24 October 2010

"Where love rules, there is no will to power, 
and where power predominates, love is lacking. 
The one is the shadow of the other."
   - C.G. Jung

A man in my town murdered his mother-in-law, his wife, and his two children (son aged 4, daughter aged 2) this summer. After his rampage ended, he stayed overnight in the house. He used his laptop to create and print more than one version of his confession, and also wrote another confession by hand that he left in the kitchen. Before he left the house, he called his son's private pre-school to say the boy wouldn't be coming that day, and answered a call on his wife's cell phone from her sister, telling her that his wife wouldn't be able to answer her call "for a while." He drove off in his SUV, heading north to who knows where, carrying the cell phones. He threw his wife's cell phone away after it ran out of power. A motorist recognized him from news alerts and facilitated the murderer's capture and return. He offered no resistance as he was taken into custody.

What we know is that this man had recently returned to full-time work after being jobless for over a year, that his wife was employed in a good job, that they lived in his mother-in-law's house in a toney Boston suburb. We know that the murderer's parents had been in town that day, babysitting their grandchildren. We know that the murderer's wife angrily confronted him about a bounced tax payment he'd made -- his parents later told police he'd remained calm and suggested that they could later discuss the matter privately and that the dinner table wasn't an appropriate time or place. We know that the murderer's parents left the house shortly after the dinner. We know that the murderer's mother-in-law had a telephone conversation around 9:00 that evening.

We know that somewhere between 9:00 PM and 7:00 AM, four people died by his hand.

The District Attorney proclaimed the scene as "horrific." The mother-in-law's body was in the entry hallway, covered by an area rug that had been dragged over her. The wife and son's bodies were also downstairs. The daughter's body was discovered upstairs in her crib. The reports suggest that she was the last to die. The information released to the public indicated that the murderer stabbed the victims repeatedly with "sharp objects." Because it was a stabbing rather than a shooting, the attacks were up close and very, very personal.

The murderer's assembled notes on his actions refer to his having "chickened out." We can only guess that he refers to the fact that he didn't kill himself, too. The police say there was evidence of "failed suicide attempts" at the crime scene. His notes say that his children are "better off" now, as their suffering is over, and they are "in a better place."

This family annihilator, this murderer who in a single night managed to wipe out three generations of a family, has entered a plea of "not guilty by reason of insanity." While I do believe that at the time he was stabbing into his victims he was in a deranged state, I'm not entirely convinced that he was insane during his rampage.

I think that at the moment the attacks began, probably with his wife as the first victim, the murderer was desperate to recover his sense of well-being and self-confidence. After the murder, the thought of his children's accusing eyes on him and their disappointment in him was just more than he could bear, so they had to die, too.

As the son of a successful man, he must have burned with shame at being denounced by his wife as a "loser" in front of his parents and children. She was angry about the bounced check, and in the heat of her anger, no doubt had a few choice words for him. Her harsh words may have caused his shame to boil quickly over into homicidal rage, held tenuously in check until his parents left. That evening, after his parents were gone, he took swift, sure steps to regain control of his situation -- thus ensuring she'd never be able to humiliate him again.

All three of his confessional notes, written while sitting in the presence of the four bloody bodies, attempted to explain and justify his actions, and to in some way control what those who discovered his crimes would think about him. The notes didn't contain apologies -- only rationalizations and excuses.

Narcissism is a terrible pathological disorder that we've woven into the fabric of our society, courtesy of our pervasive collective and individual sense of entitlement. Narcissists have a pathological need to control everything in their lives, and they truly believe everything that occurs is all about them. When things go right, they demand praise, and when they don't, they refuse to accept any blame. Tbe sad truth is, we're probably going to see more of these cases in coming years, not fewer. Arrogant, cruel, controlling, selfish people hide behind the diagnosis as a way to justify the entitlement they feel and the anti-social acting out they do.

Excuse me. I'm off to break every mirror in my house.


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