Sugar and spice and everything nice… One of the reasons Lizzie Borden was acquitted of double murder was because the jury found it inconceivable that a member of the fairer sex was even capable of committing such a horrendous crime. If you caught the recent Lifetime movie “Lizzie Borden Took an Axe,” you may have wondered, too, if it was physically possible for the frail-looking Lizzie (as portrayed by Christina Ricci) to carry out the labor and rage intensive murder of her parents. In real life, Lizzie was less of a waif; she was said to be of average height and weight. It’s no secret that males greatly outnumber females in almost all areas of crime. This fact reinforces the general view that women are passive by nature, and men naturally aggressive. We’ve long been led to believe that women are by nature less aggressive. However, research (by David Adams, and later Pepler and Slaby) holds that biology is not a significant factor in explaining gender differences in offending; i.e. why boys outnumber girls in offending. Psychologist and criminologist Anne Campbell agrees. She maintains that boys and girls have the potential to be aggressive but the difference is in the socialization. Most experts acknowledge that that girls and boys are socialized differently. Girls are encouraged to be more accommodating toward others and taught not to be aggressive. Boys, on the other hand, are encouraged to be forceful, and even encouraged to be aggressive. It appears that cultural and social factors […]
Reading and writing about crime all the time has a way of making you paranoid. I know the safety odds are in my favor, but I like to hedge my bets—so I keep a hammer in my car. I bought it at a local hardware store for $2.99. It has a rubber handle and a shiny silver head. I keep it under the driver’s seat, just in case I have to fend off a crazed maniac, or help a friend hang some pictures. A hammer is also handy for smashing windows open in the off-chance you drive off a bridge and get trapped inside your car. You never know… Sometimes I park my car in an unmanned municipal garage near the train station. The later it gets, the creepier the garage becomes. Once a guy gave me a serious case of the heebie jeebies when he appeared out of nowhere, and literally lurched toward the elevator I had just stepped into. He had a weird facial tic and smelled like roasted turkey. I thought I was a goner for sure. Fortunately, he was just a fellow parker, albeit a strange one. Last week I left my car in that same lot. I was meeting friends for drinks and couldn’t find better parking. Knowing that it would be another late night, I decided I needed to bring some sort of protection with me. Pepper spray would have been a lot easier and lighter to tote around town, but alas, I had […]
“The prosecutor can get the grand jury to indict a ham sandwich,” said zillions. Are grand juries really so eager to indict ham sandwiches? Any prosecutor worth his/her salt knows grand juries can be prickly, and are seldom impressionable enough to coerce into returning a true bill of indictment for deli meat or particularly weak cases. Still, it seems like some pundit, reporter, or TV character is always making the “ham sandwich” declaration. If I had a quarter for every time I heard it, I’d be rich—or at the very least, have enough money to buy a few dozen ham sandwiches. We can blame Sol Wachtler for introducing the phrase into the popular lexicon. Back in 1985, Wachtler was the newly appointed Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals when he told a reporter that prosecutors had such influence over grand juries they could convince them to “indict a ham sandwich.” Etymologist Barry Popik asked the former top judge about his comment. “Wachtler—who is Jewish—told me that he regrets that he didn’t say ‘pastrami sandwich,’ adding that he may (surely) have been misquoted about ‘ham,’ ” Popik writes. Wachtler also regrets stalking his ex-lover and threatening to kidnap her daughter—crimes that not only inspired an early episode of Law & Order but got him disbarred and earned him 10 months in the slammer in 1992. Today, he attributes that bizarre behavior (he dressed as a cowboy during his stalking stint) to bipolar disorder. Wachtler was reinstated to the bar […]
On a recent episode of “Cops,” a bare-chested, shoe-less fool complained that the officers hadn’t read him his Miranda rights. The officers were asking him about a fight that had just taken place. The shoe-less wonder wasn’t a suspect, so Miranda wasn’t necessary. The common right of inquiry allows law enforcement agents to question civilians—Miranda warnings are not required. Answers provided during such inquiries are legal and valid at trial. Miranda only applies to suspects in custody. If you are skulking about the neighborhood, an officer has the right to stop and question you. Custody is defined as the legal physical control of a person or object. Police custody occurs when a person is detained by law enforcement and not permitted to leave on his/her own accord. Once a person is taken into custody, police officers must be careful to read the Miranda warnings before beginning any interrogation. The shoe-less wonder eventually got his wish. After throwing a fit and lunging at the officers, he was arrested….and Mirandized.
It’s true: I am a degenerate candy addict. If you leave candy unattended, chances are I will eat it. Immediately. Seems like I’m not the only one. Artist Rey Reynoso brought this story to my attention: Someone broke into a Pennsylvania home and stole a bunch of jelly beans. The burglar knocked out a window in the front door and swiped a jar of jelly beans off the dining room table. The rest of the home—and property—was left untouched. Police speculate the perpetrator was scared off before s/he could steal any valuables. As for me, I think maybe the thief simply had a sweet tooth. That said, I have an alibi for last night: I was home in New York, eating Now & Laters.
Spree, serial, and mass murderers. While all three of types of murderers kill multiple people, there are major differences between each type. Although every rule has its exceptions, each generally has its own characteristics, the knowledge of which is instrumental to finding, arresting, and prosecuting the perpetrator. Serial killers are usually motivated largely by violent urges revolving around sex. They tend to carefully plan out each murder and take time to “cool off” between each one. Predators in the most literal sense of the word, serial killers are usually diagnosed a psychopaths (as opposed to psychotic) and tend to come across as normal, even likable, people who lead ordinary lives. Experts disagree about the number of victims a person must murder before being deemed a serial killer, but three is generally the accepted number. A mass murderer kills multiple people in one place. Motive doesn’t figure as much into defining someone as a mass murderer. Anyone from high-ranking Nazis during World War II to Julio Gonzalez, who set a fire killing eighty-seven people at the Happy Land social club in the Bronx, can be considered a mass murderer. Spree killers are more spontaneous than serial killers, and they kill in at least two different locations, unlike mass murderers. Andrew Cunanan, who murdered five people including legendary clothing designer Gianni Versace, over the course of three months, is an example of a spree killer. —Dwyer