This kind of story is sadly no longer out of the ordinary and, in these harsh economic times, many people feel the man must have been driven to take out his family; his world must have fallen apart and he no longer knew how he could care for his wife and children.
Mr. Ervin A. Lupoe, the family mass murderer, explains his actions in a two-page suicide fax to a local news station. He tells us because "he was despondent over a job situation and he saw no reasonable way out," he and his wife started planning their own deaths. His wife then encouraged the murder of their children with her comment, "Why leave the children to a stranger?" Furthermore, Mr. Lupoe wrote, the manager who later fired the couple had told the two of them "You should have blown your brains out rather than come to work."
Okay, hold up here! Psychopath alert! Psychopath alert!
First of all there was a dispute with the boss. Why? We haven't heard. Next Mr. Lupoe not only blames his employer for his rash decision to off his family but also insinuates the boss was responsible for actually idea of the murder-suicide. Finally, he claims his wife told him to kill their children, the eight-year old, the five-year old twins, and the two-year-old twins.
One of the traits of psychopathy is a refusal to accept responsibility for one's actions. Mr. Lupoe did this three times over within his fax. Pathological lying is another and, in his fax, we see this clearly as well. We also find out that he was under investigation for lying about employment to get child care. Then, after he sent the fax, he called the police and claimed someone else has shot his family. He apparently has trouble deciding which false story to go with.
Lupoe once had been charged (though not prosecuted) for carrying a concealed weapon which indicates he may have difficulty being a law-abiding citizen, another trait of psychopathy. He also exhibits quite a bit of egocentric and grandiose thinking, which his actions expose. Not only did he commit a horrific crime, he essentially bragged about it to the media. Finally, the hallmark trait of psychopathy is a lack of empathy. When Mr. Lupoe coldbloodly shot six innocent people, five of them little children who trusted him, he qualified himself quite well as a psychopath who cares nothing for other human beings.
As a criminal profiler, one of my jobs is statement analysis which involves reading the words of an individual and discerning what the person is really saying, what he is trying to accomplish with his communication. Is he being honest and open? Is he applying spin to make himself look better? Is he trying to manipulate someone? Is he attempting to justify some action to another or, perhap, just to himself? What does his statement say about him?
“… I had a teacher who used to sit at my desk and we would write dirty notes back and forth. I was either 13 or 14 at the time – and just show me a 14-year-old boy anywhere who wouldn’t willingly and happily sit in a schoolroom and exchange porno notes with his teacher. I never got to lay a hand on her without getting slapped, but she would keep me after school and make me stand before her while she masturbated and called me names and told me what she was going to make me do – none of her threats she ever kept, damn it! The bitch wouldn’t even let me masturbate with her! I took my penis out and she beat the living shit out of me! She had enormously large breasts. She was truly a cruel woman…” (Berry-Dee, 2003)
How much of any of this is true is questionable considering who it is coming from. However, if we assume the possibility he is blaming the victims for his early behavior problems, I can rewrite his statement which is likely closer to the truth:
“… I had a teacher I used to write porn notes to and that got me in big trouble. I never got to lay a hand on her without getting slapped (because she was disgusted with me), but she would keep me after school (as punishment).Once she made me stand (in the corner) where I started masturbating and called her a bitch. I took my penis out and she beat the living shit out of me!”
But simply accepting a psychopath's explanations for their behavior distorts history, their true motives, statistical studies, and the correct psychological understanding of criminal behavior. Worse, it may cause us to fail to recognize danger signals from psychopaths in our own communities and families until it is too late. While we don't want to be overly suspicious of every word that comes out of a human being's mouth, it wouldn't hurt us -and may well protect us - to be a little more skeptical of what we hear and read. In fact, it could save our lives.