Grisly crimes spotlight control, keeping, and the missing link

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1997:

TRENTON, N.J.––The May 30
conviction of Jesse Timmendequas in Trenton,
New Jersey, for the July 1994 molestation
murder of Megan Kanka, 7, brought new
attention to the association of animal abuse
with child abuse. Defense lawyers testified
that Timmendequas, 36, twice before convicted
of sexually assaulting children, grew up
watching his father torture pets. His mother
broke his arm, they claimed, and his father
sodomized him.
Timmendequas’ father, Edward
James Howard, of Smoketree Valley,
California, denied the allegations in an exclusive
interview with Evelyn Nieves of The New
York Times, pointing to his present 11 dogs,
five cats, 12 chickens, two guinea hens, and
two cockatiels, along with elaborate graves
for two deceased dogs.

Asked Howard, “If I tortured pets,
would I bury dogs and make headstones?”
Responding to Kanka’s killing, New
Jersey passed “Megan’s law,” requiring community
notification of the presence of paroled
child molesters. Other states copied it.
A comparable wave of law-making,
incarcerating thrice convicted felons for life,
followed the October 1993 kidnap/murder of
Polly Klaas, 12, of Petaluma, California, by
convicted animal abuser Richard Allen Davis.
A founding precept of the humane
movement, in the 19th century, was that animal
abuse and child abuse reflect the same
evil. Humane societies including the American
Humane Association, often ran orphanages
as well as animal protection programs.
But attention to “The Link,” as AHA terms it,
was largely neglected for 40 years after New
York state took over the AHA orphanages in
1950, and resurfaced only after studies of serial
killers established that committing animal
abuse is among the leading predictors that a
person may kill humans. Though much of the
work was done between 1959 and 1984, it
began to draw notice only in the late 1980s.
Seizing upon the findings as reinforcement
for the notions that cruelty to animals
should be significantly punished, and
that humane education should be added or
restored to school curriculums, the AHA, the
Latham Foundation, and the Humane Society
of the U.S. all now distribute literature which
describes “The Link,” citing mainly serial
killing cases––but ANIMAL PEOPLE, collecting
and filing case reports, is finding that
“The Link” is not just one link, but several.
The classic “link” scenario is that
witnessing and/or participating in violence
toward animals, especially with parental
encouragement, seemingly lowers inhibitions
against doing violence to people. The perpetrator,
too, is typically a victim of violence.
The classic link
In the classic “Link” scenario, a person
who abuses or kills animals is also saying,
in effect, “Stop me before I do it again,” and
may alternate between animal and human victims,
as opportunity permits. This syndrome
was recently manifest in Kobe, Japan, where
police on June 28 arrested a 14-year-old boy as
the alleged serial killer who stabbed a 10-yearold
girl to death in March, seriously wounded
a 9-year-old girl later in March, and beheaded
an 11-year-old mentally handicapped boy on
May 26. Between these attacks, the suspect
allegedly killed and mutilated at least two kittens
and a pigeon whose remains were found
near schools. He was caught when he told a
friend about the cat killings, then assaulted the
friend for telling schoolmates.
The classic “Link” applies chiefly to
serial abuse, from simple molestation, the
most common form, to rape and murder. The
abuser expresses the attitude that Yale
researcher Stephen Kellert defined as “dominionistic”
in his 1980 study American Attitudes
Toward and Knowledge of Animals, commissioned
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to
assess public views of hunting. For the dominionist,
“primary satisfactions are derived from
mastery and control of animals.” In a “Link”
situation, however, the prey may be human.
Measuring the influence of dominionism on a
scale with a maximum score of 18, Kellert
found that humane group members rated 0.9,
antihunters 1.2, the general public 2.0, livestock
farmers 2.7, fishers 3.0, meat hunters
3.3, recreational hunters 3.8, trophy hunters
4.1, and trappers 8.5.
But the AHA, the Latham Foundation,
and HSUS have officially discussed the
classic “Link” only as regards illegal violence
toward domesticated animals. Suspecting a
“link” involving hunting, as well, ANIMAL
PEOPLE in 1994 and 1995 studied per capita
rates of hunting participation and crimes
against children in New York, Ohio, and
Michigan, finding that high hunting participation
is more closely associated with child
abuse than either low income or low population
density, the traditional predictors.
Since the identities of both hunters
and many convicted child abusers are kept
confidential, it has not been possible to see to
what extent hunters actually are abusers: only
to see that both hunters and abusers tend to be
most concentrated in the same small communities.
It is evident, though, that for every classic
“link” case coming to our attention,
involving criminal acts against animals, there
are several involving hunters, taught to hunt
as children. In one recent case, Richard M.
Clark was sentenced to death on April 18 in
Everett, Washington, for the 1995 rape/murder
of Roxanne Doll, 7. Clark tried to pass off
her blood, found in his van, as having come
from a poached deer.
Active vs. passive
In another case, with a further twist,
Ahmad Salman, 44, of Simi Valley,
California, on May 28 shot himself after using
his hunting rifle to kill his five-year-old twin
sons, his wife Nabela, 38, and a three-yearold
son. Salman exemplified the well-recognized
family killer syndrome, in which the
murderer is typically a financially pressured,
control-oriented male in midlife, who after
killing his dependents, kills himself as his last
act of dominance. Criminology texts, however,
tend to omit mention that such killers are
usually also hunters, another defining trait of
cases coming to our attention.
Control-seeking motivates both family
killing and serial killing, in which the
killer is both predator and prey, often courting
notice even as he eludes pursuit. Both are
crimes of aggression, almost always committed
by men. But control-seeking also motivates
“keeping,” a common crime of passive
aggression, more often committed by women.
In “keeping” crimes, the criminal imprisons
and starves a helpless victim such as a small
child or an elderly or disabled person.
Male “keepers,” such as the late serial
killer and animal torturer Jeffrey Dahmer,
and the Canadian keeper/serial killer Paul
Holmolka, tend to combine keeping with
aggressive crimes, such as rape; women may,
but not necessarily. Joycelyn Bennett, 27, of
Bronx, New York, was charged on March 30
with a typical “keeping” offense against a
human, the starvation murder of her son
Daytwon, age 5. The Bennett case, like others
of the kind, was an evident animal collector
scenario, except that the animal was one
child instead of a horde of emaciated pets.
The “link” further appears in criminal
cases as a modus operandi, typically
through the use of animals as weapons, both
literal and psychological, against human victims.
Kanka was reportedly lured to her death
on the pretext of viewing a puppy. Anthony
Michael Martinez, 10, found dead in the
desert on April 20 near Riverside, California,
was kidnapped 16 days earlier by a man who
offered him and his brother, Marcos Medina,
6, a dollar each to help the man find a lost cat.
Alternatively, a perpetrator may
threaten to kill a pet to coerce a victim into
remaining in an abusive situation.
In the rarest “link” scenario of a pattern
evident from ANIMAL PEOPLE c a s e
files, an animal is actually used to intimidate
and eventually dispatch the victim, as in the
Angela Kaplan case. Jeffrey Mann, 36, was
sentenced to serve 15 years to life in
November 1993 for setting his pit bull terrier
on Kaplan, 28, in their Cleveland apartment
on September 2, 1992.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.