As fans of crime fiction, we all know how important it is for murder investigators to understand a killer’s motive. But what if the killer was not a jealous lover, a greedy business partner or a vengeful ex? But rather, just a psycho looking for some thrills.
Fortunately, for law enforcement, proof of motive is not necessary to prosecute a criminal. Generally, the only three things that are required to convict a criminal are mental state, conduct and causation.
Basically, the prosecutor needs to prove that the criminal had the intent to carry out his crime, then carried out the intended act and that such action was a direct cause of the alleged offense.
Regardless of what is necessary, it is still very important to understand motive, because without it, law enforcement may struggle in narrowing down the potential suspects. And it may be very difficult to convince a jury of someone’s guilt, if you cannot show any real motive.
Killers without any clear motive are a particularly horrific group of people, because, essentially, their homicidal acts may have no explanation.
Here are 4 murders who were caught and prosecuted, but to this day – experts still are not sure what truly motivated the killings.
Brenda Ann Spencer
On January 29, 1979, Brenda Ann Spencer committed the unthinkable. At the young age of 16, she decided to open fire at the children of Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego.
Using a semi-automatic rifle, Spencer fired shots from her bedroom window at kids who were waiting to enter the school’s playground. Lasting for 20 minutes, Spencer’s shooting spree took the lives of two adults – the principal and the school’s caretaker. Both victims were heroically protecting the kids when they were shot dead.
No children were killed, and the entire incident lasted seven hours due to the killer barricading herself inside her home.
When Spencer was finally apprehended by police, she explained that her motivation for killing was “I don’t like Mondays.” And that kids were “easy targets.”
Due to her young age, the killer did not receive the death penalty, but instead, was sentenced to 25 years to life. All of the people responsible for her apprehension and conviction were utterly baffled by this senseless, horrific crime, as the murderer really had no motive, other than to simply kill for the sake of killing.
To date, Spencer is still in prison.
During the summer of 2007, Viktor Sayenko and Igor Suprunyuk brought chaos and horror to the Ukrainian town of Dnipropetrovsk. In a span of two months, these homicidal deviants killed 21 innocent souls. Creating videos of some the killings, the murderers gained immediate notoriety after a few of the videos were uploaded to the internet.
Thankfully, law enforcement was able to stop these two killers before they claimed more innocent lives. Although many theories went around regarding their motive, such as earning money for snuff videos and the need for fame, the police were unable to determine any true motive.
The killers kept newspaper clippings of the murders and had put captions on some of the photographs. One such caption read – “The weak must die. The strong will conquer.” A detective on the case believed that these two men killed for the thrill, and that the newspaper clippings were intended as keepsakes, so that they could reflect on their carnage in old age.
Both of the murderers were sentenced to life imprisonment.
During a ten-span in the early 2000s, Israel Keyes went on a nationwide killing spree. After leaving the Army in 2001, Keyes traveled the United States robbing banks, kidnapping and killing.
Keyes had no particular “type” of victim. He would go after men, women, and children. Keyes would buy a one-way plane ticket to a distant location, then buy a Home Depot bucket and fill it with guns, ammo, rope and cash. He would store his “kill kits” in a hidden location for later use.
After finding a random victim, he would kidnap, rape and murder them. Then, after disposing of the body, Keyes would buy another plane ticket to a location that was far from his victim.
Local and federal law enforcement had a difficult time with investigating his various murders due to the lack of any connection between the people. And the clear lack of motive.
Speaking of motive, Keyes was asked why he killed these innocent people, and his reply was simply “why not?”
This psychotic killer confessed to eight murders, but many believe that he committed more killings than eight. While awaiting trial, Keyes killed himself in prison.
From October 1997 to May 1998, killer Donato Bilancia terrorized the Italian Riviera by murdering 17 people – nine women and eight men. His killing spree was difficult to stop due to the killer’s inconsistent modus operandi and the apparent lack of connection between any of the victims.
Unlike most serial killers, his murders were “sloppy” and unorganized. Essentially, Bianca did not operate from any particular playbook, so tying the killings together was very difficult for the Italian police.
Bilancia was eventually caught after an eyewitness identified one of his victims entering his black Mercedes. When asked what his motive was for committing the murders, Bilancia said there was no underlying motive and that he had no idea why he killed them. Essentially, he was another psycho who wanted to kill, just for the sake of killing.
The Italian serial killer was sentenced to 13 life imprisonments with no parole.
It’s a scary thought to think that people like these killers are walking amongst us. Killers who murder random people just for the sake of doing it, and without any motive whatsoever. That’s a terrifying reality. Have you come across any stories about murderers who fit this description?
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