Shadow Boxing

A blog that probes the mind's dark secrets

Extreme Crimes of 2012

It’s been a year of frequent and deadly aggression.

As I prepare for my undergraduate course on extreme violence, I decided to make a list of incidents from 2012 for the first day’s discussion. The year in review is rather disturbing. Some of these incidents I wrote about earlier in this blog. I selected the following for class discussion:

In February, Josh Powell, suspected of killing his missing wife, grabbed his two young sons from a social worker, bludgeoned them with a hammer, and incinerated them with himself inside his cabin.

Rudy Eugene attacked Ronald Poppo in Miami and chewed off part of his face before police shot and killed him. That same week in Maryland, Alexander Kinyua, a Morgan State University student, admitted to murdering his roommate Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie. During his confession, he said he’d dismembered the body before eating the heart and part of the brain.

Around the same time in Canada, packages surfaced that contained dismembered body parts. A note attached to a severed foot was mailed to the headquarters of a political party. A severed hand was meant to go to another political party, but that package was intercepted. The torso was found in a suitcase dumped in the garbage. Luka Rocco Magnotta, 29, went on the run, but was soon apprehended overseas. He’d made a video that features a man tied to a bed frame. Magnotta stabs this man to death with an ice pick, then slashes him across the throat, beheads him, and cuts him into pieces. The killer makes lewd gestures with the body parts before performing necrophilic acts.

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In April, One L. Goh, 43, a former student at Oikos University in Oakland, CA, opened fire in a nursing classroom after lining students up against a wall. He fled the scene and was arrested. Seven people died and three others were injured.

Ian Stawicki, 40, gunned down four patrons in May at a Seattle cafe, and another person during a carjacking nearby, then shot himself as police closed in.

In Aurora, CO, in July, James Holmes, 24, entered a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises and began to shoot. He was dressed in riot gear and he threw a canister into the audience before he killed a dozen and wounded 58 others.

Wade Michael Page, a white supremacist and military veteran, entered a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on August 5 and started shooting. He killed six people and wounded three. When an officer wounded him, he shot himself.

Andrew J. Engeldinger's amassed weapons and ammunition for two years as he came to work each day at the Accent Signage Systems factory in Minneapolis. When he was fired, he pulled out a 9mm Glock handgun and committed the largest workplace massacre in Minnesota history. He killed five people and injured three. Then Engeldinger went into the building's basement and fired a bullet into his own head.

On October 6, Jake Evans, 17, called 911 to report that he’d just killed his mother and fifteen-year-old sister. During the 25-minute call, he calmly described the entire incident and added, "It's weird. I wasn't even really angry with them. It just kind of happened. I've been kind of planning on killing for a while now." Basically, he said, it could have been anyone. He just wanted to kill.

Israel Keyes, a 34-year-old Anchorage construction worker, killed himself in jail as he awaited trial for the murder of Samantha Koenig. He’d also admitted to the murders of Bill and Lorraine Currier in Vermont, and said he’d killed as many as eight people since 2001. After sexually assaulting and killing Koenig, he demanded ransom for her release. Keyes posed her corpse with a newspaper to make her appear to be alive, then dismembered her body and dumped it in a lake.

In December, Jacob Roberts stole a semiautomatic weapon, donned black clothing and a hockey mask, and stormed into a shopping mall in Oregon, killing two and injuring one. He ended his barrage by walking down to the first floor of the mall and committing suicide.

Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother before going to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, to gun down six staff members and twenty students. He then shot himself, leaving no explanation.

William Spengler, Jr., 62, set a house fire in Webster, New York, and shot four firefighters as they arrived, killing two and wounding two others. He’d planned to burn down the entire neighborhood. The remains of his sister were found in their incinerated house. Spengler had previously served 17 years in prison for killing his grandmother with a hammer (reduced in a plea deal to manslaughter). His suicide note indicated that what he “liked best” was “killing people.” He ended his own life that day with a bullet.

On December 3, Naeem Davis allegedly shoved Ki-Suk Han to his death at the 49th street subway station in Manhattan. The reason remains unclear. On December 27, Erica Menendez allegedly pushed Sunando Sen into the path of another subway train because she "hates Hindus and Muslims."

2012 might not be the most violent year on record, but some of these incidents are among the most perverse and disturbing.   

Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D., an expert on murder and other shadow themes, teaches forensic psychology and has published 46 books.

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