Sociopath Murderers I Have Known That Were Not Famous

I've personally met two sociopath teenage killers in my whole life. And I suppose that is enough.

Actually, I can't say that I "knew" either of them. Quite probably, even those people closest to them didn't really KNOW them, including the parents who who raised them from birth.

Mine was a distant and passing acquaintance with each, perhaps involving only a word or two of verbal exchange at the most.

One was named Tommy, and I might not have remembered him if it hadn't been for the fact that he shot his parents to death during the semester we both were in the same college art class.

I do remember that there seemed to be something a little different about him.

He wasn't an art major. Later we found out that he was studying something leading to psychology or psychiatry-- which seems a bit ironic, since he was later deemed to be criminally insane. Tommy was a bit smaller than the average college student and seemed a little nervous and unsure of himself. He may have been a Sophomore, though he seemed more like a high-schooler.

The instructor, in our life drawing class, was always suggesting that he "draw bigger". We all used large newsprint pads, at least two feet wide, to do quick studies of five minute poses o f nude models, but Tommy usually came up with an image that was about three inches high and looked like a stick figure.

I think he spent the early weeks of the class sitting far back in the room where he would be unnoticed. He wore glasses and the teacher suggested that he move up closer to the front, thinking, maybe, he could see better.

The instructor's encouragement seemed to embarrass him, and suggestions that he should "look at your subject when you draw" seemed to be the most difficult thing of all. He had a hard time looking at the nude model.

OK, some of us probably thought to ourselves, he can't really draw-- so maybe he just signed up for the class so he could come in and look at naked people, even though he could hardly even do that.

After the Christmas break-- we realized that he was the one the newspapers were writing about.

He had meticulously -- well, maybe not that meticulously --planned the death of his parents and tried to make it look like a shooting murder/suicide by locking their bedroom door from the inside with a string he had rigged to pull from outside.

A canny detective noticed some details that almost immediately cast suspicion on the son.

First, the boy didn't seem upset about the deaths. Gloves and a spent cartridge were found in his room. A scribbled note was found listing a sequence of things to do, including knocking over lamps in the room to make it look like a struggle had taken place, and putting the gun in his dead mother's hand.

He confessed rather quickly when questioned. He was sent to a mental hospital, but in 3 years he was deemed ready to stand trial. Sentenced to death, the conviction was appealed. He was then taken off death row, retried and re-sentenced to 2nd degree murder with a 5 to life term.

There may have been a possibility of parole. I was unable to find out if he was ever released. This was more than 45 years ago.

The second case was actually a little closer to home, since the murdered couple were close friends of my parents. I knew them as the Brewers. She was a petite attractive women who was well-liked and pleasant. When I think of her I always think of her as smiling and laughing. Her husband was also a sociable person, outgoing, self-confident, and slightly overbearing.

I knew they had a son who was considered a bit of a "problem child", but we rarely heard much about him. This was probably because he was often in "special schools" or camps, or maybe even juvenile detention. I think he was a couple of years older than I.

The Brewers were a part of a large circle of friends which included my parents and many couples who had known each other since high school days. I had heard rumors of Terry being in trouble, but only remember being around him one time. We had gone down to Palm Desert to a summer wedding celebration.

My parents and their circle of friends were staying in a hotel that had a small swimming pool in a lath- shaded patio. Most of the youngsters especially the girls, were chatting and relaxing in the pool that morning, keeping cool in the desert summer. The Brewers were there.

When Terry appeared at the pool, some of the girls who had met him before seemed a little concerned. It didn't take long until he was teasing, taunting and splashing water on everyone. The girls didn't want to get their hair wet before getting ready for the wedding. I got out and left, but we all soon heard his dad chewing him out and ranting loudly about his anti-social behavior. Terry didn't care. He thought it was funny.

Some of the adults thought his dad was a little hard on him, and that his angry reactions only made the kid more resentful and rebellious. I guess no one really knew the whole story of what they were dealing with.

In later days, while Terry was in a detention facility, his parents got my parents interested in a neighborhood square-dancing group, where they all saw each other every week and enjoyed each others company.

Terry was incarcerated in a juvenile "boys school" in 1957, for burglarizing a house and stealing a car . He escaped from his mom and dad after they had picked him up on on a 10-hour pass.

Stopping at a restaurant for dinner before taking him back, Terry ran off and headed for the home of a family friend. His plan was to break in and steal money and a pistol from the friends gun collection.

This happened not long after we first had a TV in our home, when we heard the news reports about the police looking for the murderer of a little girl. The suspect, who had stolen a car and some guns and was on the run--- they knew who he was, and we knew that it was the son of my parents' friends.

Eighteen years later, two months after his release from prison, Terry shot his father and mother to death. He stole a neighbor's car and was later arrested after a bank robbery where he had held the manager hostage.

In 1976 he was back in prison requesting he be sent to the Gas Chamber. (California did not have a death penalty at that time). I don't know if he is still alive.

I guess it was an Oprah program about a young man who shot up his family, killing his mom and brother and wounding his dad, that brought up these memories in me.

I really have not spent a lot of time thinking about these events over the years, but I did find some of the details online. My stories are true, though I changed names and won't post the links to the details.

I don't know if either of them was ever paroled, but I know I never want to see either of them again. I won't even try to guess what the causes and implications are. It would be unsubstantiated speculation about some deep and complex situations.

Is there a moral or a lesson?

I don't know. Both of these young men seemed unable to have any empathy, emotion or concern for others .

I just really don't know. Maybe no one does.

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Comments 21 comments

DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 7 years ago from Central North Carolina

Very interesting, Roshelle, and scary. I don't think I've ever been acquainted with a murderer. I hope not.


Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

It's worrisome. A student last year had a cousin who shot his parents -- but since he then had the decency to shoot himself, society was not left with the problem of what to do with him. Have you read Camus' The Stranger? It deals with the personality of someone who does not feel empathy at all.

(before I forget: I really like the way you write -- fluent and engaging, your hubs are always a joy to read, I'm a real fan.)

The ability to empathize is not present in the very young (who are totally engrossed in learning to deal with the complexity of their experiences); but it's so quickly learned or taught or developed naturally that we all take it for granted, and assume that everyone else can empathize, too. When someone doesn't, wow. I don't suppose it's possible to be a real teacher and NOT be able to put ourselves in the kids' shoes, so to speak, or we would never learn all their different learning skills and coping strategies.

Thoughtful hub. And thought-provoking. Best kind!


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

Great hub, Rochelle! Very well written. Just this week I posted a hub about seeing Henry Lee Lucas when he was paraded all over Texas in the 80s. Of course, I didn't know him. Knowing the people involved certainly puts a whole different spin on things. Tragic.


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

Reading this hub Rochelle, reminded me of my own slight brush with a murderer. A few years ago an eight year old girl was taken, murdered, and dumped. The killer was captured failrly quickly and his face was all over the papers. As soon as I saw the photos I felt a sense of familiarity, but I couldn't place where I knew him from, until I discovered that he'd lived a few streets away from me when I was growing up, and as he was only a year or so older, I may well have seen him around when we were children. Now that I have my own children, I often look at the kids they go to school with, and wonder what will become of them all. You just never can tell.


robie2 profile image

robie2 7 years ago from Central New Jersey

What a story, Rochelle. One can't help wondering about the "why" of it all. Is this kind of psychopathology the result of brain chemistry, environmental circumstances, character defect or what? Certainly something is very scrambled somewhere. This hub brings up all sorts of moral questions about whether such people should be permitted to live or sent to jail, or put on drugs in mental institutions. It has certainly set me to thinking, I must say.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Donna, Teresa,KCC, Amada and robie2

Sorry for the group reply. I kind of hesitated to post this. It is not my usual kind of subject, and rather disturbing to theven think about. I didn't put any ads on it, as it didn't seem right somehow.

Thank you all for commenting. If you haven't already, I hope you will read some of my lighter stuff.


Triplet Mom profile image

Triplet Mom 7 years ago from West Coast

Wow I really enjoy your writing!! It hits home. I was actually really close to a murderer and it is a very strange feeling to think of this person before hand and what must have happened to drive him to that situation. In my case this person was not withdrawn instead very outgoing and a sweet person. Thanks for sharing.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

We have our impressons of people-- but only God knows. Thanks for commenting.


AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

My goodness knowing not one but two of them, how sad that their lives were that way, as it appeared that their up bringing was fine, and to think it also efected you in such a way that it is still stored in your memory bank, Thank you for sharing a part of yourself and your life with us. :)


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

These are bits which are buried deep in the memory bank-- and I didn't have a friendship with either. As I said, it was just a news bit that brought up the memories . My memory bank is getting a bail-out soon.


silverking 7 years ago

I've been reading a lot about sociopaths lately. Pretty frightening. I read 1 in 25 people are sociopaths. That's a pretty high number! Not all will kill, but the lack of empathy is frightening. Great article. Thanks for sharing.


Valerie Lynn 7 years ago

Malignant narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths are not only poor candidates for therapy, treatment is actually contraindicated. Apparently, the experience of therapy, or perhaps for the criminally minded majoring in psychiatry/psychology, actually gives the deviant the experience and knowledge aiding them in sharpening their relationship and/or criminally destructive skills. True and documented: Do NOT send the true criminal to therapy.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Sounds very logical to assume that a truly devient mind could use the information to do more evil or to avoid self-incrimination.

Giving them a chance to redeem themselves and change their ways seems to often be counter-productive. So what do we do?


Valerie Lynn 7 years ago

We accurately evaluate the true deviant, be they white collar, as with the case of Madoff and the Ponzi scandal ruining and taking lives, as destructive as the criminally deviant, those whose other destructive behaviors are more easily recognized and whose cruelty is obvious to the many. Learn about malignant narcissism in "Why is it always about You?" Understand you cannot change what is at the core of the individual, and do not subject yourself to short or long-term emotional and/or physical abuse, financial or other exploitations, and if you need help separating from the malignant family or group or individual, seek it out. There are support groups, therapists, literature, structured associations now more accessible than ever via the Internet; use these resources. And understand this: think of Scott Peterson, the apparently normal, loving husband and father. While he is an extreme case, the truth is we are surrounded in our neighborhoods by emotionally damaged and a range of deviant people. Many do not come to our attention because their lack of a value system and consciousness is cleverly masked. When you are not drawn to a person, attracted as a friend or acquaintance, pay attention to your responses to others. Chances are you will develop a sense of who is positive in your life, and these are the people you should surround yourself with, and focus on. As to what we should do as a society, we need to evaluate our collective value system and the impact it cummatively has on generations following generations. This is generally not a problem in Europe where for centuries they have lived, valuing family and passing on value systems consistent with intimacy versus acquisition and status -- in the largest of pictures. In comparision, the United States is in its developmental adolescence, a time of developing identity, purpose, and yes, a coalescing of consciouness and integrity. I would say our adolescence development is a phase we are not navigating as well as one would hope. The consequences are evident in assessing a variety of indicators. I'll leave you to assess these, as they are numerous, creating quite a long list. Were we to compare the same list to older, more developmentally mature countries, the differences are startling, as are the statistics related to criminal and non-prosecuted types of pathologies described here.


Cailin 6 years ago

@Valerie Lynn:

Therapy is contraindicated with the diagnoses you suggested - but do we agree that all who become what appears to be sociopathic killers started out that way and were inevitably going to kill?

If nurture plays as much of a part in the lives of these killers as it seems to in nearly every other part of human development, the implication is that killers are created and, therefore, their creation could also be avoided. Still, it's hard to think that the mentality capable of such heinous crimes is not completely biologically foreign from one's own.

Thoughts?


Baileybear 6 years ago

I found your post interesting and will link to mine. I just wrote about my observations associating with a psychopath.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you all for your comments. I have not visited this hub for quite a while-- not something I think about much, but it is an interesting subject. I have not really tried to analyze these two events, because so many complicated details are not known-- especially by me. Even with scrupulous investigation, I'm not sure there are answers to the "why" questions.

The stories told here are true (except names) maybe they will serve to make others aware of behaviors that seem a bit strange.


Callan S. profile image

Callan S. 5 years ago

An actual sociopath wouldn't be embarressed by the instructors words, nor embaressed by looking at a nude body. The second one seemed to be closer to the sociopath profile.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I think your observations are probably correct about the first one. He did seem to care about what others thought about him, and he did go to quite a lot of trouble to try to make the deaths look like a murder suicide between the two. He obviously had serious mental problems, but technically not a sociopath.

The other one did not seem to care what anyone thought.


LoriSoard profile image

LoriSoard 4 years ago from Henryville, Indiana

It is hard to fathom how someone can murder their parents like that. I have come across a couple of sociopaths as well. Not all of them murder. One in particular, I know would love to kill me (that is why I have gotten as far from her as I could), but I think the idea of getting caught stops her. She wants to be well thought of by others. Trust me that I know she is capable of evil and I have taken precautions. Just really scary people, once you realize they have no conscience and it is all a game to them.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 4 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Stay safe-- and away-- Lori. It is a game with serious consequences.

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