Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Larry and Danny Ranes: Serial Killers in the Same Family

Impressions of Danny

There are some people who believe Danny's assertion of his innocence.  Reportedly, a police officer doing graduate work in criminology researched the investigation and apparently had doubts about the case made against Danny, but he declined the opportunity to speak about it.  Given the physical evidence, along with the note that Danny ripped up, it seems odd that someone in law enforcement would discount that.

Hilberry thought that Danny was a fast talker, using his facility with language as a way to persuade others and himself.  "My own impression," Hilberry writes, "is that he is urgently and persistently rethinking the past, going over the events in his mind and rearranging them, changing them so that the story comes out the way it ought rather than the way it was."  He did not believe that Danny was the psychopath that Larry was, because he didn't exhibit the same shallow affect, but his understanding of psychopathy derives from an outdated source and the work done during the 1980s and 1990s indicates that psychopathy can take a variety of forms.  Danny's behavior, in terms of glibness, deception, slick convoluted reasoning, self-pity, and irresponsibility indicates that he may certainly earn that diagnosis as well.  Despite Larry's desire to kill Danny if he ever got out of prison, from Hilberry's description, Danny seems just as dangerous and perhaps more cunning. 

Several people who knew or spoke with Danny surmised that his competitiveness with his brother may have triggered his own murder spree.  Larry had gotten considerable publicity in 1964, and then with his successful appeal in 1971, he was getting even more.  It was right around the time that he was brought back to the Kalamazoo jail that Danny began his own spate of murders.  He'd been in trouble before, but not to this magnitude.  And yet, if he were truly competitive in the way that serial killers often are, he'd have accepted credit for his murders and perhaps even added two as a way to one-up his brother.  Since he protests his innocence even now, it seems unlikely that competition with Larry was the driving force.

A prisoner who encountered Danny and who asked to remain anonymous said that Danny was reclusive and liked to wear a cowboy hat.  He was also good at making leather crafts and had a pet parakeet for a while.  He spent a lot of effort fighting his four murder convictions, claiming that his court-appointed public defender had had no experience with murder convictions and that he'd been unable to get the court to accept a request to get discovery under the case, Brady v. Maryland.  He went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court with his appeal, but the Court rejected the case based on a lack of evidence that the trial court had actually denied him discovery.

 

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