Another Real Life Crime Prompt (And A Little Bit More)
Here's another open case: Serial Killer On The Loose In California, a 23-year old mystery. Just like the most iconic one of them all, Jack The Ripper, this one's victims are prostitutes.
Los Angeles, California, police detectives are looking for a serial killer who they believe killed at least 11 people, many of them prostitutes.
Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Charlie Beck said DNA evidence and ballistics tests have convinced detectives that the same killer is connected to the slayings in Los Angeles and Inglewood.
The victims were prostitutes or drug users who were sexually assaulted and then shot and dumped in alleyways or inside dumpsters, police said.
"We have a lot of evidence and the connection between so many cases of DNA will allow us to eventually solve this," Beck said.
The most recent killing -- in January 2007 -- was tied exclusively to DNA analysis to another case after 13 years. However, detectives have not been able to identify the killer through state or federal DNA databases of convicted felons.
According to Beck, authorities are still examining over 50,000 inmates in state prison for similar crimes, but not all of them have DNA profiles.Pretty coincidental, but earlier this week I watched a serial-killer crime feature on TV. The criminal: Robert Yates, whose victims also were prostitutes (Jack the Ripper has spawned so many children). At show's end, I felt unsettled. A lot was unresolved. Though Yates was caught and brought to trial, and was even allowed to speak, no one, neither the prosecutors nor the friends and family members of the victims, were allowed to ask him why he did what he did (though they were allowed to address him directly if they wished). Yates didn't offer any explanations for his actions either, but he did apologize for what he had done. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and according to the updates on the web, he's now also facing the death penalty in another county.
I felt confused at the end of the show, and remembered these two books that were suggested reading in psychology class during my college years. I'm no psychologist, but one of the premises of these books is that encounters with evil, in any form and with anyone, personal or otherwise, often leads to confusion. It's an effect that evil has on anybody. For those of you who are religious, the Jesuits have a guide to their spiritual exercises that sounds similar. If in your prayers and meditations you find yourself perturbed, bothered, and yes, they use the word confused too, then you're being influenced by what they refer to as The Spirit of Darkness. If you feel calm and certain of where your prayer is going, then The Spirit of Light is guiding you. (To those of you who know more about this, please forgive me if my explanations aren't entirely accurate, and feel free to leave a clarifying comment. I didn't listen to my teachers very much during my Theology and Religion classes, and I'm lucky to have come out of them knowing the little that I do).
Perhaps, on a less abstract and more direct level, I suppose I simply felt bewildered because it's human nature to seek out logical explanations, and if none are forthcoming, then all you can do is scratch your head. A friend told me years ago that not everything in life can find resolution, and it's up to us to accept this and move on because life won't stand still just because we've met a roadblock. This might be one of those moments for the friends and family members of the victims of Yates and that Californian serial killer.
And speaking of resolutions, one of the items discussed that night over dinner was story resolution. Said one of us (and I'm paraphrasing/rewording, so I hope I get the spirit of what was said correct), "Many readers expect a tidy ending, all nicely wrapped and done up with a bow, but that's not always the case. As with life there'll be loose ends, and even some ambiguity, something left over for the reader to ponder."
Add to that what another writer and friend told me in the past, that a story's ending should have some form of "inevitable surprise", that there is present a feeling that the story ended in a logical and predictable way but one that still surprises, complete with whatever loose ends the writer chooses to leave, and hopefully--if the beginning and middle are also done well--you just may have a tale that works.