When Children Kill By: Diane Kratz

There have been far too many headlines in the news lately on teen murderers and school shootings.

We are shocked when we hear a child has committed the abominable act of murder. It defies our minds when we learn sweet little Janie down the street whacked her parents to death as they slept.

We grieve for families who have lost a parent, child, friend, spouse, sibling, or neighbor.

And in the middle of the shocking awfulness of these seemingly senseless tragedies we ask, “How can this happen?” “What went wrong?” and “What in the world is the matter with a child or teenager who would ruthlessly murder?”

From all the research I’ve done on the subject of why kids kill, their motives are not that much different from those of adult killers.

They carry out murder for money, love, revenge, and for the thrill of committing it.

There is no profile for teen murderers. One of the things we do know about teen murders is that most are NOT well planned. Some have been caught because they left evidence like a driver’s license or prescription with their name on it.

They are divided into six types:

Jasmine Richardson

1. The Family Killer—A juvenile who kills a family member. These types usually kill for money or revenge. They feel pressured by demands, abuse, and hatred.

Jasmine Richardson was twelve when she brutally murdered her parents and younger brother in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Motive, to be with her boyfriend whom her parents didn’t approve of.

2. The School Killer—A juvenile who kills a student, teacher or administrator at school. I’ll write more on this type later because there is more information coming out from different studies. The motives of these killers differ from the usual.

School shooters are mostly male. They have typically planned the shootings for months and usually told someone else of their plans. According to the FBI publication on school shooters this is called “leakage.”

Leakage occurs when a student intentionally or unintentionally reveals clues to feelings, thoughts, fantasies, attitudes, or intentions that may signal an impending violent act. These clues can take the form of subtle threats, boasts, innuendos, predictions, or ultimatums. They may be spoken or conveyed in stories, diary entries, essays, poems, letters, songs, drawings, doodles, tattoos, or videos.

Another form of leakage involves efforts to get unwitting friends or classmates to help with preparations for a violent act. Sometimes this is accomplished through deception. For example, the student asks a friend to get ammunition for him because he is going hunting.

Leakage can be a cry for help, a sign of inner conflict, or it can be boasts that may look empty but actually express a serious threat. Leakage is considered one of the most important clues that may precede an adolescent’s violent act.

Enoch Brown Monument - East Side Inscription
Ken Shockey, Antrim-Allison Museum

Though school shootings have been highly publicized in recent years, they are not new. They have been around since 1764. The earliest known United States shooting to happen on school property was the Pontiac’s Rebellion school massacre on July 26, 1764. Four Lenape American Indians entered the schoolhouse near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania, shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown, and killed nine or ten children (reports vary). Only three children survived.

3. The Gang/Cult Killer—A juvenile killer motived by a street gang, hate group or cult. These crimes often begin with Satanists because it gives them the feeling of power over others.

Ricky Kasso

At age 17, while wearing an AC/DC T-shirt, he murdered fellow teen Gary Lauwers in the Aztakea Woods of Northport, Long Island. Along with two other friends—who, like Kasso and Lauwers, were high on mescaline—Kasso was in the woods to dabble in occult practices, as part of their self-dubbed “Knights of the Black Circle” cult.

Tensions had long before mounted between Kasso and Lauwers, after the latter allegedly stole 10 bags of PCP from Kasso. On June 16, 1984, in the Aztakea Woods, unsuccessful attempts to build a fire prompted Lauwers to make up for the damp driftwood by using his socks and denim jacket’s sleeves. Kasso said that they should use Lauwers’ hair instead, which led to Kasso biting him on the neck. Then, over a reported three-to-four-hour period, Kasso and his two other friends stabbed Lauwers upwards of 36 times, burned his body, gouged his eyeballs out, and stuffed rocks down his throat.

As he was killing Lauwers, Kasso ordered him to “say you love Satan,” but Lauwers said, “I love my mother.” Kasso covered the thought-to-be-dead body with branches and leaves, but, as reports tell, Lauwers rose back up, said “I love my mother” again, and prompted the assailants to continue their assault until he was confirmed dead.

On July 5, Kasso was arrested. Two days later, he hung himself in his jail cell.

Source: http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2012/11/25-craziest-real-life-american-horror-stories/ricky-kasso

Update: I originally had “The West Memphis Three” as my feature here, but I was told by a reader they were exonerated and released from prison in August 2011. After spending almost 20 years in prison, they gave a Alford plea and were released. My apologizes to Damien, Jason, Jesse and my readers for not following up on this case before posting it. Thank you Nico for bringing this to my attention!

4. The Crime Killer—A juvenile who kills while committing another crime, like burglary.


Bryton Gibbs

Bryton Gibbs was 16 when he stabbed Christopher Taylor to death with an 8-inch kitchen knife.  Gibbs called Pizza Hut and placed an order to be delivered to a vacant apartment. When Taylor, 33, arrived, Gibbs and three other male teens robbed him of $50 and killed him.

5. The Baby Killer—A juvenile who kills his or her infant or young child.

Cassidy Goodson, a teen who admitted killing her newborn baby and hiding him in a shoebox this past fall, used a Santa Claus doll to show investigators exactly how she strangled him in her bathroom shortly after giving birth.

6. The Thrill Killer—A juvenile who kills to feel what it feels like. These types are usually psychopathic. They have no empathy for their victims. The only time you will see them cry is when they are caught, and the tears are for themselves.

Child Killer Speaks Out

Eric Smith at age 13

Eric Smith murdered a four-year-old boy named Derrick Robie in 1980. He dropped large rocks on the boy’s head, strangled him, and then sodomized him with a small stick. Smith has never explained why he murdered the four-year-old. He has been denied parole five times. “I don’t doubt for a second, never have doubted, that had he not been caught, Eric Smith would have killed again,” the prosecutor in the case has said.

Eric Smith denied parole

Eric Smith at age 29

According to Phil Chalmers, who has interviewed 200 adolescent killers and is a teen violence and youth culture expert, there are 10 reasons why teens kill. They are listed from most likely to least.

1. Unstable Home and Bullying at School

2. Obsession with Violent Entertainment and Porn

3. Suicidal Ideation and Depression

4. Alcohol and Drug Use

5. Cults, Gangs, and Hate Groups

6. Obsession with Guns, Bombs, and Knives

7. Peer Pressure

8. Fascination with the Criminal Lifestyle, and Poverty

9. Lack of Spiritual Guidance and Proper Discipline

10. Mental Illness

He also suggests most teen killers have at least 3 of the list of causes, and many have 6 to 8 of the 10 causes.

In conclusion, children can be capable of committing hideous acts on their fellow human beings. There have been many books and movies about bad kids. The one that comes to mind is the 1956 movie, The Bad Seed, which depicts a housewife who suspects that her seemingly perfect 8-year-old daughter is a heartless killer. It was actually a book first written by William March in 1954 and was awarded The National Book Award for Fiction in 1955.

The Bad Seed

Sound familiar?

The child, Rhoda, is portrayed as a sociopath although the term was not widely used at the time. She has no conscience and will kill if necessary to get whatever she wants. By the time Christine, her mother, puts the truth together, Rhoda has already killed two people (a neighbor in Baltimore and her classmate Claude Daigle). In time, she also kills Leroy, the apartment building’s gardener and the only adult who sees through her. An adept manipulator, she can easily charm adults while eliciting fear and revulsion from other children who can sense something wrong with her.

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

Edit by Sally Berneathy

Web Resources

International Business Times: http://www.ibtimes.com/alyssa-bustamante-gets-life-prison-8-more-teen-thrill-killers-photos-554064

ABC NEWS: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/11/new-evidence-against-fl-teen-who-admitted-killing-baby-hiding-him-in-shoebox/

Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG)
National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) FBI Academy
Quantico, Virginia 22135 http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/school-shooter

When Children Kill

Did you know The Profiler at the FBI is actually a computer robot ruled based expert system programmed to profile serial crimes? 

TV show Criminal Minds


When researching the FBI for my character Johnny Gaston, (a FBI profiler ) I came across a lot of conflicting information about the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.  First, the BAU has been called by several names. Second, it isn’t like anything television portrays it as.  Which is one of the reasons I wanted to make this blog, to set things straight.

FBI Academy.

FBI Academy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The FBI’s NCAVC

NCAVC– (National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes) is located at Federal Bureau of Investigation, Training Division FBI Academy at Behavioral Analysis Unit in Quantico, Virginia. NCAVC is the brains of the BAU.

Agents assigned to NCAVC do the following; coördinate investigative and operational support functions, criminological research, and training to give assistance to federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies investigating unusual or repetitive violent crimes (serial crimes).

The NCAVC also provides investigative support through expertise and consultation in non-violent matters such as national security, corruption, and white-collar crime investigations.

Every one of the FBI’s fifty-six field offices has at least one NCAVC Coordinator in residence. The coordinators are the primary liaison with the field offices and with local and state law enforcement. They’re working with local authorities every day, so they’re in a position to know when there’s something that would benefit from us looking at it. The coordinators are FBI’s front line.

Typical cases for which NCAVC services are requested include- child abduction or mysterious disappearance of children, serial murders, single homicides, serial rapes, extortions, threats, kidnappings, product tampering, arson’s and bombings, weapons of mass destruction, public corruption, and domestic and international terrorism.

Research and training programs support the operational services of the NCAVC. Requests for NCAVC services are typically facilitated through NCAVC coordinators assigned to each FBI field office. Special agents collaborate with BAU on research and training matters, but they’re involved in training, primarily at the National Academy, and are not operationally involved in cases. Yep, sorry to burst your bubble, but contrary to what the Television portrays, these guy’s are analysts and researchers.

The FBI's Behavioral Science Unit
includes Robert Ressler and Ray Hazelwood
Picture courtesy of cja.mansfield.edu

The NCAVC currently consists of four units: 

Behavioral Analysis Unit 1 (counterterrorism/threat assessment)

Behavioral Analysis Unit 2 (crimes against adults)

Behavioral Analysis Unit 3 (crimes against children)

Behavioral Analysis Unit 4 (Violent Criminal Apprehension Program-ViCAP)

Special Agents Training in Behavioral Analysis Units

  • Basic psychology
  • Criminal psychology
  • Forensic science
  • Body recovery
  • Criminal Investigative Analysis
  • Death investigation
  • Threat assessment
  • Statement/document analysis
  • Crimes against children
  • Child abduction and homicide
  • Sexual victimization of children / Internet issues
  • Interview and interrogation procedures
  • Serial murder

The training is a 16-week program.

Names Previously Used by the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit)

BSU– (Behavioral Science Unit)-Started in 1974, to investigate serial rape and homicide cases, Serial Crimes Unit -Behavioral Science Investigative Support Unit -Critical Incident Response Group- Investigative Support Unit- Child Abduction/ Serial Killer Unit- Profiling and Behavioral Assessment Unit- Behavioral Analysis Unit East and Behavioral Analysis Unit West- Child Abduction and Serial Murder Investigative Resource Center (CASMIRC).

FBI TERMINOLOGY FOR PROGRAMS INSIDE THE NCAVC

The Profiler– is actually a computer robot rule- based expert system programmed  to profile serial crimes.

 CIAP– (Criminal Investigative Analysis Program) is a computer program designed to investigate serial crime.

VICAP – (Violent Criminal Apprehension Program) a computer program that identifies and links the signature aspects in violent serial crimes. Pierce Brooks was responsible for its creation. Brooks was a detective from Los Angeles came across a case he knew the killer had to have killed before. He spent years researching other cities for similar crimes. He pushed to get a centralized database.

CIRG– (Critical Incident Response Group) – consists of a cadre of special agents and professional support personnel who provide expertise in crisis management, tactical operations, crisis negotiations, hostage rescue, hazardous devices mitigation, critical incident intelligence, and surveillance and aviation. CIRG will deploy investigative specialists to respond to terrorist activities, hostage takings, child abductions, and other high-risk repetitive violent crimes. Other major incidents include prison riots, bombings, air and train crashes, and natural disasters.

LEO– (Law Enforcement Online) – LEO is a secure, Internet-based communications portal for law enforcement, first responders, criminal justice professionals, and anti-terrorism and intelligence agencies around the globe. LEO catalyzes and strengthens collaboration and information sharing by providing access to sensitive but unclassified information and various state-of-the-art communications services and tools. It is available to vetted users anywhere in the world around the clock and is offered free of charge to members.

LEO started in 1995 as a small dial-up service with just 20 members. Now, it has more than 100,000 members across the world and a host of features and capabilities offered through a Virtual Private Network on the Internet.

What does LEO offer specifically? Here’s a rundown:

  • A national alert system directing members to the LEO site for information on emergencies (like the London bombings, for example)
  • Some 1,100 Special Interest Groups (SIG) that allows members who share expertise or interests to connect with each other, including sections on terrorism, street gangs, and bombs.
  • Access to important and useful databases, like those run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
  • E-mail services, which enable members to submit fingerprints to the FBI for processing by our Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
  • A Virtual Command Center (VCC)—an information sharing and crisis management tool that allows the law enforcement community to use LEO at local and remote sites as an electronic command center to submit and view information and intelligence.
  • Distance learning, with several online learning modules on topics like terrorism response, forensic anthropology, and leadership.
  • A multimedia library of publications, documents, studies, research, technical bulletins, and other reports of interest to LEO users.

*I should note that LEO could also mean Law Enforcement Officer to other Law Enforcement Agencies.

IAFIS– (The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System) – is a national automated fingerprint identification and criminal history system maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. IAFIS provides automated fingerprint search capabilities, latent searching capability, electronic image storage, and electronic exchange of fingerprints and responses. IAFIS is the largest biometric database in the world, housing the fingerprints and criminal histories of 70 million subjects in the criminal master file, 31 million civil prints and fingerprints from 73,000 known and suspected terrorists processed by the U.S. or by international law enforcement agencies.

NGI – (Next Generation Identification) is a project of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The project’s goal is to expand the capabilities of the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which is currently used by law enforcement to identify subjects by their fingerprints and look up their criminal history. The NGI system will be a more modular system (allowing easy expansibility). It will also have more advanced lookup capabilities, incorporating palm print, iris, and facial identification.

UNSUB – Unknown subject

Signature– Characteristics of idiosyncratic to specific criminals which fulfill a psychological need.

Serial Murder– A person who has killed three or more people.

Resources:

http://www.fbi.govhttp://www.trutv.com/library/crime and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki.

Writer’s note:

Fiction is called fiction for a reason. It’s a made up world created by a writer. Writers give their story credibility through research. Readers expect us to know what we are writing about. On the same token, if reader’s think of a FBI profiler as they’ve seen on Criminal Minds or other TV shows, and buy a book expecting this same type of character, then they will be disappointed if the writer went strictly by research, and not buy another book by that author. I believe a successful writer will write a character with the reader in mind. My character is a FBI profiler, even if in reality the job title doesn’t exist in the FBI.

Happy writing!

Diane Kratz



A Look Inside the Behavioral Analysis Unit

About this site:

This site contains information about violent crimes. The contents include murder,  and crimes of a sexual nature. It is not intended for anyone under the age of 18.

Disclaimer: I am a crime fiction writer, not a profiler. However, I do have a background in mental health and a master degree in social work. I’m also licensed with the Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board in Kansas.

I have researched these topics over two years, to be included in my series of novels. This site was created for entertainment and promotional purposes only. It is all the information I’ve gathered throughout my two years of research.

I wanted to have everything in one spot so other writers can use the information for their books. The information is available to anyone everywhere who ventures to look. Each post includes information on where the information came from.

information hydrant

information hydrant (Photo credit: Will Lion)

This blogging stuff is new for me. I will eventually add monthly profiles and snippets of my book, but I felt I needed to post the history of profiling, those who contributed to the field, and how it has evolved. It also great information for anyone who writes historical novels.

A lot of people don’t understand certain mental health terms as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked what the difference between a sociopath and psychopath is. These terms are used loosely and most people don’t know that they mean the same thing in the USA. But if you travel to the United Kingdom, they are viewed quite differently.

And when we are talking about the FBI-well, they are tight-lipped and give conflicting information. I’ve weeded through hours of information trying to figure out what the BAU really did, and hope to talk about this here on my blog.

I know when I first wanted to write about a profiler, I didn’t know exactly what a profile was, except what I saw on TV. A lot of people think its like mind reading or fortune-telling. The simple truth of it is, it’s not. Profiling is looking at the behavioral “tells” of the crime scene, the victims, the forensic evidence, and making deductions from them.

I have always been fascinated with the criminal mind and I hope to connect with others who have the same interests. I hope you find this blog interesting and can use it as a resource.

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

About this site