by John Hawkins | October 9, 2002 1:38 am
The DC Sniper Attacks — Terrorist Or Serial Killer?: There has been a lot of speculation in the Blogosphere about whether the attacks in DC have been committed by terrorists (Islamic or white supremacist) or by what we traditionally think of as a ‘serial killer’.
At first, I was leaning towards the former but a couple of things have changed my mind. To begin with, the police have come across their first significant clue in the case…
“The killer left a calling card. It was found not far from where a 13-year-old boy was shot and critically wounded Monday morning at Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Maryland.
In a nearby wooded area, detectives found the spot where the sniper apparently waited in ambush. The grass was matted down, a shell casing was found and, law enforcement sources say, investigators found a message from the gunman to the Police.
It was written on a Tarot Card, an ancient method of fortune telling. The cards are supposed to help people look into the future.
Law enforcement sources say there was a message scribbled on the card. It read; ‘Dear Policeman, I am God.’
The message on the card would of course lead one to believe that we’re dealing some sort of serial killer rather than a terrorist. On the other hand, could the killer simply be trying to throw the police off the trail? That’s always a possibility but do keep in mind that there have been other serial killers who have used sniper attacks.
To be honest, although I have a psych degree and have read quite a bit about serial killers, before tonight I couldn’t name a serial killer who extensively used sniper attacks. Sure, Richard Chase did a couple of ‘drive-bys’ but that’s not really the same thing. I also remembered that Charles Whitman killed 14 people in a sniper attack back in 1966 but he was a mass murderer, not a serial killer and his motivations wouldn’t be the same as this killer.
But I did a little research and I turned up at least two serial killers who used “sniper attacks” (although there may be more. Back in 1994, the ‘Suffolk Sniper‘ killed one person and attempted to kill two others in what appear to be random sniper attacks. Because of the low body count it’s not surprising that I hadn’t heard of that case.
However, Jospeh P. Franklin is another matter. He may have killed as many as 15 people, some of them via sniper attacks (incidentally, he also claims to be the man who shot and crippled Larry Flynt. He said he was angry that Flynt was showing interracial sex scenes in Hustler.)
So while this killer’s sniper attacks are definitely unusual, they’re not unprecedented. If and when we catch the sniper, we’ll learn more about their past and that’ll give us a clearer picture of their motivations. But until then, I’m going on the theory that this is a serial killer, not a terrorist.
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