Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Knife clue could solve mystery of the Ripper
The Observer April 24, 2005
[…] A new book claims that the man behind the murders of five London prostitutes in 1888 was Sir John Williams, a friend of Queen Victoria and obstetrician to her daughter, Princess Beatrice, and his surgical knife was the murder weapon. […] The book, Uncle Jack, is written by one of the surgeon’s descendants, Tony Williams. […] Next week, a new theory will be released by Trevor Marriott, a former murder squad detective with Bedfordshire police, who has devoted years of research to the case, applying modern policing techniques to the evidence. He believes the killer was a merchant seaman who caught a venereal disease from a prostitute and went on a killing rampage in revenge.
Delawareonline/The News Journal 04/08/2005 http://www.delawareonline.com/newsjournal/local/2005/04/08spreekillersfee.html
[…] Police say Allison Lamont Norman, 22, went on a shooting rampage Thursday, killing two people and wounding five. […] No one knows what went on in Norman’s mind. But there are some things that psychologists who study “spree killers” can say, if only tentatively and with qualifications. “Spree killers are making a statement,” said Katherine Ramsland, an assistant professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University. “You’re hitting back at people whom you’ve perceived as hurting you. … Everyone’s a representative of a society that’s turned against them.” [..] In general, when people do irrational things, there is a “disconnect” between emotions and judgment, said Carroll Izard, distinguished professor of psychology at University of Delaware.
The Guradian February 3, 2005
The Metropolitan police’s new chief today claimed his officers were having to deal with an increasing number of murders committed by mentally ill people. Speaking at the closing session of the two-day Guardian public services summit, Sir Ian Blair said that although the “staples” of crime, such as burglary and domestic violence, were on the decline, his officers had to tackle a rise in serious crime, particularly murders committed by those with mental health problems. He said “agencies” were failing to manage the problem. […] Sir Ian later conceded in a question and answer session that it was important to avoid stigmatising mental health problems, which could do so much to hamper the work of agencies attempting to reach out to people with severe mental illness who were most in need of support.
New York Times: December 14, 2004
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Violent-Crime.html Murders in the United States dropped by nearly 6 percent in the first half of the year after rising for four straight years, the FBI reported Monday. Almost all other crimes declined, too. Overall, violent crime was down 2 percent in the first six months of the year compared with the same period of 2003, according to preliminary figures provided to the FBI by more than 10,700 state and local police agencies. Violent crime includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crimes — burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft — also declined about 2 percent, and arsons fell by nearly 7 percent. The only crime that increased was rape, which was up 1.4 percent nationwide and 6.5 percent in cities with populations of 1 million or more.
Experts aren’t sure why crime is falling. James Lynch, professor at American University’s Department of Justice, Law and Society, said it could be because of increased focus on homeland security. “You’re after terrorists, but you’re picking up other things,” Lynch said. “That’s the only thing I can think of because the economy certainly isn’t robust.” James Alan Fox, a criminal justice professor at Northeastern University, said while the news overall is good, it’s too early to know if the recent trend for murders has been reversed since the latest report only covers the first six months of 2004. He said killings tend to spike during the months when young people are out of school, so they could be higher in the second half of the year.
The British Journal of Psychiatry (2004) 185: 394-398
?? 2004 The Royal College of Psychiatrists
Homicide and mental illness in New Zealand, 1970-2000
Alexander I. F. Simpson, Brian Mckenna, Andrew Moskowitz, Jeremy Skipworth, Justin Barry-Walsh Aims To provide accurate information about the contribution of mental illness to homicide rates.
Method Retrospective study of homicide in New Zealand from 1970 to 2000, using data from government sources. ??Mentally abnormal homicide??perpetrators were defined as those found unfitto stand trial, not guilty by reason of insanity, convicted and sentenced to psychiatric committal, or convicted of infanticide. Group and time trends were analysed.
Results Mentally abnormal homicides constituted 8.7% of the 1498 homicides. The annual rate of such homicides was 1.3 per million population, static over the period. Total homicides increased by over 6% per year from 1970 to 1990, then declined from 1990 to 2000. The percentage of all homicides committed by the mentally abnormal group fell from 19.5% in 1970 to 5.0% in 2000. Ten percent of perpetrators had been admitted to hospital during the month before the offence; 28.6% had had no prior contact with mental health services. Victims were most commonly known to the perpetrator (74%).
Conclusions Deinstitutionalisation appears not to be associated with an increased risk of homicide by people who are mentally ill. http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/abstract/185/5/394?ct
Murder victim ‘had no police support’
The Guardian Thursday September 30, 2004
The family of a mother and son shot dead by the woman’s estranged husband yesterday claimed police failed to offer her adequate protection even after she expressed fears that he would kill her. Relatives of Julie Pemberton alleged police officers had failed to take responsibility for her case though she had been abused by her husband, Alan, for years. Mrs Pemberton’s brother, Frank Mullane, also criticised the police for taking more than six hours to get an armed response unit to the scene of the attack after her panicked call to an emergency operator when she said she had “about one minute before I die”. http://www.guardian.co.uk/crime/article/0,2763,1316147,00.html
Doctors ‘could spot murder risk’
BBC News Online 24 September, 2004
The head of Scotland Yard’s murder squad has urged a review of the law to
make it easier for doctors to identify mentally ill patients who could kill.
Doctors can currently face disciplinary action for breaking a patient’s
confidentiality, even where they consider the person a serious danger.
Commander Andy Baker believes mental health professionals could hold the key
to identifying potential killers. But some senior psychiatrists disagree,
saying such predictions are impossible.
How officials failed to see menace of the Slasher : Youth justice team
decided 12-year-old knifeman was no risk to public: last week he went down
The Observer September 19, 2004
A knife-wielding teenager dubbed The Slasher, sentenced to life last week
for a series of violent attacks, was allowed to continue his reign of terror
because youth justice professionals repeatedly refused to classify him as a
risk to the public, The Observer has discovered. Elias Cecchetti, who was
arrested last year for stabbing a female jogger in a London park, was on an
electronic tag at the time of the attack and had a string of convictions for
violence, theft and drug possession.
He was first identified as out of control in 2000, when his local council,
Hackney, applied for an antisocial behaviour order. But social services
sources have said that the local youth justice team – which comprises
experts from the criminal justice, health and education system – said it was
impossible to carry out an official risk-assessment on Cecchetti, as he had
not been offending for long enough. Three years later, when he was
imprisoned for the frenzied attack in the park, he was considered so
dangerous by the Prison Service that he was sent to Woodhill high-security
adult jail near Milton Keynes, even though he was only 15.
BBC News Online 17 September, 2004
Seeking the truth from a killer
When a murderer has been convicted the job of the police is done. It is the ultimate result. But what happens when the killer behind bars has refused to utter a word about the crime? The grieving families and the detectives, who have dedicated countless hours and resources to the case, are often none the wiser as to what really happened, and why. For a dogged few, returning to interview the killer in prison is the only way to try to get genuine closure on the case. This week Soham detective Chief Superintendent Chris Stevenson said he still hoped Ian Huntley would tell the truth about how and why he murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3662454.stm
Gang culture blamed as ‘Manhunt’ killer is sentenced to life
The Guardian September 4, 2004
It was the murder that prompted retailers to pull the controversial computer
game Manhunt from their shelves. But as Warren Leblanc, 18, was given a life
sentence yesterday for luring his 14-year-old friend to a park and killing
him, Leicester crown court was told the murder was not a re-enactment of the
game but the result of gang culture. […] Leblanc was said to be in a
trance when he began to hit his victim and panicked when he saw the blood.
Stefan’s mother, Giselle, has been staunch in her belief that the killing
mirrored scenes from Manhunt, in which each player earns points for stealth
murders. She says Leblanc was obsessed with the game. “To quote from the
website that promotes it, it calls it a psychological experience, not a
game, and it encourages brutal killing,” she said. “If he was obsessed with
it, it could well be that the boundaries for him became quite hazy.”