Yesterday we were all horrified by yet another incident of senseless murder in our country. This time, a 48-year-old man named George Sodini walked into a neighborhood gym just outside of Pittsburgh with at least two handguns hidden in his gym bag. He walked into an aerobics studio, opened fire, and left four people dead
and at least a dozen injured before killing himself. A review of his recent internet postings show that Sodini was despondent with his life and had been planning this heinous act for quite some time. He certainly is not alone in creating a final and deadly attempt at notoriety. Ten years ago, the two teenage killers at Columbine High School
murdered twelve students and a teacher before committing suicide. Just a few months ago, a young man in Alabama killed
at least ten people, including several members of his own family, before killing himself. These terrible incidents, along with countless others that take place more often than we care to think about, are all examples of mass murder.
Since the focus of my writing has been on serial killers, the recent news out of Pittsburgh made me reexamine how law enforcement makes the distinction
between serial murder and mass murder. According to the U.S. Department of Justice
, a mass murderer is considered anyone who kills four or more people during a single event at one location. A serial killer commits his murders over a period of time, usually with a cooling off period between each act of violence. Someone who murders at least three people is considered to be a serial killer. Both types of criminals are great threats to the safety of our communities, but usually have very distinct motives and approaches to their violent activity. The behavior of these two criminals must be studied separately in order to give us the best information for preventing future victims.
In my book "Compulsion
", two serial killers leave a path of terrifying violence and mutilation as they increase their body count. Emily Stone, a woman who works in quiet anonymity tracking the most dangerous criminals in her community, becomes a target for these vicious men. I hope you will read "Compulsion
" and discover how I aimed to provide my insight into the minds of serial killers.
I believe you will find their calculations and planning to be quite unique.