Murder with a smile

Turning that frown upside-down

If this doesn’t spook you just a little, well… you’re not easily spooked:

Retired NYPD detectives Anthony Duarte and Kevin Gannon held a press conference in 2008 to make the public aware of a dozens of deaths that are officially listed as accidental drownings, deaths that the two former cops allege are actually murders linked to one another. “I believe we’re looking at an organized group that has a hierarchy and is involved in murder and other criminal activity,” Gannon said. Such a revelation would, if true, re-write a large portion of what we think we know about criminology. Experts would tell us that serial killers don’t work together in teams, in fact in extremely rare instances we have only seen them work in pairs.

I read the full article on a day when the paywall was down. Unfortunately, it’s back up. Anyway, the Zebra murders that gripped San Francisco in 1973-74 are proof that semi-clandestine, murderous cults can exist, although the alleged Smiley Face Killers would appear to be a (big) step up from anything we’ve seen before in terms of both secrecy and competence.

The author’s hypothesis that the arrival of the internet explains why the Smiley Face Killings began in earnest around 1997 is interesting and reminded me of this essay from 10 years ago about the rise of anonymous group suicide in Japan.

The most spectacular manifestation of Japan’s exploding suicide culture, Internet group suicide, is unique in that it is rooted in the technologies of the computer age and has no meaningful precedent in traditional Japanese social behavior.

Given its role in fostering a wide variety of social pathologies, some of which seem entirely capable of destroying civilization, I would argue that the jury is still out on whether the invention of the internet was overall a Good Thing for humanity.