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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Two serial killers in one

Commenter "Runner Katy" recently alerted me to the above woman, 68-year-old Tamara Samsonova, who evidently murdered 14 people and is thought to have eaten some of them.

Women serial killers are extremely rare. The most famous is probably Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute who killed several of her johns in order to rob them. There have been a couple of female landladies who killed their tenants in order to be able to cash their pension checks. And a few women have been given the label after accompanying their serial killer husbands or boyfriends.

But a woman who is a lone serial killer without a financial motive is almost unheard of. From what's known so far, Tamara Samsonova seems to be one such, and has admitted as much in her diary. She started at a relatively advanced age, too, which is also extremely rare.

Samsonova seems to have incorporated elements from a couple other infamous serial killers' playbooks into her modus operandi.

Many of Samsonova's victims had their lungs removed from their bodies; she is thought to have eaten those, and possibly other body parts -- just like Jeffrey Dahmer.

And she claimed she was "tortured" by a maniacal spirit which forced her to perform these gruesome acts -- just like Son of Sam.

To the end, her only concern was for herself. She told the assembled reporters, "I knew you would come….It's such a disgrace for me."

Despite her words, though, she seemed completely unashamed, as is shown by the way she blew kisses to reporters in court. (See video here.)

Despite her commonalities with Dahmer and Son of Sam, as far as is known, Samsonova was not particularly interested in either of them. She was, however, reported to have been obsessed with prolific Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo:

And like Chikatilo, Samsonova had those thin lips I keep seeing with Caucasian serial killers:

(I know it makes no sense, and I can't explain why that would be, but I keep seeing it, as I've said several times elsewhere in this blog.)

In a way, Samsonova is scarier than most serial killers simply because you never expect it from a little old lady. It's almost as disconcerting as finding out that an 8-year-old is a serial killer. There's no financial reason for it, and there's no sexual reason for it. All that's left is pure, raw malice, of which there has to be more than the usual amount given the lack of other motivations.

There's simply a hunger -- literally, in Samsonova's case -- to kill.


Anonymous said...

As I read this post, I felt sick to my stomach. I think the woman is evil and deranged.


John Craig said...

Birdie --
Don't know about deranged, but she's certainly evil. Early psychiatrists postulated that sociopaths are actually more "sane" than the rest of us since they are not beset by the full range of emotions most of us feel.

Whether or not Samsonova is delusionary remains to be seen.

Shaun F said...

John - This is grim stuff - The black magic issue, could well be Satanic Worship just worded in a bit more nuanced fashion to downplay the significance. She just looks evil. The diaries not being released to newspapers is smart on behalf of the police. With the proliferation of stupid people copying others bad behaviour, that makes sense.

John Craig said...

Shaun --
I hadn't seen the stuff about black magic or Satanism. But she does look the part, doesn't she? There's a reason all those old European folk tales would so often have an old woman be the villain, from Hansel and Gretel to Cinderella and so on. Things have changed, though, as knowledge of serial killers has expanded, and we now know that little old ladies are for the most part harmless. Except this one. (And Hillary.)

We now know the odds are much more likely that handsome young Prince Charming is going to turn out to be the serial killer.

Shaun F said...

John - there was a line in the DM article noting that "black magic" books were found on the premises which I interpreted as Satanic. Were you being glib about the handsome Prince Charming? Rest assured, there are plenty of small pockets of iniquity and dubious activity in Eastern Europe, where a broom at the door - is assuredly a sign of a witch's residence.

Rifleman said...

And like Chikatilo, Samsonova had those thin lips I keep seeing with Caucasian serial killers

Tough to say, many of them are photoed in prison and they look dried out and in bad shape.

Others don't seem to have the thin lips trait.

Jeffrey Dahmer

David Berkowitz

Ted Bundy

Aileen Wuornos

Her mom

Her dad

John Craig said...

Shaun --
Just read the Daily Mail article again, and saw the reference.

Actually, I meant what I said about Prince Charming -- this is how a lot of the more prolific serial killers get away with it -- by being good-looking and charming. Ted Bundy was maybe the most famous one of that ilk, but he managed to lure a lot of girls into his car by being well-spoken and charming. Plus serial killing is almost --ALMOST -- exclusively a male activity, so the modern day equivalent of the Prince Charmings of the old fairy tales would be far more likely to be dangerous than the witchy old hags whom the Brimm Bros. etc liked to use as their villains.

I agree, Eastern Europe is a scary place. And the Russians who come to the US are often scary people.

John Craig said...

Rifleman --
I wasn't being clear. In the past I've said that heterosexual male (Caucasian) serial killers have those thin lips. A lot of the homosexual serial killers often have those "blow job lips." So Jeffrey Dahmer is excluded from the sample. But you're right, David Berkowitz -- the Son of Sam -- is an exception. I'd actually say that Bundy has thin lips. Google him and take a look at other pictures, I think it's pretty apparent. Also, type "thin lips" into the subject bar of this blog and you'll see some of the examples I used. It's certainly not absolutely exclusive -- there are exceptions, like Berkowitz, as you pointed out. But I've noticed it a very high percentage of the time. Also, I should point out (the obvious, I guess) -- that the preponderance of male heterosexual serial killers with thin lips doesn't imply anything about the rest of the thin-lipped population.

(Does that last sentence make me sound like a liberal?)

High Arka said...

Women who commit murder are more likely (per data) to do so by poisoning or other arranged faux-accidents/suicides. Accordingly, it's highly unlikely that we have reliable information how many murders actually take place in the world, and of how many of them are committed by women.

Women are also more likely than men to enlist men to kill on their behalf (and then to let the men take the statistical heat on their behalf).

There is far more wisdom in those old tales than our current storytellers (e.g., Hollywood and the BBC) would prefer for us to believe. Centuries of human history has warned us about the behavior patterns of women who murder people: women who grow old alone, surround themselves with familiars (sorry, "companion animals") and candy, and who wreak a horrible vengeance on other women, and children, who seek lives full of love; women who accede to power or rulership through artful marriage, and then rid themselves of all but the chosen heirs they mold in their self-image; women who hate the natural process of life, and struggle to maintain their fading beauty by wooing men to murder young people on their behalf.

These warnings signs of antilife behavior were worked into our earliest myths. For a short while now, western media corporations have been trying to convince us that thousands of years of history warning about certain types of behavior--loaning money at a profit; artificially flattering advanced age; seeking power, rather than life, through sex; and, forsaking children in favor of selfishness or subservient animals--are all wrong. Hollywood and its British affiliates openly lionize these behaviors, suggesting--like so many gingerbread houses deep in the forest--that there's nothing at all to worry about.

Come in, my pretties. Have as much as you like!

John Craig said...

High Arka --
I couldn't agree with you more about Hollywood vs. the old folk tales, especially given that what we get from Hollywood these days is pretty much pure propaganda. And yes, women are more likely to use poison or enlist others. But the law has gotten a lot better at (a) detecting poisons, and also a lot better at parceling out blame to instigators, as it did with both Pamela Smart or the first woman described in this post:

Also, I'm not suggesting that women are generally better morally; simply that men are far more likely to commit violence. And as for the type of intermingled sex and violence that characterize serial killing, they are far, FAR more likely to commit it.

But, yes, women are certainly more than capable of all the types of evil you (and the Brothers Grimm) describe.

Speaking of which, do you have any Kit Kat bars?

Quartermain said...

I was going to make a crack that she looked like a certain someone who lived in a gingerbread house and found children tasty but you beat me to it.

Do you suppose some of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales were warnings about psychopaths and other bad people?

Your fellow sociopath expert Thomas Sheridan certainly thought so even he hasn't written a book about it yet but should.

John Craig said...

Allan --
I have to admit, I'd never thought about fairy tales that way before, but yes, the Grimm Brothers must have had some experience with sociopaths to come up with their sometimes gruesome tales. Witches and ogres are great metaphors for sociopaths.

A lot of the great writers in the past understood sociopathy before it had a name. To pick one obvious example, Shakespeare couldn't have written iago unless he'd known at least one person like that. And I always thought Agatha Christie, whose writings pre-dated almost all of the "official" knowledge of sociopaths, had a great feel for them.

When you think about it, the people who wrote the Bible must have had some knowledge of them too. I'm not religious, but i've heard some quotes which could only refer to sociopaths. And the Devil himself is another great metaphor.

Rifleman said...

I wasn't being clear. In the past I've said that heterosexual male (Caucasian) serial killers have those thin lips.

OK, I was just posting photos of the ones you mentioned plus the famous Bundy.

I hadn't thought about the thin lips trait but I had heard about things like - early age homosexual abuse of males, cruelty to animals, starting fires, interest in dead things etc.

I could google search "serial killer lips" but I'm afraid I might lose the will to live. LOL.

Here's interesting videos about Richard Kuklinski

Kuklinski was not the typical sex pervert serial killer. He was a contract killer/money motivated killer. Along with his pent up hatred that influenced his "hunt and kill" drive. Killed apparently adult males only. No homosexual intent.

The Iceman Tapes - Conversations with a Killer (part 1)

The Iceman Tapes - Conversations with a Killer (part 2)

It seems to me that Kuklinski became full of himself as a "star" by the second interview years after first. I think he lied about some of his actions to build up his legend. But no doubt he killed more than the 5 he was convicted of killing.

The second interview features Dr Park Dietz, serial killer expert, who explains to Kuklinski his anti social and borderline and I guess narcissistic personality disorders.

His brother was a sex killer. Parents terribly abusive.

To me he's one of the more interesting serial killers because you can eliminate the sex pervert/kill women and kids angle.

I guess adult men really are more "disposable" as victims.

John Craig said...

Rofleman --
Yes, the so-called triumvirate of early warning behaviors among very young serial killers-to-be is cruelty to animals, fascination with fire, and late stage bedwetting. i hadn't heard about the homosexual abuse or fascination with dead things, but both make sense.

I've actually seen both of those Kuklinski tapes in their entirety. You're right, there was no sexual element to his killings, he was basically just a very successful murderer-for-hire, and, obviously, a sociopath. I agree, he was interesting. I thought that the most revealing giveaway to his personality was when he said that his biggest regret was not having killed his own father, who was evidently extremely abusive.

Great point about him having become enamored of his own status as "the Iceman." I hadn't thought about it, but it's true. Just think if he'd lived to see that ridiculous movie Hollywood made about him. (Ridiculous because they tried to present him as a dichotomy, a cold-blooded killer who really loved his family -- they only had the first part right. He was protective of his daughters, in the way a crocodile mother is protective of her offspring, but Kuklinski also beat the crap out of his wife on a regular basis, and as a sociopath the emotions he felt toward his daughters had to have been relatively shallow.)

Anonymous said...

Learning about sociopaths, narcissists, etc. has really taught me how beneficial it is for children to be born to stable, mentally healthy parents, people who provide a loving (affectionate, nurturing environment) to their offspring. Without a healthy, stimulating home life, children face an uphill battle, oftentimes ending up having to literally raise themselves (due to lack of guidance coming from the bio parents). It's incredibly unfair and sad for the children - many children turn out warped, definitely not whole.


John Craig said...

Birdie --
All true. At the same time those loving parents should warn their children about sociopaths, because children who grow up in warm, nurturing households tend to be trusting and therefore easy prey for con men and dishonest types in general.

Anonymous said...

I agree.


Rifleman said...

Learning about sociopaths, narcissists, etc. has really taught me how beneficial it is for children to be born to stable, mentally healthy parents, people who provide a loving (affectionate, nurturing environment) to their offspring.

Right but stable, mentally healthy parents tend to contribute genes for stable, mentally healthy children.

Kuklinski's parents were an unhealthy genetic mix.

Environment matters, especially the environment in the womb 9 months before birth.

You can put kids through hell on earth most will NEVER become like these sociopaths, narcissists, killer and perverts.

John Craig said...

Rifleman --
I'm a firm believer in genetics when it comes to almost everything: intelligence, shyness, tendency toward depression, schizophrenia, and a host of other things. In fact, a decent proportion of this blog is devoted to how intelligence is predetermined by genetics (which makes me a "racist.") But I actually believe that sociopathy is determined in large part by whether or not a child was able to establish a strong bond with a loving parent in the first year or two of life. If not, then it's all over for him, psychologically speaking.

Anonymous said...


When babies are in the womb, they are growing and developing. Once they're born, they continue to grow and develop. If a caregiver does not hold, cuddle, intetact with, and respond appropriately to a baby, that child will not develop normally, internally speaking. The child's external body may grow and develop (looking normal) but the internal workings of the child are askew, off kilter. To me, this is how and why people can become screwed up human beings.


High Arka said...

Whenever you start delving into "psychological" or "psychiatric" states of mind, remember that you're drawing upon "research," "law," and cultural aspects created directly out of the western trend of psychoanalysis. If you do some research into the backgrounds of prominent early psychoanalysts, you might notice something particular about the source of that kind of culture--and it might effect how you think about the veracity of such techniques.

It might also help you reconsider several other ways that psychoanalysis is now used in medicine and law: to generate social fear, substantial professional fees, and ruin many lives, in order to attack Christian religious structures and European-style families, under the guise of "repressed memories of childhood abuse."

Runner Katy said...

All of these comments are so thought provoking. Everything I've read also confirms that the first few years of life are the "make or break" period for a potential sociopath (both male or female) and also that there could be some genetic role, such as if the parents or one parent is a sociopath or has personality disorders. Very interesting to think of the potential for more female serial killers that we may not be aware of or were just not documented in the past.

John Craig said...

High Arka --
I don't put much stock in Freud, Jung, or Adler. The "field" of sociopathy was pretty much started by Hervey Cleckley, and I'm actually basing my opinions about the background of sociopaths mostly on what I've observed firsthand, and what I've read bout individual cases.

I don't consider myself an expert on many things -- most of the subjects I explore on this blog i"m just a dabbler in -- but sociopathy has been a lifelong obsession.

John Craig said...

Runner Katy --
There have been a few female serial killers documented in the past, like that Romanian queen who liked to bathe in the blood of young virgins (though I wonder if that is entirely based on fact). But it seems females just aren't constructed the same way, and just don't kill for some sort of sexual satisfaction.

Agreed on the first few years of life.

Anonymous said...


A therapist that I knew told me years ago (when I was first learning about antisocial personality disorder) that the disorder was caused by "early childhood trauma and lack of bonding." After putting the family-of-origin puzzle pieces together (that applied to a certain someone), it all made sense, explaining why the person ended up a sociopath. This conversation with the therapist was enlightening to say the least.


John Craig said...

Birdie --
Yes, every sociopath I've known has had some obvious disconnect with their parents. There was always a story there that made me think, aha! That doesn't necessarily prove a genetic component -- genes get passed down through families too -- but the lack of nurturing alway shows.