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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Two sociopaths who look like sociopaths, and one who doesn't

Two new serial killers came to light in the past 24 hours; neither has been convicted yet, but if you read their stories, their guilt is obvious. What I was struck by with both men was how much they looked like the sociopaths that they are.

First, James Worley, who had a secret dungeon hidden by hay bales in his barn outside Toledo, Ohio:

Worley somehow manages to look placid, brutal, conceited, and contemptuous at the same time. Few people look their best in a mugshot, but Worley doesn't look overly concerned. He merely looks annoyed that his streak of bumping female cyclists with his truck, handcuffing them inside his truck, and then transporting them to his barn is over.

The second is Felix Vail, who is thought to have killed both of his wives as well as another woman:

Vail just seems to have an extremely predatory look about him. He has the thin-lipped, carnivorous mouth of a serial killer. And he looks as if he's sizing you up, figuring out what your weaknesses are, in order to take advantage of them. He was at least 73 when this picture was taken (he is 76 now, and was arrested three years ago); yet he still looks ready to pounce. Or, at least, lose his temper.

Here's a picture of Vail when he was younger:

I have no idea whether he had imbibed any substances before this picture was taken, but he has that weirdly relaxed, slightly inebriated, completely confident look that sociopaths sometimes have even when they're not drunk. It's a function of their being completely relaxed and uninhibited and self-confident. (Most of us need a couple of stiff ones before achieving that state.)

Vail must have had grown his hair and beard in an effort to fit in with the hippie ethos of that era. Peace and love!

I know, these impressions are partly due to hindsight. Once you know someone is a serial killer, it's impossible to see him in any other light.

But I swear, both of those guys still have scary faces, and even if I hadn't known who they were, I think I would have felt uneasy around them.

Today, news broke of another sociopath: 14-year-old Kali Jade Bookey, who slit the throat of her brother's 15-year-old girlfriend, telling her she was a psychopath looking for her first kill. After slitting the girl's throat (the girl survived), Bookey told her to "have a nice afterlife," and took off, with an elaborate story already concocted for the police.

I had the same thought you probably did when I saw Bookey's first name, but here are two pictures of her:

If I had been in the same room as her, I definitely would not have felt uneasy. In fact, I probably would have made an effort to convey to her that I wasn't a threat.

No one's character has been etched in their face by age 14, and maybe Bookey's will be when she gets older. But, maybe it won't. The only clue that Bookey might be a little feral is that tattoo on her neck; I'm guessing it's permanent, because she appears to be trying to hide it in the photo on the right. (Most 14-year-olds don't get tattoos on their necks, and most 14-year-olds don't wear scarves like that.)

Sometimes sociopaths look like sociopaths, and sometimes they don't. You just never know.

Update: I've now been told by two people that that's a necklace Bookey is wearing.


Justin said...

Wow the first guy looks almost identical to the "Trinity Killer" in season 4 of Dexter.

I'm pretty sure that's just a choker necklace on the girl, not a tattoo. I do agree she looks normal though.

John Craig said...

Justin --
You're probably right about that necklace; I just google-Imaged her again and found three other pictures of her, all without the "tattoo." (It's possible though that those were taken when she was younger, before a tattoo might have been put on.)

Steven said...

Not sure if I ever told you but I was reading a book by a guy who journeyed into the amazon and lived with indian tribes. Not sure of the dates but i think it was about 60 or 70 years ago. He mentioned that a particular bad individual he encountered had the thin lips and goat like face he had learned to distrust as early as kindergarden....and i think the guy in question was amerindian. That chimes with your observations about thin lips and also reminds me of Bill Hicks 'goat boy' which is some kind of devlish creature. I think ive seen that sort of face myself.

John Craig said...

Steven --
No, you haven't mentioned that, as far as I can recall. Both Worley and Vail, especially the latter, have the thin lips, though I'm not sure they have goat-like faces, in fact, I'm not even sure I know what that means.

Anonymous said...

john the girl has the relaxed eyes... google pictures of her and the lack of pressure or anxiety is obvious. she just seems like an unusually confident and non neurotic 14 year old, but i'd love to see her face in 10 years or 20. she's a great test case of young sociopathy. also look up a nytimes magazine article on a baby psychopath, diagnosed as one. its a great read.

also look up neuro scientist james fallon. he's got the same relaxed eyes as the first guy. also the obese slightly contemptuous look as well.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Bookey does look relaxed, but I see her as being wide-eyed and agog as much as the "in control" kind of relaxed I associate with sociopaths.

I watched an hour-long interview with Fallon once. I wasn't sure what to make of it. He has an interesting gig going, going around telling people he's a psychopath and giving examples of his cold, calculating behavior, and simultaneously taking a half step back from himself and discussing the subject (i.e., himself) like an academic. I believe he's a sociopath, or psychopath, as he puts it. But it's hard to draw any conclusions from his behavior because he doesn't act like other sociopaths. First, very few sociopaths acknowledge being one, and second, most of them don't particularly want to discuss sociopathy, other than to crow about how superior sociopaths are. As I recall, what Fallon said about sociopathy was true, so I couldn't really take issue with much of what he said. But I quickly tired of his narcissistic air (which, of course, fits in with being a sociopath), and had a hard time watching through to the end. The one thing I did take issue with was the way he said he discovered his psychopathy late in life (hmm, not sure about that) and attributed it entirely to his brain's physiological makeup, which had a poorly functioning frontal lobe, or something like that. In my experience, upbringing is usually the key to sociopathy, and that often consists of a mother who is less than maternal, or an abusive father. But Fallon didn't cop to any of that. That doesn't mean that what he said isn't true, maybe it is purely a function of his cerebral physiology; but I have my doubts.

Anonymous said...

I read different online articles about Felix Vail, a complete lowlife. All the women who got involved with him, some of them losing their lives in the process, they were dating and/or married the devil. He is a living, breathing nightmare. I feel badly for his victims.

- Susan

Anonymous said...

I LOL'd: " Few people look their best in a mugshot,"

True, but that lady-rat Jane Fonda looked awfully cute in her mugshot. You can find it on google. A truly pretty woman once, politics aside.

I have to say that Vails is not that bad looking a man, and for 73, he looks pretty good in that shot. Skin kind of ruddy, but not bad looking. I do hate his long hair and beard in the earlier photo but in and of themselves, they are not indicative of psychosis.

There is a baseball player named Jayson Werth, who is similarly hirsute, and in this photo looks like a total psycho (I hope the tinyurl works):

To me, he looks as if he should be sharing the Unabomber's cabin in the above photo.

But here, photo'd with his wife, he looks OK:

The psycho girl is a cutie pie. What she did was very shocking and I hope she stays in jail forever. I hate the thought of the death penalty for a female of that age, but doesn't she deserve it?


John Craig said...

Puzzled --
Yes, back in her Barbarella and Cat Ballou days, Fonda was extremely attractive, both body and face. I think she got her looks from her father, Henry, who always looked to me as if he would have been a better-looking woman than man. As a guy he was.....pretty.

Yes, those URL's did work. It's strange, some of these guys who cultivate the beards, end up looking very stiff, like Pa Kettle (except with a beard). Worth looks a little as if he belongs with the Duck Dynasty crew.

Unfortunately, that psycho girl will probably get out of jail when she's 18, or maybe 21, since she committed her crime at age 14. Also, her victim survived, so she didn't actually commit murder. My guess, she'll end up back in prison anyway for something. (And yes, she does deserve the death penalty, as far as I'm concerned; there was plenty of premeditation and planning that went into the attempted murder.)

Anonymous said...

I just read the linked article re Vail. I couldn't read the whole thing b/c it kind of makes me sick, but Vail married three very pretty women, esp. the first. I cannot fucking believe that a mother would allow her 15 year old to hang around w/a 44 year old man. Some people in this country are real dumbass low-lifes.


John Craig said...

Puzzled --
Especially a sociopath like him. But, like most sociopaths, he was probably pretty charming, and persuasively manipulative. And maybe the mother had a little bit of a thing for him herself. He was, as you say, pretty good-looking, especially when younger.

Anonymous said...

Werth (it's spelled with an E) def. does look like a Duck Dynasty bro. He's a very good ballplayer who has overcome numerous injuries. A bit of a weirdo but not a psycho.

Oh, I'm glad that girl is alive. I didn't pay attention. Not to spare the psycho girl but because I'm glad the girl survived, although she is probably mentally scarred for life. That's another area I disagree w/conservatives. I do think people can be scarred by experiences. Being the victim of attempted murder def. qualifies one for lifelong problems, although I hope I'm wrong.


John Craig said...

Puzzled --
Agree with you completely there, people can definitely be scarred. Though I'd never thought of denial of that as a conservative position.

Anonymous said...

Yes I've read that a lot. At least with the so-called HBD crowd. "It's all in the genes. If you have good genes you can overcome anything. Why, my grandpappy....."

I really don't agree with this.

More and more I come to think that environment is decisive. If I had been born in a slum I probably would be fat, toothless and living on 40 ounce malt.


John Craig said...

Puzzled --
I think we're talking at slightly cross purposes here. i agree with you that people can be scarred by traumatic experiences, like having one's throat cut at age 15, as the poor victim of the 14-year-old psycho above will undoubtedly be. In fact, that 14-year-old psychopathic girl almost undoubtedly became a sociopath because of a lack of early nurturing, and possibly early abuse. Personality is definitely strongly influenced by environment.

But intellectual ability, or IQ if you prefer, is mostly a matter of genes, and that's what the conservatives are talking about. Yes, environment makes a difference there too, but all of the separated twin tests, and separated regular sibling tests, show the overwhelming influence of genetics on IQ.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I agree w/you about IQ. I just don't think that IQ is the whole story, or even a 10th of it. I am a huge believer in rote drill.

Example: I hate it when leftists berate Americans because only 15% of us have passports, and we don't speak 4 languages. Why the fuck should we? We live in this big, beautiful continent sized land mass in an* English-speaking country. No need for a passport, and no need to learn another language. Life's hard enough.

Yet...I always wished I had learned another language, and it's a simple fact that in some European countries people routinely speak three languages. Because they are smarter than we are? No. They are trained.

Same deal with eating habits. In the 1950s, American women ate 1500 calories a day. This has been studied. And guess what, they were 15-20 pounds thinner on average. An American woman of 1958 would be aghast at today's eating habits. Habits are taught. They are not natural.



John Craig said...

Puzzled --
Don't get me wrong, I'm not negating the role of environment -- culture and family and friends -- when it comes to our habits and customs. Just when it comes to our intelligence.

I've never heard Leftists berate Americans for not having passports; guess I missed out on that pleasure. And yes, I do have a tendency to feel sorta uneducated when I meet a continental European who can speak three languages (that does seem to be the average over there).

And yes, obesity is real problem today. Two thirds of Americans are now overweight, with a full half of those being obese. It's unfortunate. I see women all the time who make me think, ah, if only she would lose 20 (or 30 or 50) pounds, she'd be really attractive.

Anonymous said...

People with foetal alcohol syndrome have a thin top lip (but they are totally different in personality to sociopaths). Do you think the sociopath thin lip phenomenon could be the result of drug use during pregnancy?

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
Interesting, I hadn't known that. That could certainly have something to do with the thin lips.

FAS people may be totally different than sociopaths, but I think the two syndromes must intersect pretty often. I've noticed that sociopaths frequently have alcoholic or drug-addicted mothers, and I think it's because an alcoholic mother is simply less likely to bond with her child (she cares more about getting her fix than she does her children).

Anonymous said...

The experience a person has can affect the shape of their face, even in adulthood.

Early life experiences or decisions can alter gene expression which affects the path our bodies take as we age. Contrary to popular belief, the body and many parts of the brain is not set in stone until later adulthood. Faces and bones can change too.

A woman with half her brain riddled with lesions and damage yet doesn't display crippling symptoms nor personality disorders like psychopathy.

The biggest misconception is that how our brains work depends only on the shape or size. There is mounting evidence gene expression plays a very heavy role. A person can receive brain damage and become a psychopath, but others who receive the same damage returns to normal.

Speaking of which:

The cause of autism is now being understood as having more to do with how the brain develops (abnormally fast or neural migration resulting in parts of the brain activating the wrong genes despite not being riddled with tumors or lesions or abnormal growths) and acts itself rather than the way it is shaped or what the final product is. Severe autism can result in abnormal growths in parts of the brain leading to seizures but these are found in people with epilepsy who aren't autistic. Many older studies on brain shape were skewed by mental retardation, chromosomal and genetic disorders that cause autism, seizures and certain drugs causing cell loss and changes. (rett syndromes causes autism 75% of the time, but why not 100%? Fragile X 50%, but not 100% either. Why?)
Also differences in autistic brains may be from how they live their life. Taxi drivers usually gain enlarged hippocampuses after years in the business from memorizing routes.

Not just what genes, the shape of the brain, but how the genes themselves act even when identical in people. Hence two identical twins, one has dyslexia, autism, or some other syndrome most of the time but in certain cases, the other is fine. Nobody knows why now.
There may be different autisms caused by different things, dwarfism results from dozens of different unrelated disorders. If you met one autistic person, you realize while they have a ton in common, their symptoms are inconsistent with other patients. It's not like down syndrome where a person with down syndrome is a exactly person with down syndrome almost every time.