Investigators are trying to understand what provoked a killing spree at a Maine bed and breakfast over Labor Day weekend, reports the Portland Press Herald. People close to some of the victims reported that the inn’s owner was trying to evict the accused killer, Christian Nielsen, a cook. Nielsen is accused of killing and burning the body of a man who also was staying at the Black Bear Bed & Breakfast, then killing and dismembering three women.
Criminal behaviorists say Nielsen exhibited traits similar to others responsible for multiple killings, including a tendency toward isolation and a lack of stability. Experts say it is unlikely the killer was psychotic and that such killings are typically methodical and premeditated. In the U.S., there are about two dozen murders with four or more victims every year. In most cases, the killer knows his victims, said criminologist Jack Levin of Northeastern University. The killer is rarely found to be suffering from a major mental illness and rarely has a history of violent crime. The killer usually has a motive, and it is almost always revenge. Typically mass killers experience a triggering event like a financial loss, or a loss in a relationship such as a divorce, lost custody battle, or the spurning of romantic advances. Northeastern criminologist James Alan Fox said killers in mass homicides usually have a history of frustration or failure and are socially isolated. “They have difficulty with jobs, relationships, never really succeed in life,” he said. “It’s not a matter (of) ‘why kill.’ It’s often, ‘why not.'” Other common factors are a tendency to blame others and access to weapons. “They don’t ‘snap,’ he said. “They don’t ‘lose control’ Mass killings tend to be deliberate, planned, methodical.”