Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Predicting Extreme Fatal Violence

Know When to Fold 'Em

Gary Gilmore
Gary Gilmore

So, back to Gary Gilmore. Given what we know now about the threat of violence compared with his history, freeing him would likely have ensured repeat offenses. He had numerous incidences of impulsive delinquency, had poor anger management skills, was 27 years old, male, of a deprived social class, with mental illness in both parents, was abused as a child, had a poor record of school attendance, showed a history of violence toward self and others, abused alcohol and drugs, and knew how to get quick and easy access to guns. His social networks were mostly other criminals and his family structure was unstable. He had numerous attachment issues. Violence, in short, was all he knew.

In fact, his armed robbery offense had occurred while he was already on a qualified probation plan, which allowed him to go to art school to see if he could live responsibly. Instead of registering for school his first day, he got drunk, located a gun, and held up a convenience store. Thus, the very chance he'd requested late in his incarceration had been granted once, and for reasons that seemed beyond his own comprehension, he had not taken advantage of it to improve his life.

But while Gilmore killed twice, each time was a single individual. A further burden placed on threat assessment is to spot mass murderers who are intent on harming as many people as possible.

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