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Fiz

As you know, Laura, I have the greatest respect for you, and I'd like to hope you're wrong, but you almost certainly aren't :-(

Kevin M. Sullivan

Laura-- Can you imagine what a walking (albeit hidden)time-bomb this guy must have been. One has to wonder whether this man had his moments in the past; moments witnessed by his family and perhaps viewed as odd, but because he was dad, or husband, or son-in-law, was overlooked. This type of denial is actually quite common and exceedingly dangerous. If there were visible signs in this case, too bad his family didn't do something about it prior to his homicidal eruption.

People would rather believe their fears and concerns aren't valid, I suppose, because it's not easy confronting those you love when you perceive they're going off the deep-end.

Inspector Winship

Family annihilators have always been the tough one for me to comprehend. I have always understood these crimes to be one of a psychotic power grab by an individual who feels control slipping away. In 1912, Martin Thompson killed his wife and ten year-old son by hitting them with a hammer first then dragging them to the kitchen to slit their throats. He then slit his own throat and lay down beside them to die. His suicide note said only "I could not stand it any more." My feeling is these guys (or gals) could have done this at any time they felt control was lost (of a wife, a child or finances certainly). Other crimes rise as the economy goes south so why shouldn't it follow that the instance of annihilators would also rise. I would be interested to see your research on the matter. Does it hold up in 1929 or 1980?

Dee

I'm glad to see someone else besides me thinking about this topic. I marvel at the fact that relatives of men who kill a family member don't seem to believe that they are actually guilty of the crime. As the daughter of such a man, I find it inconceivable that those closest to these men don't immediately suspect their guilt once the murder is committed.
Thank you for giving this topic attention.

Kevin M. Sullivan

IW--

I will leave the statistical information to Laura as to the rise and fall of such crimes, but come with me for a moment as we discuss the diabolical aspects of those who commit such murders. For Martin Thompson to be able to begin and complete the horrendous acts he committed against his wife, children, and ultimately himself, speaks of a hidden monster not unlike that which dwells within a sociopath serial killer. How does one bash their own children in their heads and then take a knife to their necks? It's absolutely incomprehensible. So, whatever Martin Thompson was on that terrible day in 1912, he must have been all along, otherwise, how is it possible he could have done such horrible things to his family.

During the 1929 stock market crash, men were leaping out of buildings all over New York, and while it was a mistake to do so (in my opinion)there was nothing diabolical or evil about it, they just felt overwhelmed and believed they had no other choice available to them. But this guy who killed his family in CA was moving in a darker realm indeed, and one which would be easily recognized by Martin Thompson. In other words, most of us, if we ever felt overwhelmed in life to the point of giving up, would end up committing suicide only. But these other strange creatures believe it's better to rob everyone around them of life and end up giving Jack-the-Ripper a run for his money in the reputation department.

They are, one might say, monsters just waiting for an excuse to erupt.

Dark Side Steve

I think you're dead-on, Laura. I wrote about another one (allegedly, but it looks firm) this morning:

http://www.truecrimereport.com/2008/10/what_happened_to_the_padilla_f.php

Kevin M. Sullivan has a point. There's a monstrously narcissistic side to this. I can't help but view these types of crimes as situations where what is going on in the world outside works a certain terrible alchemy in the minds of some men. Where they kill themsevles along with their family, I tend to believe they are deeply egocentric men who viewed their families as extensions of themselves. Most of the time, guys like that walk around doing no real harm to anyone. They can even appear to be good husbands and fathers. But give them a situation where they feel the need to just flee the world and take the pain away, and you have the chemistry of a family murder-suicide.

Kevin M. Sullivan

Hi Laura, Hi Steve-- (Steve, I just posted the following info. at your site)

Well, the family annihilators have struck again: A woman here in Louisville by the name of Hope (that's right, I said 'Hope') Orwick has killed her two young daughters (ages 8 & 9) by stabbing them to death. She then took an even quicker way out by shooting herself through the head.

Ah, there's just something about motherly love!!!!

Fiz

In this case, Kevin, it seems to equal "self-love" :-(

Kevin M. Sullivan

Fiz-- Yes, self-love and no doubt other self-things as well!

A Voice of Sanity

"... It is no coincidence, in my view of things, that a man who placed such importance on living in a gated community and driving a luxury car would find himself driven to such an act by financial losses. Apparently unable to live a less than prestigious lifestyle, he became suicidal and homicidal. ..."

You should also view it as a sort of drug addiction. Compare cases like this to the suicides of those, particularly women, who struggle for some time to 'make it' in Hollywood but never quite do and wind up killing themselves. Lana Clarkson is perhaps a classic example of this who, it seems, thought it better to go out in a blaze of glory in Phil Spector's house than as a minor footnote when found dead in her own modest domicile. And there is such a long list of those like her, more than a few who try the 'blaze of glory' route. Some just cannot face the inevitable - those who wind up living in their cars are a much, much tougher breed.

Fiz

This is not simple suicide, it's familicide.

carole gill

Fiz, you are so right!

An Avid Reader

@ A Voice of (In)Sanity: Are you implying that Lana Clarkson killed herself? And what is it you know that the police did not, since they decided to take Phil Spector to court?

Eric

Thanks Laura, your coverage of this story is right on the money! (er, no pun intended...)

It's generally a mistake to only look at the outside "cause" of a family murder-suicide. These crimes usually baffle the local community, and too often law enforcement officers, and in the search for meaning say the murderer did it for such-and-such reason.

But the real truth is that anyone who studies domestic abuse and homicides will tell you that almost every single "Family Killing/Suicide" has years of domestic abuse and domination behind it.

And worst of all, when Domestic Abuse becomes homicide or mass murder, we often forget to classify it as DV when it is the ultimate Domestic Violence.

As mentioned, the Lawson Family murders are a text book example of this, and if you know the basics of the story, I've posted a new video about Domestic Violence Then and Now as seen through the Lawson Murders.

http://vimeo.com/1933815

A Voice of Sanity

carole (p)ill asked: "Are you implying that Lana Clarkson killed herself? And what is it you know that the police did not, since they decided to take Phil Spector to court?"

No, I am not implying that Lana Clarkson killed herself. I am stating it as a fact. This is one of the cases where the evidence of the defendant's innocence is overwhelming.

As for the police, you have it backwards - and wrong. It is up to the prosecutors to take a case to court and they know that many jurors are so simpleminded that they can be bamboozled into a conviction if they can be made to hate the defendant enough. In the US 'system', evidence is much less important than in the civilized world and a conviction can often be obtained without it or despite it.

Fiz

It wasn't Carole who made that comment but someone else. I do hope you are not going to start being the PITA you were on Crimerant...

LJ

This seems a good time to close comments on this post.

For those interested in some of the annihilator cases I uncovered in the 1890s, I have summarized some of them in this old post:
http://laurajames.typepad.com/clews/2005/05/family_murders_.html

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