The best way to describe people like the Colorado shooter, James Holmes, is that they are actors. They are people with deep-seeded disturbances who live in two worlds; The real world and their own world behind closed doors. They are able to fool us all.
In the real world, they adapt to every day norms going about work, school and play as though completely normal, one of us. They laugh, they strive, they love. Many times, in my thirty years on the job at Miami-Dade Police, I heard the words, “He seemed like such a nice boy!”
Ted Bundy seemed like a nice boy.
Then, there is their secret world. When the door closes behind them and the rest of the world is shut out, they wallow in fantasy. Some are sexually based. Some are hate or power based. An Islamist terrorist blows up innocent people based on a religious and/or political callings.
Others are simply inexplicable. Thus, the Colorado shooter.
James Holmes will become the subject of media pundits and experts all across the country with every hypothesis imaginable trying to determine where the blame lies. What made him go crazy? What about parents? Drugs? Most of all, why didn’t anyone see the signs?
The world has seven billion people, and the U.S. has 310 million of them. We cannot monitor every human being.
James Holmes might have been a loner, a weirdo, a non-conformist, but none of these traits are illegal nor reason to bring someone in for psychiatric testing. Having never been arrested, he slipped through the proverbial cracks.
Multiple killer, Ted Bundy, who did not always sexually assault his victims, was a bright law student with good looks and a mountain of charm. A typical Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he lived a life fooling everyone, normal as apple pie. He used trust as a weapon to accomplish his goals. When those doors closed behind him, he lived in fantasyland, pondering where and how to carry out the impulses that drove him to violent behavior.
These people are sociopaths. They have no feelings of guilt or remorse. They can pass a polygraph with flying colors, despite being guilty.
Sociopaths are not limited to killers. They can be your neighbors, your politicians and even your family members. They live a life of deception in order to achieve their goals, even if only for money and power. There are politicians and other celebrities who live two lives, one in front of the camera, and the one behind closed doors. Unfortunately, we have no choice but to accept the imperfections of an imperfect world. That’s certainly no consolation to the victims in Colorado, living or deceased.
Pro and anti gun warriors are already coming out to defend and/or to condemn guns in America. The 2nd Amendment is here to stay, as it should. But it’s not impossible to pass laws that restrict the nature of guns people can buy and own. Free speech does not protect the dangers of crying “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Neither is it sensible that average citizens can own assault weapons of mass destruction that are intended for military conflict. Meanwhile, because this is such a high-profile news item, look for politicians to exploit and capitalize to their individual benefit.
There will always be sociopaths among us. John Wayne Gacy was an affable man who entertained as a clown at kids parties. Jeffery Dahmer ate his victims. Charles Whitman, also 24, gained fame as the Texas tower killer in 1966, killing sixteen innocents. In 2007, a South Korean student opened fire and killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech.
I’ve often looked at the family pictures of child victim, Jon Benet Ramsey, age 6, who was strangled to death at her home in 1996. Physical evidence and circumstances at the scene show it had to be committed inside, by one of three family members; mom, dad, brother, age 11. One of those is a sociopath who can fool everyone by seeming to be perfectly sane.
I came to know hundreds of violent criminals in my police career. Many had a conscience. The most dangerous were the ones without, because they were just like you and me.
Don’t be surprised that one day you’ll be uttering the words, “It’s unbelievable. He seemed so nice.”