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Criminal Justice

Most Mass Murderers Are Revenge Killers; Holmes Doesn’t Fit the Profile

Posted Jul 26, 2012 6:56 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Some have speculated that Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes went on a theater shooting spree because of his academic failure in a graduate neuroscience program.

But unlike most mass murderers, who kill in revenge, Holmes is not accused of targeting his professors or other students, Reuters reports. Criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University told Reuters that most mass murderers kill people for specific reasons, such as the bosses who fired them or professors who wronged them. “These are revenge killings,” he says.

Some killers instead target a certain type of people considered the source of his woes. This is the second most common profile of a mass murderer. "These killers don't know the victims personally, but they're getting back at a certain kind of individual," Fox told the wire service.

If Holmes was not targeting a specific type of individual and instead targeted strangers indiscriminately, he would fall in the category of the least common mass murder, the story says. About 16 percent of mass killings target complete strangers.

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