Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Gerald Eugene Stano

Branded at Birth

According to Blind Fury by Anna Flowers, Gerald, or Paul as he was originally named, was born on September 12, 1951, in Schenectady, New York.  His mother had already given birth to four other children, three of which she put up for adoption.  The fourth, a baby girl, suffered severe brain damage and was the only one his mother chose to keep.  Fortunately for Gerald, his mother again decided she did not want to raise another child and asked the Schenectady County Department of Social Services to put him up for adoption.

Blind Fury
Blind Fury
 

Eugene and Norma Stano were unable to conceive their own children and desperately wanted to adopt a baby boy.   Norma was employed as a county social worker and Eugene worked as a manager for a large corporation.  When Norma first learned of baby Paul, her heart almost immediately went out to him.  He was extremely malnourished and neglected both physically and emotionally.  The agency was having a difficult time placing Paul with foster parents, so when Norma and Eugene stepped forward, the agency was relieved to have found him a home.  Nonetheless, the process was not easy.  In order to finalize the adoption, a team of physicians, psychologists and social workers had to examine Paul.  Their initial reports determined the 13-month-old boy to be unadoptable due to severe neglect.  He was functioning at an animalistic level and would continually remove his own diaper and play with his feces.  Regardless, the Stanos were not deterred and insisted on adopting him.  Six months later, baby Paul officially became Gerald Eugene Stano.            

In dissecting Stano's past, one must consider the possibility that his problems may have started at birth. Whether by coincidence or happenstance, a large number of serial killers are adoptees.   In addition to this, most adoptees who kill were adopted at birth.  The FBI claims that at least 16% of all known serial killers have already been identified as adoptees. 

Chosen Children
Chosen Children
 

In the book Chosen Children, by Lori Carangeloe, the author considers the theory of adoption a potential contribution to the serial killer's motivation a fascinating subject because it creates two questions:   "The first one is that the biological parents may have left their child with defective genes," she writes.  "Finding out that one was adopted may also undermine the sense of identity in a fragile youth and make the child prone to fantasizing the identity of his 'true' parents, either good or bad."      

Freelance writer Shirley Lynn Scott also touched upon the subject in an article she wrote for Crime Library ("What Makes Serial Killers Tick?"):   "Was the mother a prostitute?  A nun?  Was the father a gangster?  A hero?  And why did they "reject" their child?"

During an interview with a New York Times reporter, Dr. David Kirschner said, "I've personally been involved in 12 cases of adoptees who have killed, including a tiny but significant group who become serial killers.  And while many undergo therapy, unfortunately, there is barely ever a mention of the impact adoption has on their lives.  It's a subject no one ever wants to talk about, particularly adoptive families."

Whether or not his adoption actually affected Stano's later actions is speculative.

 

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