The following has been excerpted from Flash Point: The American Mass Murderer:
1. The Crime and The Criminal
2. Perverted Love
3. Politics and Hate
5. Sexual Homicide
6. Mass Executions
7. Sane or Insane
8. The Unexplained
9. Inside the Mind of a Mass Murderer
10. Tomorrow's Mass Murderer
11. A Survey of American Mass Murderers
Politicians are perennially fond of reminding all who will listen that America has achieved a leadership position across an
impressive array of human endeavors—that as a nation, we can claim preeminence in many things. What these politicians say
about our national achievements is often true. Indeed, this country has attained greatness in many arenas of thought and endeavor
since its inception, and particularly, since the end of World War II. However, we have also plumbed the depths of our own dark
nature in many other activities, such as homicide, serial killing, and mass murder. In these things, America has also attained
We are a country that is committed to absolute freedom; as a nation, we loathe compromise. We regale in a fiercely independent
citizenry; however, we are also quick to share our resources when fellow Americans are in need. We are ready to defend our values
at any cost when we believe that our national security, principles or pride are at stake. These are qualities by which Americans judge
themselves and of which they can be justifiably proud. They are fundamental to our culture and remain unquestioned from
generation to generation. These cultural characteristics are assets that have become indigenous to our national soul and psyche.
However, despite these straightforward and unambiguous qualities, we are not a simple people with an elementary culture. We are
many, we are complex, and we are often aggressive, brutal, and covert. We are a nation of composites and complexities—generally
good, but with much that is hidden away and unexplored.
We are also a nation that is steeped in violence. Our citizens murder each other in alarming numbers and often in particularly
heinous and vicious ways. Sadly, violence has been the American companion to progress throughout our history, and it remains so
today, as we approach the new millennium. We often look toward the future with confusion and a disturbing composite of fear and
optimism that is uniquely American in nature. In great measure, this is because we have attained a national level of violence that is
both unprecedented and unsettling—a situation that does not bode well for the future. When we murder our own, we do not exempt
the young or the old, the infirm or the innocent, and the unwary or the unknowing. When we murder our own, we do so in accordance
with another fundamental American tradition—we see it through to the end, regardless of the consequences. In this, the most
heinous of human endeavors, we are leaders.
As citizens who benefit from the most technologically advanced nation in the world, we have an acute awareness of our actions,
accomplishments, and crimes to an extent previous generations could not have imagined possible. We are intrigued by incessant
reports of our own dark exploits. With an unsurpassed knowledge and awareness of our own crimes, we often prey upon ourselves
in diverse and brutal ways. We have attained much more than a passing knowledge of fear, mayhem, and murder. We are regularly
dragged into an unthinking and pervasive distrust of our fellow citizens by media accounts of homicidal maniacs and serial killers
who roam this country slaying the innocent and unsuspecting in the most gruesome manner. In the last decade of the twentieth
century, the cult of those fascinated by a single criminal—the serial killer—has attained the status of a national movement. In great
measure, we can thank the media and the entertainment industry for perpetuating this macabre fascination. Embodied within the
anxiety that must naturally accompany our awareness of the exploits of such a murderer, we also find intrigue and an uneasy sense
of relief when we read of the horrors that have befallen the unacknowledged, the unlucky, or the unwary. We are simultaneously
alarmed and captivated by these accounts. In the end, with the daily news relegated to the nightly trash, we accept what has
happened and move routinely about our lives, fairly certain that the unspeakable horror that we have experienced in the media will
not fundamentally touch our lives. We have learned to enthrone violence without understanding it. Hidden within the horror of violent
crime, we find a sense of excitement and acceptability that does not demand comprehension. We have accepted violence on a
national scale and we have developed the skills to market it in a uniquely American way.
Often, we find the anticipation of the next report of a murder to be irresistible in its appeal, despite its inevitable and egregious
outcome. We speculate about the nature of the perpetrator, his whereabouts, motivation, and his next victim. We follow the
frustrations of law enforcement personnel as they try to piece together the details surrounding the most inscrutable crimes of
homicide. We wonder and speculate as we read accounts of forensic scientists, behaviorists or profilers as they struggle to play
catch-up with their prey. We fear for ourselves, our families, and our children. We secretly anticipate where and when the murderer
will strike next, and who will be his next victim. Our anticipation keeps the story alive in the media and the crime real in our minds.
From time to time, more often today than ever before, we read reports of an exceptionally unsettling category of crime in which
America has also cornered the market—mass murder. However, unlike the exploits of the serial killer, we experience no anticipation
of the future and find little reason to speculate about this crime. With this felony, we experience only a brief moment of shock and
horror; that is, if we learn about it at all. The crime of mass murder is merely a flash point on the pages and screens of the media.
For a passing moment, the recollection of this crime may claim a brief headline; however, for the press, the story typically dies as
quickly as the victims it describes because it lacks the crucial element of anticipation. Today, mass murder has become merely a
transitory moment of drama that is horrible in its consequences but fleeting in its impact to all except the victims and their loved
ones. We can sit back with assurance when we read about these horrendous crimes, knowing that the danger has already passed
even as we read of the gruesome details; we can take comfort in the knowledge that the crime is complete and the perpetrator has
been apprehended or is dead.
This is the public nature of the crime of mass murder and the usual destiny of its perpetrator. It seems a simple thing—a fleeting
crime. As reported in the media, the story of mass murder is devoid of that critical element of anticipation that is necessary to
maintain anything but a momentary recognition of its true impact. For most of us, it holds little of the interest of a notorious serial
killer; however, the mass murderer is sometimes a far more lethal and pernicious criminal when he attacks. For most Americans,
the flash point of mass murder passes abruptly and with no farewell; its details soon fade from the headlines and from our minds.
We quickly lose the perspective of this crime because the media has deemed it unworthy of our continuing concern and abiding
attention. It seems such a simple thing; however, it is not.
The nature of this crime, and how it is viewed by the American press, lends a profoundly disturbing aspect to the subject. In recent
years, mass murder has become a crime that is often too common to attract and retain the highly-valued, column-inch space of the
national media, unless it is of such gruesome and heinous proportions that it simply cannot be ignored. The media plays a
numbers game when it deals with this crime; it is only validated in importance if the number of victims is significantly unsettling or
the manner in which they died is sufficiently disturbing to be unavoidable. How superficially we deal with the dark nature of our
souls! How simple it has become to turn away from mass murder—a crime that has been unwittingly redefined as mere
background noise in our own complex and busy lives.
The reality and the truth of mass murder is not as easily discarded as yesterday's newspaper; it is not as insignificant as a missed
headline. This is a crime that plagues our nation from coast to coast and border to border. It grows increasingly virulent each year,
as its perpetrators feed more voraciously upon the innocent and the unsuspecting. Far too many of our fellow citizens die each year
at the hands of the mass murderer. He strikes quickly and with explosive violence; yet, like the serial killer, he also plans his crime
and is often lethally methodical. This is a murderer who quietly moves for years along a path that must inevitably end in the death of
the innocent. He moves easily among us and is seen by so many; however, he is usually unrecognized until it is too late. He kills for
revenge, because he hates, because he covets, or because he loves in a way that is unrecognizable and perverse. He may kill for
reasons that no one can understand or accept. He has a story to tell and a message that must be heard—a message that is always
deadly and unforgiving. Unfortunately, the story of the mass murderer and his crimes is often ignored or given far too little attention
by most Americans.
Crimes of mass murder are typically tales of unacceptable horror and mayhem that are repeated again and again in this, the most
successful experiment in democracy that the world has ever witnessed. However, for the majority of our citizens—those of us
fortunate enough to be the mainstay of this experiment in freedom—the mass murderer is regularly dismissed as an anomaly; his
crimes are usually considered freakish and exceptional. The explosive violence of the mass murderer is perceived as distant,
impersonal, and unlikely to touch our lives in any meaningful way. To many, it is a crime that is unworthy of abiding consideration or
However, nothing could be further from the truth, even if it is far from the national headlines.
Flash Point: The American Mass Murderer is published by the Greenwood Publishing Group.