Recently in Criminal Cases Category

I am writing this Post because I knew Ben during middle school back home in Des Moines. Although we weren't friends, his death is one that shocks me. As I knew Ben and remembered him from middle school I would never have guessed him out of all people for this to happen to. Ben was a very nice guy, very smart and loved to debate. I know that he was very avid in his community and volunteered a lot. He was also one to never put himself in any situation that had danger...from what i remeber and have heard by his friend.

The allogations of his death go like this:

He was found on Highway 65/69, which is a stretch from Indianola, Iowa right into Des Moines. He was reported slumped over the bridge and someone called in. We now know that he was shot in the head. They have switched the ruling from homicide to possible suicide. His parents and friends knew that he was fearing for his family's life. He had recieved threats...or so people think, about his family and himself. His family and friends think that he witnessed a crime or was made to think he did. They threatened him if he told police or anyone else.They also found him tied up with plastic zipper ties...which now is being said that Ben bought those himself a few hours before his death.

The whole community is shocked as to why Ben would committ suicide. He is known to have a ver happy life and  he was very successful. My question is what kind of fear would make a person kill themselves to save their family. Also, how does an investigation go in this kind of case. What determines the change in homocide to suicide knowing his circumstances.

This case has touched the southside of Des Moines greatly and I know that his family and friends will do everything they can to find out the underlying cause of his case. In a recent report by the DCI, it almost seemed like they were going to slow down the investigation now that they have some answers. I really hope they keep working hard to find out everythig possible

Below are links to various sources about Ben's death


There are many more articles, these are just a few

On April 29, a 40 year old man came into a preschool classroom and injured 5 preschoolers with a hammer. Right after this, he set himself on fire, killing himself. Officials think this is a copycat attack because there have been several similar attacks on young children. The previous day, a man went into a kindergarten classroom and stabbed 29 students. The day before this incident, a man injured 18 children in a different primary school. Luckily, no one died.  Last month, a former doctor, Zheng Minsheng, went into a classroom and stabbed 8 children to death and wounded 5 others. He was executed on April 27. Why would these men want to harm innocent children? Before Minsheng was executed, he said that he committed these murders because of his "failures in his romantic life and in society". It seems that he had some psychologically issues to take out his failures on young children. The other men who carried out similar attacks most likely had some psychological issues as well. They may have had depression or at worst, antisocial personality disorder, or something similar.

The trauma that students, parents, and children had to go through will need some counseling. The article states that schools have brought in people to help with these issues. The students will definitely suffer from some psychological problems but hopefully they can be resolved early on to prohibit further issues.

Here is the article:

The case I'm going to discuss is several years old but I found it very interesting and relevant to psychology and law. In 1992, a hunter found the body of a decomposing woman while hunting. After the police found out that the dead woman had been a prostitute, it led them to believe that a possible suspect was Thomas Huskey, a man known for bringing woman to the area. Huskey had a reputation for taking women, tying them up behind the zoo, beating them, and then having sex with them.

About a week after the first body was found, police searching the area found three more dead women. Huskey was arrested and confessed, on tape, to all four murders. During the confession, Huskey changed his voice and expressions and said that he was now "Kyle". Apparently, "Kyle" was the one who killed the women, not Thomas. After "Kyle" emerged, "Philip Daxx", a British man, surfaced. This lead investigators to believe that Huskey had multiple personality disorder.

After 6 years had passed, the trial finally began. Huskey plead not guilty by insanity. The defense psychologist said that Huskey suffered from multiple personality disorder, however, the prosecution psychologist said that Huskey simply created these personalities to manipulate the court. During the course of the trial, the cellmate of Huskey, testified that Huskey had read Sybil and was going to try to make it seem like he had multiple personality disorder to avoid the death penalty. Huskey's mother also agreed that he did not have this disorder. To further the case against Huskey, the prosecution noted that he gave specific details about the crime while he was Tom but if he really did have multiple personality disorder, he would have no recollection of these memories, since they belong to "Kyle".

After the jury deliberated for quite some time, they still had not come to a unanimous decision. The judge declared a mistrial. Huskey was to be tried again in 2002 but he asked for a lawyer during his confession, which was then ruled inadmissible. Huskey is currently in prison for 44 years for previous rape charges.

On another website, I found that the murder charges against Huskey were dropped due to detective errors. He is still in jail for the rape charges mentioned earlier.

Psychology is obviously present here. Because multiple personality disorder is so rare, it probably wasn't Huskey's  best idea to pretend he had it. Any personality disorder is severe and it's likely that Huskey may have had some other form of one. Although he wasn't proven guilty, it seems pretty possible that he did commit the four murders. I'm glad that he's at least in jail for the rape crimes he committed so that he can't go out and murder more innocent women. 

This article is about the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback being accused of sexual assault for the second time. I think this ties into the class because the case has been dropped from the DA for the lack of any evidence, so it seems that it is all hearsay evidence. This could be a case where the girl was trying to take advantage of the superstar by accusing him of assualting her, or it could be a case in which the prosecution just didnt have enough evidence to satisfy the burden of proof to convict Ben. Either way he is not going to get in trouble by the law for whatever happened however he may be suspended by the league for violating the players code of conduct policy. Ben has been accused of assaulting a girl before and it makes people wonder if girls are just trying to take advantage of a celebrity or is he getting away with these assaults because of lack of evidence. The prosecution pretty much said in their press conference that they are confident that Ben assaulted the girl but cannot prove without a reasonable doubt to a jury that he is responsible, also it did not help that the girl, for some reason, did not want to press charges. The medicial examiner said they found male DNA but not enough to make a DNA profile. I think this would have come to a different outcome if they were in fact able to get a DNA profile from the sample.The case shows that there is in fact a burden of proof that needs to be satisfied for the DA to persue a case, and do not just go after people to punish them for supposably committing crimes.  

Michael Peterson Verdict

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After finishing the video on North Carolina v. Michael Peterson, I became interested in what his and his family's life was after his sentencing was given. I found a website that has the story. It describes how one of Peterson's defense attorneys is planning on appealing his verdict. I'm not sure if this has been done yet, but he plans on objecting to some of the evidence that was given at the trial, such as if it was legal to take Peterson's computer away from him and go through it, which is where they found his pornography.

Also on the website, are a few videos that you can click through and watch. One talks about what Kathleen Peterson was like, the other talks about the verdict of the trial, and the third is how Kathleen's sisters react to the whole situation.

In the article, they also bring up the possibility that the prosecution is also going to try Peterson for the death of his other wife, Elizabeth Ratliff, as well. It's a short article, but it does provide good information on what happened after Peterson's guilty verdict.

Under the Influence

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I've always been interested in the amount of crimes that occur while influenced by either drugs or alcohol. As I was researching this, the results were slightly shocking. I found out that less than half of committed crimes were caused by people who were either on drugs, or drinking. One statistic showed that about 25% of all crimes are drug induced. Although this may not seem like a lot, it's still 1/4 of all crimes. Another statistic showed that the first time a person commits a crime, they're more likely to be sober. However, if that same person commits a second crime, the person is more likely to be influenced by a drug/ alcohol. Another statistic I found rather interesting is that 19% of all inmates are in jail because they tried to attain money from drugs. It also said that 81% of drug arrest were due to possession. I think that's pretty nuts, I mean you'd think they'd learn to hide it more or just not do it to begin with. 
Here's the link where I got all my information...

Woman killed her infant, ate part of brain

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Last summer in San Antonio Texas the police were sent to a grizzly crime scene that was almost too grusome to describe. From what they did indicate in news it was something from a slasher zombie movie. The 33 yr old mother used a knife and 2 swords to kill her 3 week old son and that is not even the horrible part is just gets more strange and guresome. The police commented that the infants toes were actually bitten off, decapitated and his face ripped off and some of his brain were eaten. After the mother did that she stabbed herself twice. She is alive still though and when asked why she did it, she said because the devil told her to. So is she in fact mentally ill or suffering from some type of postpartm depression (possibly psychosis)or is it just a way to cover her track so later on she can take the insanity plea. Just as Andrea Yates also did. 

Vampire killer

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I came across this article of a man, Allan Menzies, in the UK who murdered his friend in order to become a vampire. Menzies had watched the movie Queen of the Damned at least 100 times and claimed that he was told he had to kill someone in order to become immortal. Menzies called Thomas McKendrick to his house where Menzies attacked and killed him with knives and a hammer. After the death, Menzies drank his blood and ate some of his flesh. He then put McKendricks body in a wheelbarrow and dumped his body in a ditch, which was found 6 weeks later. After the killing, Menzies was convinced he was a vampire and immortal. Menzies was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. The psychological issues surrounding Menzies is enormous. He had been diagnosed a psychopath by three psychologists in court. Menzies lawyer also said he was schizophrenic, which definitely runs true with Menzies actions. There needs to be more education for people to understand these mental health problems.


The Most Dangerous Game

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While reading the novel Mind Hunter by John Douglas for my book report assignment, I came across a particularly interesting case. In the early 1980's Robert Hansen went on a murderous rampage that shocked the community of Anchorage, Alaska. Hansen, known throughout his community as a mild mannered baker with a strong affinity for hunting, was abducting local prostitutes and strippers, taking them back to his home while he raped and tortured them, then flew them out to his cabin in the woods where he promised if they cooperated they would be released. He would then let them go naked through the wooded area where he would hunt them down.


I was very interested in this case for two reasons. The first reason was that the killers MO closely followed one of my favorite short stories that I read in High School; The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. The story is about some shipwrecked sailors who find themselves being systematically hunted down one-by-one through an island jungle. They are hunted by a man named General Zarroff, who tired of hunting animals and wanted more of a challenge. In Douglas's novel, he cites many similarities between Hansen and Zarroff, not only in MO. According to Douglas, Hansen felt that by killing prostitutes and women he felt were degenerate, he was doing society a favor. Likewise Zarroff felt that shipmen were degenerates and tramps.


The second reason that I found this case so interesting was because the killer, Robert Hansen started his criminal career about 40 miles from where I grew up; in small town Pocahontas, IA. In the 1960, Hansen served as a police academy instructor in Pocahontas. Later that year he was arrested for burning down a school bus garage and was sentenced to jail for 4 years. It was after this time that he moved to Alaska. Because Hansen had moved away from the area nearly 20 years before he started his killing spree, I was unaware of his existence and my friends from that area were also unaware. Digging a little deeper into Hansen's past, I discovered he was born in Estherville, Iowa; the small town where both of my parents grew up, but again, because Hansen hadn't lived there since before my parents were born, they were unfamiliar with the case. However, I do plan on asking my grandparents if they are at all familiar with Hansen since he would be closer to their age.

One of the themes that Douglas talks about in his book is that Hansen is an excellent example of how a killers MO changes and develops with each kill. In his earlier killings of prostitutes, Hansen would simply tie them up and kill them execution style, then fly their bodies and level them in the wooded area near his cabin. As he became more confident in his killings, Hansen began to torture his victims and then finally began to hunt them like animals. It is because of this sort of changing pattern that it makes a series of murders hard to tie together. If four women are murdered in different ways, people assume that it is a different killer. Douglas argues that MO can change while significance of the murder does not change. In this case, we see Hansen's method of killing change but they are all related in how they spoke to Hansen personally. He liked the thrill of the hunt, and he went after high-risk individuals such as prostitutes.  


This is an article that deals with the argument of whether there needs to be more laws dealing with predators or whether the current laws need to be better enforced. The story here is of a man who has been convicted of raping and killing a young girl who was jogging through a park. Police have also discovered the skeletal remains of another young girl, who was killed in similar fashion, and they think that the same man is responsible. The main issue here is that the man was locked up for the crime but somehow struck a deal to only get 6 years in prison instead of his original sentence which was life in prison. This happened in the San Diego area where they do in fact have a "one-strike" law against predators. The problem here seems to be that the courts become to lenient when its time for sentencing. In my opinion I feel that the San Diego law of "one-strike" is quite the consequence, but when a predator gets out after only a short time, it raises the threat of repeat offenders. When the courts give out such a short sentence for the crime, they are really eliciting thoughts of "hey I can do this again!" from the minds of predators. I'm not sure that California needs to crowd their prisons anymore than they already are, but lackluster sentences (in regards to these crimes) is a slap in the face to society - my opinion.

Was Kurt Cobain Murdered?

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As a grunge-junkie, I have had a long time interest in the alleged suicide of famous musician Kurt Cobain. For those of you who do not know who Kurt Cobain is, he is the lead singer of popular 90's grunge rock band Nirvana. Nirvana is considered by many to be the anthem band for the generation growing up during this time period. Kurt Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home on April 8th, 1994. Investigators ruled the death a suicide by gunshot blast coming from his jaw then exiting through the top of his head. Much controversy surrounds Kurt Cobain's death leaving many speculators to wonder if Cobain actually did commit suicide. These two websites highlight some of the controversy surrounding the death. Cobain's death is still largely considered a suicide. Those who advocate that his death was in fact a suicide site Cobain's alcohol and drug abuse, his history of depression, and a suicide note left behind. Despite the enormous amount of evidence, there is still a collective group of people who believe that Cobain was murdered. The main advocator that Cobain's death was indeed homicide is Thomas Grant, a private investigator that was under the employment of Cobain's wife prior to his death. Grant's main arguments are so strong that they have led many others to believe his theory. Some of Grant's main arguments are

-          According to the toxicology report, Cobain had an enormous amount of heroin in his blood at the time of his death. Cobain had so much heroin in his system that it would have been impossible to steady a shotgun and pull the trigger. The amount of heroin in Cobain's system would have left him completely incapacitated and unconscious  

-          There are complications with the suicide note including so irregularities in the handwriting

-          Inconsistency in the police reports including: failure to take finger prints off the shotgun trigger, inconstancies with the discharged shell in relation to his body, no finger prints were found on the suicide note yet Cobain was not wearing gloves at the time of the murder

-          Evidence that came out after Cobain's death that Courtney Love (Cobain's wife at the time of his death) attempted to pay someone to murder Cobain

Those who still feel Cobain's death was a suicide believe this evidence to be circumstantial.

I personally feel that there were many signs in this case that indicate foul play but due to Cobain's history of drug abuse and depression they were all overlooked by police officials. If the police had investigated further into the theory of murder then there might be a lot more evidence out there that was not "circumstantial."


This is an interesting story I found regarding the arrest of two 10 year old boys that brutally beat and killed another 2 year old child. This happened in Liverpool in 1993. After serving eight years in prison, Jon Venables, (who is 27 now) has just been returned to prison for violating conditions of his release. The re-surfacing of this case has brought about outrage amongst the British public (once again) because of the fact that Jon was released but is now being re-called into custody - reasons for which are uncertain (although law enforcement did mention that these details will be released in the future). This outrage stems from the seemingly lenient government not keeping both gentlemen locked up for a longer amount of time (and rightfully so if you are family of the victim).

I found this interesting because this case happened many years ago but still has the power (via peoples memory and knowledge) to bring out anger and despise even though the case was completed over a decade ago. Both mens whereabouts have been kept secret because of the fear of death threats towards them.

I'm not an investigator or remotely close to being labeled one, but something tells me a case with 2 or 3 suspects doesn't seem near as bad as having to deal with 26. How would you even begin? Where would you begin?! The news story I chose deals with the murder or Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Investigators had it "narrowed down" to eleven suspects when Dubai police announced that they had 15 new suspects. Investigators now have the daunting challenge of narrowing down this huge list of suspects. Police in Dubai, India suspect that secretive Israeli foreign intelligence unit is behind the attacks. Not only is the amount of suspects an issue to deal with, but also the fact that these suspects are carrying passports from various point around the world (passports from Australia, France, Ireland, Great Britain). Countries that are helping out with the investigation also noted that those passports were created in a legal manner - what a shocker.

Check out this story - there are videos along the left side you can view for further information.

Murders by Unlisted Sex Offender

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In this article it states that there are 63,000 sex offenders that are not registered and 22,000 of those are in California alone. Some of those the state defends are "low risk in general" yet there are innocent people killed by those low risk offenders. And the main one I want to talk about is Chelsea King whose body they found yesterday. 

This article goes more into detail about the case it self and explains that this may be a capital punishment case because it was a rape and murder case. If the DA decides to take the death penalty off the table then it is still 25 to life in prison. The reason for his arrest was due to DNA evidence found on his clothing.

The psychiatrist for the case wants the offender to be put in prison for as long as possible because of his previous charge that he served 6 years in prison for before paroled in 2008.

To those that take the time to read the article I would love to get your opinion on what should be done about our system the allows sex offenders to slip through the cracks and commit worse crimes then before and also I question if a person has show to be capable of such evil once if they should be allowed back into society without strict supervision?


 Michelle SimonsonThis is one of the all time worst stories I have heard about teachers doing this stuff , mostly because the child was not only 14 he was also special ed. The teacher has even more power over these children since they are more vulnerable. The 27 year old married teacher claimed she was "sexting" him to help him improve in school , maybe she has been watching Billy Madison one to many times. This whole new era of sexting is getting ridiculous especially with children doing it. If children get caught they can be put on the sex offender registry and be charged with making/possesing child pornography and will have to live with that forever. I think there needs to be some kind of mental evaluation for teachers and people who work with children. It such a horrible thing because thery are in an authority position and children have always been taught to follow is a link about her and other cases and for case specifics  or google Michelle Simpson for more


As we all know Parkersburg, Iowa and the whole state of Iowa suffered a tremendous loss, Ed Thomas. Mr. Thomas was the high school football coach, track coach, teacher, driving instructor, and most of all a father, husband, and grandfather.

The trial for Mark Becker is in some of its last states. The jury has been in deliberation for over 8 hours now. They will either find of him guilty of 1st degree murder with life in prison without parole, or they will find him guilty, but categorize him as insane and Becker will undergo dramatic psychiatric evaluations.

This is a trial that is using the Insanity Plea, which is very unheard of for today. It is hard to prove someone legally insane, because you have to prove to everyone that before the crime, the time of the crime, and after the crime, that Mark Becker had no idea what was going on and it was out of his control. I want to make it clear that insanity is a legal term when used in law, not a medical term. Insanity is when they try to see if Mark Becker knew what he was doing, and if he knew right from wrong throughout the whole process of the crime.

This is going to be a hard case to defend based on the facts. Mark Becker did plan out this murder. He dressed so that he could hide a gun in his clothing. He drove himself to the high school and admitted to being scared that he would be pulled over with a loaded gun on him. These are just a few things that push away from the insanity plea.

Below is the Des Moines Register, which has been following the trial very closely. On the left side bar is over 15 blogs that take you through the trial, even a blog just recently posted about the juror's deliberation. In the middle of the web page will a section also taking you through the trial in detail.

I urge everyone to go through theses blogs and really see what it is like for the people of the court system. They have an expert witness, a Psychiatrist that the prosecution hired and his diagnosis and thoughts are very interesting to read.

Mark Becker's plea of insanity

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Most of us have heard about the devastations that the community of Aplington-Parkersburg has gone through in the last few years. The first devastation that the community went through was the tornado that went through Parkersburg and destroyed many houses. The Community rebuilt and didn't let the horrific experience dampen there community pride. One of the main advocates for rebuilding the Community was the long time Football Coach Ed Thomas. Ed was seen as a key supporter in the community and everyone knew who he was and what he has done to better the community.  The second devastation that happened was on June 24th of 2009 when Coach Ed Thomas was shot by Mark Becker. Becker has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Both the prosecution and defense do agree that Becker has suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, so his mental state is playing a huge factor in whether he will be convicted or not for the murder.  Living in Cedar Falls for most of my life and having friends who went to Aplington-Parkersburg it hit close to home to me. I remember something on the news about how the previous day Becker had been detained by Cedar Falls police for breaking and entering a house in Cedar Falls. He was taken to Allen Hospital and was suppose to stay for a 48hr psych evaluation. However something went wrong and he was released that day. Which led to the next day's proceedings to Occur.  One question that comes to mind to me is, is our legal system at fault as well because the procedure wasn't followed through. Also some say that he didn't know what he was doing but I wouldn't think you would be able to put bullets in a gun and drive to the school and shoot your former coach. I think this is a very big controversy in the Cedar Valley. Below is just one of the latest articles about the case.

"Jury Deliberating Becker's case"

The Case of Amanda Knox

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On November 1st, 2007 Meredith Kercher was found dead on the bedroom floor partly naked with stab wounds on her neck, many bruises, and signs of being sexually assaulted.  At the time, Meredith was a foreign exchange student in Perugia, Italy along with Amanda Knox, an American foreign exchange student.  Five days after interrogation, Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were arrested and later convicted with murder, sexual violence, as well as other charges (Knox was sentenced to 26 years while Sollecito was sentenced for 25 years).  DNA and fingerprint evidence at the scene both inside and around Meredith's body pointed to another man, Rudy Hermann Guede.  Guede was later arrested, tried, and was also convicted of murder an sexual assault.  Guede was initially sentenced to 30 years in prison but appealed his sentence which was then reduced to 16 years. 

I had never heard of this case before but I happened to turn on Oprah today and caught the tail end of the story. I got the sense that it was a pretty well known case and I found this to be true when I was searching online and I did end up finding a lot of information about it.  Here is the link to the Wikipedia article which I think does a great job summarizing the case and is a good place to start if you haven't heard of the case before:

There seems to be quite a bit of controversy going on about the differences in the criminal justice system and culture of Italy compared to that of the United States when dealing with this case.  I haven't looked into this issue very extensively, but what I have gathered is that many people feel that if Amanda was tried in the United States rather than Italy, she would have never been convicted.

Regardless of this controversy, it became apparent to me while watching the rest of the Oprah show and reading and watching the videos online (, being wrongfully convicted has substantial consequences not only for the person wrongfully convicted, but for their family as well. 

First of all, being wrongfully convicted puts a huge financial burden on the person who is desperately fighting for their freedom.  The book I am reading for this class (Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter) also touches on the tremendous debts one can be in when fighting their conviction.  Thousands upon thousands of dollars were spent, not only by Carter himself, but by his supporters.  Amanda's case seems to be no different.  When searching through sites online, I came across her official site where you could donate money to contribute to her defense fund which will hopefully someday free her.

Being wrongfully convicted also takes a emotional toll on the person who has been wrongfully convicted as well as their family.  On Oprah's website, you can watch a short video of an interview of Amanda's three sisters.  The oldest of the three talks about her new responsibility of being the older sister since Amanda is away and how she struggles at being a good example for her younger sisters.  Amanda's youngest sister talk about how she feels like she doesn't have a family because she describes a family as everyone being there, which is not the case.  Her younger sister struggles with her emotions and her need to stay strong for Amanda and her parents.  My book focuses a lot on Carter's emotional struggles to keep his identity while in prison and the shame he feels, which inevitable causes him to distance himself from his former wife and children.  Carter's family was torn apart by his wrongful conviction, but Amanda's has come together.  Her parents divorced when she was three, but since her conviction, they have combined forces in attempt to free their daughter.  Every Saturday her family gets together for the weekly phone call from Amanda. 

Being wrongfully convicted has tremendous repercussions for the individuals and their families.  Stories like these really make me understand the importance that psychology plays in the law.  I'm not sure how heavily eyewitnesses played in Amanda's conviction, but eyewitness evidence was the only thing used to convict Carter of his sentence of triple-murder.  In order to keep the innocent out of prison, it is evident that a better understanding and acceptance of faulty eyewitness testimonies is necessary, but I'm afraid that no matter how hard we try, there will always be people who are wrongfully convicted.  Even if our criminal justice system improves on keeping the innocent out of jail from now on, there are currently many innocent people in prison, most of which are more than likely desperately trying to free themselves.

The Voices Told Me to do it!

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In 2001 Rusty Yates received a call from his very calm, cool, and collected wife Andrea telling him that he needed to come home the children were dead. That day Andrea's plan that had been in progress finally happened. Andrea had been suffering for years from post-pardum depression and schizophrenia. She had been on medication for her illnesses and seeing a therapist, until recently when she just stopped helping herself all together. Her family attended church regularly and she, as a woman, was drilled with her being a bad mother. She heard it from her husband and her preacher, and the voice of the devil she heard in her head. She was told that since she was a bad mother her children would be eternally damned, and who wants that to be the fate of her children. So the devil agreed to help her solve her problem. If she killed her children- she was guaranteeing there way in to heaven instead of eternal damnation. So she planned for months the murder of her 5 children ranging from ages 6 months- 7 years. Finally the day came for her to execute her plan. SO she filled the bathtub full of water and drowned each one starting with the 2, 3, and 5 year olds followed by the baby and then her oldest son who actually managed to get free and run- where she chased him down and listened heartlessly to him crying and telling her he was sorry! She then called her husband and the police. She knew what she was doing was wrong, knew she was going to get punished, and was totally alright with what she'd done.

The following site leads to a full case run-down of the Andrea Yates trial:

This is a link to the trial of Mark Becker, the man who murdered Ed Thomas, former high school football coach at Aplington Parkersburg. Besides that this case is relatively local, it is interesting because of the psychological problems which Becker is suffering from. The Defense is going to try to use this to reduce his sentence, it will be interesting to see how this plays out with a local Iowa jury.

The First 48

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The ever so popular TV show, The First 48 on AE.TV is one that you can count on for truth and facts. The first 48 is a show about homicide detectives that respond to a crime and try and solve it within the first 48 hours. These are real cases with the real actors or replaying of a scene. What you see is what you get!
This show focuses mostly on people that go from suspicion to suspect, eye witnesses, and the interrogation, or interviewing. This really helps you see what a detective does from the moment they get that call.
You can also get a sense of how they figure out what happened and who was involved. They start with the facts that they have off hand and work their way down from there. The one thing that I have started to notice sense we have talked about it in class is the interrogations done by the detectives. In class we learned that a detective will tell you anything you want to hear. They will exhaust you mentally and physically, they will lie to you. Basically they will do anything to get you to confess or turn on anyone. If you notices, in most shows, the detective will either try and play friend, or yell and scream and lie to get them to crack. I find it interesting to watch, now that you really know what is going on.
I have posted the link to the First 48 TV shows. The one on the link I am posting is about a homeless man who is murdered, and a 911 call that has gun shots firing in the background. I urge you to watch the whole show and really pay close attention to the detail that goes into being a detective, especially the ones that do the interviews.
If you are interested after watching this show, you can watch many other episodes with different stories. They get very interesting! 

I know Dr. Maclin presented this story a little bit in class yesterday, but I decided to look up more details and websites for my post this week.


 Alabama University Shooting: Suspect Amy Bishop's Violent Past Gets Another Look

A biology professor, Dr. Amy Bishop, at the University of Alabama was denied tenure in upcoming April, and decided to go on a killing spree during a faculty meeting last Friday, Feb. 12. Bishop was arrested and charged with killing 3 professors and wounding three others. Killed, according to the Associated Press were, Maria Davis, Gopi K. Podila, the chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences, and faculty member Adriel Johnson. The injured were identified as biology department members Luis Cruz-Vera and Joseph Leahy and university staff member Stephanie Monticello.

Bishop's husband is still in disbelief of his wife's outrage and said he has know idea why she did it or where she got the gun.

Investigation into the case and the past of Bishop brings up suspiciousness of a violent past for the professor. 17 years ago, Bishop was a suspect in the 1993 attempted mail bombing of a Harvard Medical School professor. Bishop was also accused of killing her brother in 1986, although the case was never completely solved. The shooting was ruled accidental and Bishop was never charged.  


I think Bishop has to have some mental instability to commit such an act on the basis of being denied tenure.  She appears to have an aggressive past and problems controlling her angry outbursts.  I think that investigators should reopen the case of the death Bishop's brother to see if there was any evidence that they may have missed that ties Bishop to the crime.  If a verdict had been reached that found Bishop responsible for her brother's death, this killing spree at UAH may have never occured.  It is hard to say "what if" but I think this case demonstrates how colleges and universities should do a thorough background check on their professors and faculty before hiring them and trusting them with today's students. 

If you have taken abnormal psychology, you may have heard of the Tarasoff case.  If you have not, I will summarize the case for you below.

Prosenjit Poddar met Tatiana Tarasoff at a folk dancing class in the fall of 1968 at the University of California, Berkeley.  That New Year's Eve, Tarasoff rang in the new year by giving Poddar a kiss.  Since kissing at midnight is the norm on New Year's Eve, many of us do not take them too seriously.  Poddar did, however.  The kiss to him symbolized the beginning of a serious relationship between Tarasoff and himself.  Poddar was crushed to learn that Tarasoff was not interested in him and was involved with other men which caused Poddar to enter into a state of depression.  After much convincing, Poddar sought help from a psychologist on campus, Dr. Lawrence Moore.  During one of Poddar's sessions, he told Dr. Moore that he planned to kill Tarasoff when she returned from her summer vacation.  Dr. Moore thought that Poddar was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, both acute and severe.  Dr. Moore suggested that the campus police civilly commit Poddar, which was done, but was shortly released because the police felt he had changed his mind about killing Tarasoff.  Dr. Moore's supervisor, Dr. Harvey Powelson felt that Poddar was rational and instructed no further need for treatment.

The next October, Poddar stabbed Tarasoff to death with a kitchen knife at her house.  Neither Tarasoff or her parents received a warning of Poddar's intentions.

This particular case had an impact on the law, especially when talking about patient-psychotherapist confidentiality.  After this incident, the California Supreme Court ruled that mental health professionals have the duty to not only the patient, but also to anyone who is being threatened.  Many states and even some places outside of the country have adopted this rule stating that mental health professionals have a duty to protect those who are threatened by one of their patients. Psychotherapists are now obligated to warn the potential victim in any way possible to prevent cases such as this.

After we talked about this in my abnormal class last semester, I asked my professor if this law also made it an obligation for therapists to warn potential victims about any physical harm that is threatened to them (i.e. any harm other than murder), and he told me that he is pretty sure that it only applies to threats of one's life.  I thought this was kind of interesting, but I suppose that if therapists had to report every harmful incident brought up by a patient, they would be filing reports left and right.  

(The above summary was based not only on information I learned in class, but also Wikipedia

If you are interested in this case, there is a TON of information out there online about it.  Feel free to post links to more information! 


Smiley Face Killer Theory

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I came across this theory while watching the evening news tonight. The disappearance of an ISU student has grabbed the hearts of Iowans and has had many people speculating. With lack of evidence police are might be turning to theory. Speculation surrounding the case has hinted that the disappearance might be related to a series of deaths that have been plaguing the Midwest for almost 2 decades. The Smiley Face Killer Theory is a working police theory that links over 40 different accidental drownings to a serial killer or group of killers. The circumstances of the cases are all similar. All the victims were 20 to 23 year old males who were popular and were in great academic standing. The autopsies of the victims show no sign of foul play but they do indicate that the victims were intoxicated at the time of their drowning. A series of smiley faces placed near where some the bodies were found lead many to speculate that the drowning were not by accident. In Lacrosse Wisconsin alone there has been a total of 9 different drown-victims and several more in the states of Iowa and Minneapolis. Speculation around this theory has grown so much that they have even made an official website for the theory.    

FBI has made an official statement on the subject that they do not believe these deaths are linking in any way and they are still ruling these drownings as accidental. There is still no word on ISU student that is still missing but the police have not ruled anything out yet.

Playing devil's advocate here, I am going to go along with the theory and pose some hypothetical scenarios. Firstly, regardless of if the recent disappearance of an ISU student is linked in any way to this theory, the deaths of nearly 40 other male college students is more than enough to raise an eyebrow at. The circumstances of the case might lead us to make some initial investigatory inferences. First, all the victims were male, college age, in good academic standing (deans list or above), and all were described as being popular. From that we could make some inferences that if a killer exists they might be someone who would have a grudge against these types of bright and popular males. Also all of the alleged drownings took place in the Midwest and northern U.S. States indicating that the killer or potential killers may live in the Midwest. This theory opens the doors for many different theories; could this be the work of copy cats? Could it be one killer or some sort of cult across several organizations on various campuses?

As I said above the FBI has made their official statement that there is no evidence to believe that these deaths are in any way related so I do not intend to stir up any feelings of paranoia, just merely playing devil's advocate.