The Family Connection in Mass Murders
September 4, 2001
Family killings are more common than the public generally supposes and can be easy to explain, criminologists report.
- James Alan Fox, a professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University in Boston, says that 40 percent of mass murders in the U.S. are in the family and "are not random shootings at a McDonald's or a shopping mall."
- Justice Department figures show that from 1976 to 1999, there were 194 mass slayings in which four or more family members were killed.
- That's an average of about eight a year.
- In the past 10 weeks, police have recorded 23 deaths in four violent incidents.
Fox theorizes that a man often kills to "get even" with a woman suspected of unfaithfulness or trying to end the relationship -- and he kills the children as an extension of her.
Jobless men may be prompted to kill because their sense of self-worth has been violated, according to Fox.
When one episode of slayings follows another, there is reason to believe a "copycat" principle is at work.
Source: Martin Kasindorf, "Mass Killings Often Not Random," USA Today, September 4, 2001.
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