How can I murder a person
Psychology of murder : "There are men who kill just for fun"
Hans-Ludwig Kröber, 68, is the best-known German criminal psychiatrist. He grew up in the diaconal facility in Bethel in Bielefeld, where his parents worked as psychiatrists, between psychotically ill and seizure patients. To this day, Kröber researches the psychosocial background of violent and sexual crimes and creates crime prognoses for criminals.
Mr. Kröber, you've been in the business for more than 30 years and are probably Germany's best-known criminal psychiatrist. When a killer is released everyone asks, will he do it again? How often does it happen that a life convicted person kills a second time?
We do not know it. There are no state statistics on relapse. A figure of three percent haunts the German expert scene, but it has not been proven. Sometimes you can also find the distinctive indication of zero to three percent. In the 1980s there was a certain accumulation of cases in Berlin. Back then, the courts were often very benevolent and underestimated the dangerousness of some perpetrators. I then examined them later for discharge and had the feeling: three percent? I already know them all by myself.
You thought the number had to be higher?
Yes, much higher. So I started collecting and every year there were four or five cases. It has now become a book on 45 such cases. In the meantime, you have also recorded all offenders who were in Tegel JVA in 2014 because they were sentenced to life. This was mainly the work of a doctoral student, Anna Trofimova, who was just accepted. We know very little specifically about prisoners with life imprisonment either.
Who sits in Tegel for life?
In our total coverage we have exactly 100 men and five women.
Is this ratio typical?
Women are currently around ten percent of the convictions for murder nationwide. There are also female serial killers like the Charité nursewho had committed five complete patient killings and attempted three. In Berlin, the oldest was 70 years old and had committed her act at the age of 51. The youngest was 46 and had committed her deed at 36. Since a woman had not been convicted of murder in Berlin for eight and a half years, I did not have the legally convicted woman at the time Mother of a horse host included in the consideration.
Why do women kill?
Nothing glorious can be said about them. In no Berlin case was a bad, violent partner killed, but instead caught, for example, the unpleasant landlord living in the same house or the old lady cared for and stolen from by the perpetrator. It was almost always about financial motives, the victims were consistently older or weaker people. In the case of the nurse, killing itself seems to have been something satisfying, grandiosity, executing power over others. And in the case of the horse landlady, the mother wanted her own son to have a golden future with a large riding stables.
Do women kill differently than men?
Women prefer to choose styles that appear to have died naturally. As an old person you die, and if you want to help out, suffocation is an effective means. If the doctor comes and issues a death certificate, that can be fine. Forensic doctors can sing arias of what doctors sometimes attest to be natural death. In one case the knife was even stuck in the back because the doctor hadn't even turned the body over. Some criminologists fear that the unrecognized murder cases make up a considerable proportion of old and sick victims.
And what kind of men are in Tegel?
The age of the inmates ranged from 28 to 75 years. 70 percent of the perpetrators were Germans, eleven percent Turks, seven percent Vietnamese, the remaining perpetrators came from Lebanon, Nicaragua, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Albania and Bulgaria. In total, we have ten convicts out of 100 life sentences who have previously committed homicide. Ten percent - that's an impressive relapse rate! But you have to apply those ten to all homicides, including manslaughter and attempts, and then we're probably back to three percent.
Why do men kill?
There are homicides for predominantly rational motives: to steal prey, materially or sexually. And there are motives for killing from predominantly emotional motives: out of fear, self-defense, anger, irritability, baseness, revenge ... The Berlin convicts were clearly dominated by motives related to money and power. So classic criminal motives up to gang wars such as the murders of the Vietnamese, where one group of cigarette dealers practically wiped out another.
So it’s more professional than private for men?
If you make your living with drugs, prostitution or weapons, if you want to drive around in a Lamborghini at the age of 24, you have to make sure that nobody takes your wealth away from you. In the 90s there were gangs of Serb thieves operating in Berlin, who came from a notorious Belgrade district. They weren't afraid of anything, except betraying the police. A young, handsome and intelligent Serb shot an alleged traitor - in front of two women and a gang member. It was a business-like, two-shot execution. During the trial, the witnesses disappeared or couldn't remember anything. The man was acquitted and returned to Belgrade, where he was presumably celebrated.
Greed for profit also occurs in the best families.
Yes, for example, an ambitious senior doctor from southern Germany once sprayed dirty water from cleaning buckets into infusions with which his competitor successfully treated seriously ill patients. He killed patients to ruin his study. He took his own life in custody.
Were there any other surprises?
Overall, the men's collective is much more criminal than I expected. The constellation of the citizen with no criminal record, with no criminal record, who is in dire straits and finally rises to the fatal decision to kill a person, for romantic reasons or for financial distress, hardly occurs.
Have you had different experiences in your everyday life as an appraiser?
No, murder and manslaughter are mostly relationship acts is a myth.
Do you share the thesis that anyone can become a murderer?
Anyone who decides to resolve a conflict by force and lose everything usually does not come from stable circumstances. An American social researcher has found that the majority of adults around the world had serious murder fantasies, women as well as men. In the case of women, they were primarily directed against a rival in matters of love, in the case of men more often against rivals in the work area. Fortunately, the gap between death wishes and killing is huge in an orderly social system. One would have too much to lose, at least here in Germany.
Is that the only reason?
Since early childhood, at least in private life, we have been convinced: You shouldn't kill. Even killing animals, drowning a kitten is bad. The deliberate killing of a person is a sacrilege, a mortal sin. We have very high inhibitions. Accordingly, it is very rare. Anyone who kills with their own hands knows that they are crossing one final immovable frontier. He is committing social suicide.
Are there murderers who only confess to you during the assessment?
Sometimes it happens that people want to talk because they feel that they are being taken seriously in the conversation and the act is stressful for them.
What kind of situations are these?
It's dramatic for both because the accused is trying to face the truth. For the first time he stands by what he has done. It is also a touching moment for the psychiatrist because he realizes what one can do. That he is ready to deal with it. The confession is a first indication that someone has certain qualities. In criminal proceedings, before the man starts to speak, I first draw attention to the fact that I have no duty of confidentiality.
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