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What makes people kill?

A woman and her boyfriend allegedly beat her ex-husband to death in the middle of the night with a metal baseball bat, wrap the body in the sheets and blankets from the bed and dump it in a thicket at the edge of a cornfield. After weeks of searching, authorities find the dead man on Christmas eve. A young man allegedly upset over the quality of some methamphetamine he bought waits outside a home in the predawn darkness. Soon, another man is dead; shot in the face with a high-powered rifle. A man distraught over a lost relationship shoots his ex-lover and then turns the gun on himself. A woman allegedly shoots her husband twice, leaves him for dead at the end of their driveway and then apparently tries to stage a home invasion to cover her actions. Five people dead. Ten or more families full of loved ones scarred forever. What makes people snap and move to the threshold of violence? What makes them ponder taking another’s life and then follow through with it? Criminologists, profilers and crime investigators will tell you there are myriad reasons: hate, jealousy, unrequited love, anger, passion – these, many more and countless variations upon and combinations of these factors. The thought here is there are others. Murder victims get buried and are soon forgotten by all except those who were the closest to them. Their killers, however, become macabre celebrities. Would be husbands or wives write them in jail while they await trial. Their cases are followed closely on what passes for television newsmagazine programming. Killers become larger than life and draw far more attention than their victims ever did. The reason for this is a calculated strategy of delayed prosecution and the prolonged meting out of punishment. The Jamie Weis saga right here in Pike County is a case in point. The taxpayers are expending countless funds to get his medication in order so he can be deemed competent to stand trial. There is little doubt about guilt in his case. It is all about posturing lawyers and prolonging the case long enough for the victim to be forgotten in hopes of lessening the punishment for the guilty. The fact is this. Prosecutions have warped to the point of becoming theatre. They are longer about removing those who would maim and kill from the pool of potential victims – those of us who abide by the law. Is this what our forefathers had in mind when they designed our criminal justice system? Or, did they envision swift, severe punishment?

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