her. Readers tell me they rarely read a book told from the clinician’s perspective.

Thank you so much Ellen for joining me here today! I’ve had so much fun and learned so much from you. I’ve read Burying Ben and I’ve almost finished Counseling Cops: What Clinicians Need to Know.  Although I’ve never counseled a cop, I will keep this book on my professional bookcase alongside my DSM-5 and treatment planners, as a resource.

Any Questions? Ellen will be checking in all day, so ask away!

Until Next time,

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

You can order Ellen’s books from Guilford Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and more of your favorite vendors, in print or as an e-book.

You can connect with Ellen at:

Counseling Cops, What Clinicians Need to KnowscOw9ilac_cover_smilaff_cover_sm

Website: http://www.ellenkirschman.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/EllenKirschmanBooks?ref=br_tf

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/333996.Ellen_Kirschman .

Blog Edited by: Sally Berneathy

Former FBI agent answers the question, “Are Serial Killers Crazy?”

 

Pete M. Klismet, Jr.

Pete M. Klismet, Jr.

Pete Klismet, Jr., a former FBI profiler, says, no, they are not.  “In talking about serial killers, I’ve heard comments from my college students and police officers in the schools where I continue to teach. “What do you mean they’re not crazy?”  Usually followed closely by, “Don’t they have to be crazy to kill all those people?”  And then, “But if they’re not crazy, why do they do it?”

If there is anything we can agree on, it would be that the acts of a serial murderer are, to say the least, a great departure from what we think of as normal.  To put it mildly.  Clearly, most normal people don’t wake up one morning, have some coffee, read the paper, check e-mails, and then decide, “Hmmm…..what am I going to do today?  Awww, what the heck, I think I’m going to start killing people.”  And off they go to their new adventures.

Picture from : www.documentingreality.com

We are all driven to seek answers and explanations for odd behavior.  We want to understand why a seemingly mild-mannered, quiet man like Gary Ridgway (“The Green River Killer”) could kill at least forty-eight women in Seattle.  What creates a monster like law student Ted Bundy who roamed from Washington State to Utah, Idaho, Colorado and finally Florida, brutally killing and maiming women along the way, eventually killing thirty-three women that we know of.  And how do you explain Jeffrey Dahmer?  What could have caused him to strangle seventeen young men and boys in Milwaukee, eat body parts so they’d be “a part of me,” keep their corpses in his apartment for days, and then dissolve their bodies in acid inside his apartment?  And they all performed sex acts on some of their victims after killing them.  If for no other reason, that would seem to be a huge clue that they simply have to be crazy…but are they?

There are a lot of questions posed at this juncture, so let’s pause briefly and take a look at some facts, beginning with the commonly-accepted (except in Canada and England) definition of the term “Serial Killer.”

FBI Pins

A serial killer was defined by the Behavioral Science Unit (now the Investigative Support Unit) in Quantico, Virginia, and combines three basic factors:

          1.    A person who kills three or more victims (most often one victim at a time).

          2.    The killings occurred over a period of time, usually days, weeks, months or years.

          3.    There is a cooling off period between the killings.

The latter point (cooling off) is what separates a serial killer from a mass killer (Columbine, for example, where all killings occurred in a single event), and a spree killer (where there might be a continuing and sometimes connecting series of killings in different locations over a day or several days, but no cooling off period).  With these killings, there is often a long period of seething anger which eventually boils to a point the killer decides to take some form of violent action.

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Many people, particularly the media, want to say they simply “snapped.’”’  It makes it so much easier to understand then.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  The anger has typically welled up in them for months or even years, much like a pressure cooker on low heat.  Eventually the pressure builds up to the point where they are seemingly unable to control themselves, to refrain from doing what they do.  It’s nothing like suddenly and impulsively deciding to go to their workplace or school and kill people who they believe have treated them unfairly.

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Next we can pose the question, “Are mass killers crazy?”  And the answer to that is also no.  A more likely explanation is that they finally reached the boiling-over point with anger and frustration and could see no other way out of their dire situation.  What they eventually did was something akin to an irresistible impulse they couldn’t control.  But they certainly aren’t crazy.

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If that’s the case, then we should review what the term insanity means.  In medical and psychiatric terms, the word insanity is avoided in favor of specific diagnoses of particular mental disorders.  The presence of delusions or hallucinations is more broadly defined as psychosis.  Most courts in the United States accept a potential insanity defense when experts can identify
a major mental illness (psychosis), but will not accept the numerous and less-than-psychotic personality disorders.

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Personality Disorders are a separate classification of mental health disorders which include such issues as Borderline Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, and Histrionic Personality Disorder (this is only a part of a much more exhaustive list).

Commonly-diagnosed mental health disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, Generalized (not chronic) Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, Schizophrenia, and Depression are among the classification of mental health disorders termed “Axis I” disorders.  None of them meet the criteria for psychosis.

While the diagnostic criteria and the multiplicity of possible disorders and psychoses can become a bit confusing to non-trained professionals, the key issue from a legal standpoint becomes relatively simple – did the person charged with the crime have the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and did he know the behavior he engaged in was against the law?

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This is the difference between someone being legally sane vs. insane.  However, evidence and testimony from mental health professionals as to those issues must be clearly presented to the court or jury who must then make that decision.  And therein lies the crux of the matter when we’re considering serial murderers.  Conjecture, speculation and comments such as “Well, he just acted crazy all the time,” or “He was odd,” won’t work.  The word “crazy” doesn’t exist in the legal or psychiatric arenas, but the word “sanity” does.

A few specific cases can serve as a reference point. Several years ago a woman in San Antonio, Texas, killed and ate the body parts of her baby, including the brain. Most of us would call that crazy.

Story can be found here:  http://www.nbcnews.com/id/32171926/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/investigators-stunned-child-dismemberment/

After lengthy psychological evaluation, this woman was diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. The woman believed the devil made her mutilate and dismember her newborn son.  She was subsequently found not guilty of the crime by reason of insanity and was committed to a mental institution until deemed to no longer be a danger to herself or others.

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In a similar case in 2001 Andrea Yates of Houston, Texas, was shown to have been suffering from postpartum psychosis and, in this psychotic state, drowned each of her five children.  She later explained that Satan was inside her, and she was trying to save her children from going to hell. A jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity, and she was committed to a mental institution.

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In 1982 John Hinkley, Jr., was found to be not guilty by reason of insanity after attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Hinkley had a long history of psychiatric care when he was younger, and his statements made it clear he did not have his psychological act completely together. Hinkley has been confined to a mental institution in the Washington, D.C., area for nearly 30 years.  While he’s gained some privileges, it is doubtful he’ll ever be completely free and on his own.  Hinkley will probably never become a person who can function in society on his own.

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So, you might ask, how are the two women noted above different from Jeffrey Dahmer?  It certainly seems they did similar things.  Dahmer killed seventeen people, strangling most, drilled holes in their heads to inject acid in the process of making sex zombies (by his own admission).  He dismembered and disemboweled his victims, ate body parts, saved others, collected skulls and dissolved their bodies in a huge vat of acid.  And he’s the one who is NOT psychotic!  Not crazy?  How on earth can that be true?

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Here’s the difference, why Dahmer was found to be sane despite the manifestly “crazy” things he did.  Dahmer showed planning and premeditation in every one of his killings, and the prosecutors skillfully pointed this out.  A psychotic person does not have the cognitive (or mental) organization to create the detailed plots and plans that Dahmer created.

DAHMER

He hunted for his victims in gay bars only and sought victims who were light-skinned black males, young and slender. Very specific criteria and not random victims. Thus he wasn’t a killer who would simply murder anyone who got in his way, although some serial killers do.  Ted Bundy was similar to Dahmer in his selectivity, as most of his female victims had long dark hair, parted in the middle, and, we later learned, looked a lot like a girlfriend who had dumped him several years before.  Bundy also brought with him items he’d need to gain control of the victims and would commonly use an arm sling or crutches to make his victims feel immediately safe.  All of these things require some thinking and planning which a psychotic person could not typically accomplish in his delusional state.

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Dahmer constantly fantasized about and was obsessed with killing over and over. His obsession developed into a compulsion and then a need, and he eventually became addicted to killing.  Yet he could compartmentalize that secret part of his life and create the image that he was perfectly normal.  He fit well into society. He was attractive, dressed well (some suggested “dressed to kill”) and used this to his advantage in luring potential victims.  He hunted only on Friday nights because if he was successful, he would have the victim for a couple of days and then would have time to do what he wanted to do with the body.  He never used a car because he knew he could be identified by the type of car he drove.  He installed extra locks and a security camera on his apartment to thwart anyone from entering.  But he also presented a normal side when talking to his parents, the police on a couple of occasions, and people he worked with.  He was able to hide in plain sight, appear perfectly normal, and no one would have imagined it was him committing the horrible crimes he did.  An insane person couldn’t begin to accomplish all of those things.

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On the other side of the coin are several serial killers who were probably insane yet were adjudged to be sane in court.  Richard Trenton Chase, for example, killed several people in Sacramento, California, eviscerated at least one victim, and sat beside the victim, drinking her blood from a cup.  Chase had a long psychiatric history and told investigators he was drinking blood because space ships from other planets were sending radiation down to earth which was turning his blood into powder.

Like Dahmer, he had body parts in his refrigerator and had used a blender to chop up other human organs, mixing them with blood.  While all of that doesn’t sound like the acts of a sane person, one never knows what will happen when a case goes to court.  Chase was adjudged to be sane despite considerable evidence to the contrary.  I’ve researched this case and still am clueless how he was found sane.

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The idyllic beach town of Santa Cruz, California, in the early 1970s seemed to be one of the most unlikely places to become the murder capital of the U.S.A.  Edmund Kemper was a prime contributor to the high murder rate, picking up hitchhikers in the area, killing them and dismembering their bodies.  But Kemper’s issue was not insanity. It was anger, due in large part to his dominant and verbally abusive mother.  Since he couldn’t violently strike back at his mother, he could against other women, which is exactly what he did.  But investigators and prosecutors were able to show the planning and premeditation Kemper went through to both gain control of his victims and dispose of their bodies.

While Kemper was terrorizing Santa Cruz and keeping investigators busy, another killer, Herbert Mullin, was on an even worse killing spree.

Herbert Mullin

Mullin had a lengthy psychiatric history as far back as his early teen years.  His father sought counseling and had him committed, but after each period of evaluation he was then released on the belief that he was no longer a danger to himself or others.  Let’s say that diagnosis wasn’t entirely accurate.  As Mullin’s psychosis deepened, he developed an obsession with earthquakes, and of course California is prone to have them occasionally.

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Mullin then added a delusion to the obsession, namely that he could prevent earthquakes from occurring if he killed people.  He randomly selected victims who, in his delusional state, he believed were telepathically telling him to kill them and the problem of earthquakes would stop.  His victims were simply unfortunate people who appeared on his radar screen on any given day, male and female and even some children. There was no pattern or logic to what he did or the victims he chose.

This is the antithesis of Dahmer’s and Bundy’s process of victim selection by certain well-established and defined criteria.  Mullin was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to the state mental hospital after his trial.  Kemper, on the other hand, offered an insanity defense but was adjudged sane and received a life sentence which he is currently serving.

Son of Sam David

Virtually all serial killers are found to have been sane at the time they committed their crimes.  David Berkowitz, the infamous “Son of Sam” killer who paralyzed New York City for over a year, tried an insanity defense, as many have.

Despite claiming a satanic demon inhabited the body of a dog next door and that the dog spoke to him with instructions on what to do and how to kill people, Berkowitz was found to be sane.

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Kenneth Bianchi, one of the “Hillside Stranglers” in Los Angeles, claimed to be a multiple personality and that the “Bad Ken” was the one who did the killings.  Confronted by a psychiatrist who told Bianchi that people with Multiple Personality Disorder usually had at least three distinct personalities, Bianchi promptly came up with a third one.  That didn’t work, and Bianchi is currently on a full-ride scholarship in a Washington state prison, having also been convicted of killing two women in Bellingham, Washington, after his nefarious murders in Los Angeles.

In conclusion, very few serial killers even come close to meeting the exceedingly strict criteria for insanity. The challenge to investigators is in discovering those things in their lives they did which displayed their true sanity.  They are not crazy as we’d like to think.  A very small percentage of those we’ve identified over the years qualified as being legally insane.  Every year we identify more of them, and the certainty they face is the death penalty or a life in prison.”

Wow! Thank you, Pete, for stopping by my blog this month. Pete has agreed to talk about what a FBI agent really does next month, and he’s going to give us the breakdown of the acronyms they use.

And don’t forget to pick up a copy of Pete’s new award winning book, FBI Diary: Profiles Of Evil.

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Remember, when writing a villain who is a serial killer, keep in mind what Pete has taught us. Most are nice looking, very personable and blend in to be the guy next door, someone you would never think could be killing people. These villains, to me, are far more scary because you don’t see them coming. Until next time.

Happy writing,

Diane Kratz

You can connect with Pete at:

Website:  www.criminalprofilingassociates.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pete.klismet

Book trailer for: FBI Diary: Profiles of Evil:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcmgAPGHFbo

Blog edited by Sally Berneathy