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The Monsters that Walk Among Us

If you sat next to Ariel Castro in a movie theater, you would never guess how evil he was.

by
Jack Dunphy

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May 14, 2013 - 12:01 am
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I remember the first person I arrested for murder.  I had been out of the LAPD academy only a month or two, and my training officer and I were assigned a radio call known as a “welfare check.” These calls most often arise when someone is unable to contact an elderly relative or friend.  We went to the house in question, the home of an elderly widow, and found no evidence of a forced entry or any other outward sign of trouble.  But given the woman’s age and the accumulation of mail and newspapers at her front door, and as none of her neighbors had seen her in some time, my partner made the decision that we should break in.  We did so, expecting to find the woman dead of a heart attack, a stroke, or any of the other natural causes that claim people her age.

Yes, she was dead all right, but there was nothing natural about what had killed her.

When the homicide detectives arrived and assessed the scene, they told us it appeared that the woman had been raped and then stabbed to death with a kitchen knife.  The killer, having worked up an appetite, cooked and ate a meal as the woman lay dying in the next room.  To this day I am haunted by the thought of the terror she must have felt in those final moments of her life.  Who could have done such a thing, I wondered.

Later, with the detectives still sifting the crime scene for evidence, there was little for my partner and me to do but stand near the yellow crime-scene tape and keep the curious at bay.  A young man of about 20 approached and asked us what was going on, and in the most perfunctory of terms we told him that the woman in the house had died.  A detective in the house contacted us by radio and told us to step out of earshot from the man, and when we had done so the detective informed us we had been talking with the likely killer.

As an eager rookie, my inclination was to slap the handcuffs on him as quickly as I could.  My partner, with his greater experience and accompanying wisdom, played it differently.  He continued to engage the man in small talk, cleverly eliciting some admissions that would later prove valuable in the murder case against him.  We would come to learn that the woman had befriended the killer — a neighbor — some years before and often hired him to perform odd jobs around the house.  He had completed one such job before raping and killing her.

While the man struck me as a bit odd, to my then-untutored eye there was nothing in his demeanor that suggested he was capable of the horrible crime he had just committed.  In speaking with other neighbors later, I didn’t find one who wasn’t completely shocked by what the man had done.

Which brings us to the unfathomable, decade-long ordeal of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, the three women recently freed from their kidnapper in Cleveland.  How, we wonder, could one man kidnap and hold in captivity even one person for so long without being discovered?  How twisted must a man be to carry out such a crime not just once but three times?  And how can so twisted a person move among us without our detecting the depth of his malevolence?

We want to comfort ourselves with the delusion that we can spot the dangerous people in our midst.  We look at the man accused in the Cleveland case, Ariel Castro, and we tell ourselves we would have known something was amiss behind the walls of his ordinary looking clapboard home.  Never in my neighborhood, we say.

But the truth is that most of us haven’t a clue about what goes on inside our neighbors’ homes, even in those neighborhoods described, like Ariel Castro’s, as “tight-knit.”  As anyone who reads the papers knows, this term is most often a press euphemism for “poor” or “crime-plagued,” and indeed the Cleveland Police Department’s crime map reveals that officers in Castro’s neighborhood are kept busy.  Zoom in on the map to the area just south and west of the I-90/I-71 interchange, expand the date range from the last seven days to the last 30, 60 and 90, and watch the dots on the map multiply like so many poisonous spores in a Petri dish.

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Top Rated Comments   
Very bad people are sly and part of the pleasure they get from doing their evil is being able to hide themselves behind a façade of normalcy. It convinces them of their own superiority.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's much easier to identify evil people if they have been President for a few years.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (19)
All Comments   (19)
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1 John 3
"14-15 The way we know we’ve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn’t love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don’t go together.

16-17 This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
""" If you sat next to Ariel Castro in a movie theater, you would never guess how evil he was. """

I would, however, note how ugly he was.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I saw a YouTube video of a film done in about 1940. A camera was turned on and just ran as a car drove through downtown L.A. one evening. There were lots of people going about their business and a cop at every intersection.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Most murders happen within families or groups of friends and we teach our young men to kill people in the military; they come and it's "So what?" Thus, they are like all of us.

See The Two Minute Conservative via Google or: http://tinyurl.com/7jgh7wv When you speak ladies will swoon and liberal gentlemen will weep.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
SilverAge nailed it: The police focus is obsessively on the War on Drugs, and Federal deficit spending is the lifeblood of this bald corruption of local police. I would suspect that the best cops in Cleveland get "promoted" into sinister sounding Federal drug task forces, with overwhelming funding compared to the murder and serious "real" felony crime units. Instead of going all out and really looking for these women, the Cleveland police most probably arrested and convicted 10,000's of marijuana users over that 10 years, with no real impact on Public Safety. And the FBI it seems totally dropped the ball on both the Boston Marathon terrorists and on this kidnapping case, due to their obsessive and totally destructive fixation on the drug war.
And local politicians are DEMANDING that the FBI INCREASE funding for marijuana eradiction, in response to the legalization of recreation use in Colorado and Washington which has had absolutely NONE of the dire consequences warned by the drug warriors.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
With this case coming in the wake of several other similar high-profile cases (Jaycee Dugard, Elizabeth Smart, etc.), one can't help but wonder just how many other women and children are living in dungeons around the country right now, being raped and terrorized by subhumanoid mutants like Ariel Castro. Disturbing.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have always wondered why there never seems to be a thorough study done on killers. I have read Morrison and Baumeister and know what's out there. They seem so insufficient and I believe so much more can be done to profile the criminal personality. Why isn't it done? After Columbine, we still know NOTHING of Harris and Klebold. We know NOTHING about the Colorado shooter, the Newtown killers. I find this incredible. There IS a pattern. There is a common thread. There are commonalities. But why do theyu seem to be ignored, or worse, covered-up?
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
There are several problems with trying to predict who's going to be a murderer, let alone act on those predictions.

First and foremost in a free country you can't punish people for you think thye might do. Yeah, if someone without a farm is buying truckloads of fertilizer then the cops ought to have a talk with him, but having the cops haul people in because their neighbors think they're creepy just won't work.

Which leads us to the second big problem. Say there was some kind of generally accepted method for predicting crime. Do you really trust the government with that kind of power? Given what they've ADMITTED to doing with the IRS do you really think Obama, Pelosi and Reid would hesitate to jail some Tea Party leaders for the "good of the community"? And do you think the media would do anything to stop them? If you do believe that you should go have a chat with Mr. Nakoula.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
A U of Penn professor is claiming that brain scans can show a murderer, and is implying that the ability to murder is a genetic trait.

I don't buy it. I kind of wonder, though, if the brain doesn't change after a murder.

Here's a link to the article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/may/12/how-to-spot-a-murderers-brain
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Many things are organic without being genetically determined. Early experience shapes the brain through apoptoesis and methylation of genes (gene expression).
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've known four well-established murderers and one strong suspect in my life. I know I cannot spot them all, but I definitely see people differently than people who have not seen so much. All but one of the five above, the strong suspect, gave off a vibe that something was not quite normal, one was a psychopath (in prison, thank God), and one was as narcissistic as a bat from hell (comitted suicide rather than surrender to law enforcement). The strong suspect probably would have lived his life without ever commiting murder but for circumstances.

On top of the murderers I've had contact with a few sociopathic businessmen.

There are definitely monsters out there, but they are not all without signals to what lurks inside - you get the feeling you are talking to a mask. I've learned to just get the hell away from people who give off that vibe.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Curious about where you hang out, Ep.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
The sociopath was a guy near my age growing up, just a terror for my small town 'til he killed a couple of people openly (had already killed one "accidentally" and suspected of killing a family member of his). I went in the bar/restaurant business, three were associated with that so I decided to find another way to make a living, the narcissist was a supervisor for a heavy industry company I worked for - my job required a lot of interaction with him. After he was fired he went further astray.

More I will not say.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I know somebody who did time in La Mesa prison in Tijuana. He said most of the narcos who had killed could not stand silence. They had to have a radio or TV playing to prevent from having to think about what eternity might hold for them. As Catholics we believe that God will forgive even murder. Well written article Dunph -- the disturbing ending punctuates you fine article with a little dark cop humor.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Very bad people are sly and part of the pleasure they get from doing their evil is being able to hide themselves behind a façade of normalcy. It convinces them of their own superiority.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
True dat.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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