How to Solve a Cold Case: And Everything Else You Wanted To Know About Catching Killers

Here are some highlights from this 2022 book by college professor Michael Arntfield:

* People may demand diversity in their soft drink ads and sitcoms, but true crime stories still overwhelmingly cover white criminals and their white victims.

* There has long been speculation that a hereditary murder gene exists—an intergenerational predisposition to extraordinary criminality. The suggestion of a murder gene, even a serial killer gene, shows up in everything from lightweight dramas like Riverdale to more serious works of literary fiction like the 2012 novel Defending Jacob, along with countless documentaries and editorials of varying degrees of repute. In some cases it has been the subject of rigorously peer-reviewed medical, psychological, and criminological journal articles. The MAOA gene, which encodes an enzyme called monoamine oxidase A, is known, along with its variants, to be associated with dangerous impulse control and sensation-seeking behaviours ranging from hypersexuality and psychopathy to extreme violence.

* Every human is genetically hardwired—a vestigial gift from our common primate ancestors—to recognize danger and predators in our midst. That’s the purpose of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol: they’re our fight-or-flight response to threats. And the human eye can distinguish more shades of green than any other colour, the legacy of our ancestors adapting to their environment to be able to scan the forests and trees for stalking predators camouflaging themselves among the foliage. These traits are just some of the ancient hand-me-downs from early humans on the African savannah, such as Homo erectus and Homo habilis. Threat assessment manager to the stars Gavin de Becker calls our inherited instincts our shared biological “gift of fear”; it is a gift that helps us make informed decisions to avoid being victims, not of the wild animals our forefathers feared, but of modern-day human threats whose methods may have evolved but whose motives have not. Predators like Sam Little and Sam Gray. This gift, de Becker says, teaches us that, since many people are not who they appear to be, much less who they publicly profess to be, you need to trust your visceral instincts. The gift allows us to see through physical and social camouflage and go with our gut—to see all the shades of green.

* that “we’re all just one bad day away” from our internal tipping point—just one day from moving the needle over the line, deferring to our biology, caving to our primordial and homicidal hardwiring, and embracing the uniquely human capacity for moral evil. At any given time, in the United States alone, a few million people are straddling this line. It’s no wonder, as I’ll explain in greater detail later, that there are probably three thousand active serial killers at large in the country today, only about one-tenth of whom are being tracked or whose crimes are even known to law enforcement.

* The most common skilled occupation among serial killers, for instance, is aircraft machinist, of all things; the second most common unskilled job is hotel porter, followed by gas station attendant. Meanwhile, the eighth most common occupation among psychopaths is clergyman or other religious official, followed by restaurant chef.

* At the height of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-2020, the non-profit think tank I co-direct in Washington, DC, the Murder Accountability Project, lent its unanimous support to a bill sponsored by a member of the US House of Representatives. Known in draft form as the Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act, the bill would allow the families of homicide victims to override the jurisdiction of the law enforcement agency that allowed the case to go cold in the first place and have the file reassigned to another agency or group (assuming that the new group or agency was able to take on the file). What if that agency was a group like the Murder Accountability Project, a cadre made up largely of former cops and investigative journalists, as well as professors and experts in other fields? What if cases could be officially reassigned to an organization such as my Cold Case Society at Western University in London, Ontario? What if they could be assigned to you, your workplace, or some other private cold case task force still to be actuated, and then referred to the prosecutor or district attorney for possible charges? Although that might sound farfetched, we are in some ways already halfway there. And if that group or agency fails to solve the case, then it could once again be taken elsewhere for a fresh-eyes perspective. In my experience, the more time drags on, the more families and communities merely want an answer, rather than justice in the traditional punitive sense. The definition of justice is more malleable now than ever, and it’s not always tethered to the courtroom. The idea, therefore, that a police department is able to maintain exclusive access to a file for decades without actually doing anything with it—years after the suspect is dead and buried in many cases, and an arrest impossible in any event—is becoming increasingly antithetical to what most people now consider justice for past wrongs. Many collateral victims—family, friends, communities—simply want an answer, respect, and to be made whole again.

* Even if GEDmatch were to cease operations tomorrow, the site has already captured enough genetic information to, in theory, circuitously lead investigators to nearly every killer still at large in America, as long as they have a DNA sample. The basic cost for a DNA test at the private lab I mentioned—including a digital rendering of what the killer likely looked like at the time of the crimes—is, at the time of writing, approximately US$4,000…

* [Israel Keyes] admitted that the 1995 Dean Koontz novel Intensity, about a fictional psychopath nearly identical to Keyes in many respects, helped inspire his crimes. Like the killer in the book, Keyes wanted to experience the visceral intensity of every form of criminal behaviour, maximize the damage and suffering he could inflict, and push the human condition to its limits. limits. He was a ruthless and fearless nihilist who fantasized about instigating some kind of mass casualty event, the full details of which we will likely never know. But his crimes and pseudo-confessions have provided cold case investigators with invaluable insight into the minds of organized sadists. For example, we would not previously have considered bank robbery to be a double event crime that paired logically with an unrelated kidnapping and sexual homicide. As it turns out, there are bank robbers who enjoy watching the terror on the teller’s face more than the money, which for them is not the real goal. Keyes was one of them. Suddenly, the link makes sense.
Keyes’s Achilles heel wound up being the state of Texas. No doubt riding high on one of his earlier murders, Keyes ended up in a Texas town casing a bank he was considering robbing. A random citizen—not an off-duty cop, but just a vigilant civilian—apparently not liking the cut of Keyes’s jib and suspicious about what he was doing, rousted him and suggested that he better move along for his own good. Keyes decided then that Texas was not the place to be, much less commit crimes in. He failed to follow his own advice. Years later, when driving through Texas after his final murder in Alaska, he was pulled over outside the city of Lufkin, found to be in possession of his last victim’s bank card and other belongings, and arrested for her murder. Texas was the denouement. Keyes was dead by his own hand nine months later.

* Cold cases are fascinating for people in all walks of life and of all levels of knowledge, ranging from internet addicts and binge-watching armchair detectives to lettered historians and criminologists to data scientists, biologists, and archivists working across all sectors, people with remarkable skills and insight to be leveraged. They are typically earnest, enthusiastic, and eminently talented people who can complement—not usurp—the work of official police investigators. They certainly should not be ignored and shut out.
Until recently—even as breakthroughs and events unfolded while this book was being written during the never-ending coronavirus pandemic lockdowns—it seemed that one side would never be able to understand the other. The civilians, both laypeople and experts alike, unless specifically retained by the police, were perceived in most circumstances to be little more than, for lack of a better descriptor, “meddling kids” in the tradition of Scooby-Doo; at the same time, this group of outsiders could never wrap their heads around what they saw as the often obstinate, backward, and secretive nature of the police, who, as recent data suggests, still rely on civilian input to solve an estimated 95 percent of all crime.

* Like an iceberg bobbing in the North Atlantic, the visible portion of crime—what’s reflected in official statistics from year to year—is only the tip of the problem; the largest mass remains numerically hidden beneath the surface. You would think murder, as the most heinous of all crimes and one that is the subject of such preoccupation, would be immune to this problem. It is not. Many murders are unknown to authorities and are accordingly never actively investigated and are omitted from the data.

* Three members of the same family had been separately targeted and killed—systematically executed—in the same home in under four years; none of the killings were isolated, unrelated incidents. And just like that, the “undetermined” death of Bridget Harrison and “natural” death of her husband, Bill, were suddenly homicides, rightfully reclassified as murders to be properly, albeit belatedly, investigated as such. Until the third death, these murders had been undetected; they had remained wholly absent from the historical record. They had been rendered invisible.

* Remember that the recidivism rate of sex offenders is nearly three times that of other violent offenders, and the rate for child sexual murderers is nearly ten times that of the typical criminal population.

* One of the reasons serial murder is cyclical in nature is because, with very few exceptions, the act of murder mimics the human sex drive. Serial murder begins with thoughts, visualizations, or fantasies of intimacy with a certain person or type of person, or simply as an intuitive and sudden urge that progresses to something that for properly adjusted individuals would be a consensual act of intimacy. The murder as a type of deranged surrogate sex act for the serial killer is then often followed by a sense of afterglow, when there is a refractory relief period that will vary by person, age, and experience before the cycle begins again with varying degrees of intensity. The key difference between a “normal” human sexual encounter and serial murder is that, rather than pursuing a desired sex partner through the usual courtship strategies (as determined by age and experience), the serial offender will pursue a destructive campaign of stalking, surveillance, and eventual attack; in other cases, a serial murderer will act impulsively and less selectively to acquire the next suitable “partner” he can find for his purpose.
Even in cases of serial murder where there is no obvious sign of sexual violence or rape, the murder signifies a distorted idea of sex that achieves the same psychological and physical purpose to the point of orgasm upon, for example, the sight of blood, the sound of screams, or the mutilation of the body of a victim. This is because a serial killer, who places great erotic value on violent, destructive, and humiliating behaviours, is fixated on very specific visual schemes, ones tied closely to earlier and extant dark fantasies that in most cases have been years in the making. It is also why a serial killer can never be rehabilitated. Violence, death, grief, and pain are the proverbial factory settings of their sexual orientation. Serial killers don’t just materialize out of nowhere. They all have telltale markers—signposts that show up along their journey to becoming these monsters.

* The case of Graham Dwyer exemplifies the slippery slope of paraphilias and the seemingly unlikely people who are potentially capable of sexual homicide. Dwyer was a successful architect living in Dublin, Ireland. Married with young children, he seemed to have a promising future ahead of him—until 2012, when his paraphilias got the better of him. He indulged in his various fetishes, mostly metal objects and the fantasy of stabbing someone during sexual intercourse, with women he met through a variety of online dating and hook-up sites, as well as sex trade workers he’d pay to experiment with. Eventually, he met a depressed and medicated recluse, a part-time child-care worker named Elaine O’Hara, whom he began using to push the limits of his fixations. Unknown to O’Hara, she had been selected as his test subject for how far he was willing to take his deranged fantasies. This innocent and lonely woman with low self-esteem, someone hoping for a meaningful relationship, had been marked for death from the outset as part of Dwyer’s selfish pursuit of the limits of sexual excitement.
After opening the Pandora’s box of an especially dangerous paraphilia known as piquerism— a sexual obsession with stabbing, penetrating, puncturing, or probing a living body—Dwyer eventually could become aroused only if there was a kitchen knife present in the room to use as a prop and visual stimulus during sex. Later, he purchased a spring-loaded plastic stage knife that he used for practice in the bedroom to simulate stabbing various women, mostly escorts, who no doubt found the whole thing weird yet harmless—at least in the short term. All the while, they, of course, were completely unaware that Dwyer was rehearsing for the final act: the murder of Elaine O’Hara. Budding sexual murderers often use easily accessed rehearsal victims, often paid sex workers, before graduating to preferred victims within their own general demographic, who then offer the additional excitement of being an earned kill.

* Most people’s course in life, for better or worse, is charted early on according to their family, school, and other living conditions. They then go on to navigate the world, even if they never leave their original neighbourhood, using that upbringing as the lens through which they see every challenge and opportunity. All of an individual’s reactions to sights, sounds, experiences, and social interactions of any kind—chance encounters with a new love on a streetcar or an app, confrontations with difficult people, nervous job interviews—are shaped by their childhood experiences. For instance, necrophilia, one of the most disgusting and dangerous yet routinely observed paraphilias among serial killers (accurately and chillingly depicted in the Irish-British crime series The Fall) has been routinely affiliated with parental neglect and sexual prohibition in the home during a child’s developmental years. The associated effects include a paralyzing fear of rejection or abandonment, especially among people who were punished as children for viewing erotic material.
Necrophilia is but one of countless paraphilias that can be distinctly linked to a childhood malfunction or developmental interruption, usually through abuse of one kind or another. The “vandalized lovemap” theory of paraphilias and sexual violence, including serial murder, the height of sexual violence and dysfunction, was first proposed by pioneering psychologist and sexologist John Money during the 1980s, about the same time that Dr. Robert Hare was crystallizing the understanding of psychopaths as the kissing cousins to paraphiliacs. Money’s theory would seem to explain two facts about paraphilias: why they are more common among males, and why victims of sexual abuse often become abusers themselves. Money theorized that interconnections between sex and consent, love and lust, intimacy and respect are human nature and the product of our evolutionary biology, and start to form instinctively once we begin to develop a sexual curiosity and awareness of our bodies in childhood or early adolescence. If left to their own devices, undisturbed and free of interference and meddling, a healthy child in a healthy household will make these connections of their own accord, using parents and other adult role models as reference points. The “lovemap” they create through this process becomes habit-forming and subsequently serves as a frame of reference for all intimate relationships through each stage in life.
If, however, during this sensitive exploratory, question-asking, or role-playing stage, a child is subjected to mockery, prohibition, or punishment, the routes of reference between sex and consent, love and lust, intimacy and respect are corrupted and rerouted. As the child’s lovemap is vandalized and healthy connections are damaged, the child becomes imprinted with abnormal ideas about the body and intimate situations. Because the child lacks the knowledge, experience, and self-awareness to explore proper relationships as they mature, the trauma associated with a vandalized lovemap will result in the formation of bizarre sexual preferences that replace people with objects, and healthy, consenting, and reciprocal situations with twisted and often aberrant fantasies. The child’s ignorance is often accompanied by a residual anger when they ultimately become aware of the true nature of their deviance.
When sexual exploration meets with violent punishment often enough, the exploration and punishment (sometimes simply for asking about sex or being accused of thinking about sex) end up being soldered together. In time, violence, punishment, and humiliation are forever linked in a dangerous trifecta that gets stronger as the abused child retreats farther into the darkened recesses of a fantasy world to avoid their real-world environment. Serial child killer John Joubert admitted that his violent paraphilias began as early as age six, when he fantasized about cannibalizing his babysitter. He later became sexually obsessed with the sound of someone begging for their life. His most arousing thought was a pleading victim saying, “If you’re going to do it, just get it over with.” By age thirteen he was ready to act on these fantasies in real life.
Male children are thought to be the most common victims of a vandalized lovemap. John Money believes this is because males are much more visual than females; they will fixate on specific objects that are immediately available to serve as substitutions for people or function as sustainable outlets for their curiosity. If this happens during the vandalization of their lovemap, a visual stimulus or reference point may then become forever associated with a life-changing traumatic incident, which in turn can lead to the development of a paraphilia as trauma, shame, memory, rage, and sex drive all converge in the lovemap over their lifetime. For example, if a child is looking at a pair of women’s stiletto shoes, the family dog, or a set of soiled clothing on the floor while he is being physically punished for accessing an erotic image or touching himself, he may develop a sensory affiliation between sexual arousal, pain, humiliation, and the image of the item—or the item itself—that is difficult, if not impossible, to undo. Over time, these connections may expand to take on new stimuli, which explains why paraphiliacs seldom have only one fixation, and why many sexually abused males go on to become abusers themselves. The trauma of having been abused robs them of both their childhood and their ability to independently go on to form a healthy understanding of intimacy. Instead, tragically, they repeat and compulsively revisit what they know, continuing the cycle of abuse, which is apt to be then repeated in subsequent generations.

* Cities offer psychopaths—that curious and troubling 1 percent of the population—their greatest audience and aid their compulsion to seek out what’s known as a fast life history: the impulse to seek out every experience, good or bad, pleasurable or painful (psychopaths often conflate the two), and consume as many resources and people as possible in as little time as possible. Psychopaths want to put city miles on their bodies with the view that they may live fast and die young, but will have made the most of their time to selfishly pursue hedonistic and often destructive curiosities. In short, they want to live with nimble and theatrical intensity.

* In addition to Stephen Paddock, nearly all mass murderers and terrorists on record, from Charles Whitman to Martin Bryant to Marc Lépine to Jihadi John to Adam Lanza, have had at least some version this [schizoid personality] disorder. …schizoid personality disorder’s main symptoms include coldness, social withdrawal, a lack of emotional intelligence or empathy, and a general apathy toward the moral significance of life and death. The schizoid is reclusive and evasive, retreats from the real world, and constructs an alternate fantasy world in which they immerse themself. Unlike the sexually motivated serial killer, the schizoid’s fantasies are rarely if ever sexual…

* …injustice collector. Commonly associated with schizoid personalities and their rigid, emotionally detached, and angry lens on the world, an injustice collector is a highly neurotic individual who, as described by FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole, who popularized the term, “misperceive[s] the smallest slights [and] decides to act out violently” in a manner completely disproportionate to what actually happened to them, whether real or perceived. As these misinterpreted or manufactured slights and injustices accumulate, each one serves a larger narrative of victimization and confirms the individual’s distorted perceptions of the unfairness of the world and the futility of playing by the rules. Never one to accept personal responsibility, the injustice collector will perceive a minor setback—such as being denied entry to an avionics program due to a lack of prerequisites or qualifications, as happened to Broughton—as evidence that “the system” is against him. Over time, the injustices are strung together like links in a chain, wearing down the individual like a proverbial Jacob Marley to the point that they cannot move on in life or let go, yet another injustice for which others are inevitably to blame.
Many injustice collectors choose to strike back. Sullen, self-pitying, and cowardly by nature, they often pick soft targets, like a school or church, for their acts of retribution. In other cases, the target is more symbolic. It is emblematic of their perceived victimization—perhaps an aircraft as a symbol of an industry that, in Broughton’s mind, denied him access to his destiny. And that’s the real lurking danger of injustice collectors: the catalyst for their decision to resort to violence and begin planning an attack need not occur immediately before or even be closely timed with their eventual attack. To the outside observer, it might not seem in sync at all. Schizoid injustice collectors don’t “snap,” in the conventional sense, because they don’t process time the same way ordinary people do. Like their inability to experience empathy or a full range of emotions, it’s another way their minds work differently. Although the perceived final injustice that sets them off—such as being terminated from the workplace—may have occurred years earlier, in the disordered mind of an injustice collector it was the equivalent of last week. They have not been able to get past the situation, and time has correspondingly slowed. While the rest of society has moved on with their lives, the injustice collector is ruminating, plotting, stewing, and fantasizing about enacting bloody vengeance.

* Municipal politics, especially mayoralty runs, for some reason often seem to attract disordered and sometimes dangerous personalities.

* the vast majority of brush fires in the [Australia’s] remote regions were the work of the firefighters who later worked to suppress them. Perhaps to justify their existence; perhaps to be the hero who sets the trap and then saves the day; perhaps also for sexual reasons—to indulge paraphilias.

* I was about halfway through Making a Murderer when I realized I’d been had.
Making a Murderer featured the trials and tribulations of Steven Avery and, to a lesser extent, his teenage nephew Brendan Dassey. The victim who was raped, tortured, and then murdered, mutilated, and burned—a local thirty-one-year-old photographer named Teresa Halbach—received scant attention in the story compared to Avery.
After serving nearly twenty years for a rape and attempted murder he didn’t commit (but no doubt would have if he could have), Steven Avery, a career criminal exhibiting numerous disordered and violent paraphilias who tortured animals, exposed himself, and likely committed many other crimes we’ll never know about, was released from a Wisconsin prison in 2003. He immediately filed an eight-figure lawsuit against Manitowoc County and other stakeholders for his wrongful conviction and incarceration. In 2005, with the suit still pending, Avery lured a local photographer he’d been stalking to his rustic property on the pretence that he wanted photographs taken of a car he was selling to go with a classified ad—one he never intended to take out. Avery had other plans, and the photographer was unknowingly walking into a trap. Although she had previously been to the property, she’d left in haste after being frightened by the lecherous ex-con. Using an alias, Avery successfully lured her back after requesting that Auto Trader specifically send her as the photographer. He had been planning the event for some time and had boasted during his last prison stint about wanting to create a torture chamber where he would keep and kill sex slaves in the tradition of California serial killers Leonard Lake and Charles Ng. He even drew sketches of what it might look like, crude blueprints of a fantasy that he turned into reality soon after his conviction was overturned.
Halbach’s car was later found concealed in the family’s salvage yard near Avery’s property, and the keys for it were in his bedroom. His DNA was inside the car, and a burn pit on the family property contained bone matter confirmed by DNA to be Halbach’s. The pit also had remnants of tires, likely used as kindling to ensure maximum heat and mask the smell of burning flesh and bone. Although he was a felon, and it was therefore illegal for him to possess a firearm, Avery somehow nonetheless owned a rifle that was matched to a bullet found in his garage with Halbach’s DNA on it. It had either been fired clean through her or had been extracted from her body before or as she was being burned.
It was an unassailable wall of evidence. Because of a wrongful conviction, the state of Wisconsin had turned a one-time petty criminal and paraphiliac into a sexual murderer. He was Frankenstein’s monster, getting revenge on his reckless and vainglorious creator by killing innocents. That’s what the real story should have been. Or maybe the series should have highlighted the fact that Avery’s intellectually impaired young nephew, Brandon Dassey, ended up being tragic collateral damage himself once he was drawn into the orbit of the case, agreeing to answers he was force-fed by police detectives and unwittingly confessing to being an accessory to Halbach’s murder in a bizarre impromptu interrogation conducted at his school—the footage for which should be used as a training video on how not to conduct interviews with youths.
But that’s not how the story was presented. Much of the evidence I just described was omitted from Making a Murderer because it made Avery look guilty—which he is. Instead, select pieces were presented as parts of a tailor-made mosaic in order to depict a carefully manicured account of the murder, its investigation, and the subsequent trials of both Avery and Dassey. It was done in a way that suggested the existence of a conspiracy so monumental that what was presented by the mostly smoke-and-mirrors defence in the O.J. Simpson trial—not coincidentally cited in Making a Murderer —seemed restrained and tame by comparison. The suggested motive for possibly the most ambitious frame-up in American history was that Avery was being punished for filing his lawsuit against the county. Or maybe it was because his wrongful conviction made cops and prosecutors look silly. Maybe they just didn’t like him and wanted him back in custody. Maybe it was all of the above. All that aside, the series never endeavoured to explore who actually murdered Teresa Halbach if not Avery.

* When people talk about being true crime “addicts,” the expression therefore seems apt, since true crime synthesizes dopamine in much the same way that narcotics do.

* So if true crime is addictive, misinforms, misdirects, makes consumers stupider and more miserable, and is generally a “waste of resources at all levels,” as one scientist said, why have people been so cyclically obsessed with it over the last two centuries? More specifically, why are so many women obsessed with it? It may be that true crime fanaticism, which is connected to increased emotional disturbance and logical distortion according to the Nebraska study, is also linked to something more sinister. Could obsession with true crime sometimes be a symptom of the disorder known as hybristophilia?
Derived from the Greek words hybridzein (to commit an outrage) and philio (love or affinity), the term “hybristophilia” denotes a fascination with—or more often an erotic obsession with and sexual attraction to—people who commit outrageous crimes such as kidnapping, rape, murder, or mutilation. Hybristophilia, yet another in the list of the many paraphilias, is one of only two paraphilias thought to be more common in women than men. The other is masochism, the arousal from and sexual fascination with experiencing pain or humiliation. The opposing half of masochism, sadism, involves pleasure from inflicting pain. The two often exist in tandem in a single person’s socio-sexual psyche. Sadism is far more common not only among men, but also among serial killers. But several studies, including double-blind, anonymous studies of college students, suggest that twice as many females as males have masochism as a predilection. Hybristophilia, by comparison, is linked to about ten times as many females as males.
John Money’s vandalized lovemap theory, discussed in chapter 3 , helps explain why people acquire violent sexual obsessions and then act on them. It’s really not much different from what’s known as language-learning-aptitude, the way humans either acquire or fail to acquire language skills as children based on their environment. Humans are born with a natural aptitude for two things: effective speech and consensual sex and procreation. Both instincts can become disordered based on the surrounding environment, often at the same time. The children of barely literate parents may become barely literate themselves, and victims of abuse may go on to become abusers. During those precious formative years when millennia of evolutionary biology determined that the plaster was ready to set and a child was ready to become who they were meant to be based on their evolutionary heritage, a malicious interceding force corrupted the process. Someone vandalized the map—a time-honoured blueprint—of what their life course was supposed to be.
That brings us back to hybristophilia, perhaps the most curious paraphilia of them all. Its presence in women is even more puzzling, in part because paraphilias in women are exceptionally rare to begin with. Although no one is sure why that is, one leading theory suggests that female sexuality is less fixated on visual phenomena. Females tend to be more multi-sensory and emotional with respect to intimacy, while men tend to be more superficially visual. The vast majority of paraphilic images and experiences have an aesthetic dimension rooted in visual stimulation. The fact that hybristophilia is rooted more in a certain ethos or energy, and is less about a specific look, helps explain why it is more common among women.

* Abuse, abandonment, humiliation—whatever the case may be—ended up leading to a drastic course correction in an otherwise healthy individual to the point that intimacy ultimately became associated with fear. Murderers, especially infamous serial killers, therefore come to be seen as exotic and erotically unpredictable alpha males whose ruthlessness the often passive hybristophiliac finds aspirational and irresistible. The fodder of a disordered and often very dangerous fantasy.
Hybristophilia is for this reason sometimes called “Bonnie and Clyde syndrome,”

* The instant connection of the female turned on by violence and a man prepared to do violence, if not for himself then for his new paramour, is a relationship rooted in mutually vandalized lovemaps. Apart from our evolutionary instincts that identify predators and dangerous situations, predators can also read other predators. Sexually disordered and emotionally damaged people with the same violent fantasies have always been able to find each other, though they can do so much more quickly online today.

* the number of cases solved and people located through series like Unsolved Mysteries and America’s Most Wanted —about 260 and nearly 500…

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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