Tag Archives: Murder

THE GUY ON THE GREYHOUND BUS

There’s intense interest around girl-train thrillers. Paula Hawkins’ The Girl On The Train sold millions of copies. Now it’s a motion picture. The girl-trend started with Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Then The Girl in the Ice by indie author Robert Bryndza took off. The girl-list goes on. The Girl You Lost, Girl In The Dark, The Good Girl and, of course, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series come to mind. I haven’t read them but respect the girls have done well in crime fiction.

But what about guys? And what about true crime? Especially true crime with a horror twist starring a demon straight outa Stephen King’s head. Have you heard about The Guy on the Greyhound Bus? The story where the psycho stabbed a sleeping bus passenger 100 times then cut off his head and paraded it like a carnival prize before gutting him and eating his eyes and his heart before the crowd? Well, it’s true. Now this deranged killer is scott-free because he was found not criminally responsible simply because he was a schizophrenic who wasn’t on pills.

I’m going to tell you the nearly unspeakable story of The Guy on the Greyhound Bus. It’s not to shock you with gory details, though there’s enough to go around. It’s really about victim and family rights as opposed to the killer’s. It’s also about what’s wrong with a broken criminal justice (legal) system and the strange world of forensic psychiatry. And it’s about proper public protection.

This gruesome murder happened on a bus loaded with 38 passengers. It was July 30, 2008. The Guy On The Greyhound Bus was Vince Weiguang Li, a 40-year-old Chinese immigrant to Canada who left Edmonton, Alberta eastbound for Winnipeg in the Province of Manitoba. The innocent and unsuspecting victim was Tim McLean, 22, a carnival worker heading home for a break. Around 8:30 pm, Greyhound 1170 was an hour west of Winnipeg on the TransCanada Highway. That’s when hellish horror happened.

The Greyhound made a rest stop about a half hour earlier. Vince Li was sitting near the front. He got off, had a smoke, then reboarded. Now Li moved toward the back. Carefully, he looked at each passenger before reaching the second row from the rear. Tim McLean sat on the passenger side by the window. The aisle seat beside him was vacant.

Li turned and made eye contact. Tim smiled. He motioned an invite to the seat. Li slowly sat down. Then Tim leaned back against the window with his headphones on and drifted off to sleep. Other passengers described Li as unremarkable—up to this point. He’d been quiet and distant. Now, a passenger across the aisle saw Li’s behavior change. He fidgeted, starting a low Chinese chant. Without warning—Li pulled a Bowie knife from his pack. He lunged it to sleeping Tim’s neck.

Tim let a blood-curdling scream. He tried to fight back. But Li didn’t go into a frenzy. Rather—as shocked, gasping witnesses described—Li robotically plunged the blade into Tim’s shoulders, neck and chest. Over and over and over. Terrified passengers screamed for the bus to stop and massed for the door. Now Li had Tim on the aisle floor, still plunging and plunging.

The driver braked the Greyhound to an emergency halt. Everyone bailed off except for Li. Tim was clearly dead but Li wasn’t even close to finished. Petrified passengers stood outside as traffic whizzed by. Aghast, they stared as Li sawed and hacked. Then Li stood. Blood-dripping knife in one hand. Tim’s severed head by the hair in the other.

Women shrieked. Men puked. Little kids cried as teens tried capturing it on phones. Then Li, expressionless behind sunglasses, came for the door—presenting Tim’s decapitated head. Presence of mind from the driver prevented Li’s escape into the crowd. He blocked the door but police were miles away. A passing trucker gave men in the group tools as weapons in case the psycho got out.

Li paraded Tim’s lifeless head—back and forth—up and down—along the parked Greyhound’s aisle. Then he went back to work. Li opened Tim’s chest and tore at his organs. He removed Tim’s heart, lungs and liver then ripped out entrails. Every piece of Tim’s body was defiled and strewn about the bus. But it got even worse.

Right in full view of the audience, Li digested Tim’s eyes and part of his heart. He cut off Tim’s nose and both of his ears, smelling them and licking blood from his fingers. But Li came prepared for this slaughter. Not only did he have the knife—he also had plastic bags to store separated items—packaging pieces for some future purpose. Part Jeffrey Dahmer. Part Norman Bates. Vince Li carried on.

Police and emergency responders arrived in mass. They contained the scene and attempted to reason with Li. It was senseless. Li continued to dissect Tim’s body and present parts for four hours. Arm-chair Swat members later crucified police for not shooting Li to stop his butchering rampage but the police held at bay. They tried to negotiate with the crazy man holding a knife. But you simply can’t kill a deranged man in this situation.

Without warning, Vince Li made a break for freedom. He smashed out a window and leaped to the ground meeting jolts from a Taser and teeth from a dog. Li was cuffed and it was over. The standoff, that is.

The crime scene was processed and witnesses were isolated. They took Li to a secure hospital. He’d also been injured in his attack—standard police procedure even for as bizarre a crime as this. But the aftermath was awful.

Bus passengers were severely traumatized. Some haven’t recovered today. That includes emergency personnel and professional people who were present and exposed to this trauma. But the biggest sufferers were Tim McLean’s family. They lost their loving son, brother, cousin and nephew. Friends lost a guy who’d give them the shirt off his back never mind a laugh from their innards. None of them ever got justice.

Tim McLean was an innocent young man. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and a victim of circumstances much like the pedestrian creamed in a crosswalk by a drunk. Looking back, there were strands of fate bringing these two men together on that Greyhound bus. But could it be prevented?

Let’s look at Vince Li.

Vince Li was born and raised in China. He earned a degree in computer science then immigrated to Canada in 2001. He settled in Winnipeg and worked in Edmonton. Over time, Li’s marriage declined and they separated. Li had one brush with police for peculiar behavior. Records are sketchy about his mental assessments. Seems he was an undiagnosed schizophrenic not prescribed the right meds. Nor was he taking any when he boarded the Greyhound bus.

Li held minimal paying jobs at Walmart and did paper deliveries. He reclused like so many mentally-ill people do. Li was fired in Edmonton after a strange interpersonal altercation. That caused him to board the Greyhound for Winnipeg. He had no family, no friends, no support and no supervision. Vince Li was a ticking bomb.

Does that excuse his psychotic and dangerous criminal behavior?

Vince Li moved through the justice system quickly. The Guy on the Greyhound Bus got international attention. It wasn’t only the dramatics. There were plenty. This case opened a Pandora’s Box containing the issue of long-term criminal responsibility by the mentally ill.

In the early stages, everyone in authority agreed Vince Li wasn’t operating in a normal mindset. The police. The prosecutor. The defense. The psychiatrists. Even the judge. No one argued that. They were quick to form a conclusion without exploring the entire circumstances in a full and open trial. But Tim’s family had no input. No one in authority listened to what impact this brutal murder had on Tim’s family and friends, not to mention traumatized witnesses on the bus.

It’s the overall picture that’s never been put to rest. That includes whether it was conclusively proven that Li was out of his mind and had no concept of what he was doing to Tim was wrong. It’s also the overall concepts of punishment, holding an offender accountable no matter what their mental state and ensuring the public is properly protected from future danger.

Then there’s respect and support of victims. Vince Li spared Tim McLean’s family a lengthy trial. Li claimed he was not criminally responsible due to mental illness and the court bought it without calling traumatized witnesses and family members. They relied on expert opinions from forensic psychiatric witnesses who were clinically detached from the scene.

Judgment passed that Li was not criminally responsible for Tim’s murder due to psychosis caused by untreated schizophrenia. He was quickly locked up in a secure hospital facility where monitoring and treatment commenced for an indefinite period. Untold time and money were spent in “rehabilitating” Vince Li. They put him on medication and under various therapies. They even helped Li change his name to Will Baker.

But nothing was done for Tim McLean’s family or the traumatized people who watched Vince Li butcher Tim. There was little regard for the public’s protection that Li—now Will Baker—would be permanently locked up like the law should allow. It was left to the “system” to deal with Vince Li. That system is made of people. And people are flawed.

Here’s where the system is flawed. It’s made of people with law degrees and medical degrees. Particularly psychiatric degrees. These guys can get crazier than The Guy on the Greyhound Bus.

There’s something brain-draining about academics. It’s like they’ve never ridden a bus filled with the common folks they’re supposed to serve. A lack of mental clarity runs from psychiatric assessments to criminal verdicts to appellate decisions to legislative changes. The Vince Li—Tim McLean case is no exception.

On March 5, 2009—seven months after Li took Tim’s life—Vince Li was found not criminally responsible due to a mental illness. He was shipped to a secure treatment facility. Most of the polled public agreed this was the right decision. Like, how could someone kill and dismember a stranger on a bus be in their right mind? Warehouse Li, they agreed. Keep us safe from guys on the bus like him. He’s crazy. Just never let him out.

The shrinks saw it different. And lawmakers had little control.

When the criminal court system washed their hands of Vince Li, the mental health system took over. Their mandate is to recover someone, not to punish or deter them. Public protection is low on their scale. Success in mental health is measured by restoring someone to a healthy state and maintaining it. That’s a noble goal for psychiatry but a dangerous gamble for society.

Once they got Vince Li in the system, the experts went to work. There are extensive videos and transcripts available on hours and hours of a forensic psychiatrist interviewing Li and trying to get inside his head. “God made me do it,” Li said. “I was an evil son of an evil god. God chose me as the killer and God chose Tim as the victim. God controls all things and God made me do it.”

It took a bit to get Vince Li’s medication right and stabilize him. He wasn’t in a normal, functioning state of mind when he killed Tim McLean. But he wasn’t truly out of it. Vince Li knew exactly what he was doing and he remembered it. He described Tim’s gruesome murder detail-by-detail to his forensic psychiatric team just as a serial killer confesses to detectives.

You can argue lack of intent due to mental incapacity all day long. It’s bullshit. Vince Li got on that Greyhound prepared to kill. He bought that knife and he bought those plastic bags well in advance. Li now looked for an opportunity to use them. No matter what his mental state was, that showed planning and premeditation. Li wanted a victim and Tim McLean was it.

Something to consider about killers—they can be very, very good actors. Famous killers like Gacy and Bianchi were masterful manipulators. They told investigators and profilers exactly what they wanted to hear. Li might be a small player in the world of murders but he’s not unusual. There are many dangerous offenders warehoused in mental institutions. But there are few who did what Vince Li did to Tim McLean.

Now that Vince Li was out of the courts and jails, he was in the care of mental health care workers. Li was controlled and they adjusted his medication. They got him to function in an apparently normal state and began testing his response to freedom by slowly integrating him back into society. It was their mandate. Public protection was not.

By June of 2010—15 months after Li was absolved by the criminal justice system—he started supervised release. Two years later, he began unsupervised leave from the hospital but only for short periods. Bit by bit, Vince Li was put back on the street. By 2015, Li was in a half-way house and only monitored for medication. Finally, on February 10, 2017 Vince Lee was declared completely stable and reliable to function on his own, including regulating his own meds—even though all psychiatrists agree schizophrenia is an incurable mental disease.

A forensic psychiatrist was quoted saying at Lee’s release hearing that, in his opinion, Li “had only a 0.8% chance of relapsing”. How in the world he came up with that figure is beyond me. Maybe he moonlights as an actuary. That’s the flaw in the judiciary/psychiatric system. They put far too much weight in academic opinions and not enough on what actually occurred. And what can potentially occur. It’s the lunatics running the asylum.

Today, Vince Li is a free man. There’s no system oversight. He’s not accountable for his crime in any way. It’s exactly like it never happened. That’s plain wrong.

The flaw in the criminal legal (not justice) system is there’s no respect for victims like Tim McLean and his family. This “not criminally responsible due to a mental disability” loophole goes too far. There has to be some permanent restraint put on potentially dangerous people who prove they’re capable of violent acts.

The flaws disrespect protection of society. They neglect victim and family rights. Carol de Delley is Tim McLean’s mother. She’ll never get over this. Carol and Tim’s father, Tim McLean Sr. never got to say goodbye to their son—his body was completely unviewable.

“Li has an incurable disease that makes him do terrible things,” Carol says. “I believe he needs to be in an institution that addresses those needs. I don’t think it matters if you’re mentally ill or not. If you kill someone, you should lose your freedom. Period.”

To the average citizen, this case is more than a tragedy. It’s a travesty. How the public should be forced to take a chance on an unsupervised nut who committed the most barbaric act of public murder and cannibalism I’ve ever heard of is plain stupid. It’s too high a risk.

The shrinks disagree.

Vince Li is free on the street. He has no family, no friends, no support and no supervision. Li is a ticking time bomb.

GILBERT PAUL JORDAN—THE “BOOZING BARBER” SERIAL KILLER

A5The term “serial killer” makes us think of hi-profile monsters like Ted Bundy, who beat and strangled his victims, or the Zodiac Killer, who shot most with a gun. There’s Clifford Olson who used a hammer. Jack The Ripper who liked his knife. And Willie Pickton who drugged his ladies, cut them apart with an electric Sawzall, then fed their pieces to his pigs.

By nature, serial killers follow a specific Modus Operandi—an M.O. peculiar to their wares. Some strangle, some shoot, some smash, and some slash. But the most unique and unsuspecting method of serial killing I’ve heard of came from Gilbert Paul Jordan, aka the “Boozing Barber”, who got his victims comatose drunk then finished them off by pouring straight vodka down their throats. He intentionally alcohol-poisoned at least nine women—possibly dozens more.

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Gilbert Jordan was a monster from the 1980’s operating in the Down Town East Side of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Today, the skid row DTES of Vancouver is still one of the most dangerous, crime and drug-ridden inner cities of the world. In the DTES, the most popular drug of choice is still alcohol—ethanol as it’s known in the coroner and toxicologist world.

A6Jordan was born in 1931 and started a crime career in his twenties by kidnapping and raping a five-year-old aboriginal girl. He beat the charges and went on to commit more sexual assaults including abducting a woman from a mental institute and raping her, too. Jordan bounced in and out of jail. He continued to prey on the helpless and downtrodden, especially alcoholic women from the First Nations culture. Gilbert Jordan, himself, became a raging alcoholic and consumed over fifty ounces of vodka per day.

Jordan learned barbering skills while in prison. Between jail sentences, he set up a barber shop on East Hastings Street in the heart of Vancouver’s DTES, being a regular fixture in the seedy bar scene. He blended easily and was not at all intimidating—short, stocky, balding, with thick glasses.

Jordan was a well-known mark for buying vulnerable aboriginal women drinks and he’d take them from the bars to his barber shop or a room which he kept in a derelict hotel. Here they’d party till they passed out. It’s estimated that hundreds of women binge drank with Jordan during his spree from 1980 to 1987.

Overdose deaths in the DTES were common.

A7The majority were intravenous drug users, many having a lethal toxin level amplified with mixed use of ethanol. It’s still that way today. But overdose deaths from ethanol consumption alone are rare. Usually, heavy drinkers reach a blood-ethanol limit where they pass out—long before ethanol effects shut down their central nervous system. The few deaths from ethanol alone are almost always caused by an unconscious victim aspirating on vomit—not from reaching a lethal blood-ethanol-content. A BEC of 0.35% (35mg of ethanol per 100 milliliters of blood) is considered the start of the lethal range. Note that 0.08% is the standard for drunk driving.

During Jordan’s run, there were increasingly suspicious amounts of aboriginal women deaths from shockingly high BEC. They included:

  1. Ivy Rose — 0.51
  2. Mary Johnson — 0.44
  3. Barbara Paul — 0.47
  4. Mary Johns — 0.76
  5. Patricia Thomas — 0.51
  6. Patricia Andrew — 0.79
  7. Vera Harry — 0.49
  8. Vanessa Buckner — 0.50
  9. Edna Slade — 0.55

A8When Edna Slade was found dead in Gilbert Jordan’s hotel room, and it became apparent Jordan was the common denominator in many similar deaths, Vancouver Police put Jordan under surveillance. From October 12th to November 26th, 1987, VPD observed Jordan “search out native Indian women in the skid row area of Vancouver and take them back to his hotel room for binge-drinking”.

VPD officers listened from outside Jordan’s door and recorded him saying phrases like “Have a drink. Down the hatch, baby. Twenty bucks if you drink it right down. See if you’re a real woman. Finish that drink. Down the hatch, hurry, right down. You need another drink. I’ll give you fifty bucks if you can take it right down. I’ll give you ten, twenty, fifty dollars. Whatever you want. Come on, I want to see you get it all down. Get it right down.

On four occasions during the surveillance, police intervened and remove the comatose victims to the hospital.

A9Gilbert Jordan was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Vanessa Buckner. The prosecution used similar fact evidence from the other eight identified deaths. He was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment. This was reduced to nine years on appeal and he served only six. When Jordan was paroled in 1994, he went right back to the business of stalking alcoholic aboriginal women. He was being watched by VPD and immediately sent back to prison for parole violation and an additional sexual assault. He served out his sentenced but was released in 2000, again returning to a life of chronic alcoholism and serial predation.

Gilbert Jordan, the Boozing Barber, died of the disease called alcoholism in 2006.

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Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, has been used by humans for thousands of years for its relaxation effect of euphoria and lowering social inhibitions. Drinking ethanol is widely accepted around the western world and is an enormous economic force.

A12Ethanol abuse is a contributing factor in untold tragedies.

Despite ethanol’s popularity as a social interactor, the medical pathophysiology considers any amount of BEC to be clinically poisonous. Ethanol is metabolized by the liver at a rate of about 50 ml (1.7 fluid ounce) per 90 minutes. That’s like two beers or one 9-ounce glass of wine every hour and a half. Drink more than you can absorb and you’ll get drunk. Wake up still drunk and you’re hung-over.

A13The acute effects of an ethanol overdose vary according to many factors. The body mass and tolerance to the drug are primary as is the rate of consumption. Ultimately, acute ethanol poisoning depresses the body’s central nervous system, causing the respiratory system to shut down and the victim asphyxiates.

These are the average symptomatic presentations of ethanol poisoning in relation to BEC:

  • 02 – 0.07% — Intoxication and euphoria
  • 08 – 0.19% — Ataxia (loss of body control ), poor judgment, labile mood
  • 20 – 0.29% — Advanced ataxia, extremely poor judgment, nausea
  • 30 – 0.35% — Stage 1 anesthesia, memory collapse
  • 35 – 0.39% — Comatose
  • 40 +             — Respiratory failure, sudden death

A14In my time as a police officerthen as a coronerI attended lots of deaths where ethanol was a contributing factor. Very few were acute ethanol poisoning deaths, though. Many were mixed drug overdoses, especially mixing booze with prescription pills. Then there were suffocating on puke cases, suicides while pissed, fatal motor vehicle crashes driven by drunks, and violent homicides done during ethanol-fueled anger and inebriation.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not slamming the social use of ethanol. I’ve been around the booze scene my whole life and still enjoy decent wine and good scotch, although I’ve never had a taste for beer.

A15I grew up in a socio-economic environment where rampant alcoholism was common. It was accepted. Grant RobertsonI worked with Grant in my teensGrant was proud of his breathalyzer certificate proving he was caught behind the wheel at a 0.44% BEC. True story. I saw the paper. Grant was a die-hard—a chronic alcoholic with forty years of practice. I don’t think Grant ever went below two-five.

As a young cop, I brought an old guy in for a blow. I couldn’t tell if he was drunk but he’d caused a minor car accident and slightly smelled of liquor. Legally, I had to demand a breathalyzer test. He pushed the needle to a 0.36% and I’ll never forget the breathalyzer operator’s remark “You’re no stranger to alcohol, are you?

People have different tolerances to ethanol. And different physiological responses.

A16I’ve worked with cops who were drunk on duty, seen judges half-cut on the bench, had my pilot pass out before time to depart, and I’ve woken in places unknown. I’ve had countless laughs, spent way too much money on time pissed away, and have stories from nights in the bars.

But I still can’t get clipped in my buddy Dave’s chair without thinking of Gilbert Paul Jordan, the “Boozing Barber” Serial Killer of the Down Town East Side of Vancouver.

WHY WE LOVE GETTING SHIT-SCARED

A3We’re fascinated by monsters. Violent horror movies. Psychological crime thrillers. Blood, guts, and terror are blockbusters. They’ve been bestsellers for generations. Something’s buried deep in our collective subconscious that craves fright—something hard-wired in our brains that physiologically reacts in a fight-or-flight response when facing horrific, brutal, and shocking creatures and events.

A1We know lots of fictional monsters. Freddy Krueger. Norman Bates. Hannibal Lector. They’re household names. We love watching them perform—from a safe distance. But most know nothing of real-life monsters like Michael Oros, Billy Ray Shaughnessy, Esa Raasanen, and David Shearing. I guarantee these creeps will scare the living shit out of you because I know who they are…what they’ve done…what they can do…

I’ve investigated them. I’ve written about them. And I’ll tell you about these true-life monsters in a bit.

So, why do we love fright? Because fright gives us pleasure.

A4My internet friend, Lisa Cron, wrote Wired For Story. This was a game changer for me. As a crime thriller author, I wanted to know what makes psychological crime thriller readers tick—why so many are fascinated with death—so I could write better stories.

Particularly murder stories.

Lisa explained shock is the triggering mechanism for releasing our brain’s chemicals that active a fight-or-flight response. Our brains are lightning fast at assessing threats. Shock stimulus shoots adrenaline, oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine re-uptakes through our neurotransmitters. This mentally and physically prepares our neuromuscular systems for a drastic response. It shoves us to the edge of the mental cliff.

Ready to run. Or fit to fight. But not to fall.

These natural chemicals are also responsible for giving us pleasure. This shock rush is like crack to the brain and it craves a repeat—provided we know we’re in a safe environment—subconsciously reassured when we’re at home, quietly watching TV or reading a book.

Lisa says more about why our brains crave fright. Ultimately, our brain has one overall responsibility for the rest of our body.

To ensure our survival.

A5Our brains evaluate everything we encounter with a simple question. Is this going to help me or hurt me? Not just physically.

Emotionally, as well.

From the start of a story—from the very first scene—our brains crave a sense of urgency that instantly makes us want to know what happens next. It’s a visceral feeling…seducing us into leaving the real world behind and surrendering into world of story. Our brain’s goal is to predict what might happen so we can figure out what to do before it happens.

This is where shock value comes in. And where the monsters come on.

A7Storytelling’s master of monsters and sheik of shock is Stephen King. He’s scared the shit out of millions and his audience is massive. They love it and keep coming back for more. It’s because Stephen King gives readers pleasure.

I’ve repeatedly sent emails to Stephen King asking permission to republish an outstanding article he wrote years ago. It’s called Why We Crave Horror Movies.

I don’t know if the master’s too busy or if I’m a small pupil, but Stephen King ignores me. Nerve of him, after all the money I spent on his stuff.

So I said “Fuck Stephen King.” I’m tired of waiting.

A8Stephen King’s piece on why we love getting shit-scared is just too good not to share. Therefore, I evoke the “doctrine of fair use and open source domain in accordance to the statutory and common-law allowances of the country of publication”. Besides, you can download and read the pdf here.

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Why We Crave Horror Movies–By Stephen King

I think that we’re all mentally ill; those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better—and maybe not all that much better, after all. We’ve all known people who talk to themselves, people who sometimes squinch their faces into horrible grimaces when they believe no one is watching, people who have some hysterical fear—of snakes, the dark, the tight place, the long drop . . . and, of course, those final worms and grubs that are waiting so patiently underground.
When we pay our four or five bucks and seat ourselves at tenth-row center in a theater showing a horror movie, we are daring the nightmare.
Why? Some of the reasons are simple and obvious. To show that we can, that we are not afraid, that we can ride this roller coaster. Which is not to say that a really good horror movie may not surprise a scream out of us at some point, the way we may scream when the roller coaster twists through a complete 360 or plows through a lake at the bottom of the drop. And horror movies, like roller coasters, have always been the special province of the young; by the time one turns 40 or 50, one’s appetite for double twists or 360-degree loops may be considerably depleted.

A9

We also go to re-establish our feelings of essential normality; the horror movie is innately conservative, even reactionary. Freda Jackson as the horrible melting woman in Die, Monster, Die! confirms for us that no matter how far we may be removed from the beauty of a Robert Redford or a Diana Ross, we are still light-years from true ugliness.
And we go to have fun.
Ah, but this is where the ground starts to slope away, isn’t it? Because this is a very peculiar sort of fun, indeed. The fun comes from seeing others menaced – sometimes killed. One critic has suggested that if pro football has become the voyeur’s version of combat, then the horror film has become the modern version of the public lynching.
It is true that the mythic “fairy-tale” horror film intends to take away the shades of gray . . . . It urges us to put away our more civilized and adult penchant for analysis and to become children again, seeing things in pure blacks and whites. It may be that horror movies provide psychic relief on this level because this invitation to lapse into simplicity, irrationality, and even outright madness is extended so rarely. We are told we may allow our emotions a free rein . . . or no rein at all.

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If we are all insane, then sanity becomes a matter of degree.
If your insanity leads you to carve up women like Jack the Ripper or the Cleveland Torso Murderer, we clap you away in the funny farm (but neither of those two amateur-night surgeons was ever caught, heh-heh-heh); if, on the other hand, your insanity leads you only to talk to yourself when you’re under stress or to pick your nose on your morning bus, then you are left alone to go about your business . . . though it is doubtful that you will ever be invited to the best parties.
The potential lyncher is in almost all of us (excluding saints, past and present; but then, most saints have been crazy in their own ways), and every now and then, he has to be let loose to scream and roll around in the grass. Our emotions and our fears form their own body, and we recognize that it demands its own exercise to maintain proper muscle tone. Certain of these emotional muscles are accepted – even exalted – in civilized society; they are, of course, the emotions that tend to maintain the status quo of civilization itself. Love, friendship, loyalty, kindness — these are all the emotions that we applaud, emotions that have been immortalized in the couplets of Hallmark cards and in the verses (I don’t dare call it poetry) of Leonard Nimoy.
When we exhibit these emotions, society showers us with positive reinforcement; we learn this even before we get out of diapers. When, as children, we hug our rotten little puke of a sister and give her a kiss, all the aunts and uncles smile and twit and cry, “Isn’t he the sweetest little thing?” Such coveted treats as chocolate-covered graham crackers often follow. But if we deliberately slam the rotten little puke of a sister’s fingers in the door, sanctions follow – angry remonstrance from parents, aunts and uncles; instead of a chocolate-covered graham cracker, a spanking.

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But anticivilization emotions don’t go away, and they demand periodic exercise. We have such “sick” jokes as, “What’s the difference between a truckload of bowling balls and a truckload of dead babies?” (You can’t unload a truckload of bowling balls with a pitchfork . . . a joke, by the way, that I heard originally from a ten-year-old.) Such a joke may surprise a laugh or a grin out of us even as we recoil, a possibility that confirms the thesis: If we share a brotherhood of man, then we also share an insanity of man. None of which is intended as a defense of either the sick joke or insanity but merely as an explanation of why the best horror films, like the best fairy tales, manage to be reactionary, anarchistic, and revolutionary all at the same time.
A12The mythic horror movie, like the sick joke, has a dirty job to do. It deliberately appeals to all that is worst in us. It is morbidity unchained, our most base instincts let free, our nastiest fantasies realized . . . and it all happens, fittingly enough, in the dark. For those reasons, good liberals often shy away from horror films. For myself, I like to see the most aggressive of them – Dawn of the Dead, for instance – as lifting a trap door in the civilized forebrain and throwing a basket of raw meat to the hungry alligators swimming around in that subterranean river beneath.
Why bother?
Because it keeps them from getting out, man. It keeps them down there and me up here. It was Lennon and McCartney who said that all you need is love, and I would agree with that.
As long as you keep the gators fed.

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There. That’s the best explanation of why we love getting shit-scared.

A14So where am I going with this monster, fear, and pleasure thing? Well, I’m doing shameless, self-promotion for the stories I write.

I write about human monsters because I’ve met a bunch and I try explaining how I think these extremely dangerous, fascinating, social-rejects operate. I also try portraying how police investigators behave—how real cops use creative and technological aids in modern-day monster-catching.

I believe an author’s storytelling job is to entertain, educate, and enlighten—and I believe there’s an intense reader interest in psychological crime thrillers. Here’s a snapshot of what I’m up to.

KushtakaNo Witnesses To Nothing is based on the true story of Michael Oros—a deranged bushman, terrorizing the frozen Canadian north and murdering people. Legend said Oros was the monstrous manifestation of a mythical shapeshifter who hunts people, kills them, and steals their souls. It’s also an intertwined, true story of two police informants who were murdered in apparent police-ordered hits. Deep down, No Witnesses To Nothing is not really a crime thriller. It’s a serious search for the science and spirituality behind our human existence. The soul.

Get No Witnesses To Nothing here.

NoLifeUntilDeath8No Life Until Death is the black-market world of international human organ trafficking. It parlays characters from No Witnesses To Nothing and continues the series of Sharlene Bate Crime Thrillers. No Life Until Death follows paths of two families whose daughters are targeted by a monstrous pair of abductors harvesting human organs in North America and shipping parts to the Philippines. No Life Until Death‘s tagline is Desperate People Do Desperate Things.

Get No Life Until Death here.

InTheAttic2In The Attic is the true story I investigated where Billy Ray Shaughnessy, a monstrous psychopath, hid in Maria Dersch’s attic with an ax. He climbed down at 3 a.m., slaughtering Maria and her new lover. It’s told in first-person with me, as the detective, narrating the story before and after the murders, as well as in Billy Ray’s homicidal thoughts while he lurked eight feet above. In The Attic‘s dialogue comes from actual transcripts and notes of my interviews with Maria and Billy Ray.

Get In The Attic here.

UnderTheGround8Under The Ground is from another factual case—the story of Esa Raasanaen and Kristen Madsen. It’s a monstrous tale of murder where Kristen disappeared and Esa was suspected of killing Kristen, disposing of her body. Under The Ground follows a highly-complex, psychological undercover sting where Esa was sucked into a fictional organized crime group. He confessed to the undercover operator and turned over Kristen’s body. What Esa did to Kristen…where he’d hidden her…was horrific—shocking to the most seasoned homicide investigators.

A15From The Shadows is my newest crime-thriller. The manuscript is underway. It’s based on the shocking true story of the worst monster imaginable. David Shearing murdered six members of the Johnson-Bentley family—three generations—to fulfill his psychopathic and pedophilic desire in capturing two pre-teen girls as sex slaves. From The Shadows follows the discovery of an unspeakable crime, the frustrating two-year investigation, and the final psychological break-down of Shearing during an outstanding police interrogation.

No Witnesses To Nothing, No Life Until Death, and In The Attic are currently available on Amazon.

Under The Ground is readying for publication. From The Shadows is close behind. I’m looking for ARC (Advance Reading Copy) readers for these two stories, so if you’d like an eBook file of either/both, email me at garry.rodgers@shaw.ca and I’ll ship you the monster stories.

…provided you love getting shit-scared.

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P.S. — Please comment, share on social media, and – if you’ve read the books – I’d really appreciate if you’d take a moment to leave a short review on Amazon. And thanks for your support in my writing and for following DyingWords!
~ Garry