Psychopath (A True Crime Short)

Dr. Katherine Ramsland

July 22, 2017

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IN BRIEF

Leonardo DiCaprio will star as one of the most cunning and creative serial killers. H.H. Holmes, a model for Hannibal Lecter, had a genius for projecting the aura of respectable credibility while engaging in the most outrageous crimes.


H. H. Holmes was a central character in Erik Larson’s hugely successful book The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. A film version starring Leonardo DiCaprio is currently in development. Holmes is commonly viewed as a real-life Hannibal Lecter, a devious and cunning serial killer without equal. Holmes used the persona of a successful doctor and entrepreneur to draw untold numbers of young women to his three-story Chicago hotel to experiment on before killing them. Not one to waste, he’d often deflesh the corpses and sell the skeletons to medical schools. He enjoyed trying out methods of murder and watching his victims die. Scientists from his era believed Holmes’ brain would unlock the secret of his perversity, but he denied them the chance to find out. Today, we can figure Holmes out without access to his brain. We know more today about the neuroscience of sadistic psychopaths, and we can better understand what his brain — if dissected — would reveal. For the first time, we can research neurobiological findings about killers to decode Holmes’s vile behavior.  With photographs.

“After the girls died, he’d enjoyed viewing ‘their blackened and distorted faces’ before he dug a shallow grave, removed their clothing, and dumped them into it with ‘fiendish delight.’ Holmes considered that ‘for eight years before their deaths I had been almost as much a father to them as though they had been my own children.’

“This behavior most puzzles the ordinary person and draws the researcher’s attention: How can a man torture and asphyxiate children, or burn them and view it as entertainment? How can he ‘befriend’ them for years, knowing the whole time that he will end their lives? How can he describe it as pleasurable? This is the reason the psychopath holds our fascination. It’s why researchers even during Holmes’ era tried extracting criminal brains post-mortem for study. They hoped to locate the seat of disturbed moral consciousness.”

From Psychopath

From the best true crime authors in the business, many of whom have seen their books made into major motion pictures, comes Crimescape® — a new collection of compelling short nonfiction crime eBooks from leading independent eBook publisher RosettaBooks. Taking readers into the dark minds of criminals and the tense hunt to bring perpetrators to justice, Crimescape® authors stand apart from other true crime writers because they have personal experience in crime investigations, whether as police detectives, investigative reporters, forensics professionals or criminal psychologists. As riveting storytellers, Crimescape® writers give readers all the information they need to understand relevant clues and the interwoven influences in each criminal case.

Dr. Katherine Ramsland, a Wall Street Journal bestselling author, has published more than 1,000 articles and 40 books, including The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, The Human Predator, Inside the Minds of Serial Killers, and the Mind of a Murderer. She holds graduate degrees in forensic psychology, clinical psychology, criminal justice, and philosophy, and teaches forensic psychology and criminal justice at DeSales University in Pennsylvania. Ramsland has worked with prominent criminalists, coroners, detectives, and FBI profilers. She speaks internationally about forensic psychology and serial murder, and has appeared on numerous documentaries, as well as The Today Show, 20/20, 48 Hours, Larry King Live and E! True Hollywood Story

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Foreword by Marilyn Bardsley

H. H. Holmes, the villain in Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, was such an inhuman monster that his behavior almost defies belief. It was bad enough that he planned right from the beginning to murder children who were in his care for years and to build a hotel specifically designed to murder guests and facilitate the disposal of their bodies. One would expect such a thoroughly evil character to exhibit some clues of his moral degeneracy to discerning people, but it was quite the opposite. Holmes had a genius for projecting the aura of respectable credibility while engaging in the most outrageous crimes.

Until fairly recently, understanding the psychology and neurology of a psychopath was a slow evolution. Now, with increased research, including the use of modern diagnostic tools like MRIs and other ways to analyze brain infrastructure and chemistry, it is becoming clearer that the psychopath’s brain is different from a normal brain. Also, science has developed an understanding of how people can be duped by psychopaths using the same techniques that successful magicians use to fool the mind into not recording actions that they see.

Dr. Katherine Ramsland is an expert in the psychology of serial killers. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of psychopathic murderers and a deep knowledge of the research into highly abnormal behavior. She has extensive experience in researching and writing about criminal psychology and forensics.

As the founder and editor of Court TV’s (now truTV’s) Crime Library, I was fortunate enough to have several authors of Dr. Ramsland’s caliber to write for the website. It takes a particular talent to transform forensic information and psychological analysis about a criminal case into a moving, dramatic story. Dr. Ramsland has that talent in abundance.

Dr. Katherine Ramsland has published more than 1,000 articles and 38 books, including The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, The Human Predator, Inside the Minds of Serial Killers, and the Mind of a Murderer. She holds graduate degrees in forensic psychology, clinical psychology, and philosophy, and teaches forensic psychology and criminal justice at DeSales University in Pennsylvania. Ramsland has worked with prominent criminalists, coroners, detectives, and FBI profilers. She speaks internationally about forensic psychology and serial murder, and has appeared on numerous documentaries, as well as The Today Show, 20/20, 48 Hours, Larry King Live and E! True Hollywood Story

“Katherine Ramsland has made many valuable contributions to the fields of forensic psychology, crime analysis and criminal justice as exemplified in her books The Human Predator and The Mind of a Murderer among others. It is rare to find someone with the breadth and depth of knowledge that Dr. Ramsland commands, even more so for such an individual to also be a gifted teacher and a wise and compassionate human being.”

            –Former FBI profiler, Gregg McCrary

 

“Ramsland’s books are incisive and thorough, and demonstrate a depth of knowledge not only about criminal behavior, but about human behavior as well. She has the rare ability to explain complex phenomena in simple terms.”

          –Dr. Louis Schlesinger, professor of forensic psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

 

“Dr. Ramsland has the ability to comprehend complex issues, analyze them meticulously, and express her opinions and conclusions in a completely objective manner.”  

      –Cyril Wecht, Past President, American Academy of Forensic Sciences

 

 

Praise for The Unknown Darkness

 

“This is a must-read for true crime fans. A beautifully written expert analysis of high profile killers.”
      −Ann Rule, New York Times bestselling true crime author

 

“One of the most immensely readable and gripping accounts of serial murder I have ever read.”

   –Colin Wilson, bestselling author of Serial Killers

 

 

Praise for The Forensic Science of CSI

 

“With the mind of a true investigator, Ramsland demystifies the world of forensics with authentic and vivid detail.”
     − John Douglas, Former FBI profiler and BSU chief

 

“Fascinating…a must for anyone who wonders how the real crime solvers do it.”
     –Michael Palmer, New York Times bestselling medical novelist

 

 

Praise for Piercing the Darkness: Undercover with Vampires in America Today

           

“A riveting read, a model of engaged journalism.”

            –Publisher’s Weekly

 

Praise for Inside the Minds of Serial Killers

 

“In the area of psychological research on serial killers, Dr. Katherine Ramsland has distinguished herself as a unique thinker with a fascinating approach to case analysis. Anyone who takes this subject seriously should read this book.”
       − Robert K. Ressler, Former FBI profiler

 

 

Praise for The Mind of a Murderer

 

“Dr. Ramsland writes with a clarity of prose and elegance of style that makes her the envy of forensic commentators and establishes her as a genuine authority in her field.”
      − Host of Most Evil, Dr. Michael Stone

 

“Quirky and insightful…an original contribution to criminology.”

            –Gregg McCrary, former FBI profiler

 

Praise for Inside the Minds of Healthcare Serial Killers

 

  “Timely and riveting…”

            Beatrice Yorker, Dean, College of Healthcare and Human Services, Cal State, LA

 

 

Praise for Beating the Devil’s Game

 

“Once again Katherine Ramsland has brilliantly captured the insights and drama of some fascinating cases.”
       − Dr. Henry C. Lee,

 

 

Praise for The Real Life of a Forensic Scientist

 

“… strongly recommended for every practitioner, student, and devotee of this exciting profession.”

            –Dr. Cyril Wecht, past president of American Academy of Forensic Sciences

 

“A must read for the CSI crowd.”

            –Dr. Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner, NYC

 

Praise for Ghost: Investigating the Other Side:

 

“The best book of its kind I’ve ever read.”

            –Dean Koontz, New York Times bestselling author

 

“Ramsland is a master of foreboding.”

            –Publishers Weekly

 

Praise for Snap! Seizing our Aha! Moments

“Both motivational and informative, Snap is a treat to read! Katherine Ramsland will singlehandedly increase the number of bright ideas to be born in the coming decade!”

        –Shelley Carson, author, Your Creative Brain

 

“I’ve always said intuition is the highest form of knowledge. SNAP shows me why I might be right. This is a fascinating exploration of the mind when it’s in hyperdrive, as illuminating as it is fun to read. Ms. Ramsland reveals the science and psychology of the aha! moment in vivid detail, with intriguing examples, while being wise enough to leave room for the consideration of a mystical element to human consciousness. Highly recommended.”

      –Dean Koontz, New York Times bestselling author

 

“Of course, someone who had so much insight into the human mind – who had worked as a therapist, who had a graduate degree in clinical psychology – would be able not only to explain the troubled mind, but would also be able to explore what’s best and smartest about the way we think.

      –Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Deborah Blum, Author of The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

 

 

Praise for The Heat Seekers

 

“Katherine Ramsland is a marvelous novelist, who approaches her subject with chilling, fascinating inner knowledge. The Heat Seekers is a gem.”

            –Whitley Strieber, New York Times bestselling novelist