Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods


Profile of a Mass Murderer

George Emil Banks was a mass murderer.  What is it that drives a man to the edge?  What causes him to kill?  Scholars and criminologists have debated over questions such as these for decades.  One common point they all seem to agree on is pressure.  History seems to suggest that a series of compounded events over a period of time cause these violent men to explode in a blur of insanity.  For Banks, these pressures drove him to kill 13 people who became a burdensome responsibility, opposed him or got in his way during his murderous rampage.

Typical mass murderers are usually conservative, middle-aged, white males from relatively stable, lower-to-middle-class backgrounds.  These individuals usually aspire to more than they can achieve, and when they see their ambitions thwarted, they blame others for their failures. They feel exclusion and develop an irrational, and eventually, homicidal hatred of anyone they consider a hindrance to their own aspirations.  Quite often, they choose to die in an eruption of violence directed at these perceived oppressors.  Banks fit the profile in some ways.  He felt persecuted by society, failures in employment, and yet until he snapped, he appeared to many to be living a stable, if atypical life.

There are three common types of mass murderers: family annihilators, paramilitary enthusiasts, and disgruntled workers.  Social areas of dysfunction, such as unemployment, loneliness, a family breakup, or an argument with a supervisor, can trigger their deadly rage.  

However often crimes like this occur today, the city of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania was completely unprepared for the massacre that erupted there in the early 1980s. Even though it has been almost 20 years since George Banks went on the killing spree that left 13 people dead, residents of Wilkes-Barre still remember the horror that gripped their city.  Some townsfolk compare the murders to the Kennedy shooting, You remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you first heard about it. 



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