- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

The serial sniper who has killed at least nine persons and wounded three is flaunting his pleasure for taunting police, criminal justice specialists said yesterday.
By leaving a letter and apparently starting a dialogue with authorities via the media, the sniper is seeking a bigger thrill, said Scott Thornsley, a criminal justice instructor at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania.
"Earlier, the pleasure for him was not getting caught," he said. "Now, it's giving clues and not getting caught."
The sniper responsible for the shootings in Maryland, Virginia and the District has not been linked conclusively to yesterday's slaying of a bus driver in Montgomery County. However, a positive connection would mean that the gunman had returned to the area in which he first fired shots on Oct. 2 and killed five persons the next day.
James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University criminal justice professor, said the sniper's return likely would be based on his knowledge of the area and its roads.
"It means he's coming back home," Mr. Fox said.
The sniper traveled to Ashland, Va., 90 miles south of most of his other shootings, probably to keep police off guard, Mr. Thornsley said.
Mr. Fox rejected the theory that the sniper sent a letter to police with information that could lead to an arrest. "Whatever he's putting in those letters is for his benefit," he said.
Brent Turvey, forensic scientist and author of the book "Criminal Profiling," agrees. He said the killer appears so exact in the attacks, so swift in escapes and leaves behind so little evidence that he is unlikely to give away information that would lead to an arrest.
"Do we think that an offender who is as intelligent as this and who learns as quickly as this would really put himself on the other side of the phone?" Mr. Turvey asked.
Shooting from a distance and choosing victims at random shows a detachment, said Charles Bahn, a professor emeritus of forensics at John Jay College of the City University of New York. Because of this, he said, it is unlikely the sniper would feel remorse the most frequent reason for surrender.
"The reason people turn themselves in generally is because they cannot stand the feeling of guilt," he said. "That's not totally inconsistent with someone like this, but they're not usually associated."
While the serial sniper may not be ready to surrender, Mr. Thornsley says, he probably is serious about his purported request for money in a note left near the Ashland shooting. Mr. Thornsley suggested that the sniper may want to help family and friends at the conclusion of the violent episode.
Money is not the primary motivation, Mr. Thornsley said, and if authorities fail to meet the demand, the sniper probably wouldn't become enraged, but may use the incident to justify further attacks.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide