"If you can't live with 'em ..." - Violent America?


Let us not launch the boat ...
Valued Senior Member
So what's going on in America? Murder-suicide in the headlines

The "shocking" headline from around the United States is the tale of Bryan Randall and his children. Randall drowned his two year-old daughter and failed in his attempt to drown his 4 year-old son before crashing his SUV with his other two children inside. All in all, Bryan Randall, 37, is dead, having left a suicide letter in the SUV; two year-old Yana is dead, 4 year-old regal is in serious condition, 6 year-old Julian is in stable condition, and 8 year-old Bryan remains in critical condition. According to CNN/SI, Randall--a former Dartmouth basketball star--"wanted to kill himself and his children because he didn't approve of how his ex-wife was caring for them." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted part of the suicide letter: "Why? Because she chooses to keep me out of their lives despite their crying for their father . . . . I had to take them with me. Again, I apologize . . . ."

In a twist that threatens to become political, the Atlanta daily also points out that the Randall marriage began coming apart after Bryan Randall lost his job as a sales representative for a collapsing WorldCom. Lisa Randall, 41, even went so far as to accuse her husband of rape.

Domestic troubles blamed for Florida murder-suicide

Miami-Dade police said this week that a "domestic situation" was to blame for the murder-suicide that took the lives of Omar Perdomo, 26, and Priscilla Sierra, 22.

Pennsylvania constable kills girlfriend, self

Twenty-one year-old James Schaffhauser, of Ford City, Pennsylvania, shot his girlfriend, twenty-one year-old April Emahiser, five times before turning the sixth round to himself. Armstrong County Coroner Robert Bower reports that Schaffhauser and Emahiser had been dating, but that she had been attempting to sever the relationship shortly before their deaths.

WBRE: No motive in Scranton murder-suicide

Two men have died following a shooting in Scranton, Pennsylvania on Sunday Morning. According to witnesses, twenty-one year-old David Fulton received two threatening phone calls shortly before a knock on his apartment door. Fulton answered, and was shot. While no motive is yet known, Fulton's step-father told WBRE's 28 News that the shooter was a long-time family friend.

Two children among four dead in Colorado murder-suicide

This morning police in Colorado Springs were summoned to an apartment by a maintenance worker who discovered a woman's body. Upon arrival, the police discovered three more bodies, and are calling the incident a murder-suicide. Among the dead are an adult man and woman, and also two children, boys ages five and ten.

Again in Pennsylvania

According to police in Glassboro, Pennsylvania, Frank Cavender, 39, stabbed to death his common-law wife before attempting suicide himself. Local authorities note that the couple had a history of domestic violence, but no motive has been released. Patricia Johnson was 37.

San Diego County chase called murder-suicide

No names have been released as authorities in San Diego County investigate the deaths of three in what is being called a murder-suicide. Apparently a parolee led sheriff's deputies on a chase in a silver Hummer before driving into a ravine. After a brief standoff with deputies, the suspect shot himself in the head. Also found in the vehicle were the bodies of a 29 year-old female and a 42 year-old male. The chase started around 5 a.m. when the suspect refused to pull over after a reported hit-and-run collision. The San Jose Mercury News website reports that the suspect was "recently released from custody after winning an appeal," but authorities have not released any information on his past convictions or arrests.


So what's going on in America? Google News at present lists no less than seven--that's right, these seven--events deemed "murder-suicides" by authorities since the weekend.

The first thing to note is that war coverage has pre-empted the usual round of news-related panics. West Nile Virus has infected thousands around the U.S., but we hear very little of it this year after last year's newsreaders would have had us believe the bugs were coming to steal our children. With a Kobe Bryant rape trial gathering some headlines, mostly among the celebrity-pocked entertainment- and legal-news divisions, gruesome scandal in the Peterson murder case, and volumes of disinformation coming to and from the press regarding wars and rumors of wars, it seems risky to hold up the phrase "murder-suicide" as the latest news fad.

On the home front, Tacoma, Washington is still reeling after police chief David Brame shot his estranged wife to death in front of their children before shooting himself. City officials are dropping like flies with each new revelation of who knew what and when. In fact, in the wake of the Brame murder-suicide, the FBI's public-corruption unit has undertaken an investigation of Tacoma's government.

Statistics on murder-suicides themselves are tougher to find than I would have expected, but the next thing to check in terms of the news-rage dimension is whether or not the number of suicides immediately preceded by a murder has gone up or if this current batch still reflects the going statistical trend. For comparison, it has been pointed out that the anthrax "scare" of autumn, 2001, following the WTC strike, was peculiar not only in the inability of federal agents to make any progress with handwritten materials in their possession, but also in the fact that even accounting for the casualties of the anthrax scare, CDC's numbers didn't show anything unusual; in fact, anthrax-infections were running just below their annual norm in the US before the scare.

The point being that who knows? (Well, I don't; actually, see below.) Maybe there are this many murder-suicides going on all the time. Maybe being able to find seven separate events classified as murder-suicide on the first page of Google News results is normal. But what would that say about normality?

And, of course, we have to remember that there are 292,000,000 people in the United States (give or take, as such). But today's grim report brings us sixteen dead and four wounded. Thirty-five per cent of the casualties--thirty-seven and a half per cent of the dead--are the perpetrators of the crime. If only thirty-seven per cent of rapists ended up pregnant, dead, or diseased ...?

And yet such levity may be inappropriate. Sixteen dead out of 292,000,000. Who cares? Looking at a Google page for the search term murder-suicide school, I'm left with 19,800 links. Some of this result, obviously, will be repetitive. But a quick perusal shows I may be overly concerned.

Or something.

In response to an April, 2003 murder-suicide in Pennsylvania, the Violence Policy Center pointed out that firearm murder-suicide killed 37 in Pennsylvania in the first half of 2001. (Something about Pennsylvania?) But Pennsylvania is not the worst. The appendix to VPC's "American Roulette" indicates that Florida, Texas, and California led the nation's murder-suicide casualty count in the first half of 2001, with 76, 73, and 72 dead respectively for the six-month period. In California and Texas, there were 29 events each; in Florida there were 35. Of the 662 murder-suicide casualties accounted for in VPC's data, 293 dead were suicides and 369 were homicides, for the six-month period.

I don't know why, but I'm inclined to point out that Americans are at least slightly jittery with the lower death toll of a war.

Is it fair to invoke a phrase like "epidemic of violence" in response to what would be projected to be 1,324 casualties in 586 incidents over the course of 2001? Or, we could forget the extrapolation and ask if it is fair to invoke the phrase in response to 662 dead in 293 incidents?

Social malfunction in America

A simple question: Is a woman really worth all that?

Or how about: Is pride really worth all that?

What about: It was a job man. Is it really worth all that?

Jilted lovers, disgruntled employees, ex-cons, frustrated students. When the hell did Americans get such short ropes? I try to be compassionate to those who have reached the end of their rope, but sometime around the bungee-jumping rage, Americans somehow romanticized exasperation so that people were overtly wrapping their ropes around their necks and leaping into the abyss.

When the Columbine tragedy occurred, I tried explaining to people who asked why I wasn't shocked. In my day we felt the same way. A good friend even obtained the recipe and materials for the same kind of fertilizer-based explosives allegedly used in Oklahoma City. But that's the thing ... it stopped there. He could no more countenance killing anyone than I could. I knew well the feeling of "blow up the outside world", but I was more curious in the Columbine incident as to what got lost in the translation. How did that "everyman's sentiment" come to be axiomatic for those two? Or for anyone else?

What the hell is going on that people are willing to opt out so goddamn easily? And what ethical and moral collapse have Americans suffered where so many believe so broadly across such diverse actions in society that it's okay to take a bunch of other people down with you?

Comparative literature as a motive?

Seriously ... what the hell is going on?

America, this is your prodigal soul calling: "Where are you? I can't find my way back home!"


- Report, Wire. "Randall dies in alleged murder-suicide." CNN/SI. September 16, 2003. see http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2003/basketball/ncaa/09/16/bc.bkc.childrenfound.ap/
- Schlueb, Mark. "Troubled father of dead toddler dies after swerving into traffic." Atlanta Journal-Constitution. September 15, 2003. see http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2003/basketball/ncaa/09/16/bc.bkc.childrenfound.ap/
- Daniel, Trenton. "Motive for Kendall murder was domestic problems, police say." Miami Herald. September 15, 2003. see http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/6777728.htm
- Amen, Rob. "Couple dead after apparent murder-suicide." PittsburghLive.com September 14, 2003. see http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/valleynewsdispatch/news/s_155053.html
- Report, Staff. "Two Dead in Scranton Murder-Suicide." WBRE 28-News. Undated. see http://www.wbre.com/news/news.asp?fstorynumber=2931&newstype=localnews
- Farer, Paola. "Two adults and two children die in apparent murder-suicide." KUSA 9 News. September 16, 2003. see http://www.9news.com/storyfull.aspx?storyid=18766
- Report, Staff. "One dead, one hurt in apparent murder-suicide try." Philadelphia Inquirer. September 16, 2003. see http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/6782299.htm
- Report, Wire. "Three dead in San Diego County apparent murder-suicide." MercuryNews.com September 16, 2003. see http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/6782319.htm
- Report, Staff and Wire. "Tacoma Police Corruption Probe." KOMO 4 News. August 28, 2003. see http://www.komotv.com/news/story_m.asp?ID=26869
- Yax, Laura K. "US and World Population Clock". U.S. Census Bureau. Est. September 16, 2003. see http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html
- Seligman, Naomi. "Press Release: PA School Shooting Deaths Focus Attention on Tragedy of Murder-Suicide." Join Together Online. April 24, 2003. see http://www.jointogether.org/gv/news/alerts/reader/0,2061,562973,00.html
- Report, Staff. "American Roulette: The Untold Story of Murder-Suicide in the United States." Violence Policy Center Online. April, 2002. see http://www.vpc.org/studies/amercont.htm
- Williams, Roger, and Rebecca Wood, et al. "Press Release: University to Review Response to Murder-Suicide and Study Related Academic Issues." University of Arkansas News. September 11, 2000. see http://advancement.uark.edu/news/NEWS_ARCHIVES/SEP00/response.html
The numbers have changed

The numbers have changed. Earlier this evening, Bryan Randall, age 8, succumbed to injuries sustained in a car crash. (See topic post.) Forgive me if I don't feel like doing percentages right now.
People kill each other all the time. Sick culture obsesses on the aberrations, :bugeye: and I'm sick of all this scrutiny, d'ya hear?
The "Again Pennsylvania" story is partially incorrect. I know this as the deceased woman is my Aunt... It happened in Glassboro NJ... While there may have been domestic problems, there was absolutely NO reason to kill the mother of your children, particularly with one child watching as the 2 oldest where in school!! Imagine how they grew up knowing their father killed their mother and then did the cowardly thing and killed himself! They are grown now, but that doesn't change how their lives could have turned out, actually one just passed away 3 days ago by driving into a garbage truck! Ppl need to get facts straight before posting on the internet!!!
Ppl need to get facts straight before posting on the internet!!!

Nineteen years later, the fate of the old Pittsburgh Live archive is unknown; I just went looking for the old Rob Amen article, which is the reference note that would seem to match this story.

Strangely, this old thread is the only record of the story I can find; I haven't done any sort of deep dive, but it's not even at Wayback.

Perhaps I glanced past the New Jersey part while citing a Pittsburgh news report; maybe an RSS feed from a local news report out of New Jersey didn't specify, leaving the Pittsburgh posting with no explicit indicator. In any case, thank you for the correction.
280 million people. THAT is what is going on. That there isn't more is what is scary.

I have read some medical literature about the effects of cannabis

Being a drug acting on the central nervous system it can increase and / or bring forward a persons anxiety or paranoia


I have no idea of the stats but I am guessing that in some of the family murder/suicide cases cannabis would have played a part

And I'm sure others would be thinking along same lines

Others with the ability to follow up and compile statistics

Unfortunately given the history of the mountain of disinformation about tobacco and lung cancer and the current trend to decriminalise cannabis (due to it being a harmless happy substance) I don't see any sign of my (guessing of the cause) problem decreasing