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The tale of Albert Fish, the real-life Hannibal Lecter

In the history of cinema, few villains have captured the imagation of audiences’ as Hannibal Lecter did in “Silence of the Lambs.” Anthony Hopkins’ chilling portrayal of a cannibalistic serial killer earned him an Oscar, as well as a place in the nightmares of many. A king among cannibal killers, audiences could rest with the comfort that the character was only fiction. Unfortunately, this is not entirely true. When Thomas Harris wrote the Hannibal story, he borrowed elements from a real life cannibal killer, Albert Hamilton Fish. Much like Hannibal Lecter, Albert Fish appeared soft-spoken, fragile, and harmless – yet, behind the facade hid a monster who boasted of his molestation of hundreds of child, expressed disappointment at his inability to rape a girl before devouring her, and carried his instruments of hell with him in the form of a meat cleaver, a butcher knife, and a saw. Even with his elder exterior, Albert Fish’s perversions and sadism strengthened with age until his execution.

Albert Fish

Albert Fish

Psychiatrists accentuate that when investigating psychological disorders, the most important formative stage is childhood. From this perspective, the development of Albert Fish becomes unsurprising. Born in 1870, his father was a 75 year old riverboat captain who passed when Fish was five. His family suffered a long history of alcoholism, abuse, and disorders. Compound that with the sadism Albert Fish claimed to experience when he was placed in an orphanage, and the lack of childhood innocence Fish was afforded explains much about his later disturbing compulsions. Continue reading for "The tale of Albert Fish, the real-life Hannibal Lecter" »

Frau Elfriede – Blackwidow

There are famous women serial killers in history as well as men. The women serial killers are cooler than men and can kill many people for decades without being caught. They are also more talented in playing their roles of innocent. One of the most famous women serial killers is the blackwidow Frau Elfriede Blauensteiner, who killed people because ‘they deserved’ or ‘to help them’.

Frau Elfriede Blauensteiner was a very tenderhearted woman. Even, she helped her upper floor neighbor commit suicide in order to save his wife and child being abused by him. When her neighbor said, “I can’t refrain from beating my wife and child. I tried to jump in front of a moving train but I couldn’t,” Frau Elfriede said, “Wait, I’m coming.” Of course no one saw how the poor man fluttered after he drank the ‘special cocktail’ Frau Elfriede prepared for him. A note saying, ‘I am sickened with this life. Goodbye.’ helped policemen to decide that it was a suicide. Frau Elfriede cried too much during the funeral of Mr Erwin, as much as she cried during the funeral of her stepfather Otto Reinl.

Black Widow- Serial Killer Frau Elfriede

Blackwidow- Serial Killer Frau Elfriede

Otto was an old, lonely man, suffering from diabetes, he needed for care. He was using a medicine called Euglucon which contains sulfonylurea. Euglucon increases the insulin secretion of pancreas and decreases blood sugar. When Elfriede said, “I can take care of you, move to my home,” poor man was very happy. However Elfriede was happier when she read the patient information leaflet. She was careful enough to give his medicine everyday on time and she was sneaky enough to increase the dose of Euglucon each day. Occasionally Otto was losing his consciousness due to low blood sugar level. One day, Otto died. An autopsy was performed but nobody checked Euglucon or insulin amount in his body. In 1986, Elfriede learnt two things: First, excessive amount of Euglucon cause death and secondly, Euglucon is not checked during autopsy.

Elfriede was 55 years old when she married Rudolf Blauensteiner. She prepared his coffee every morning and his tea every evening. He was unaware that she was adding Euglucon to his drinks. Within six years of his marriage, he went into coma 13 times. In 1992, Elfriede was fed up with this situation and at the end, she made his last coffee, a deadly one. She wanted to bury him next to her dear stepfather. And she cried madly while her husband’s ashes were buried. Continue reading for "Frau Elfriede – Blackwidow" »

Same end, different means: The typologies of killers

Killers come in all forms. Some killers do it on large scale, some on small; some do it for hate, some for pleasure; some accredit it to mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, some to disenchantment of their social environment. Legally speaking, there are three dimensions by which to measure the murder’s offense: the methodology, the scope of the murder, and its motive. Depending on the combination between these three criteria allows for a standard of punishment to be assigned, and for killers to be given a label in the history book.

First, one has to look at the micro or individual level killers. Spree killers, for example, are killers that embark on a murder rampage in a short period of time. The scope of their location is unimportant; the ambition is to maximize the damage in such a way that the goal of the spree killers is rarely to escape alive or be subtle about their murders. The Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 where Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 in a shooting rampage at the university is an example of a rampage killing. It is random, the motives of spree killers often bred out of revenge, and characterized by individuals suffering from a history of mental illness.

Murders and Killers

Murders and Killers

The most common form of individual murderer title is the serial killer. At its most rudimentary definition, the FBI defines a serial killer as a person who kills three or more people over a month period. Unlike mass murderers, a serial killer is more strategic and quiet about their murders. As Albert Fish, himself a cannibal killer, said, many of his victims were African-American or mentally-challenged because he figured they would be less noticeable. The serial killer wants to extend his killing spree and is more systematic in that sense. Continue reading for "Same end, different means: The typologies of killers" »

The Cannibal Nerd: The rise and fall of Tsutomu Miyazaki

While the name “cannibal nerd” may appear to be a term of endearment, it is assigned to an individual that became Japan’s most reviled cannibal serial killer. When the cannibal killer Tsutomu Miyazaki was hanged in June 2008, it brought closure and resolution to a most horrifying chapter in Japanese history. While niches of Japanese society have strange fixations on schoolgirl panties and sadistic game shows, manga strips, these perversions are viewed by outsiders to be more comical than horrifying. This is only because these odd perversions are taken at face value. The story of Tsutomu Miyazaki demonstrates when these perversions are perverted; his story has elements of the universal regarding cannibal killers, but also something very distinctly Japanese. Tsutomu Miyazaki and his cannibal stories continue to horrify even in death.

The background of Tsutomu Miyazaki reads like a manual of how the habits of serial killers are cultivated and developed. Born prematurely with a deformity to his hands, Tsutomu Miyazaki was a loner and exhibited antisocial behavior throughout his life. Discovered only following his arrest was his addiction to hardcore pornography – chiefly, graphic cartoons known as Hentai and manga strips characterized him as a “cannibal nerd” by the media. However, his desires and fetishes reveal a common trend universally involving serial killers, and especially cannibal killers – they do not kill or eat human flesh out of hate or malice. Psychologists argue that cannibal killers lose their control in channeling their sexual fetishes that only become compounded and exaggerated the more repressed and isolated they become from society. Tsutomu Miyazaki is not the first serial killer to fit this description, and, unfortunately, he likely will not be the last.

Tsutomu Miyazaki

Tsutomu Miyazaki

Miyazaki’s sadistic murders took place between 1988 and 1989, where his actions shot a massive blow to Japanese self-perception of being a harmonious society.  During this brief period, blood lust Tsutomu Miyazaki mutilated and murdered four girls, which included two four year olds, one five year old, and one seven year old. After murdering them, he sexually molested their corpses, ate portions of their bodies, and Continue reading for "The Cannibal Nerd: The rise and fall of Tsutomu Miyazaki" »

Modern-day Dracula: The tale of Richard Chase

Though their actions may suggest otherwise, serial killers and cannibal killers often do not murder out of malice. The habits of serial killers are dictated more often out of pleasure they derive from the hunt than out of any animosity towards the prey. Understandably, that explanation is little comfort to those who have had loved ones taken away by their lunacy. But, the tale of Richard Chase and his brief, but horrifying, killing spree suggests that the reasons for their actions are often not obvious. The absurd tale Richard Chase wove that drove him to commit six murders- and subsequently be characterized as the Vampire of Sacramento – combines many mundane elements of serial killers profile with their most sensationalist.

Richard Chase, much like many serial killers and cannibal killers before and after him, claims to have suffered from abuse as a child. As childhood became adulthood, the antisocial characteristics prevalent in many would-be killers began to show – from massive drug and alcohol abuse as a teenager to claims by friends of self-imposed isolation. In perhaps a foreshadowing into his psychological descent, he even injected himself with rabbit blood. His parents sent Richard Chase to a clinic where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Richard Chase

Richard Chase

During his stay in the clinic, tales of zoosadism were linked to his increasing schizophrenia. His obsession with the blood of animals and their organs as a means to preserve his own body, as he would explain in later testimony, was a neon sign of his worsening mental health. Still, denial leaves room for excuses. His mother sought to take him off anti schizophrenia medications, and Richard Chase was deemed sane enough to leave the clinic in 1976. As is characteristic of serial killers, Continue reading for "Modern-day Dracula: The tale of Richard Chase" »

Mind of a Killer

The age-old chicken-or-the-egg riddle applies when trying to understand mind of a killer: Is it the serial killer psychological makeup affirming itself through murder, or is it their environment that creates the capacity within them to kill others? Complicating the issue further is the various typologies of murderers – does a certain psychological condition make an individual more prone to become a mass murderer, as opposed to a serial killer? Psychologists research the differences of a normal brain and a mind of a killer and offer patterns explaining why killers express themselves the way they do: killers often suffer from depression or psychosis; they suffer from alcoholism or drug abuse creating delusions; they murder out of malice, for profit, for lust, or misguided compassion.  The combinations and permutations of how and why killers do as they do suggests that killers are not uniform – that the mind of a killer is a delicate balance between their internal and external demons expressing themselves in the most repugnant way. The mind of a killer maybe shows the top point of the complexity of human mind.

Mind of a Killer

Mind of a Killer

Popular imagination illustrates killers with broad strokes. It says that killers are alienated from society and, consequently, murder out of disenchantment with the ways of society. Certain types of killers do support this hypothesis that murder is derived from malice. Mission oriented killers are those who feel salvation is attained by eradicating the world of the impure. They murder with unswerving certainty that their virtuous mission to rid society of a certain group or demographic is justified. This form of killer is the result of a strange combination between their distorted interpretation of the world with the etiquette and ethics of popular society. For example, a popular choice of victims in this category of killers is prostitutes. Cultural lore suggests that prostitutes are often viewed as the embodiment of impurity. It is a strange combination of biological and sociological factors that create this hate within mission oriented killers. Continue reading for "Mind of a Killer" »