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Serial Killer

20070327: Koli faced childhood abuse New Delhi Serial Killer News
Nithari serial killer Surender Koli has something in common with South African serial killer Stewart Wilken alias ‘Boetie Boer'. He too had been sexually abused during his childhood the way Wilken was. Both eventually turned out to be ‘psychopaths', allegedly killing a number of innocent children.

Koli is believed to have revealed his bizarre past to Central Bureau of Investigation sleuths, led by joint director Arun Kumar, during his sustained questioning. Central Bureau of Investigation claims that Koli's sexual abuse as a child could have been one of the reasons why he turned into a serial killer, raping his victims after killing them and also feeding on the bodies at times.

Kumar told TOI that the accused was sexually abused by his seniors while in school in a village in Uttarakhand. Though Kumar refused to comment on whether the incidents had actually turned Koli into the kind of person he is today, the Central Bureau of Investigation's efforts to get into the case details of Wilken has indicated enough to cite this as a reason which might have made him commit such heinous crimes.

The agency which took the help of forensic and psychiatric experts believed that the accused's past had something which made him a complex person who not only suffered from a number of sexual complications but also nursed a weird desire to take revenge in such a manner.

The Central Bureau of Investigation took the help of South African investigative psychologist Dr GN Labuschagne to get to the truth, particularly when Koli had admitted to his crimes of killing as many as 16 persons, including women and children.

Dr Labuschagne provided the sleuths the case details of Wilken who too like Koli murdered adult prostitutes and male children. The Central Bureau of Investigation sleuths found that Wilken, who was severely sexually abused when growing up, had even gone far. He had not only eliminated his neighbour's child but also killed his own daughter in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth during 1990-97.

Drawing a parallel to what Koli did, the sleuths said Wilken too ate breast parts of female prostitutes after killing them. Though Koli had eaten human flesh only thrice, it was a routine for Wilken.

All this gave Central Bureau of Investigation some clues to go ahead with its questions to Koli, leading to some startling revelations which has become part of the first chargesheet the agency had filed against the accused.

20070107: Serial killers: The mind of a psychopath Nithari Serial Killer News
The Nithari killings have put the spotlight back on the ways and the psychology of serial killers. Chennai's Auto Shanker, Mumbai's Stone-Man, Jallandhar's Darbara Singh and Charles Sobraj were all men who lived dual lives for a long time. Not many would suspect that each of them was a serial killer, until it was too late. Stone Man Police in Mumbai have released the sketch of a killer who's been on the prowl in the city. They say this man, believed to be around 30 years of age, killed at least three homeless people sleeping on Mumbai's pavements last month. He may just have killed 11 more people, and police say he will kill again unless he is caught soon. The big questions is whether he could be the same serial killer called 'Stone Man', who killed more than 12 people between 1985-87 before he mysteriously disappeared. All of the victims, then and now, were homeless people and were clubbed to death as they slept alone at night. The Mumbai police have formed special teams to track him down. Clearly, they are dealing with an intelligent killer. "After the first kill when he does not get caught, he gets bolder and continues doing it," said Dr S Sanyal, Course Director, LNJP Institute of Criminology, Forensic Science. "People like these kill for satisfaction. Unlike normal criminals they become maladjusted and then they have ingrained hostility which comes out". Irrational Hostility Hostility, however irrational, is often a strong motive that moves serial killers to carry out their killings, and each murder seems to be easier. Darbara Singh is today safely locked up behind bars serving a life sentence in Jalandhar. The ex-jawan was sentenced for life in the mid-1990s for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a migrant girl in Kapurthala. He was let out early in 2003 for good behaviour, but continued his crime spree. Blaming migrants from other states for his bad luck, including the jail term, Singh kidnapped, raped, sodomised and killed 23 minor children from migrant families before he was finally caught. In February last year, a fast track court sentenced him to one more life term, but he still has no regrets. The Serpent Of all the serial killers, Charles Sobhraj is perhaps one of the best known, especially in the sub-continent. Born Hotchand Bhawnani Gurmukh Sobhraj in April 1944, he was the illegitimate son of a Vietnamese peasant girl and a wealthy Indian merchant living in Saigon. Psychologists believe the difficult childhood could be one of the reasons that led Sobhraj to move effortlessly from petty crime to armed robbery and finally murder. "There is some genetic contribution, but primarily it is the childhood experience of a broken home and fights among parents," said Dr H C Raheja, Head, Raheja Hospital and Psychiatric Institute. "There are the cases when a bad childhood leads people to this kind of a personality". By the mid-1970s, a trajectory that included jewelry theft, luxury-car smuggling and massive gem stone fraud was interspersed with kidnappings and torture of drugged foreigners for Sobhraj. Diverse motives Unlike many serial killers, Sobhraj, also known as the 'Bikini Killer', killed for money and wealth. Most of his targets included tourists whom he befriended, drugged and killed, taking their passports and money. He killed at least 23 people. "There are two types of killers. The extroverts move in society and when the opportunity comes, they strike. They are so smart that it is difficult to catch them," said Dr S Sanyal. "They try and show that they are great friends, but they are not and they make a move once they gain confidence". A master of disguise, 'The Serpent' used stolen passports for different identities. Catching him was always tough, and even when caught he escaped several times. He even managed to drug his captors at the heavily-guarded Tihar Jail in Delhi in 1986, and escaped to Goa where he was arrested a few weeks later. He was deported to France in 1997 after he completed his jail term in India. But his past caught up with him on a visit to Nepal in 2004 where he was arrested and convicted for the murder of two Dutch women in 1975. Sobhraj has now appealed to the Supreme Court for a review of his case. Auto Shanker Experts say the seeds to becoming a serial killer are often sown early. In many cases, children from broken or abusive homes are vulnerable. If early crimes go unpunished, they can lead to more serious ones. "No one is born a criminal. When a child starts showing symptoms of paranoia, manic depression etc, it needs to be treated and corrected before they become psychopaths," said Dr S Sanyal. "Medicine, therapy, behaviourial modifications can help, but no one reports it in time and then it is too late," said Dr Raheja. This best describes Gowri Shanker, also called 'Auto Shanker'. An auto driver from Chennai, Shanker graduated from driving an auto to running a brothel. He killed at least five men and a woman, including his own associates, and even buried three of the bodies in his own house in the fast-developing Thiruvanmiyur area. He burnt the rest and dumped the remains in the Muthukadu lake on the outskirts of the city. The murders came to light in 1988 after investigators working as decoys in the backrooms of liquor shops in Thiruvanmiyur managed to zero in on him. During his trial, Auto Shanker, aided by a few jail staff, escaped from the Chennai Central Prison in 1990. He was ultimately hanged in the Salem Central Prison in 1995. His case was so famous that even television and cinema cashed in with several shows being produced on his life. Before his execution, Auto Shanker blamed cinema for making a "devil" of him. "When one crime goes unchecked, the criminal gains confidence and commits more crimes," said S Sripall, former DGP, Tamil Nadu. "Auto Shanker started as a petty rowdy. If he had been stopped, he would not have been able to commit so many murders. For the police, availability is more important than ability". Serial killings and missing people are called termed as "blackhole" in forensic psychology. Tracking these killers and understanding the way they operate may perhaps be the best way to prevent crime and rehabilitate them before they strike.

Copyright 1995-2006 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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