The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana on April 9, 2000 · Page 16
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The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana · Page 16

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Sunday, April 9, 2000
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A16 SUNDAY, APRIL 9, 2000 THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR Rampage killers give warnings, and many want to die t ! By Ford Fessenden V , THE NEW YORK TIMES i They are not drunk or high on drugs. They are not racists or Sa-' tanists, or addicted to violent video games, movies or music. , Most are white men, but a surprising number are women, Asians and blacks. Many have college de-;grees, but most are unemployed. ..Many are military veterans. I.They give lots of warning and V even tell people explicitly what they plan to do. They carry semiautomatic weapons they have obtained easily and, in most cases, legally. ; - They do not try to get away. In V -the end, half turn their guns on "themselves or are shot dead by others. They not only want to kill, they also want to die. r-That is the profile of the 102 killers in 100 rampage attacks examined by The New York Times in a computer-assisted study looking back more than 50 years and - including the shootings in 1999 at ; Columbine High School in Little-' ton, Colo. Four hundred twenty-five people were killed, and 510 people were injured in the attacks. . ; The Times analysis included .'''only rampage homicides multiple-victim killings that were not primarily domestic or connected to t a robbery or gang. Serial killers ' - were not included. t Among the findings: While the killings have caused ,; many people to point to violent aspects of culture, there is little evi- dence that video games, movies or ' ' television encouraged many at- ; tacks. In only six of the 100 cases did the killers have a known in-; terest in violent video games. Seven . others were interested in violent movies. ; In a decade that had a sharp decrease in homicides, the inci ; r : I'l'li '' l?l!f ,,,.1 I ". ';;., f Call1-800-4-CUSTOM 1-800-428-7866 (24 hours) THE GOOD LIFE YOU CAN COUNT ON SEARS FOR SATISFACTION GUARANTEED OR YOUR MONEY BACK 2000 Sears, Roebuck and Co. This advertisement includes many reductions, special purchases and items at our everyday low price Item) at mosl farqer item. Outlet stores excluded. Environmental surcharges extra IMPORTANT CREDIT TERMS: Sales tax, delivery or installation not included in monthly payments shown. Actual monthly poyment may vary depending on your current account balance and may be slightly higher in VT Sears Card' Termit Annual percentage rate is 21 - 24. Minimum finance charge of $.50. SearsChorge PLUS' Terms: Annual percentage rate is 21. AR 10 os of 499, but rate may vary. Minimum monthly finance charge of $.50. tissued by Sears National Bonk 2000 Sears, Roebuck and Co. f- jyv :wjyft l 1 --j I direction TtTRnrrrrR 703 Broad Rippe UUikMJ-CJLS Indianapolis, IN g BROAD RIPPLE f a -2pPri" J rTV " IJJiiOtR f ilii UJUXdSv NEW HOURS FHEEPARKIgJH OF STORE (ffjK GJilYCjl MON-SAT 1 0-8 Stl Ell lWifi j SUN 2-6 dence of rampage killings appears to have increased, FBI data show. Still, these killings remain extremely rare, much less than 1 percent of all homicides. Society has turned to law enforcement to resolve the rampage killings. But the analysis shows that these cases might have more to do with society's lack of knowledge of mental health issues than a lack of security. The rage that boiled over into homicide was clearly building in. many. Of the cases reviewed, 63 involved people who had threatened violence before the event. These are not impulsive acts," said J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist at the University of California at San Diego. They are not acts of affective violence, where they drink a lot and go kill someone. There's a planning and purpose." Yet often there was a precipitating event a spark that set off the tinder and gave the crime the appearance of being at the same time deliberate and impulsive. By far the most common precipitator was the loss of a job, which was mentioned as a potential cause in 47 cases. A romantic issue a divorce or breakup was present in 22 cases. Rampage killers differ from other murderers by demographics. Half of all murderers in this, country are black. Eighty percent went to high school, and no further. Most of them killed someone they knew, or while committing another crime. Rampage killers were white, by far; 18 of the 102 were black, and seven were Asian. Rampage killers were far more likely to have military backgrounds and to kill strangers. 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S3 mm tor TRAIL Continued from Page 1 was taken from the store's cash register. Crooke, the Indianapolis Police Department detective, was assigned to the case. He was there at the beginning, and he wants to be there at the end, hoping the continued collection of evidence in the slayings will lead to an arrest. But he knows the investigation also could be resolved another way. "What I would hope is either that he has some remorse or that he has confided in somebody," Crooke said. He would never refer to any murder investigation as routine, but this one took a decidedly unusual path as the weeks unfolded with a series of seemingly random but connected killings. All were close to interstates; some were just a block or two from an off-ramp: April 11, 1992, in Wichita, Kan., two women were found slain in a tuxedo and bridal shop. Patricia Magers, 33, and Patricia Smith, 23, were working together, but police think the killer first saw only one of the women because the other was in a back room. April 27, 1992, Michael McCown, 40, was found shot to death in his ceramics store in Terre Haute. He was the only man killed in the series, but police think the shooter might have mistaken McCown for a woman because of his ponytail. Also, his store was called Sylvia's Ceramics, which could have suggested it was run by a woman. May 3, 1992, Nancy Kitzmiller, 24, was shot as she worked alone in the western -footwear store she managed in St. Charles, Mo. May 7, 1992, in the Kansas City, Mo., suburb of Raytown, Sarah Blessing, 37, . was shot to death in the store she and several friends opened together. All six slayings were soon linked by science: Tests showed the same gun was used in each case. Witnesses at a few of the locations described a man they saw near the time of the shootings. The descriptions were markedly similar: a thin white man in his 30s with sandy or reddish hair. In addition, all of the shootings occurred early in the afternoon at shops where little money was expected to be on hand. Each time, a few hundred dollars was taken. None of the victims was sexually assaulted. It was, investigators say, as though the shooter simply got a thrill out of killing. When authorities in various Jurisdictions recognized the emerging pattern, a multistate task force was formed. At one point, 44 detectives worked on the cases. St. Charles Detective Richard Plummer in Missouri spent the first four years after Nancy Kitzmiller's slaying working only on her case. Even today, he is allowed as much time as he needs on the investigation, maintaining and updating the computer database he shares with the other law enforcement agencies and pursuing leads that still regularly come up. That includes checking out other homicides for possible links to the interstate killings. "We look at a new case about once a month," Plummer said. Most of those are eliminated during telephone conversations or when police arrest someone who couldn't possibly be connected to the 1992 homicides. But Plummer and Crooke also , .. .-Attfftttt. .:. .... - : ... : Eight years tracking down leads: Indianapolis police homicide Detective Michael Crooke has been involved with the 1-70 serial killing investigation longer than any other detective. have traveled across the country to compare notes on cases that had a familiar ring. Three Texas shootings near interstates are among those. They have not officially been connected to the 1-70 slayings, and Texas investigators discount the possibility. But 1-70 detectives continue to believe that the cases, all involving clerks shot in the head, are linked. Sept. 25, 1993, in Fort Worth, Texas, 51 -year-old Mary Ann Glasscock was shot as she worked alone in a small antiques store. Nov. 1, 1993, Amy Vess, 21, was found shot to death in a dancewear shop in Arlington, a suburb just east of Fort Worth. Jan. 15, 1994, Vicki Webb, 35, was working alone in her giit shop in Houston when a man came in, chatted with her, browsed, then shot her in the head. Webb survived. Months later, when she was "I survived because I have an abnormally large spinal column. Where he shot me, a million other people would have been dead." Vicki Webb, only victim to survive gunshot to head shown a police sketch developed of the 1-70 suspect, she saw a likeness of the man who shot her. Saved by a fluke Vicki Webb remembers that day in horrific detail. "We talked for quite a long period of time, probably about 20 minutes," she said of the stranger who walked in late that Saturday morning. "We talked about merchandise. He was asking about business patterns. I thought maybe he was a retailer, too. He didn't really look like one, but you never know." He was about 5 feet 8 inches tall, thin almost gaunt and had a weathered look to him, she said. The man said he was supposed to meet his niece there and commented on how much she would like the store. He kept looking out the window, and Webb figured he was watching for his niece. Then he asked to see a copper frame. Webb came out from behind her counter, reached for the frame and turned to go back behind the counter. She didn't hear the man behind her; she never saw a gun. Just pop. Webb fell to the floor, conscious but not moving. She made up her mind to live the moment she heard that pop. "I thought, 'Oh, my God. I have a 13-year-old daughter. Please, I just can't die now.' " Her only chance of staying alive was to let the man think he had killed her. Webb didn't know it, but at that point, she was paralyzed. She could barely breathe. "My body acted as if it was dead." The man jumped over her and rifled the cash register. He went to a small room at the back of her shop, which he found crammed with boxes and supplies. He left the store briefly, then returned. He rolled Webb over and dragged her behind the counter. He put a gun to her forehead. She heard a clicking sound. "Then he just laughed." There were sounds from the real estate business next door, and her attacker left quickly. About 15 minutes later, Webb heard the tinkle of the bell attached to the store's front door. A couple had arrived to shop; Webb managed to say, weakly: "Excuse me. Can you please get some help? I've been shot." The bullet had lodged between the second and third vertebrae at the bottom of her head, and Webb was saved by an anatomical fluke she didn't know she had. "I survived because I have an abnormally large spinal column," she says. "Where he shot me, a million other people would have been dead." It took months of rehabilitation to walk again. Webb has since married and moved to California. For -Vy 'I V 4 s , , 4 safety reasons, she does not want the city she lives in released and has an unlisted telephone number. Otherwise, she doesn't take extraordinary measures to hide; she refuses to let her attacker control the rest of her life. She says her physical injuries caused by the gunshot are no longer visible, but she feels them. The bullet and a bone fragment still rest near her spine. "I ache every day." Waiting on military job For Don and Carol Kitzmiller, the ache is in their hearts. Memories of the life of their daughter Nancy still give them joy, but it remains painful for them to talk about her death. Yet they feel they must. "That's about the only thing that Don and I can do for Nancy now," Carol Kitzmiller said from the couple's St. Louis-area home. They want people to know their daughter was much more than just another name on a list of homicide victims. And, Don Kitzmiller said, there's the hope that it will make a difference in finding the killer. This person's got to be stopped." Nancy Kitzmiller played soccer throughout high school, and for five years at Oklahoma State University, where she graduated with a degree in geography. She returned home after graduation and organized her old high school soccer buddies to play in an indoor soccer league. Nancy wanted to be a cartographer. She had applied for a Job with the Defense Mapping Agency, headquartered in St. Louis. She needed a top-secret security clearance for the job and had been waiting for about a year. When she died in the St. Charles, Mo., shop, she was expecting that clearance to come within two weeks. "Many maps are still hanging on the walls in her room," Nancy's mother said. "The push pins are still in them." Young businesswoman Wilma and Clarence Hart know exactly how the Kitzmillers feel. Their daughter, Sarah Blessing, was the last victim in the four-week 1992 killing spree. A few weeks before she was killed in a Raytown, Mo., shop, Sarah had visited her family's home in Topeka, Kan., to spend Easter with them. It was the last time they saw her. Sarah was health-conscious and knowledgeable about natural foods. That Easter, her father recalled, Sarah found some herbs outside in the yard. She picked some chick-weeds, then plucked some lilac blossoms from a blooming bush. "She made a salad!" her father said, adding with a touch of surprise, "It tasted pretty good." Sarah had been born six weeks prematurely and had a younger sister and a younger brother. "She was always a little thing, but she was the big sister," Wilma Hart recalled. She read constantly and got straight A's. "She dearly loved pets guinea pigs, dogs, a ferret, a chameleon," Clarence Hart said. Sarah went to Emporia State College, halfway between Topeka and Wichita, earning a bachelor of fine arts degree in interpersonal communications, with a minor in psychology. Sarah and five friends rented a storefront in Raytown. Each would set up an area where they would display their wares crystals, vitamins, natural foods. They called it the Store of Many Colors. They would take turns working at the store. The grand opening in 1992 ran from April 18-26. On May 7, it was Sarah's turn to work. Alone. That was the day she was killed. The stout never re File .Photo opened. The Harts know it's possible Iher killer will not be identified and; arrested. " "We try not to think that," Wilma Hart said. "Everybody's got to move on,"her husband added, "and do the best they can." New Year's Eve homicide For the police, moving on means keeping the investigation moving. Recently, that has included O'Fallon, 111., just east of St. Louis. On Dec. 31. 20-year-old colege student Amy Blumberg was working in her family's dance apparel shop. . : : She was found dead about 9 p.m., shot once in the head. She was not sexually assaulted. The store is about half a block from 1-64. : O'Fallon Police Capt. Jim Stover downplayed a possible connection to the 1-70 slayings. There are similarities, he said, but also many;dif-ferences. Still, O'Fallon police have talked frequently with the 1-70 investigators, were part of a meeting ijvith some of those detectives at the "FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., in February, and have interviewed Vicki Webb. 'TIT Crooke, who has been involved with the investigation longer than any other detective, also is bringing fellow IPD Detective Tom Sarfaty into the investigation. J Crooke doesn't have immediate retirement plans, but it's only prudent to try to ensure some continuity if the investigation must Continue for several more years, Said IPD Lt. Mark Rice, homicide supervisor, t All three of them attended ; the meeting in Quantico. J Original detectives certainly have the advantage of long-term Involvement and firsthand observations, but newer Investigators like Sarfaty also can bring fresh ideas, Rice said. ' "He can offer different perspectives," Rice said. "We sit down with the squad to go over case files routinely. Everybody offers sugges: tlons. You get different ideas from different investigators." As the 1-70 investigation continues, old evidence is reviewed again and again, and new avenues and ideas are emerging. Crooke no longer circulates "the suspect sketch developed eight years ago, saying it was a best guess in the first place and can't reflect how the suspect might have aged. In addition, he wants people to pay more attention to the description witnesses offered a thin white man between 5-foot-5 and 5-foot-9 who would now probably be in his early 40s. . New technology could allow for more useful analysis of hairs or fibers found at some of the homftide scenes, and the FBI is becoming more formally involved in the case. Early on, three men were identified as suspicious, although they were never formally labeled suspects. One has been eliminated, but two still are under scrutiny, Crooke said. - One possibility is that the killer is someone who has a reason to travel, such as a salesman or truck driver. Along those lines, detectives say the killer might have dealings with military bases, because several of the slayings occurred near military installations such as Fort Benjamin Harrison In IncSan-apolis. Recently, Army and; Air Force investigators agreed to help develop names of people who fit that bill. ; Those names would be added to the team's giant computer database In St. Charles, where Plpm-mer already has about. 67,000 pieces of information stored. The investigation is getting 'old, but not necessarily cold, Crooke said. The policy at IPD, Rice salens to never shelve an unsolved homjeide case. "It is alwavg open."

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