More BTK Questions

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Why hasn't Tom Frank stepped up to comment on the arrest of Dennis Rader in the BTK Strangler case? Frank's book What's the Matter With Kansas? (reviewed by Jesse Walker in the current issue of Reason) attempts to puzzle out why the Jayhawk State has become a Republican stronghold after only about 150 years as a…Republican Stronghold, and has made Frank the leading Kansas translator for the coastal don't-call-them-elites. Now you've got the biggest story to come out of Kansas since The Wizard of Oz, and Frank can't be bothered to find a labor/management angle? Hasn't he heard that Rader, though not convicted of any crime, has just been fired from his useless boondoggle job with the city? Would that have happened in William Jennings Bryan's America?

Also, since recent DNA records linking Rader to old crimes are an important part of the evidence, shouldn't Gerry Spence or some other legal genius come forward to argue that this evidence isn't admissible because DNA testing didn't exist when Rader allegedly started his crime spree in 1974? Ladies and gentlemen, I may just be a simple country lawyer, but do you want to live in an America where you can't commit old-fashioned crimes without having to worry that state technocrats will move the goalposts on you with their high-tech hocus pocus?

Finally, the oft-asked, always obvious question: Why is it always the churchgoing pillar of society and never the crazed punker? (Except on the punk rock episode of Quincy, that is.)

NEXT: If You Don't Want to Know, Don't Ask

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  1. Tim,

    He he he. Great write-up. A

    BTW, are you supposed to make substantive comments or just laugh?

  2. Except on the punk rock episode of Quincy, that is.

    Don’t forget the punk rock episode of CHiPs.

    Cause I dig pain,
    the feelin in my brain,
    the scratchin,
    the bashin,
    the clawin,
    the trashing,
    the given,
    the gettin,
    and the total blood lettin,
    drive me insane,
    I dig pain.

    And that apogee of TV history. Eric Estrada covering Kool and the Gang

    Cellllllll-a-brate!
    Good times

  3. …we…

    Ok. I need some fucking sleep. Being awake forty-eight hours is bloody neoufh!

  4. Punkers are nihilists, n’est-ce pas? So naturally, since all life is worthless to them, it isn’t worth the effort to take one.

    On the other side, scratch an ultra-religious man, find a psychotic waitin’ to bust loose, baby! Repressed inhibitions are only as effective as the strength of their container.

  5. Tim, the reason why no defense lawyer has or will argue that DNA evidence can’t be submitted because it couldn’t have been used at the time the crimes were committed is because that’s a TOTALLY MERITLESS ARGUMENT!!!! (asswipe).

    It’s also an unfair caricature of criminal defense attorneys; and I would think that as an ostensible Libertarian, you wouldn’t have drunk so much of the law enforcement kool aid about criminal defense attorneys, the only people standing between you and an any potential unjust exercise of coercion by the big, bad State.

    And as for your final question, it’s a distinct possiblity that BTK became such a committed churchgoer, indeed the President of his parish, because he suspected he might need some character witnesses once he got caught. Most of us punx have no such need to pretend.

  6. Mr. Bond,

    Yeah, but if any defense attorney was going to try it, it’d be Gerry Spence.

  7. Peter,
    If your post is intended as sarcasm, I’m afraid it’s too subtle for me. On the other hand, if you are sincere in your malice, then sarcasm, satire, and irony are concepts you should familiarize yourself with.

  8. Actually, it’s a myth that it is “always the churchgoing pillar of society”. In fact, serial killer profiling has pretty much been completely debunked. Some are religious, some are not. Some are men, some are women. Some are single, some are married. Some are drifters, some are family men. Some are black, some are white. Some work alone, some work in pairs. They really haven’t found any useful socio-economic predictors of psychotic behavior.

    It is also a myth that there are only serial killer in America – sociopathy seems fairly evenly distributed throughout the world.

    Was Charles Manson a chuchgoing pillar of society?

  9. Was Charles Manson a chuchgoing pillar of society?

    Wellllll, no, but he did start his own cult based on the Book of Revelation.

  10. ABC,

    And serial killers have a long pedigree. I wrote a paper once on a series of serial killers that plagued central Europe in the 18th century. Some of the more famous preyed on children (adolescents and young teenagers). What they did to them was fairly gruesome.

  11. SPD,

    That and a Beatles song.

  12. Was Charles Manson a chuchgoing pillar of society?

    Since Charles Manson isn’t a serial killer, it don’t make any fucking diference. You can call him a psychopath if you want, but the fact is, he isn’t guilty of anything more sinister than trespassing.

  13. …it’s a myth that it is “always the churchgoing pillar of society”.

    probably true, but it seems a disproportionate number of them, be they black/white, male/female, loner/team, always seem to have religious belief or direction as a component of their behavior.

    how many people do you kill before your labeled serial?

  14. how many people do you kill before your labeled serial?

    Well, it took me at least three before — oh, shit.

  15. !!!!!!!!!!
    Thank you (wait a sec, that’s not very punk) Fuck you for including that link to the Quincy episode – I have an audio tape of the best part of the episode, but to see the video again… And the CHPS on top of that – Damn, I’m in bad TV heaven.

    Oh, and I like Thomas Frank. So fuck you.

  16. You can call him a psychopath if you want, but the fact is, he isn’t guilty of anything more sinister than trespassing.

    no lawyer; but currently if your participant to any type crime and murder ensues, they charge you with murder too, not citing if that’s right or wrong, just the law. was this not the case when he was convicted, or your saying since he did not personally kill only trespassed, the murder of multiple people does not make him a serial killer.
    further, wouldn?t his trespassing more accurately be called burglary? just asking.

    btw: noticed some passion in his defense, that’s a little bit creepy.

  17. Manson is closer to a mass murderer than a serial killer. Serial killings are a series of separate events over some span of time. It takes some stability and focus to kill repeatedly in the same area. Thus, no punks.

    Also remember that we only know about the serial killers who publicize themselves (BTK, Zodiac), that have a trademark technique (Ripper, Malvo), or that we catch (Gacy, Bundy). This may not represent the entire pool of murderous talent.

  18. Thanks so much for your advice, Warren, I *was* aware that this was satire – I used the word caricature, which means the same thing. There is such a thing as an unfair satire – satirizing you as a child molester would (I hope) be unfair.

  19. They really haven’t found any useful socio-economic predictors of psychotic behavior.

    This may not represent the entire pool of murderous talent.

    of all the things we know that are scary, it’s still the things we don’t know that are scariest.

  20. Dynamist,

    Well, there are supposed to be a fair number of serial killers in the population at any one time. I am betting thoreau is one of them. 🙂

  21. “…if your participant to any type crime and murder ensues, they charge you with murder too.”

    Doesn’t apply to Chucky. Didn’t do it, wasn’t even there. The trespassing alludes to the various places he and his community were kicked off of. One could find him guilty on the usual RICO perversion, but he wasn’t a participant.

    SPD,
    Take my advice: Always go out of state for a killing spree.

    “…that’s a little bit creepy.”
    Yeah I know, but wadda ya gonna do?

  22. “… it seems a disproportionate number of them, be they black/white, male/female, loner/team, always seem to have religious belief…”

    Isn’t that true of any population sampling?

  23. Its interesting that the author of the first link argues that the cops – who feted themselves over his capture – did squat in catching the guy.

    http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/unsolved/btk/17.html?sect=4

  24. “… it seems a disproportionate number of them, be they black/white, male/female, loner/team, always seem to have religious belief…”

    That could be part of the internal justification of killing people who are otherwise strangers. That they have in some way offended your god or that their destruction in some way some brings you enlightenment, salvation or whatever.

    It also might be easier to hide among the pious. “Joe would never kill anybody, look how active he is in the church.”

  25. I predict that the BTK will be found out to have committed his first murder during college at the magical age of 17!

    Wow, then the Supreme Court can have the last laugh for they now say the state not execute a minor.

    Stanger than fiction.

  26. “of all the things we know that are scary, it’s still the things we don’t know that are scariest.” – jUsTheFActs

    And to think that people made fun of Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld for pointing that out: “…because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

  27. I am betting thoreau is one of them. 🙂

    No, but while serving in the French Foreign Legion I killed a fair number of hostiles 😉

  28. In fact, serial killer profiling has pretty much been completely debunked . . . They really haven’t found any useful socio-economic predictors of psychotic behavior.

    Um, the point of profiling is not to find general socioeconomic predictors of psychotic behavior. It’s to look at the circumstances surrounding one particular set of serial murders or rapes and, given the common elements, develop an idea of the kind of person who might have committed them, giving the police both a narrower pool of suspects to look at and potential tools to help track them down. And, to my understanding, it generally works fairly well given its constraints.

    It is also a myth that there are only serial killer in America – sociopathy seems fairly evenly distributed throughout the world.

    I wasn’t aware there were a great many people who believed otherwise. Is this a widespread myth? At the very least, people know Jack the Ripper worked in London.

    Doesn’t apply to Chucky. Didn’t do it, wasn’t even there. The trespassing alludes to the various places he and his community were kicked off of. One could find him guilty on the usual RICO perversion, but he wasn’t a participant.

    1. Charles Manson was in fact present at the scene of the LoBianco murders. He went into the house and rendered them helpless, then left to let his followers do the dirty work.

    2. Whatever his role in the Tate/LoBianco murders, Manson was also convicted of murdering Gary Hinman and Donald “Shorty” Shea, and he was in fact there and a direct participant for both killings.

    3. Conspiracy to commit murder is itself a crime in every state, and requires no “RICO perversions.” I’m absolutely certain that conspiracy predates the RICO statutes as a crime.

    A little education is a wonderful thing.

  29. The DUmmies* seem particularly obsessed with Rader. Roundups here and here.

    *(posters at Democratic Underground)

  30. OPUS,

    And crimes during his latter years could merit the DP.

  31. Phil is absolutely correct.

  32. i’m sort of surprised that people still equate churchgoing as an eliminator of depravity.

    or even regular old “he was such a nice guy” type stuff.

    i want a reality show with the 5 most frequent democratic underground posters versus the five most frequent free republic posters and see if they don’t end up having fucked up sex in the middle of the third episode.

  33. In terms of labels Manson can also be termed a terrorist or political revolutionary. In Charlie’s twisted logic the alleged purpose of the murders he orchestrated (of wealthy white ‘pigs’) was that these killings would get blamed on blacks. The backlash from this would trigger a race war where ultimately the blacks would destroy most of the whites. After the dust settled the blacks, whom Charlie contended were too stupid to rule themselves, would need leadership. In this power vacuum Charlie and his followers would then emerge from their desert hideway and seize political control.

    Of course the real reason why the killings were needed was more to exert control over his own followers.

  34. OPUS,

    The DP will not apply in this case because Rader commited his crimes during a time when Kansas lacked the DP.

  35. Why is it always the churchgoing pillar of society?

    To the extent that it’s true, I think it’s called “hiding in plain sight”. And in this case, what better cover than an officious petty (and I do mean petty) bureaucrat? O, the deliciousness of it — screwing with people in both enormous and trivial ways. Talk about your libertarian nightmare. Here’s an amalgam of quotes from the NYT (for those who aren’t registered):

    “In his role as a city worker checking homes and yards for possible code violations…Mr. Rader [had] no tolerance for even the most minor violations….In Park City, Mr. Rader was known for wandering the subdivision roads in his city truck, wearing his official tan city uniform, and stopping in whenever he saw potential violations of the city’s rules. Mr. Rader knew every lawn, every house in the community of about 6,000. Sometimes, neighbors said, he would march right into their backyards and snap photographs to show leaky roofs or overflowing trash. He was persnickety about code violations, even pushy, people said, but he certainly never struck them as dangerous or even particularly interesting.

    “Mr. Day’s mother, Linda, thought back on all the times she said she had talked back to Mr. Rader, arguing with his demands that she move her trash can…. Mr. Rader often pulled up to her house, Ms. Lowry said, to complain about the way her boat was parked in the front driveway or her German shepherd running loose.”

  36. i blame nietzsche!

  37. i blame drugs!

  38. pococurante,

    It’s always the control-freakishness you were describing that’s suspect to me….anyone who cares THAT MUCH has to have a few dead bodies in their cellar, IMHO..

  39. it’s clearly a hegelian reaction to unbridled individualism unchecked by a culture bent on liberty above all social good reminiscent of the late roman empire.

  40. They tend to be pillars of the community for the same reason chameleons change their background to change their colors. Nothing much more than that; the appearance of respectability is vital to maintaining cover. You wander around the front lawn in your man-suit, you get arrested. You have to get away with it to be a serial killers; the ones with good camoflauge are going to be the ones who survive long enough to get all the gaudy media attention.

  41. Phil,
    Well that’s the ‘official’ version anyway. However;

    1. Yes he was there and left before any killing took place.

    2. Charlie denies this and there is no physical evidence to contradict his story.

    3. I’ll take your word for it, but still assert that CM never killed anybody himself.

    The point of all this is that Mr. Manson was deigned his constitutional right to represent himself at trial and his reputation has been much libeled. The fact that I think he’s half (but only half) a lunatic as well as a general scumbag, makes the ‘travesty of justice’ surrounding him all the more tragic. The founding principles of our judicial (assumption of innocence, assistance of counsel etc.) system are specifically intended for the likes of Charles Manson (destitute, despicable, forlorn individuals brought before the might of the state). Our collective disinterest, if not ardent support, for his demonization and tribulation is a disgrace. And if I may be permitted a spot of hyperbole, it’s a stepping stone on the path to Ashcroft’s America.

  42. Using a loose definition of ‘punker’ I believe the Columbine kids would qualify.

    Also, I was under the impression that most serial killers aren’t ‘crazed punkers’or ‘churchgoing pillars of society’ but marginal low lifes of one sort or another.

  43. “They tend to be pillars of the community for the same reason chameleons change their background to change their colors.”

    or because community pillars get to weild control over others.

    hey, has there ever been a libertarian serial killer?

  44. “hey, has there ever been a libertarian serial killer?”

    Ted Bundy?

  45. Shut the fuck up, Darkly! 🙂

  46. Phil:

    You are correct that the point of profiling was to develope a “profile” of a particular serial killer, given the circumstances of the particular series of crimes. I did not mean to imply otherwise – my statement regarding socio-economic predictors is in answer to the common misconceptions that serial killers are always white guys” or always “marginal low lifes” or “churchgoing pillars of society”. This apparent need to find some logic grouping of serial killers is clearly evidenced by a significant number of posts on this board.

    However, profiling HAS been debunked. It has pretty much never proven to be effective at finding serial killers and, in fact, has been use many times to outright ignore the real killer, even though normal police work brought them to light as a suspect. Serial killers are pretty much always caught through traditional detective work and/or a slip-up.

    Profiling, like most of psychology theory, is utter bullshit with no predictive power. It only hangs on because it has great explanatory power (ie, it makes for a great story, after-the-fact).

  47. “Mass murder” — what a horrible aspect of the modern age.

    Whatever happened to custom-made murder? Used to be it was all about skill … craftsmanship … and Old World pride.

  48. I don’t know the status of the latest findings on profiling, but knowledge of statistics suggests that profiling could at best only help you allocate scarce resources when you have limited info. Once you have more info, profiles would be almost useless.

    Suppose, for the sake of argument, that most (not all, just most) serial killers fit some profile. And say that the cops have lots of vague leads but nothing really promising yet. The only thing to do is start following up on leads to see which ones have some promise. It would make sense to prioritize scarce resources by starting with the leads that seem to best fit the profile. Resouces are scarce, so start with the leads that statistically seem to have the most promise.

    But serial killers aren’t statistical distributions. They are just single data points, and a data point could always turn out to lie outside the most probable territory. So if none of the leads compatible with a profile led anywhere really promising you’d have to go look at the leads that don’t fit the profile. Even if the profile gave some promising leads, if there still wasn’t a smoking gun you’d have to follow the other leads anyway.

    So at most a profile could provide a Bayesian prior probability when you start sifting through a large list of leads. But the profile’s usefulness would soon be eclipsed by other information.

    And, of course, if it turns out that there is no real pattern to serial killings then profiles go from being marginally useful to actually damaging, since they would divert resources in ways that have no basis in fact.

  49. Joe, Ted Bundy was a Republican.

  50. “Mass murder” — what a horrible aspect of the modern age.

    Whatever happened to custom-made murder? Used to be it was all about skill … craftsmanship … and Old World pride.

    That’s material for a tacky t-shirt…that I would like made tailored-to-fit for me immediately, if you pelease.

  51. For you, Smacky, I make it an extremely tailored, extremely snug tank top. There’s tacky and there’s tacky.

    Also, I just found a cartoon about the profiling of the old Beltway sniper(s).

  52. Wow — I’ve actually met someone who believes Charles Manson was railroaded. Amazing. And who has to “take my word for it” because he doesn’t know that conspiracy to commit a crime is itself a crime. Double amazing. And believes that breaking into someone’s home and leaving them tied up for your followers to kill isn’t all that bad. Triply amazing.

    Any judge who would allow a clearly insane client to represent himself at trial in a capital case is merely bucking for a reversal on the grounds of inadequate defense, by the way.

  53. Being a serial killer would violate the Libertarian creed against the initiation of force.
    So, by definition, there has never been a Libertarian serial killer.

  54. adolf, (what a cute tag)

    The columbine kids were heavy metal. I saw a list once of the music they listened to.

    And I’ve always noticed something similar between fundi chruch going folk and heavy metal heads.

  55. NoStar: a deranged libertarian could conceivably be adept at getting people so pissed off at him (or her) that they try to kill him (or her). Then one could be a self-defense serial killer. Sort of the logistical reverse of suicide-by-cop.
    One could also take to habitually walking down the most dangerous neighborhoods and through whoever tries to accost him.

  56. Nostar –

    Logically then, since the Christian ethos is “Thou shalt not kill” there has never been a Christian serial killer.

  57. “One could also take to habitually walking down the most dangerous neighborhoods and through whoever tries to accost him.”

    Oh yeah, just like Charles Bronson as Paul Kersy in all those Death Wish movies. It made for a nice bit of escapism, but in reality a self defense killer would not last long enough to put enough notches on his pistol to be considered serial.

  58. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that James Earl Ray was an “Atlas Shrugged” fan?

  59. For you, Smacky, I make it an extremely tailored, extremely snug tank top. There’s tacky and there’s tacky.

    Wait, before you measure me: if we’re going for tackiness, can I have a few more weeks? I need to put on 30 or 40 more pounds, if I’m going to execute the Tacky look properly….

    “execute”…god I am an awful punster these days…sorry…

  60. OK, here’s a possible intersection of serial killing and libertarian philosophy: “assassination politics.”

    A few months ago, I had a truly and quite literally “revolutionary” idea, and I jokingly called it “Assassination Politics”: I speculated on the question of whether an organization could be set up to legally announce that it would be awarding a cash prize to somebody who correctly “predicted” the death of one of a list of violators of rights, usually either government employees, officeholders, or appointees. It could ask for anonymous contributions from the public, and individuals would be able send those contributions using digital cash.

    [The assumption is that the winner who correctly “predicted” the date of the official’s death is actually the person responsible for killing that person, on the “predicted” date.]

    I also speculated that using modern methods of public-key encryption and anonymous “digital cash,” it would be possible to make such awards in such a way so that nobody knows who is getting awarded the money, only that the award is being given. Even the organization itself would have no information that could help the authorities find the person responsible for the prediction, let alone the one who caused the death.

    This would be potentially become a form of “serial killing for hire” if someone were to specialize in “predicting,” and then causing, multiple deaths.

    I think this example presumes the extreme libertarian view — the anarchist one — that every act of government by definition violates the “thou shall not initiate coercion” axiom. However, even if one accepts this (and I do), it is debatable whether every or even many such acts of coercion actually merit the death penalty.

    Therefore, let me go on record as not recommending this tactic.

  61. Wait, before you measure me: if we’re going for tackiness, can I have a few more weeks? I need to put on 30 or 40 more pounds, if I’m going to execute the Tacky look properly….

    No, no, no, we don’t want to go that tacky. I’ll just make it tight and low-cut enough so that everytime you breathe in, it looks like you’re baking two loaves of bread. That’s the kinda tacky I dig.

  62. SixSigma,
    Following the 10 commandments is not the primary requirment to being a christian. Repenting of one’s sins and accepting Yeshua as being the Son of God, the promised Jewish Messiah, and one’s own personal savior is what is required.

    Although a christian will make his best effort to follow those laws, a major tenant of the faith is “all men are sinners and fall short of the glory of God” which is why why need a savior.

    The requirements for being a Libertarian
    include an acceptance of certain behavioral restrictions derived from philosophic ideas. The actions of a serial killer preclude the internalization of these restrictions. Therefore, a Libertarian serial killer ceases to be a Libertarian.

    PS: As further proof, I am sure the LP would reject his application for membership.

  63. Jim Walsh,
    From the interviews I saw, I would be surprised if James Earl Ray could have been a Dr. Seuss fan, much less an Atlas Shrugged fan.

    There ain’t no way he ever read 1089 page book.
    On second thought, did Cliff Notes do Rand?

  64. No, no, no, we don’t want to go that tacky. I’ll just make it tight and low-cut enough so that everytime you breathe in, it looks like you’re baking two loaves of bread. That’s the kinda tacky I dig.

    Take a picture of it and buy the Ultimate Fitness Program’s ad space to sell your shirts. We’ll all be grateful for that Stevo.

  65. The only time I ever needed my big fat Ruger Blackhawk was when that church deacon with the pink and green mohawk was breaking beer bottles in the street. Even though he was strung out on multiple substances he was apparently with it enough to realize it was time to mosey on. He apologized to me the next day. The following night he tried to rape the old lady next door. Then when his grandma called the cops for him busting her up he made the mistake of giving them his real name. He was then arrested and extradited back to Phoenix to stand tall for raping a number of old ladies, including one in a wheel chair. Got Dam Christians.

  66. Why is it always the churchgoing pillar of society and never the crazed punker?

    Um, don’t forget Charlie Manson.

  67. thoreau,

    If you read the profiles of BTK you’ll see that all of them are WAY OFF when it comes to actually describing his home life situation. They claimed that he was likely unmarried, lived alone, etc. Rader actually had a family. One some other things they were correct (that he is bright, is relatively well educated and so forth), but they were clearly and vividly wrong about much of who this guy really is.

  68. “Joe, Ted Bundy was a Republican.”

    Yes, a libertarian Republican. The question was about philosophy, not party ID. I’m not claiming he joined the LP.

    “Being a serial killer would violate the Libertarian creed against the initiation of force.
    So, by definition, there has never been a Libertarian serial killer.” So he wasn’t a good libertarian. That wasn’t the question.

  69. “Mass murder” — what a horrible aspect of the modern age.

    Whatever happened to custom-made murder? Used to be it was all about skill … craftsmanship … and Old World pride.

    Back then, the murders had tiny little bubbles and imprefections, proof that they had been lovingly handcrafted by the honest, hardworking, indigenous peoples of … wherever.

  70. Joe, I lived in Seattle during Ted’s heyday. I lived 2 blocks from a victim who survived. A know a woman who met him in a bar in the U-district and went on a date with him. I also have read Ann Rule’s book.

    Your assertion that Bundy was a Libertarian leaning Republican is the first time I have ever heard this. But in that Bundy was being mentored by the likes of Gov. Dan Evans and Atty General Slade Gorton, he would most likely fall into the moderate to liberal (Rockefellerian) wing of the republican party.

    I can assure you, he never attended any of the UW Libertarian meetings in the 1970’s which was the place to be for libertarian and libertarian leaning university students and hangers-on.

  71. All Republicans look alike to joe.

  72. hence illustrating some of the problems of conflating ideas with identity.

    who the fuck cares who bundy or BTK were, politically?

  73. NoStar, on the simplest, two axis poltical definitions, Rockefellar Republicans (conservative on taxes, liberal on social policy) are “libertarians,” as opposed to “liberals,” “conservatives,” or “populists.”

    So Bundy was in the libertarian quadrant. That’s all I’m saying – not that his personal philosophy can be said to demonstrate a libertarian worlview. Serial killing is pretty much frowned on across the political spectrum.

  74. joe

    The only difference between a Rockefeller Republican and a Liberal Democrat is that the Rockefeller Republicans want a National Universal Health Plan so that they don’t have to worry about catching a dread disease from the help.

    Libertarian indeed. humph!!

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