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May 14, 2012

How many long-haul truckers are secretly serial killers?

Prostitutes are 42 times more likely to be murdered than other Americans. Drive-By Truckers | This Land Press
At least twenty-five former truckers are currently serving time in American prisons for serial murder. There’s Robert Ben Rhoades, who converted his truck cab into a torture chamber, now serving a life sentence in Illinois. There’s Scott William Cox, a trucker who pled no-contest to two murders in Oregon. There’s Dellmus Colvin, who pled guilty in five murders to avoid the death penalty in Ohio; Keith Hunter Jesperson, serving life sentences from four different states; and Wayne Adam Ford, who finally got sick of killing and walked into a California sheriff’s office carrying a woman’s breast in a plastic bag. When trucker Sean Patrick Goble was arrested in North Carolina and confessed to several murders, ten states lined up to question him about their cold-case highway homicides. It seems our interstate highway system has become our Whitechapel, with truckers its roving Rippers. A soft-spoken woman from Oklahoma City first saw the pattern. Terri Turner is a Supervisory Intelligence Analyst with the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation. In September of 2003, a homicide case landed on her desk: a body found along I-40. Turner immediately put out a teletype seeking other female bodies found, like hers, nude, near interstates, and with signs of having been bound. Within 72 hours, two responses came back from Arkansas and Mississippi. At that point, Turner knew she might be looking at linked crimes. She had her communications specialists monitor the teletypes for further cases. In seven months, they had seven homicides. She calls them “my seven girls.” Eventually investigators identified two of the women. Both had worked as truck stop prostitutes. This was the breakthrough moment for Turner. “The vast majority of truck drivers are good hardworking people and without them our nation would come screeching to a halt,” she told me. “But there are very few who have found that that particular job is very suited to this particular type of crime.” In the spring of 2004, Turner decided to have a meeting in Oklahoma City for all the investigators working on her seven cases—and any others that might be related. “I anticipated maybe 20, 25 individuals,” she told me, “but by the time word got around about the kind of cases we were going to be talking about, I ended up having 60 investigators from seven different states show up for that meeting. That was really the beginning of the initiative.”

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May 13, 2012

Can you diagnose someone as a psychopath at age 9?

Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath? - NYTimes.com
By the time he turned 5, Michael had developed an uncanny ability to switch from full-blown anger to moments of pure rationality or calculated charm — a facility that Anne describes as deeply unsettling. “You never know when you’re going to see a proper emotion,” she said. She recalled one argument, over a homework assignment, when Michael shrieked and wept as she tried to reason with him. “I said: ‘Michael, remember the brainstorming we did yesterday? All you have to do is take your thoughts from that and turn them into sentences, and you’re done!’ He’s still screaming bloody murder, so I say, ‘Michael, I thought we brainstormed so we could avoid all this drama today.’ He stopped dead, in the middle of the screaming, turned to me and said in this flat, adult voice, ‘Well, you didn’t think that through very clearly then, did you?’ ” . . . For the past 10 years, Waschbusch has been studying “callous-unemotional” children — those who exhibit a distinctive lack of affect, remorse or empathy — and who are considered at risk of becoming psychopaths as adults. To evaluate Michael, Waschbusch used a combination of psychological exams and teacher- and family-rating scales, including the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits, the Child Psychopathy Scale and a modified version of the Antisocial Process Screening Device — all tools designed to measure the cold, predatory conduct most closely associated with adult psychopathy. (The terms “sociopath” and “psychopath” are essentially identical.) A research assistant interviewed Michael’s parents and teachers about his behavior at home and in school. When all the exams and reports were tabulated, Michael was almost two standard deviations outside the normal range for callous-unemotional behavior, which placed him on the severe end of the spectrum. Currently, there is no standard test for psychopathy in children, but a growing number of psychologists believe that psychopathy, like autism, is a distinct neurological condition — one that can be identified in children as young as 5. Crucial to this diagnosis are callous-unemotional traits, which most researchers now believe distinguish “fledgling psychopaths” from children with ordinary conduct disorder, who are also impulsive and hard to control and exhibit hostile or violent behavior. According to some studies, roughly one-third of children with severe behavioral problems — like the aggressive disobedience that Michael displays — also test above normal on callous-unemotional traits. (Narcissism and impulsivity, which are part of the adult diagnostic criteria, are difficult to apply to children, who are narcissistic and impulsive by nature.) . . .