What part does a domineering mother play in the creation of a future serial killer (especially male mass murderers)? As, with many cases, there seems to be an odd connection between how controlling the matriarch of the family is, and how subservient, afraid, besotted or aroused the son is of his mother. Obviously, although devastating, a violent, scary and domineering mother isn't the only aspect of a serial killer's upbringing which aides their psychological disintegration, but (for many killers) it is an important aspect of their psyche, and often a method to their madness.
In this blog, we shall be delving into the lives of some of the world's most infamous serial killers and mass-murderers, and asking "what impact did a domineering (and even an uncaring or sexually promiscious) mother have on the upbringing of a future serial-killer?"
As always, this is not a comprehensive or complete list, and it will be updated as and when new information comes to light, so don't get all "stressy" if I'm missing a name or two. Instead, be a sweetie and share your knowledge, by tweeting me @mmiletours. Enjoy the blog. Mx
Ed Gein "The Plainfield Buicher": Raised by his strict Lutheran mother - who kept Ed away from the sinful influences of the outside world, she was staunchly teetotal and regarded all women as "prostitutes" - and Ed was besotted by his mother. But by 1941, Augusta Gein had suffered two strokes and required daily support from Ed to achieve the simplest tasks, and although her son cared for her deeply, she never showed him any affection, which he craved so deeply.
Unfortunately, on 29th December 1945, Ed’s world collapsed when his Augusta died aged 67, leaving him all alone in an empty family farmstead, unable to cope and grief-stricken over the loss of “best and only friend" and his "one true love”.After her death, Ed dug up freshly laid corpses from Plainfield cemetery in the hope of making himself a "woman suit" and "re-animating his deceased mother". Read a full psychological profile of Ed Gein.
Dr Harold Shipman "Doctor Death": Raised as a strict Methodist by his mother Vera, who bestowed upon him a belief that he was superior to everyone else, she was the dominant force in his life, and kept him away from unsavoury influences such as girls, music, films, alcohol and drugs. On 24th June 1963, when Shipman was 17 years old, his beloved mother died after a long battle with lung cancer. Having been her carer, Shipman oversaw her daily needs and during the latter stages of the disease, a local doctor injected her with morphine (a strong painkiller) and Shipman witnessed her release as the insufferable pain subsided.
This need to “alleviate the pain” and “put elderly women out of their misery” (even if they weren't sick) would mirror the way that Shipman would kill an estimated 257+ patients over a 25 year period. Read a full psychological profile of Harold Shipman.
Edmund Kemper "The Co-Ed Butcher": Belittled, humiliated and abused on a daily basis by his neurotic, alcoholic and domineering mother Clarnell Elizabeth Kemper (divorced three times), Ed would often be locked in the basement of their family home overnight, simply for disobeying her orders, he was ridiculed for his size (6 foot 4 inches by the age of 15) and would deny him any affection for fear that a cuddle "would turn him gay".
Ed shot and killed his grandparents aged 15, spent six years in a psychiatric unit, and then was released into the custody of his abusive mother, who he'd later describe as a "sick angry woman". In April 1973, Kemper battered her to death with a pick hammer as she slept, cut off her head, raped her decapitated torso and used her head as a dartboard. He attempted to flush her vocal chords down the garbage disposal but they were too tough for the waste masher, Ed later stated "that seemed appropriate... (given how) much as she'd bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years". Where is Edmund Kemper now? Click here.
Fred West "The Gloucester Road Killer": Growing up on a small farm in Much Marcle, with no electricity nor heating beyond a simple log-fire, and struggling to get any attention from his parents amidst his five other siblings, Fred strived to be his mother's favourite. Seen as a "mother's boy", Fred claimed he was introduced to sex by his mother when he was aged 12 years old, that he engaged in bestiality and that incest in the family was commonplace, but Fred's younger brother Doug claims that this is all false, and a fiction within Fred's vivid imagination. Where's Fred Now?
Carroll Edward Cole: Whilst his father was serving overseas during World War Two, Cole's mother (a local prostitute, unable to afford a babysitter) would bring her young son with her as she "entertained" young men and would make him watch as she had sex with them, only to be beaten and whipped if he dared tell her husband about her sexual shenanigans. Being born with a girl's name "Carroll" for which he was frequently teased, his abusive mother would often dress him as a girl and would ridicule and beat him for any minor infractions in his duties, hence by his teens, having only had one female role-model in his life, he had began to have a deep-seated hatred of women. Read more about Carroll Edward Cole.
Bobby Joe Long: Born with an extra X chromosome, during puberty Long began to grow breasts, for which he was mercilessly teased by school-friends and his own mother. As well as suffering numerous serious head injuries as a child, Long slept in the same bed as his angry and domineering mother until he was in his teens, and (as she'd been divorced multiple times, he later stated that) she'd often bring back a series of lovers to their one-bedroom apartment and would engage in sex with them whilst Long was in the same room, although Long's mother denies his allegations. With a deep-seated hatred of women, Long regarded all women as "sluts and whores" and killed any who reminded him of his mother. Read more about Bobbie Joe Long.
Henry Lee Lucas: Described as a "violent angry prostitute", Viola Lucas would regularly beat her sons, often for no reason, but the beatings were so brutal that in his early years Lucas was beaten about his head with a two-by-four so hard that he was in a coma for three days. After a fight with his brother when Lucas damaged his eye, she denied his any medical help, an infection spread and he lost his eye. And, having been given a mule (donkey) as a present by his absent father's friends, his mother shot the mule in front of him. On 12th January 1960, Lucas stabbed his mother to death (in self-defence) and claimed that she'd attacked him during the night with a broom. Read more about Henry Lee Lucas
Charles Manson: Born the illegitimate son of (scandalously in the 1940's) a black cook and an unmarried 16 year old mother (Kathleen Maddox), baby Manson was unloved from day one and dubbed "no name Maddox" as his mother couldn't be bothered to name him. She was a violent promiscuous alcoholic thief who successfully traded her son to a childless waitress for a pitcher of beer, and later (after he'd been returned to her), she unsuccessfully tried to have him placed in a foster home and then dumped at a Boy's School, but ten months later, he fled the school to be with his mother... but she rejected him.
Gary Ridgway "The Green River Killer": Born into a violent, unsettled and argumentative household, to an aggressive father and his domineering mother Mary Rita Ridgway, the terrified boy was in the habit of wetting his bed, for which he would be belittled and ashamed, and yet his mother would immediately bathe him, instilling (what he described as) conflicting feelings of anger and sexual attraction toward her. Read more about Gary Ridgway.
If you liked this blog, there are many others including murderers and their Kids, serial killers spouses, psychological profiles of Hindley, Brady, Shipman, Gacy, Gein and Dennis Nilsen, killers and their pets, killer cannibals, deadly canals, serial killers by weight, height, zodiac sign, birthday, food, drink, music tastes and failing that there's even some quizzes.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London” and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster of Murder Mile UK True Crime and creator of true-crime TV series.
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