When it comes to the study of forensic psychology, it’s probably safe to assume that no criminal gets more attention than a brutal killer. We are simultaneously fascinated and terrified by someone who could beat, rape, torture, and murder, often multiple times. Is something wrong with the wiring in his brain? Are there signs that people missed of this person’s potential for such evil acts? What must that person’s life been like as a child to make him turn out that way?
While we may not be able to make generalizations about the parents of violent men and women, as circumstances vary widely, we still are intrigued by any glimpse into their lives. We had such an opportunity this week when the adoptive parents of convicted killer Joshua Komisarjevsky took the stand in the penalty phase of his trial.
Earlier this month, Komisarjevksy was found guilty on 17 counts of charges that included murder, burglary, kidnapping, sexual assault and arson for his role in the killing of the wife and daughters of Dr. William Petit in their Connecticut home. The heinous nature of the acts had the nation in shock when details of the July 2007 events were made known.
Komisarjevsky’s father testified that his son was molested for years as a child by a foster teen who had been brought into their home, but the family never sought therapy or medication for him. They saw these interventions as signs of weakness that did not gel with their ultra-religious views. Joseph Komisarjevsky went on to molest his own sister when he was only 11 or 12 years old, and their father contends she is doing just fine. Other signs of trouble, such as setting fire to a gas station as a teenager and evidence of cutting, were apparently ignored.
While nothing excuses the despicable acts of violence committed by Komisarjevsky and his partner in this crime, Steven Hayes, you also can see evidence of the cycle of violence and abuse that may have had a role in these horrible consequences. If any good can be done, let’s hope that greater awareness of psychological problems and the benefits of treatment will be a result.
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Crime Watch Blog: www.emilystonecrimewatch.wordpress.com/
Book & Crime Talk: www.blogtalkradio.com/jennifer-chase/
Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting