Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Mind of a Serial Killer

Once upon a time when I was in high school, I wanted to become a Criminal Profiler who hunted serial killers. In my senior year of high school I took a class in Law. For my term paper, I selected the theme "How to catch a serial killer" while another student in the class decided to do his project on "the mind of a serial killer". I was very well known in my high school, as a captain of the football team, goalie on the hockey team, competed in track and field, plus I ran for student's council the year before and lost by less than 50 votes. I had a high profile and was thus a frequent target for gossip.

The other kid was a loner who never spoke to anyone, who was teased frequently, was roughly five feet tall, and had no friends. I don't know how it happened, but somehow with high school being high school, someone in our class started a rumour that because I was doing my project on serial killers; that was an indication that I planned to become a serial killer. This rumour spread, while nobody talked about the kid doing the other project because most people didn't even know who he was. I had the bigger target on my back, and somebody thought it would be funny to start a rumour.

After we submitted our term papers, we were required to do a half a class presentation of our project for half of our grade. Topics were paired together into the same day of presentation, one for the first half and the other for the second half. On the subject of serial killers, the other kid went first. He described in intimate detail how people become serial killers, he was not quoting sources, and he was drifting in and out of the 1st and 3rd person narrative. By the time he was done, basically the entire class was sitting in complete shock.

My entire project was how do we catch these monsters, prosecute them, and get them off our streets. I walked up to the front of the class with my fellow students frozen in shock, like I was Rudy Giuliani, and I described in intricate detail how we bring these nuts to justice. I even played a video clip from the movie Seven. Throughout my entire presentation, I never broke eye contact with the guy who did the presentation before me. I stared him down the entire time I was talking.

After my presentation, nobody in my class ever again alleged that I was preparing to become a serial killer. In fact for the last few weeks of class, my fellow students would literally hide behind me when the other kid entered the room. I doubt that he ever killed anyone, but I wanted to send him the message at that juncture that if he was honestly considering this future endeavour, if he wanted to hunt innocent civilians for a living; he would have someone like me hunting him.

The teacher gave me an A+ for my presentation.

"Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid..."

-The Far Side


  1. You reminded of one Halloween where one of the neighbour's kids dressed up like a giant cereal box with knives and red paint blood and the giant words "Cereal Killer".

  2. Partly unrelated but related in the way it was a major school project in my senior year. I decided to do a presentation about abortion (heavily weighted pro-life). Unbeknown to me, a classmate was pregnant and had been trying to decide what to do about it. After my presentation, she decided to keep the baby and gave birth to a little girl that she named after me (she just changed the first letter)! I did not know this until several years later when she finally admitted to me that she was originally going to have an abortion, had almost made up her mind and attended two appts in Calgary at the clinic, but changed her mind and couldn't be happier. I had NO idea my project would have such a personal effect on a fellow classmate and will never forget that I did impact at least one person that day.

    Now in my older years I lean to pro-choice but still hope in my heart of hearts that life will be the choice (does that make sense?).

  3. You wonder just how many lives are saved "When Good Men Do Something".

    That classic of all it takes for evil to flourish, is for good men to do nothing is absolutely true.

    Look after your home and your neighbourhood and encourage others in your community to do likewise. It's only a tiny minority that cause the problems and rob the majority of peace.

  4. Malcolm Gladwell has written a very good article about criminal profiling - and how it's track record is actually pretty appalling: