Jeffrey MacDonald, born October 12, 1942 had a good childhood and grew up well rounded. His mother said he participated in every sport and club that he could. He worked hard in school and won a scholarship to Princeton University (Jeffrey). While attending Princeton, Jeffrey rekindled a relationship he had in high school. Within months, Collette Stevenson learned of her pregnancy, and the two married in 1963. Their first daughter, Kimberly, arrived the following year (Jeffrey). The MacDonalds now had a new priority in their life.
When his family moved to Chicago after three years of attending Princeton University, Jeffrey attended Northwestern University Medical School. During this time the MacDonalds’ second daughter, Kristen, arrived (Jeffrey). The MacDonalds had a great life ahead of them after their two daughters were born. The following year Macdonald graduated medical school and completed an internship at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. In 1969 he joined the Army as Captain and moved his family to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He volunteered for Special Forces and became part of the Green Berets as the group surgeon for Fort Bragg (Jeffrey).
Jeffrey had a well-respected reputation in the community. On February 17, 1970 three men and a woman broke into the MacDonald residence chanting “Acid is groovy” and “kill the pigs” (Johnston). Everyone in the MacDonald house was attacked and left for dead. All except Jeffrey, who sustained minimal injuries. Collette, Kristen, and Kimberly were all brutally murdered. Collette had both arms broken, most likely in a struggle. She received thirty-seven stab wounds from a knife and an ice pick, and coroners discovered her pregnancy with their first son (Jeffrey). This case caused great emotional trauma to the community watching.
Five year old Kimberly laid on the floor, bludgeoned and stabbed nine times in the neck, while two year old Kristen laid in bed with thirty-three knife wounds and fifteen more wounds from the ice pick (Collette). The brutality of the murders caused investigators to think about the personal aspect of the crimes. A blood analysis of the scene that Jeffrey created determined his guilt, and in August of 1979 Jeffrey was convicted of the first-degree murder of Kristen, and two counts of second-degree murder of Collette and Kimberly Jeffrey). The judge sentenced him to three consecutive life sentences, and he has applied for parole multiple times.
The MacDonald case brings up the question: what drives a person to kill? When someone kills, it may be because they think they need to for some reason. Sometimes their motive revolves around financial need, revenge or missions, and sometimes their motives go unknown. Some people kill because they have social or mental disorders, such as Antisocial Personality Disorder. To help explain why people kill, police will enlist in the help of forensic psychologists. Forensic psychologists help give insight to crimes by profiling murderers and trying to explain why killers think the way they do.
They can tell when someone kills because of mental disabilities and because they want to. When behavioral analysts take a look into criminal cases, they can see more about the criminal’s motives than the average person. The psychological profile of a serial killer seems interesting to learn about because of their motives, modus operandi, and common misconceptions. Serial killers share many of the same key traits with each other. They have a “disregard for the law, disregard for the rights of others, and a tendency to display violent behaviors” (Scott).
Many serial killers do not show remorse for their crimes because they lack the capability to feel real emotions. These killers sometimes have an antisocial personality disorder (Scott). While most murderers eventually become diagnosed as psychopaths or sociopaths, others go undiagnosed with any mental disorders. A serial killer will most likely have the label of a psychopath, though inaccurately. A psychopath has the ability to act normal. They have no real emotions, but they have the ability to mimic emotions and thoughts of normal people. They cannot form attachments with others, but they can falsify them.
Many psychopaths received a well-rounded education and maintain steady jobs. These tend to be very organized killers (Scott). Because psychopaths seem normal, no one sees their true potential. Psychopathic killers fit in with social normalities because of their ability to mimic other people’s actions. They seem more charming than the average person, and know how to play with their victims’ emotions and heads. Ted Bundy, for example, stood on the side of the road with his arm in a cast to lure women into helping him (Norris). He preyed on women’s natural instinct to help others, and the cast made him unalarming.
The television show Dexter portrays a psychopath who works for the local police department. He specialized in blood spatter and kept his victims’ blood as trophies. To keep himself from being suspected, he got married and had a family. With training, he developed the ability to control his impulses, and he only killed people he knew were guilty of heinous crimes. H. H Holmes, America’s first serial killer, appeared to the public as a normal doctor. He invited women into his “murder castle” with promises of a job. There he killed anywhere from twenty to a couple hundred women. He destroyed the evidence using quicklime and acids.
He sold his victims’ skeletons to schools and medical institutions to help fund his murders (Martin). H. H Holmes’ occupation as a doctor made it easy to find and hide victims. Kenneth Bianchi, also known as the Hillside Strangler, will spend the rest of his life in prison for multiple murders. His wife, Kelli Boyd said, “The Ken | know couldn’t have hurt anyone. He was helpful with the baby, thoughtful, and even helped around the house. He just wasn’t the kind of person who could have killed anyone” (Magid). Many killers have a side to them that not even the people that love them most can see.
Sociopaths are the polar opposite of psychopaths. They seem to be easily agitated and prone to emotional outbursts. They do not receive the same education psychopaths do, and as a result hold no steady jobs. They act on impulse, making them disorganized killers, and the easiest ones to catch. One example of an undiagnosed killer is Meechaiel Khalil Criner. At the age of seventeen, Criner killed a college freshman that he saw walking home from class. When interviewed, his grandmother said “He’s smart, real intelligent. But he had a problem. He talks to himself and walks back and forth like he’s fighting himself” (Aradillas).
Because he has gone undiagnosed, no one can determine his motive for killing Haruka Weisner. Many people believe that killers develop their instincts in their childhood because antisocial personality disorders develop in the first few years of abuse (Magid 196). A study done in 1985 showed that thirteen out of fifteen adolescents convicted of murder were victims of extreme abuse (Goleman 198). Ken Magid said, “If the proper bonding and subsequent attachment does not occur-usually between the child and the mother- the child will develop mistrust and a deepseated rage.
He becomes a child without a conscience” Tenyear old Jeffrey Bailey, Jr. ‘s trial as an adult took place after he murdered a playmate. He pushed the three year old boy into the deep end of a pool and watched him drown. He later asked another kid “what is that white stuff that comes out of your nose when you drown? ” (Thomas) Two weeks before the murder, Jeffrey pushed a six year old girl into the deep end of a pool and ran away. A tenant who saw the girl struggling pulled her out of the pool, and Jeffrey never answered questions about the incident.
Just three days before the murder, Jeffrey took a five year old boy away from his house. When the police found them, the young boy’s mom asked Jeffrey why he took her son so far away from his home. Jeffrey responded by saying he “was going to be just like his daddy, a murderer. ” Jeffrey’s father had never confessed to murder (Thomas). Charles Manson also developed his killer instincts as a child. In first grade, Charles manipulated students (mostly female) into attacking children that he didn’t like. Since Charles told teachers that the students acted on their own free will, he never got punished (Charles).
When Manson was five and his mother imprisoned, he moved in with his aunt Glenna, uncle Bill, and cousin Jo Ann. Charles caused problems the whole time he lived with them. He acted out for attention, lied constantly, and always blamed others for his actions. At seven years old, Charles and Jo Ann stayed home alone while the Thomases went shopping. Jo Ann sent Charles outside to play while she did chores. Minutes later Charles walke room with a sickle that he found in the yard. Jo Ann locked him outside and went back to work. Charles became angry and began slashing through the screen door with the sickle.
The Thomases arrived on the scene just before Charles could enter the home. “Jo Ann had no doubt that her cousin was going to kill her” (Charles). A killer’s modus operandi, or means of operation, give insight to the person committing the crimes. Modus operandi consists of motives, methods of killing, signature, and more. When investigators use the M. O to create a criminal profile, it becomes easier for them to predict the killer’s next move. Motives can either have a category of power driven, financial, or revenge/mission based. Power driven killers tend to disable their victims in some way to have complete control over them.
Ted Bundy falls under the category of power killer. He spent years evading police all over the country. His modus operandi consisted of standing on the side of the road with a fake cast to lure young women into helping him (Norris 218). When they walked over to help him, he incapacitated them and put them in his car. He removed the passenger seat of his car so he could lay the bodies down without anyone seeing them with him. The Green River Killer “fits the mission serial killer mould, characterized by the desire to seek revenge against a particular type of person” (Serial). Many revenge killings take place