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Australian Feminists for Animal Rights

The Violence Connection

”One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.’ Anthropologist Margaret Mead


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"Violent acts are reinforced, since the murderers either are able to express rage without experiencing negative consequences or are impervious to any prohibitions against these actions. Second, impulsive and erratic behavior discourages friendships," increasing isolation." "Furthermore, there is no challenge to the offenders' beliefs that they are entitled to act the way they do." (Ressler, et al, Sexual Homicide) "All learning, according to Ressler, has a "feedback system."

Torturing animals and setting fires will eventually escalate to crimes against fellow human beings, if the pattern is not somehow broken. Torturing animals is a disturbing red flag. Animals are often seen as "practice" for killing humans. Ed Kemper buried the family cat alive, dug it up, and cut off its head. Dahmer was notorious for his animal cruelty, cutting off dogs heads and placing them on a stick behind his house. [3]

The evidence linking animal abuse perpetrated as a child and serial killers is compelling. FBI and Scotland Yard recognize that violence towards animals is one of five key indicators of a person who will commit violent acts against people. [1]

Animal abusers often suffer from low self-esteem, a history of family abuse, frustration and an inability to manage anger. Childhood cruelty may provide a child with a sense of power and mastery over animals. Typical factors are revenge, retaliation, intimidation, deviant arousal or peer pressure. In one American study, 118 out of 135 criminals, including robbers and rapists, admitted that when they were children, they had burned, hanged and stabbed domestic animals. 78% of 63 people charged with animal cruelty had also been charged with violence or threats of violence against people (Jim McIsaac, Winnipeg Police Services). [1]

However, there is less correlation of animal abuse with mass murders like Martin Bryant who slayed 35 people at Port Arthur in Tasmania in 1999, or the many college killings of recent years in the US. Mass murders are often the product of a series of events seeming to conspire against the perpetrator, against which he has felt powerless, culminatng in an explosion of retribution. Psychiatrist Professor Paul Mullen identifies the 'mass murderer' as "typically young, male and isolated, and usually has experienced some loss of face or humiliation" [2] However, in the Western world , he said, multiple killings usually occurred within domestic situations, typically where a depressed or morbidly jealous male killed his partner and children, then committed suicide.

Serial killers act not in anger, but with forethought and often plan their crimes over a sustained period. They are emotionally dulled, and often perceive others as less-than-human so not deserving compassion - which in any case they are often unable to give not having learnt it as children. They are frequently unrepentant about their crimes. Indeed their prime motivation seems to be possession of and complete power over the victim.

Mike DeBardeleben, a sexual sadist who is spending the balance of his days in federal prison for crimes as various as counterfeiting and rape-abduction, possession meant a live victim, suffering under his control. "There is no greater power over another person than that of inflicting pain on her," DeBardeleben wrote in his private journal. "To force her to undergo suffering without her being able to defend herself. The pleasure in the constant domination over another person is the very essence of the sadistic drive." [4]

(The following information is complied from the HSUS website and other sources)

w a r n i n g - some of the stories below are graphic and may traumatise

JEFFREY L. DAHMER: Serial Killer, Sexual Deviant Dahmer confessed to killing, dismembering and, in some cases, cannibalizing, 17 men and boys. As a child, Dahmer impaled frogs, decapitated dogs, and staked cats to trees in his backyard. Dahmer was convicted to death but before the sentence was carried out he was killed by another inmate in 1994.

MICHAEL WAYNE ECHOLS (18), JESSIE LLOYD MISSKELLEY JR. (17), CHARLES JASON BALDWIN (16): Killed three 8 year-old-boys These three teenage boys were arrested in 1993 for the brutal murder of three 8-year old boys in West Memphis. The three young boys were lured into the woods, beaten into unconsciousness, one was sexually mutilated, another raped, and all three killed. For some time prior to the killing, the three teenagers were involved in satanic-type rituals. During an initiation ceremony they killed dogs, skinned them, and ate their flesh. Echols was also carrying a head of a cat with him.

EARL KENNETH SHRINER: Sexual Predator, Killer, and Rapist Shriner used threats to lure a 7-year-old boy into a wooded area in Washington state where he raped him, cut off his- penis, choked him, stabbed him in the back and neck, and left him for dead. At the age of 16, he confessed to the killing of a teen-age girl. Police say he *was a man who put firecrackers in the anuses; of dogs and strung up cats.” He was committed to a state mental hospital after several incidents, including the slaughter of nearly two dozen chickens.

ERIC SMITH: Adolescent Killer of 4-year-old boy When Eric Smith was 13 years old, he bludgeoned 4-year-old Derrick Robic to death and was charged with murder. Four years prior to the killing of Derrick, Smith killed the neighbor’s cat with a gardenhose. There are no specific reasons why he killed the little boy or the cat.

THOMAS LEE DILLION: Murderer and Suspected Serial killer Dillion is said to be a serial killer. Dillion admitted to the shooting of Gary Bradly in 1992, while both were hunting. Dillion, an ardent hunter who also boasted of killing more than 1000 animals in illegal drive shootings, is serving a life sentence in Ohio on five murder convictions.

MICHAEL CARTIER: Stalker and Murderer In 1992, Cartier stalked and killed Kristen Lardner is Boston, Massachusetts and then killed himself. In a prior relationship, Cartier held his girlfriend’s kitten under a hot shower and then shaved all its hair off. Later he hurled it through a fourth floor window to its death.

RICHARD ALLEN DAVIS: Accused killer and rapist of 12 year old Polly Klaas Davis has been charged with the kidnapping of Polly Klass, 12, from her own home, raping and strangling her. As a 14-year-old he set cats on fire and used dogs as target to practice knife-throwing. In 1993 he was charged with the shooting death of Marlene Voris 20 years ago. “When he was little it was animals. When he got bigger it was people.’ said Zak Backet a neighbor.

right: Berkowitz 'Son of Sam' murder who terrorised NY in the 70s tortured his mother's parakeet

TED BUNDY: Serial Killer, Rapist Bundy killed numerous females who looked liked a woman for which he had a passion. In the 1970’s he brought fear to college campuses in many states after killing 3 women in the Chi Omega sorority house at Florida State University. He was ultimately convicted of two killings, but is suspected of murdering over 40 females, primarily in the northwest. During his childhood he witnessed his father’s brutality toward animals and he himself tortured animals. Bundy was executed in Florida.

Bundy explicitly expressed the urge to kill women as a need to "possess" victims "physically as one would possess a potted plant, a painting or a Porsche. Owning, as it were, this individual." Bundy explained to the agent that "murder isn't just a crime of lust or violence. It becomes possession. They are part of you ... You feel the last bit of breath leaving their bodies ... You're looking into their eyes ... A person in that situation is God!"

"They take the objectification of women to a pathological extreme," agrees forensic psychologist J. Reid Meloy, author of a standard text on deviant criminal behavior, The Psychopathic Mind. The key to understanding possession, says Meloy, is narcissism. "We know from the research that psychopaths have a core, aggressive narcissism that is fundamental to their personality. If you remove that narcissism, you don't have a psychopath." One hallmark of the narcissist is lack of empathy; they are psychically insulated from those around them.

"These men," says Janet Warren, FBI profiler, "have to take women as slaves, or as dinner, or as a destroyed object. They can have no ambiguity, ambivalence, confusion, vulnerability, intense anger, fear or love in their lives. All that is fundamental to human intimacy is destroyed by what they do. But I think they have to do it that way, because they can't handle any of those experiences. They have to do it that way because they are empty.


r e f e r e n c e s


[2] Professor Paul Mullen at http://www.monash.edu.au/pubs/montage/Montage_97-02/killer.html

[3] Scott, SL What Makes Serial Killers Tick? at http://www.crimelibrary.com/serials/what/whatevents.htm

[4]Crime Library http://www.crimelibrary.com/



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