A Case In Which The Accused’s Team Used A Psychological Condition Maybe Similar To AK’s Or RS’s
Posted by Grahame Rhodes
[Above: Some new Durst organization buildings including at center 1 WTC. Below: Robert Durst]
The wealthy Durst family develops tall buildings in Manhattan including the Bank of America tower in midtown and the new One Wold Trade Center in downtown which will soon reach 1776 feet high.
Robert Durst is one of the heirs of the founder of the Durst Organization who died in 1995 and his brother Douglas now runs the company with a cousin. Here is a brief summary of Robert’s early life from Wikipedia.
Durst grew up, one of four children, in Scarsdale, New York and attended Scarsdale High School. He completed his undergraduate degree at Lehigh University and attended graduate school at UCLA.
Durst reportedly witnessed his mother’s apparent suicide at age seven; she either fell or jumped off the roof of the Scarsdale family mansion.
According to Reader’s Digest, Durst underwent extensive counseling because of his mother’s death, and doctors found that his “deep anger” could lead to psychological problems, including schizophrenia.
Durst went on to become a real estate developer in his father’s business; however, it was his brother Douglas who was later appointed to run the family business. The appointment in the 1990s caused a rift between Robert and his family, and he became estranged. His earlier schizophrenia diagnosis was incorrect.
In 1982 a seeming dark side to Robert Durst began to appear. Also from Wikipedia:
In 1973, Durst married Kathleen McCormack, who disappeared in 1982. Her case remained unsolved for eighteen years when New York State Police reopened the criminal investigation.
On December 24, 2000, Durst’s long-time friend, Susan Berman, who was believed to have knowledge of McCormack’s disappearance, was found murdered execution-style in her Benedict Canyon California house. Durst was questioned in both cases but not charged.
According to prosecutors, he moved to Texas in 2000 and began cross-dressing to divert attention from the disappearance of McCormack.
From the Galveston Texas Daily News here is a timeline for the movements of Robert Durst for late 2001 and early 2002.
Sept. 30 — A 13-year-old boy spots a man’s torso floating near the shoreline of 81st Street and Channelview Drive. Nearby, police find garbage bags containing human limbs, along with a number of items investigators later trace to an apartment house in the 2200 block of Avenue K.
Oct. 5 — Officials identify the body parts as the remains of Morris Black, a 71-year-old South Carolina native who lived at the apartment house.
Oct. 9 — Police arrest Robert Durst, 58, who lived in an apartment across the hall from Black. Durst is charged with murder and possession of marijuana, but leaves jail that night after posting $300,000 bond.
Oct. 16 — Durst becomes a fugitive when he fails to appear at a court hearing in his case. A grand jury indicts him on charges of murder and jumping bail.
Oct. 17 — A man in Mobile, Ala., rents a red Chevrolet Corsica, using the name Morris Black.
Nov. 30 — Police in Pennsylvania arrest Durst and charge him with the shoplifting theft of a small bandage, a sandwich and a newspaper.
Dec. 5 — Galveston detectives leave for Philadelphia, armed with a search warrant for the red Chevrolet Corsica police seized from the parking lot of the Pennsylvania grocery store where Durst was arrested.
Dec. 7 — A search of the car reveals numerous pieces of identification in the name of Morris Black, an undisclosed amount of marijuana, two handguns and about 80 bullets.
Dec. 17 — State District Court Judge Susan Criss issues a gag order in the murder case, barring officials, attorneys and potential witnesses from talking about the case.
Jan. 25 — Durst waives his right to an extradition hearing, agreeing to return to Galveston to face charges.
Jan. 27 — Durst arrives at the county jail.
New York Magazine adds this bit of color.
At the time of Black’s death, Durst was living as a deaf-mute woman known as “Dorothy Ciner” who communicated with the landlord via handwritten notes. During the trial he startled jurors by growling loudly like a dog and snorting like a pig.
Later, in prison, he became known for doing nude calisthenics in his cell.
In 2003 he was found not guilty of the murder of Morris Black. From Wikipedia:
During cross-examination, Durst admitted to using a paring knife, two saws and an axe to dismember Black’s body before dumping his remains in Galveston Bay. The jury acquitted him of murder.
Specifically he was found not guilty because the jury bought into the idea of a mental condition. CBS News describes how the jury saw it.
Is Durst a cold-blooded killer with a string of victims over more than 20 years? Or is he somehow a victim himself?
Last spring, Correspondent Erin Moriarty talked to Durst’s closest friends and the defense psychiatrist who examined him. The Durst fortune, valued at more than $2 billion, is in the same league as Donald Trump’s fortune. And it’s certainly more than enough for the best legal defense that money can buy.
His high-powered defense team - Dick DeGuerin, Mike Ramsey and Chip Lewis – say that early on, they had difficulty communicating with Durst. So they hired Dr. Altschuler, a well-known Houston psychiatrist, to find out why.
Altschuler says he met with Durst almost on a weekly basis, and spent more than 70 hours examining him. His conclusion: Durst suffers from a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. It’s a fairly uncommon disorder that leaves a victim’s intellect intact, but limits his ability to interact socially.
“Emotion is very difficult to him. He doesn’t know what happy is,” says Altschuler. “He can feel it, but almost as if he were feeling it as we would feel fingers through a glove. It’s very dulled, at best, to him … His whole life’s history is so compatible with a diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder.”
The jury apparently bought it. They were convinced that Durst, in a panic, dismembered Black’s body.
Many people with Asperger’s self-diagnose themselves and learn to adjust and most have good lives and careers, many in computers and math-based professions. (Probably a coincidence but Knox’s parents are both in math-based professions, as is Chris Mella.) But some apparently do have flash rages when they yet again encounter in themselves an inability to connect or to win people over. So there are some murders that have been ascribed to this condition.
Both Knox and Sollecito may have had childhood trauma which their families, naturally, seem not too keen to have exposed. Or one or other might have been born wrong-headed.
Note how both of them in Perugia had isolated themselves from just about everybody else when Meredith died - Sollecito with his dark sullenless and Knox with her sharp elbows and brash, grubby, offputting ways.
Note Sollecito’s sordid history of beasty porn, and his knife fetishes, and violent manga comics and films, and lack of close friends, and endless drugs, and slow school progress, and attempted close supervision by a struggling father, and a loyal sister who he has left decimated and jobless without even a shrug.
Note how Amanda Knox seems to have tried all her life to be liked and has never understood why she is so often successful for just a short time. Note the reported riotous behavior off campus in Seattle, the shortage of school and college friends who speak up for her, the strange tale of her walking off the intern job in the German parliament, and the searching for love in all the wrong places
Note her willingness to let Patrick Lumumba rot in jail for weeks. Note how she bought hot underwear while giggling, and how she chose to miss the remembrance service for Meredith in favor of a pizza. Note how the prison tests in 2008 seem to have found both her and Sollecito to be continuing dangers. Note her flippant narcissistic demeanor at the trial, and her various bizarre statements. Note her reported self-imposed isolation and odd deportment and hygiene while in prison.
Note how her sense of right and wrong seems to be completely at odds, comparatively speaking, with the rest of the human race. Note how she seems unable to exhibit any emotion, or take any responsibility for her actions, even when challenged directly and her veracity called into question.
Finally, note her seeming never-ending lack of empathy for Meredith and her family, observed and remarked on both when Meredith was found and at trial and in the months and years afterwards. Meredith came from a hard working loving family who encouraged her to work hard and gave her every break and certainly never brutalised her. She was talented and made friends easily because of her wonderful sense of humor and her positive view of life.
Meredith was the complete antithesis of Knox. Well adjusted, liked, highly intelligent, very diligent and disciplined, and driven to succeed. A remarkable success story in process, whicht Knox seemingly could not even begin to relate to.
So are Robert Durst and either of the still-presumed-guilty perps in any way similar? Were either of them born wrong in the head or made that way by childhood trauma?
Or was a mental defense simply an easy way for the entitled but awkward Robert Durst to have got off the hook for a cruel murder, and one that the Hellman jury (and those in the FOA) subliminally bought into for Knox and Sollecito as well?
Hi, Grahame. As much as I agree that Knox’s behaviour is not what we like to think of as normal, I would hate to see her involvement dismissed on the grounds of mental illness. She is not so eccentric that she cannot tell right from wrong.
The Durst family certainly had at their disposal the means to get the best medical and psychological help for their son. Did he receive trauma counseling after his mother’s suicide (how many socialites hang out on the roof of their mansion?) Did Soleccito get to talk to a grief expert after he lost his mom?
It’s barely a week after a known mentally ill man, legally in possession of 1/2 dozen firearms, took his uncontrolled anger out on patrons of a north Seattle cafe. His family had “tried to get him to seek help, but he refused” . His shooting rampage ended five innocent lives and damaged an unknown number of others.
The events culminated in an eventually fatal, self-inflicted bullet wound to the head. He couldn’t seem to make friends. In between his pre-lunch killings near the U District and his suicide in West Seattle, he did some shopping in the Junction.Butter would not have melted in his mouth, he was that calm.
I’m 3 weeks away from the fifth anniversary of my mother’s gun related suicide. I’d more or less come to terms with who she was and why she lived the way she did, but this recent brush with Mr Mentally Ill has got me shook up all over again.
Incidentally, he knelt down and shot himself on 37th Ave. SW, the same street on which Chris and Edda live.
And, richer still- - who does the West Seattle Herald feature on the front page of their post-murder issue? Walt Stawicki, the confused and grieving father of the mentally ill gunman. Step over the victims to empathise with the killer.
“The tragic events of May 30, when Ian Stawicki took the lives of five people, ended in West Seattle, when, surrounded by police, he shot himself.
“But for many people, especially his family, questions as to what happened, and why linger in a mixture of pain, regret and confusion”.
Dad is quoted:
“(At the Medical Examiner’s office on June 1), when I saw him, he was gone. I touched him and took a little lock of his hair and some for his mom, but his beard was almost like a shadow”.
I’m truly puzzled by the shadowy beard comment.
Hi Mimi. Interesting comments from the belly of the beast. That was freaky. I hope the rawness wears off.
I’m for prevention first and then if that fails for fair punishment. Durst did get counselling and treatment after his mother’s suicide but it was for schizophrenia and possibly because of wrong diagnosis as many as three people may have died.
In many places outside the US Durst would have been committed to an asylum before or after the Black death when he was correctly diagnosed rather than left wandering around like a loose cannon still without treatment. Here we let the nuts walk till BANG.
In this case AK and Rs have (provisionally) walked, possibly still dangers to others, and Judge Hellman and the jury do seem to have been swayed emotionally by them rather than by Meredith’s family who could only afford to make it to court at the last moment.
It is far too late now for a psychological defense for the two but it might have been better all around if there had been one and then psychology experts and the jury could have decided if RS and AK got to be sent off for treatment in an asylum or serve time.
Both Knox and Sollecito sure had symptoms of something. Papa Doc recognised them in RS and perhaps did all he could. The Knox-Mellases didnt see or accept them, and so maybe came in the way of possible proper treatment which might have left Meredith alive.
We cruised through the Virginia Tech campus 18 months ago where a mentally ill student killed 32 people. Time and again people had remarked “that guy is weird” but nobody saw an easy way to haul him in and prevent the mass shooting that resulted.
Graham’s post may winkle out some new insights. We need to know if Knox is in effect being locked in the attic and if so why.
Whether AK is guilty or not, it is a fact that she is a person with a chronic lack of respect to others. Is she psychopathic? Who knows?
I think the murder of Meredith was fuelled by drugs, porn (and alcohol?). Maybe these elements brought out underlying psychopathic tendencies.
Hi Starsdad. Agreed to all of that.
In the Durst case the jury letting him totally off the hook suggests a jury that couldnt get to grips with abnormal psychology and maybe even ended up feeling sorry for the guy. Tough on the victim’s family and it maybe leaves a dangerous guy on the loose and unpunished and is discouraging to law enforcement.
It may encourage others to murder and then try the same defence.
You can see that in Perugia, Mignini and Comodi and Matteini and Micheli are not at all fooled by the charming psychopath defense. Massei was somewhat fooled and Hellman totally.
TV audiences in the US seem less and less fooled by charming psychopaths and the like, helped along by Nancy Grace on CNN, who is nothing if not pro-victim and who was sarcastic about Knox’s release.
Of the two main books out about Casey Anthony, the that one argues that she is a full blown psychopath who measures high on all the scales is the one that sells well. The other saying she was abused by her father who also killed Caylee doesnt get half the ratings or sales.
RS and AK may be part of an endangered species. Justice for Meredith and its many friends will win from here on out.
Just a short note to clarify.
First of all if Knox does have ‘Aspergers’(I refuse to say “suffer” since she’s obviously a sociopath who knows, in spite of the lie she tells herself) is no less guilty of the murder of Meredith and she and Sollecito will eventually pay for their crimes.
There are those such as the lunatic Bruce Fisher who have used this case to try to maintain some kind of viable occupation and thereby get paid by ‘Ground Report’ (actually it’s not a newspaper at all but a handy dandy name thought up by the P/R campaign,) he must have thought he’d struck it rich because by promoting such filth he has managed to keep his job such as it is.
The mentally challenged after all with their hysterics only show themselves up to be the paranoid bunch that they are. Fortunately you can only fool the people for a short time before they start to smell something suspicious.
The entire Knox family and their acolytes are at the very least strange. Knox herself has several major problems not the least of which is her father. The infamous Curt Knox who has done more damage to AK than any other person since he has managed almost single handedly to piss off the majority of the Italian Judiciary who have very very long memories.
If AK had admitted in the beginning (which she wanted to do only to be stopped by Curt when he saw this as a means of making money, remember his track record and his unwillingness to provide child support.) and do you really think he gives a damn for Knox or her mother?)Amanda Knox herself just might have got away with time served. Not now though given the fact that Sollecito’s family will once more throw AK under the bus which Sollecito did anyway during the first hours. There’s no love lost between these families either. I just bet Knox does not sleep well
Face it AK will never amount to anything, perhaps a few TV appearances, but then Nancy Grace refuses to pay for appearances Curt Knox/Bruce Fisher not withstanding.
mimi’s close call with the crazed killer Stawicki who then shot himself on the street where Chris and Edda live has haunted me all morning. Mimi, I hope you cope peacefully with the anniversary of your mother’s handgun suicide. This Stawicki incident and the fact of Durst’s mother’s suicide off rain wet roof of her Scarsdale house in her early 30s, are unpleasant reverberations. It seems one of those strange cases of synchronicity where one’s life events keep symbolically repeating themselves, or past experiences somehow merge into one’s new pursuits as if Life still teaching us things that we think we have solved.
It’s pathetic to see West Seattle Herald using the photo message: “poor killer, he had a father, that makes the deaths OK”. Wrong placement of sympathies, in the spirit of the Knox family with their prodigy prodigal daughter. Disgusting.
Grahame Rhodes, thank you for the case of Robert Durst which echoes Amanda in so many ways. He was a firstborn who felt childhood trauma from a mother’s action, then felt betrayed by a father when his sibling superceded him as heir to family business fortune. Durst was known to be a habitual marijuana smoker and drinker. Durst also has a Beatles connection. He spent time with Beatle John Lennon in primal scream therapy. He has the bodybuilding physicality thing going, too. He was known to do nude workouts in prison. Modesty anyone? Durst is now living once again in NYC, using a gym near Harlem for cardio workouts, a fitness buff.
In Texas some investigators questioned owners of a liquor store where Durst bought his brew. They said that once a dog barked at him on the sidewalk near the store, and Durst began barking back at the dog. In court he growled and also snorted like a pig.
Some of Durst’s testimony:
“I did not kill my best friend. I did dismember him.”
On killing Morris Black:
“It was like waking up from a dream, or a nightmare, with blood everywhere. I remember like I was looking down on something and I was swimming in blood…I don’t know what is real and I don’t know what is not real. That is what I remember.”
(Knox:...my dreams must be real)
“I cleaned it up as well as I could. I threw water everywhere with Mr. Clean. I did not see any blood when I finished cleaning up.”
Judge Jeanine Pirro was at one time renewing the investigation into Durst’s missing first wife.
Durst was seen wearing a shirt that said, “Less Violence, More Violins”. How’s that for chutzpah? His family have put him under surveillance, maybe they’re afraid he’s planning to knock them off in a final aggressive move. A movie (fictionalized) was made of his life in 2010.
After his acquittal for the Galveston murder, he was to remain near home due to other charges, required by Texas Board of Pardons & Parole. Like the rebellious defiant nut he is, he broke the agreement and headed back to the scene of the crime, the boardinghouse where other living witnesses against him were still residing. Then his luck ran out when he went to a nearby mall and ran into the very Judge (Judge Susan Criss) who had tried his case. He dropped his cellphone and became very flustered, they chatted briefly. He later got locked up for about a year for breaking parole, as witnessed by the Judge, but is now roaming free again with his millions$. Perhaps Bruce Fisher can recommend him to the Innocence Project as a pitiable sobstory of a would-be philanthropist nearly wrongly accused. Yet another misunderstood ruffian. In my opinion, Robert Durst was emotionally wounded by his mother’s suicide but not to the extreme. Asperger’s? I don’t know, but I think he was simply embittered and much more concerned about being supplanted in the leadership of the big money Durst company. He became a dreadfully cunning and crafty no-good who throttled anybody he couldn’t control and he wants to disappoint, destroy, and humiliate his original family in a lifelong vendetta aimed at gaining notoriety for himself, IMO. Knox may have a blueprint here.
With respect, I think that these type of posts are objectionable to people who are not convinced either way of her guilt. You are putting too much emphasis on AK’s psychological condition by linking her to such extreme people as Dusrt. Also, I fear that you are putting forward a case that AK is not guilty by courtesy of insanity.
Sollecito told us what happened on the night of the murder when he was interviewed by Kate Mansey. He went to a ‘party’ with Amanda and a ‘friend’ and returned home at 1 am.
After Lumumba told AK he did not need her, they both turned off their phones (which was unusual). In my opinion the phones were turned off because they planned to get ‘stoned’ and not having to speak jibberish if they had to answer the phone. (I don’t think anyone can deny that they were stoned that night.) They went to the square and met Guede by chance. They then decided to go to the cottage for sex? money? use the toilet?.... A confontation took place which resulted in the murder of Meredith.
I do not believe the attack was premeditated. The attack was influenced by drugs, sex alcohol? animosity?; and the injuries Meredith suffered suggest that murder was not an initial motive.
I have looked at the evidence and I do come to the conclusion that AK did play a part in the death of Meredith. However, I do understand that other people are not so convinced and are put off by radical associations.
OK That’s fine except for the ‘complete evidence’. If you dissect all of it and take the trouble to cross check you will find that AK (whether or not she has Aspergers) is still guilty. As I pointed out if she had admitted at the time that she was culpable then she might have got off with time served. Whether it was premeditated or not is unimportant. The Rape Torture and Murder of Meredith Kercher was carried out by these three and they are guilty. The complete and utter contempt we hold is the P/R campaign, the bribes and the outright lies that Bruce Fisher/Curt Knox and others have used to denigrate Meredith Kercher and personally I don’t give a damn if people find what I write objectionable. Too bad we live in this white bread world where political correctness is considered the ‘be all to end all’. My parting comment therefore, and to paraphrase Franklin Delano Roosevelt. is
“Knox, A name that will live infamy.”
Meredith was subjected to an attack which was unbelievably cruel and sadisitic. There were 47 separate wounds on her body. She was sexually assaulted, tortured with knives, strangled until her hyoid bone was broken and then a knife was plunged into her neck with such brutal force that it left a huge gaping hole.
Knox, Sollecito and Guede made Meredith’s last moments beyond hell on earth. Meredith was wiped from existence in the worst way imaginable. Meredith’s arms must have been restrained when her neck was slashed repeatedly. There was a conscious and deliberate decision to stop Meredith from defending herself, so that she could be slashed and stabbed. There was nothing accidental about this.
Amand Knox belongs with Karla Homolka, Laurie Ann Swank, Myra Hindley and Rosemary West in the hall of infamy for women who have been involved in murder and sexual assault.
If anyone thinks Amanda Knox is innocent, they deserves a Darwin Award. People such as Nat Fraser, Gary Dobson, David Norris, Levi Bellfield and Robin Garbutt were all convicted of murder on far less evidence. Very few defendants would ever been convicted of any crime, if the burden of proof was as high as Knox’s supporters think it should be.
One last thing. I am absolutely sure that the forces of evil who denigrate not just Meredith but her family as well would dearly love for us to be nice and polite and simply shut up. This we are not going to do. In fact my personal position is simple. My opinion of the family Knox is that they are unadulterated filth and I personally will never stop no matter how long it takes. We will not be silenced or diluted in our opinions of these sick perverters of ‘True Justice for Meredith Kercher.’
@starsdad - I agree.
As far as I can see nobody above is arguing that the evidence of involvement is just not there.
We’ve posted quite often on motive and psychology and there seem to be five or six continuums. (1) From premeditated murder to a hazing that spiralled. (2) From no drugs to mild drugs to skunk cannabis or cocaine that can all cause psychotic episodes. (3) From perfectly psychologically adjusted to someone dangerous or in need of help. (4) From AK and RS both part of the attack on Meredith to one or other being elsewhere at the time. (5) Knox-Mellases did all the right things to K-Ms were covering up and too butal. (6) Meredith and her family have been respected, through to they were absolutely not.
Starsdad, you suggest that Graham’s hint of a defense based on a sort of insanity is not your cup of tea and you incline to the spontaneous explosion that went too far that Micheli and Massei both espoused?
Grahame doesnt seem to fundamentally differ - merely to point to hints of a possible underlying psychology for which the evidence does seem to be growing more. We have had hints of more and the bind that the AK and RS families may be in now. Still an open question but RS and AK will need to surface to promote their books if they are to justify the publishers’ costs and we may all get a better take on them then.
I feel that we should discuss only the evidence and nothing else. Let people draw their own conclusions. We are handicapped as we do not have all the relevant documents and court testimonies and we are therefore forced to extrapolate conclusions.
I have read Follain carefully and many things stand out very clearly that we have never discussed. But then I read books differently- with a critical view. It is not just a story for me. I myself do not find the posts objectionable but I can see that others may. In that sense I agree with your main point.
It was AK who first mentioned the scream. It was AK and RS who first mentioned “they” killed her. These are telltale signs. There are many more. I am not going to pass a judgement here.
Everyone complains of his memory, no one of his judgement.
I thought that Massei’s dissection and analysis of the evidence was coherent and persuading.
I am worried that any serious inquirer into the facts of the case will be put off by anything that is less than reasonable. Reasonable discussion of the facts will be a more powerful instrument in helping Meredith get true justice. As @chami suggests we should discuss the evidence and let people draw their own conclusions.
Regarding that premise of reasonable discussion, I would like to address Helman’s dismissal of Massei’s report of the simulated break-in with the ludicrous suggestion that Guede may have used the nail in the wall. Why did he not refer to the defense teams reluctance to have someone attempt to demonstrate that fact during the re-enactments? Why did he not order a re-enactment?
In my many debates with pro-AK supprters not one person suggested that Guede used the nail. In fact, as far as I am aware, Hellman was the first person to propose this theory. It seems to prove that Hellman is on a different wave length to the rest of the world.
I think the rock and the nail will finally nail them. But there are many others but my knowledge comes from reading the Follain and the PMF and TJMK. The money trail is another (there are two trails to be followed: one is the MK’s 300 euro room rent and the other is the 2M dollar propaganda machine). Was RG promised money if he kept quiet?
It was Hellman who admitted that the “real truth could be different”. What are the implications of this statement?
What is there in the C&V report? That also need to be examined with a microscope.
There are many players in this game.
The philosophical principle that even the simplest
solution is bound to have something wrong with it.
Do you think it’s unreasonable to believe that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are psychologically disturbed?
Do you agree with Judge Massei that Knox and Sollecito took part in the sexual assault and brutal murder of Meredith “without any animosity or feelings of rancour”?
Possibly, even probably, some of us on TJMK have Asperger’s syndrome, which does not excuse Murder.
When AK/RS continued their assault on Meredith, with reckless disregard of its probable lethal consequences, the basic question is: “Did they know their conduct was Wrong?”
If they did know it Was Wrong, I call it Murder, as did Massei.
@ The Machine on 06/10/12 at 09:51 AM:
“She was sexually assaulted, tortured with knives, strangled until her hyoid bone was broken and then a knife was plunged into her neck with such brutal force that it left a huge gaping hole.”
There is no doubt that Meredith’s hyoid bone was damaged to the point of being “broken” but the idea that this was the result of strangulation, before the brutal knife thrust, is misleading.
IMO it is clear from Massei that Meredith’s hyoid bone was severed by a knife thrust, probably the same thrust that also cut her Right Superior Thyroid Artery. It was these two injuries, in combination, that killed Meredith.
In the original Italian text of Massei, the damage to the hyoid bone is frequently referred to as the “lesione”, and paraphrased into English as the “broken hyoid bone”.
However taking the Massei Report as a whole, the hyoid “lesione” was “the severed hyoid bone”.”
I do not think it is unreasonable to suggest that Guede has had the ‘frighteners’ put on him or ‘paid off’
I don’t think it is unreasonable to suggest that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are psychologically disturbed; it is unreasonable to state that they are, without confirmation from a medical source.
I think that the murder was a spur of the moment thing, but could have had elements of rancour and hostility.
Ascertaining whether someone is psychologically disturbed isn’t as black and white as you seem to think. The psychiatrists who assessed Anders Behring Breivik came to two very different conclusions. The last expert who assessed Breivik found that he wasn’t psychotic at the time of the killings which contradicts the findings of the first probe that found he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the crime.
I’m sorry but you are linking extreme people again.
You’ve completely missed my point: ascertaining whether someone is psychologically disturbed is not as black and white as you seem to think. One psychiatrist thinks Anders Behring Breivik was insane at the time of the killings and another doesn’t.
Incidentally, sadistic sex killers are extreme people.
@Starsdad,@The Machine - I agree with both of you to an extent. I think we all agree that if someone has participated in a murder, especially as brutal as Meredith’s, chances are that there is some underlying psychological disturbance, irrespective of whether the murder was spontaneous or not. Normal, happy, balanced people just cannot be so cruel. That said, I think starsdad’s point is that we should refrain from speculating too much because there is no “correct” or easy way to ascertain the mental health of a person unless it comes from a psychologist’s report or something similar. What seems insane to one person might seem perfectly normal to another, depending on many things like culture, background, situation etc etc. So, unless we know for sure, we cannot “link” people like Durst and AK, just on the basis of their behavior or statements. This will make it easy for FOAkers to ignore the evidence because then they can convince themselves that it is all “just speculation anyway”.So, to an extent, I agree with starsdad.
Having said that, I don’t think the discussions or statements here are pure speculation. We do know that AK and RS were tested in prison and there was something unfavorable in the reports. Their behavior certainly was very bizzare, everyone who was there that day admits as much. And discussing the underlying psychology certainly seems to give more direction to the discussion about “motives”. In fact, this is a favourite theme of FOAKers -“What was the motive”, “why would they do it”, “normal wholesome American girls just dont do it”, “why would they ruin their promising future for nothing” etc etc. So, in a way, this could be one of the possible explanations. After all, who can answer “why” Durst did what he did - he was from an affluent family who could have had the world at his feet. If someone with millions at their disposal could risk throwing it all away, it certainly makes throwing away a college degree seem quite plausible, doesn’t it?
Judge Claudia Matteini’s comments about Amanda Knox are worth revisiting:
“Meredith was a girl full of life and enthusiasm, who for the sole purpose of having some pleasure and sensation during a boring day spent smoking joints, was subjected to acts of brutality and cruelty that are disgusting to any normal person. In such a situation the danger of repetition of the crime is certainly very high and can’t be considered to have diminished due to the mere passage of time, during which as a reminder you have never shown any sign of remorse or reconsideration of your life.”
“Even the behaviors you mention in your motion requesting release, which are presented as being in your favor, could be read differently in the opinion of this judge.”
“Your conduct after the murder is symptomatic of a personality which, considering your young age, provokes no small measure of dismay and apprehension, considering how extremely easy it was for you to control your states of mind.”
I think the comparison with Durst is at least slightly exaggerated.
The killer whose profile I feel most closely resembles that of Knox is Kelly Ellard.
In Ellard’s case, two quite distinct psychological analyses were put forward:
On the issue of Ellard’s character, the Youth Court Judge preferred the evidence of Dr. Vogt of Youth Forensic Services, the school counsellor Barbara Smith, a youth worker named Chris Pollard, and Ellard’s peers. The defence tendered expert evidence of a psychologist and a psychiatrist, as well as letters of support from Ellard’s mother and stepmother. The expert evidence put forth by defence counsel painted a very normal psychological picture of Ellard. In fact, one of the defence experts, Dr. Semrau, speculated about the possibility of Ellard having been under the influence of some drug if she had indeed committed the murder. Neither of the defence witnesses considered Ellard’s behaviour to be disordered.
The evidence of Chris Pollard, Dr. Vogt, and Barbara Smith, on the other hand, described Ellard as having a moderate to severe conduct disorder and a substance abuse problem. She had a great deal of anger and had told the school counsellor that she enjoyed “punching people because punching bags just didn’t do it for her.” Chris Pollard stated that Ellard “refused to take responsibility for her behaviour and blamed others for her problems in school, in the community, and in custody.” One of her peers described Ellard as “crazy” and stated that her nickname is “Killer Kelly.”
Ellard led a group of underage girls, and was accompanied by a young adult male, in the vicious beating of Reena Virk, a South Asian girl struggling to fit in with a social group.
The only similarity missing was a sexual assault component which, as we know, is a form of physical violence and not a “sex act”. Virk was then followed across a bridge where Ellard stepped on her neck, forcing her head into shallow water, where she drowned.
The prolonged nature of the attack combined with a group dynamic among peers, and without any evidence of drugs or alcohol having fuelled the rage, makes a close comparison possible if not inevitable.
Psychological problems are quite unlike other diseases that show up with distinct biochemical symptoms. If one has jaundice or fever or other problem it will last for sometime and during that period all tests, done carefully, will reveal the underlying cause. In this case the medical science has really advanced. It is not so for psychological problems that has remained, excuse me, a quack science and the treatment, a quack medicine.
If you are disturbed, it does not manifest all the time and two reports, done by two different experts, with some time gap, can be completely different. We really do not know the underlying mechanism and a perfectly “normal” person can act “abnormally”, in some sense the counselors understand this better than the doctors. The medicines prescribed are basically treatment to reduce the symptoms and not the disease, as we do not understand the disease.
As you mentioned elsewhere, apparently “normal” person, with good and established background, can do really “abnormal” things. Many can revert back to their apparently “normal” states and continue as usual. Many cannot come back to their original states ever again and they are the “criminals” that are easily caught and tried.
Most criminals have a psychological conviction that whatever they are doing is good and, not only that, it is good for many- that they are doing a social service.
Well, we have to live with them. In some sense, they are part of us and product of the society. It is a collective burden in some sense.
The mosquito exists to keep the mighty humble.
“Do you think it’s unreasonable to believe that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are psychologically disturbed?
Do you agree with Judge Massei that Knox and Sollecito took part in the sexual assault and brutal murder of Meredith “without any animosity or feelings of rancour”? “
I think the answer to the first question depends on the answer to the second question.
If ‘Knox and Sollecito took part in the sexual assault and brutal murder of Meredith “without any animosity or feelings of rancour”’ then I would believe they would have to be psychologically disturbed. Because that is just sick!
I think if you believe that Knox and Sollecito are guilty of a cruel, sadistic murder then it isn’t a difficult leap to compare them to other murderers. Ok, so they didn’t dismember, eat, or mail body parts, but you really can’t do much worse than what they did. Despite Breivik taking more lives, one could say, their deaths were less gruesome than what K & S did to Meredith.
I’m disgusted and disturbed that Robert Durst is walking the streets. Mental illness is no excuse for murder.
I don’t care whether someone is psychologically disturbed or not, if they murder someone they should be in jail for life. My only exception is self-defense.
I am disturbed by this posted article. I do not know why Aspergers Syndrome would be used in association with Durst. I suspect the psychiatrist was paid off to try to offer some kind of defense and most jurors would not understand Aspergers or autism. In no way does Durst’s behavior sound like autism to me.
I have never heard of either autism or especially Aspergers causing this kind of violent behavior which would be attributed to a sociopath or psychopath. It is actually really insulting and unfair to the large high functioning autistic and Aspergers population to make this association or assumption. I don’t think anyone on this site is a trained psychologist who could be making diagnoses on these individuals but I would at least like to set people straight on autism spectrum disorders. Please educate yourselves and read the many many articles which are now on websites about autism and realize that currently 1 in 100 children are being diagnosed with this disorder in its various levels from mild to more severe.
The social and communications difficulties may be mild or more pronounced but in no way do they mean that the child or adult does not have feelings nor has experienced trauma or parental neglect. It is a developmental disorder probably genetically based but in some cases environmental but which is NOT caused by parenting. Of course some parenting of an autistic child can help and some can hurt. AK and RS each had their quirks and drugs played a role in this crime, but I couldn’t say for sure who was psychotic or not, as I am neither a psychologist or a psychiatrist. We can speculate forever about the whys and hows of this case.
I do know that psychiatric misdiagnoses are very common and sometimes people receive several during their lifetimes (ADHD, autism, bipolar etc etc). Schizophrenia certainly seems more likely a diagnosis for Durst’s bizarre and violent actions rather than Aspergers. Remember that autism is not a disease nor does it mean you are “mentally ill”. It is a developmental disorder causing social and communications difficulties but often the individuals are very bright and have other talents. For more information you can at least read this website: http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/symptoms
Yes I totally agree with you concerning Aspergers. However I wrote this in an attempt to raise questions. (Looks like I succeeded) I did not suggest however that Aspergers is soli to blame but rather just another element to be taken into consideration in an attempt to find the truth, or to quote an old show business saying “To leave no turn un-stoned.”
Take the Kelly Ellard case just as stilicho did. Ellard was full of anger and still is and maintains it’s every bodies fault but hers. Sound familiar? There is nobody on this site who believes in the innocence of these three, but as I have mentioned elsewhere the real bone of contention is the outright lies bribes and defamation of the Kercher family by Curt Knox along with Bruce Fisher who uses a variety of different names when he posts his sick comments in an attempt to remain viable and keep his job. I notice that some of the other more high profile individuals (Steve Moore and his seemingly deranged wife) have become silent, but that will change when Knox is once more indicted as I hope (and as we all do) that that will happen.
Yes I agree with you that Aspergers on it’s own is a minor consideration. However I believe it is one element in a cocktail of psychosis that Knox has. Amanda Knox seems a very sick woman which is no excuse of course (Examine her demeanor in jail where she felt safe.) Karla Hamolka is the same as Kelly Ellard as is Angela Biriukova. No wonder while in jail Knox made a friend of her, or at least tried to. It will eventually come full circle of course but in the court of public opinion no matter what the eventual outcome is, Knox will always be considered a murderer like the others.
If you google “aspergers” and “murder” you will actually find quite a big debate going on and it is not confined to our little corner of the web. At the same time, those who may have a spectrum disorder are now positively sought-after in some professions.
It seems to me the discussion Graham sparked is not un-useful. Society is trying to achieve a re-balance as various understandings of the brain and criminal behavior and remediation make progress - and as rage not always easy to explain seems to be on the rise.
Grahame’s list of AK’s quirks, which PMF has examined in much more detail, does suggest something perhaps not quite right, and that seems to be the majority opinion of those in contact with AK in Perugia, even before the murder. Meredith included.
And we are not simply flying blind. Psychologists who tested RS and AK in prison in 2008 and psychologists in our readership tend to consider something looks to be amiss. We have posted several opinions by qualified psychologists, including one on charming psychopaths.
See this: http://ti.me/lh7Ov1 It contains errors but also quotes several psychologists. They seem to see the symptoms, including one who has aspergers. Also read what Edda, Chris and Maddy said back home. Even they seem to be wondering.
Durst is said to have been misdiagnosed with schizophrenia in earlier days - schizophrenia is now often quite treatable - and so he went his own way. Three people may have died. If you had been on Durst’s jury, how would you have voted on his case?
In my non-expert opinion, Knox tried to be good but was damaged in youth and became a mimic. She tried to remain normal for years but then fell victim to a bad college crowd at UDub, her pivotal age, hormones, freedom, drugs, alcohol, sleep deprivation and fatigue, PMS, and overexcitement once abroad in Italy.
She cast off all restraint yet was possibly filled with anxiety and fear more than she realized. Her inner compass began to spin, she was living wrong and knew it. Near Halloween she snapped. This is guesswork of course.
Knox as a sociopath has been argued based on her complete lack of social awareness. Sociopaths have no regard for authority or morality. They do possess regret, they regret when they fail.
Knox could be:
See Robert Hare’s psychopathy checklist based on studies of Hervey Cleckley. “The Mask of Sanity”
Since Asperger’s don’t often have the ability to make themselves so charming, maybe Knox is more kin to the socio/psychopath. These terms are interchangeable with overlapping traits according to 4th edition of DSM (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
The main factor in ‘paths’ is a complete disregard for the feelings and rights of others. They appear to lack conscience. They disregard laws, rules, and social norms and are unmindful of putting themselves or others at risk.
They have an undeveloped superego and subnormal levels of key biochemical substances like neurotransmitters, dopamines, serotonins, oxytocin. Paths like to violate social taboos if it serves to stimulate them. Their brains lack the ability to properly develop mirror neuron systems, so they somehow don’t feel emotions until they reach extreme levels.
In absence of emotions they MIMIC normal people. They often quote movie lines and make up characters for themselves, having no substantive personality of their own.
The 3 c’s of paths: Cold, Cunning, Calculating. Counselors who work with them take a class called, “Charming the Snake”. Giving power to a sociopath is like giving a child a loaded gun.
Go to http://www.wisegeek.com and read the comments from people claiming to be psychopaths or those abused by them.
You could also add that sociopaths only show emotion when their veracity is called into question. Or to be more plain. If someone calls them out and accuses them of lying then they go ‘ballistic’ This is because they are very good at believing the lie in the first place to the extent that they lie to themselves while knowing somewhere in the back of their minds that it’s a lie anyway.
Take the cookie jar analogy where a child is caught with his hand in the cookie jar but refuses to admit it even while said hand is still inside the jar. This seems Knox all over. Remember the only emotion she showed was at the press conference after she was back in the USA.
Just watched the interview of Casey Anthony with Piers Morgan on CNN. The parallels between Amanda Knox and Casey Anthony are quite distinct. The narcissism for example and the denial of any culpability including many events the least of which is Anthony’s lack of any explanation for the 30 day period before she reported her daughter missing. It’s the total lack of any feeling at all. Examine, if you will, both of their demeanor in court where they were both smiling and joking with their legal teams. It’s the denial of any emotion except when it’s turned inwards. Is this Aspergers or perhaps a variation on a theme? I don’t know. In any event there is a palpable connection between every one of these woman and that is the connection of murder which binds together.
Main science news these days is about the elusive Higgs Boson particle which the CERN accelerator outside Geneva may already have proved. And space science which needs the explanation of multi-universes right next door to explain why our own universe is separating out.
But some of the most interesting and best news is in advances in what goes on in the brain.
Robert Hare is respected for his checklist and for showing how many one way or another end up in the psychopathic zone. The public television interviewer Charlie Rose has been running a long series on all the breakthroughs happening right now.
You describe the “she was damaged goods” scenario. You cant hear about Curt Knox’s horrific rage toward Edda before the collapse of the marriage (when AK was born but Deanna was not) and for maybe 10 years after without wondering if AK is the walking wounded out of that.
It was suggested above that we stick to exploring evidence and leave the psychology alone. Families of victims though, not least the Kerchers, are often in not much doubt as to the “how” but they spend many of their waking hours wondering about the “why”.
Why was so much hate directed toward Meredith who had never had an enemy in the world? Which led to her death? John Kercher in his book shows he thinks the investigators got it right but is tormented about the reason why.
We are not just making psychological stuff up, we are chatting with psychologists and quoting them when we can and in that way our own understanding is advanced. .
Our psychologists are encouraging this kind of exploration - it was brushing psychological dimensions under the carpet that led to student massacres like Columbine and Virginia Tech and the release of Ted Bundy the first time around.
Please, please do not put Aspergers/Autism in the same ‘camp’ as the Personality Disorders of Sociopath/Psychopath/Narcissist. A Sociopath/Psychopath/Narcissist could have Aspergers/Autism but it would not be the Aspergers/Autism that would cause them to murder.
Autistics/Aspergers have been described as not having empathy (which is where society seems to think they are similar to Sociopaths/Psychopaths/Narcissists. But, they do have empathy. Autistics/Aspergers generally find social communication confusing and need to be taught the ‘tos and fros’ and the nuances of social communication. They are unable to read ‘body language’.
They are far more likely to be manipulated than be a manipulator. It’s not the Aspergers/Autism traits that maketh the murderer but the Psychopathic traits.
I think we are all with you on that one Sarah.
Grahame did say: “Many people with Asperger’s self-diagnose themselves and learn to adjust and most have good lives and careers, many in computers and math-based professions.”
My wife’s software company loves “aspies” as hard focused workers with streaks of brilliance and I find them tremendous fun to be with - they often see things and know things no-one else does.
The wrong mixing as you put it or confusion has emerged after aspies have been mixed up in crimes and then used that as a defense. The Durst case may have accidentally put that on steroids. I notice in the forums aspies themselves are fighting back against this invidious trend.
My own take is that those who think AK or RS may be damaged goods often take a slightly softer line toward them. The problem is we dont know just how far along some spectrum they are though AK at least might - might - be quite far along.
If Curt Knox hadnt sparked his rabid campaign and boxed AK in (for his own protection?) she may well have confessed, received a different sentence, and been subjected to more analysis and, if available, treatment.
Asperger’s and autism in general are fairly uncommon in women and it seems to me that a number of other conditions would match Knox’ behavior better. Sollecito seems more likely to be a highly-functional autistic, but I agree with Sarah that he might have an unrelated condition which drove him to violence. I don’t know the first thing about the Durst case, but I would be surprised if either Knox or Sollecito turned out to be autistic. Just my two cents.
Mental illness doesn’t make a crime any less terrible or easier to understand, but it helps us see that it didn’t come from a place of cold, calculated evil. In the end, it’s the same for the victim, but I guess it’s more comforting for other people to know that many of those who kill do so because their brains are “wrong.” I think it’s related to our reluctance to admit that humans are capable of extraordinary cruelty and violence, so we like proving that those who commit such acts are not quite human - at least not properly functioning humans.
I have no idea what conditions Knox and Sollecito suffer from, but there is something “off” about them, and it’s not simply a distortion caused by the fear or disgust we may feel towards them. On the other hand, I don’t get the same vibe from Guede; he’s lied and I have no doubt he’s more involved in the murder than he admits, but he seemed both scared and kind of remorseful to me. That’s more human than the other two.
Here’s my take on this issue:
The DSM was meant to identify homogenous groups for further research. In the case of autism it was supposed to help researchers find “classic” children with characteristic problems of speech, behavior and social interaction. Trying to diagnose adults with autism is useless. It presupposes that we understand the cause of “classic” autism and therefore we can extrapolate and recognize atypical cases.
The DSM is misused to lend a measure of respectability to the field of psychiatry which it has not earned. As one well-known psychiatrist told me, “Psychiatry was in danger of getting run out of the field of medicine for being so unscientific, so we appropriated the DSM for clinical use to try to diffuse the crisis.”
A personality disorder, defined simply as a personality that is dysfunctional in society, is what Knox and Sollecito have.
I spent last week on hot interstate to California. Now to Grahame, Peter, Sarah, Vivianna, brmull, I agree with all of you.
brmull says Amanda has a personality disorder but uncertain what it is, too true. Sarah, I agree autism is probably not it, nor as prone to crime. Grahame, amen to ‘paths having sincere emotion mostly toward themselves. Vivianna, I agree Raf Sollecito is hugely superior to Amanda in raw intellect.
Peter, by miracle my son got to see CERN accelerator. He went as a favor to his Chinese friend, a physics student, when they traveled in Europe.
I await the Assange news as he pleads for asylum with Ecuador today.
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