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Friday, November 19, 2010

A Study in Sociopathy

The headline and first three paragraphs of a NY Post article from this morning:

Cokehead convicted in Pace student slay

by Laura Italiano

A homeless young cokehead was convicted today of strangling a Pace University honor student two years ago -- a senseless slaying the murderer chalked up to burglary and boredom.

Jeromie Cancel, 24, has told cops he was invited up to Kevin Pravia's Chelsea apartment on a pre-dawn October morning to sell the student $300 in cocaine -- and that he later garroted the sleeping stranger in his bed because he'd had nowhere to go at the moment and nothing better to do.

The drifter druggie even boasted of switching to a one-handed grip on the cord once Pravia stopped struggling -- so that he could smoke a cigarette with his other hand, all the while watching a gory horror flick on the victim's DVD.

Most people couldn't even conceive of having "nothing better to do" as a reason to end a human life. So most people who read the above article will assume that Cancel's offhand explanation must be a coverup for some other, more compelling motivation. But it's not. Every now and then you'll hear of a murderer saying that he killed just because he "just wanted to see what it felt like." For a sociopath, that's actually all it takes.

And only a sociopath would "boast" to the police about how he committed his murder. A sociopath's ego always rages full throttle, regardless of how thin its fuel.

Cancel's desire for a cigarette while he was killing Pravia is reminiscent of Joran van der Sloot's desire for a sandwich right after he killed his victim in Peru:

Most of us, if we ever killed someone, would be be completely overwhelmed by the horror of what we had done: our hearts would be pounding, our minds racing, our senses reeling. But with a sociopath, committing murder doesn't even affect them enough to override their everyday fancies -- like a sponge cake, or a cigarette.

And Cancel didn't even wait until he had finished committing the murder -- he had his smoke while committing it. Then, he was so impressed with his own coolness that he boasted to the police about it.

But even the combination of a murder and a cigarette wasn't enough stimulation for him -- he had to watch a gory horror flick on his victim's DVD at the same time.

That's probably the ultimate metaphor for sociopathy -- smoking a cigarette and watching a movie while committing murder.

After all, murder by itself can be, let's face it, a bit of a yawner.

If New York State delivers appropriate justice, Cancel's cigarette habit will not cut a single minute off his life.


Anonymous said...

Great post as always, I don't know where you find these stories. I'm shocked to say the least that a human being can behave that way. He needs to be bled slowly and painfully while being forced to watch his own horror movie.

Mad Dog

John Craig said...

Thanks Tom.

The NY Post (available online at always has much juicier stories than the Times or network news.

Anonymous said...

The example of wanting sponge cake is very specific. Is the writer having a simple sponge cake craving or planning a post-murder dessert?!

John Craig said...

The writer is referring to the sponge cake which Joran van der Sloot downed after killing that girl in Peru. (The writer sloppily referred to it as a "sandwich" in this post, but did specify that it was a sponge cake in the original post which was linked in this post.) Good catch, though, thank you.

John Craig said...

PS -- Sorry, it's early in the morning, and somehow I ignored the humorous aspect of your question.

Answer: I'm not quite enough of a sociopath to get those cravings immediately afterward. (Generally it takes me at least four or five hours to regain my appetite.)