Local News

Psychologist analyzes warning signs in mass killers

Posted April 3, 2009 10:48 p.m. EDT
Updated April 3, 2009 11:16 p.m. EDT

— In the recent mass shootings in Carthage and Binghamton, N.Y., suspects are accused of killing many innocent people.

When tragedies like these happen, psychologists study the situation – looking for warning signs that may or may not exist.

Forensic psychologist Dr. Michael Teague has worked with Raleigh Police Department and the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.

Teague said a lot of research has been done on the mind of a mass killer. Serious depression seems to be one of the keys.

“If life looks totally untenable for them, then they think it is not worth living for others,” Teague said.

The suspects will turn suicidal and not take personal responsibility for the problems in their lives, Teague said.

“I can’t blame me for things not going well, so I have to blame other people,” said Teague of a killer’s thought process.

In his years of studying mass killers, Teague said one of the things many of them have in common is there are little warning signs they are about to snap on such a large scale.

Robert Kenneth Stewart faces eight counts of first-degree murder and a charge of felony assault on a law enforcement officer in the shootings at Pinelake Health and Rehab Center in Carthage on Sunday.

Stewart had no prior violent offenses on his criminal record.

“These folks tend to do very few other crimes, sometimes no other crimes, but just over one day, they choose to go in there and kill a large number of people,” Teague said.

Teague said the majority of depressed people do not turn to mass murder and the odds of becoming a victim are very unlikely.