Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Graduate student Zijie Wang has pleaded guilty to poisoning a co-worker in the chemistry labs at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. He had been dosing his coworker’s
food with N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), used to induce cancer in rats, which initially made the victim vomit and gave him diarrhea. The victim – who survived and testified in court on November 2 – had installed a camera on his desk and recorded Wang pipetting a substance into his food.

Wang is due to be sentenced on December 11 for ‘administering a noxious thing to endanger life or cause bodily harm’ and aggravated assault.

Local media reports that the victim was also Wang’s former roommate, as well as his colleague, having lived with him between December 2016 and May 2017. The victim asked the court ‘What kind of hatred would make a person attempt to kill his roommate?’, the Queen’s University Journal reported.

All of Wang’s colleagues had been through ‘unpleasant experiences’ with him, the victim added. He reportedly told the court that he will ‘suffer for life’ wondering if he’ll develop cancer. He has now developed two small bumps on his chest, and fears they could be cancerous. Worse still, the university is not renewing the victim’s contract, he testified.

The victim’s first recollection of the poisoning was 8 January, when he tried to eat an apple pie he had brought into work, stopping after finding the second bite too bitter. Within four hours he was reportedly vomiting and suffering from diarrhea. A week later, on 15 January, he found another apple pie that he ate at work at first tasted normal, but then tasted bitter in the middle. This time he didn’t fall ill.

The following week a cinnamon raisin bread loaf that the victim had brought in similarly tasted bitter. He asked a colleague to try some, and they agreed it didn’t taste right. The victim had
also detected a strange flavor in water he had been drinking.

Detecting a pattern, the victim set up a camera and recorded Wang poisoning a loaf of bread while he was in a group meeting on January 29. The Queen’s University Journal reports that when Wang was arrested, he initially said he’d only used ethanol. The victim didn’t find out about his exposure to NDMA until a toxicology report months later.

According to Linkedin, Wang did his bachelor’s degree in materials chemistry at Sun Yet-Sen University in Guangdong. He then moved to Queen’s, where he is a PhD candidate in Guojun Liu’s group in the chemistry department. As a master’s degree student in 2015, working in Liu’s group, Wang functionalised cotton fabrics so that they can separate oil from an oil-in-water emulsion rapidly and cleanly.

NDMA has been used to poison people in several cases, including a fatal poisoning at Fudan University in Shanghai, China in 2013. Clare Selden from University College London explains that researchers use NDMA to induce liver cancer in rats to then test treatments that might cure it. Usually, scientists would need to give several doses to the rats to do this. Rather than facing the difficulty of repeatedly catching and injecting them, they will put NDMA in rats’ water, a process which resembles the Wang case.

In Chinese hamsters a single injection of a dose exceeding 30mg/kg is usually fatal, while a single 20mg/kg injection induced cancer in 80% of hamsters 25 months after treatment. The 30mg/kg dose equates to a 70kg person being given 2.1g of NDMA. One of the victim’s partially-drunk water bottles contained 5.8g and another 4.1g, according to the Queen’s University Journal.

However Selden warns against projecting risks from animal models to humans, and also that drinking and eating NDMA differs from it being injected. ‘No one can tell you for sure if somebody’s going to get cancer, but if you’ve ingested a known carcinogen you ought to imagine that your chances will go up,’ she adds.

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By Stephanie Pappas

Thirty-two years after his last murder, the Golden State Killer may be behind bars, according to California authorities.

Local and federal law enforcement arrested Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. on Tuesday, saying that DNA evidence shows him to be responsible for 10 murders and at least 46 rapes from the 1970s to 1986. According to the Los Angeles Times, DeAngelo, now 72, has been married since 1973. He and his wife have three children.

DeAngelo’s apparent quiet suburban life may not be unusual for serial killers, experts say. There is no foolproof estimate for how many such criminals are living in communities, uncaptured, but Thomas Hargrove, the founder of the Murder Accountability Project, argued that there are as many as 2,000 serial killers at large — and that financial woes affecting city services could be making the problem worse.

The FBI defines a “serial killer” as someone who murders two or more victims, with a cooling-off period between crimes.

Hargrove, a retired investigative journalist, arrived at his estimate of about 2,000 at-large serial killers by asking some contacts at the FBI to calculate how many unsolved murders linked to at least one other murder through DNA were in their database, he explained to The New Yorker last year. Those officials determined that about 1,400 murders, or 2 percent of those in the database, met that classification.

However, not all murder cases involve DNA evidence, and not all cases are reported to the FBI, so that 2 percent is a low estimate, Hargrove said. Two thousand is a ballpark figure, but the numbers shouldn’t be a surprise, he said.

“There are more than 220,000 unsolved murders since 1980, so when you put that in perspective, how shocking is it that there are at least 2,000 unrecognized series of homicides?” he said.

The most prolific serial killer of the modern era was probably Harold Shipman, an English doctor who may have murdered as many as 250 patients with fatal doses of painkillers. The 2,000 theoretical killers don’t have to meet such a staggering standard, considering that killing a minimum of two victims in separate incidents meets the FBI definition of serial killer.

By a far more conservative method of accounting, there are about 115 serial killers dating back to the 1970s in the United States whose crimes have never been solved. That estimate comes from Kenna Quinet, a criminologist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. It’s based on linkages between cases made by journalists or law enforcement, and includes a slightly different metric than Hargrove’s estimate: The killer had to have murdered at least three victims, not two.

In the same time period as Quinet’s estimate for unsolved serial murders, there were roughly 625 solved serial murder cases, she told Live Science. There aren’t many differences between unsolved and solved cases, geographically or in terms of factors like the type of victims, Quinet said. But her database doesn’t include cases where no one has ever made the link between murders. If a serial killer killed a person in one state and then drifted off to the next to kill two more, for example, the crimes might have never been flagged by anyone as related and thus wouldn’t appear in Quinet’s count.

“Somewhere in between my number and Thomas Hargrove’s number is probably the right number,” she said.

According to research by psychology professor Mike Aamodt at Radford Universityin Virginia, there were likely about 30 active serial killers operating in the United States as of 2015.

Serial killings peaked in the 1980s, Quinet said. Aamodt estimates that an average of 145 serial killers (under the two-victim minimum definition) were active in the 1980s each year, compared with an average of 54 each year between 2010 and 2015. There doesn’t seem to be any single reason for serial killings’ decline, Quinet said. People engage in fewer behaviors today that make them a target — hitchhiking is far rarer now than 30 years ago, for example — but the decline has largely tracked with an overall drop in the homicide rate since the early 1990s, a drop that criminologists cannot fully explain.

Why serial killers avoid capture

The biggest reason that killers of two or more people can still live free is the problem of “linkage blindness,” Hargrove said. Homicide detectives are assigned single cases, and unless one happens to chat with a colleague who has a very similar case on his or her docket, those cases are unlikely to be linked, he said.

“If the murders occur at separate jurisdictions, such conversations never happen,” Hargrove said.

Despite an advent of forensic DNA databases, there is still no central clearinghouse for homicide cases or serial killer cases, said retired FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole, who worked on several serial killing cases during her career.The FBI collects data through the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP), O’Toole said, but it is not mandatory for local law enforcement to report their cases to that program. If it were, she said, it might be easier to connect homicide cases.

In the Golden State Killer case, proper storage of forensic evidence plus advances in technology seem to be the key to cracking the murders. It’s possible to process very old forensic evidence with new methods, O’Toole told Live Science.

“The case itself may be cold, but forensic evidence doesn’t die,” she said.

Unfortunately, if technology opens new doors for solving serial murders, a lack of money may slam them shut. Insufficient funding for detectives and technicians keeps police from solving many murders, Hargrove said. According to FBI estimates, only 59 percent of homicide investigations in the U.S. have resulted in an arrest, much less a conviction. The numbers are even worse for rape (36.5 percent) and robbery (29.6 percent).

The rate for cleared homicide cases is “the lowest in the Western world,” Hargrove said.

Other reasons may also explain the low rate of arrests, including a high bar for making an arrest as well as what some call an increasing no-snitch culture, especially among some minority groups who are reluctant to come forward as witnesses, according to experts interviewed by NPR.

“The problem is,” Hargrove said, “everything’s going the wrong way.”

STARRE VARTAN

Linguists from Lund University in Sweden have discovered a previously undocumented language — a perfect example of why field research is so important in the social sciences. Only spoken by about 280 people in northern Peninsular Malaysia, this language includes a “rich vocabulary of words to describe exchanging and sharing,” according to researchers Niclas Burenhult and Joanne Yager, who published their findings in the journal Linguistic Typology.

Burenhult and Yager discovered the language while surveying for a subproject of the DOBES (Documentation of Endangered Languages) initiative. Under the Tongues of the Samang project, they were looking for language data from various speakers of the Asilan language.

They named the new language Jedek. “Jedek is not a language spoken by an unknown tribe in the jungle, as you would perhaps imagine, but in a village previously studied by anthropologists. As linguists, we had a different set of questions and found something that the anthropologists missed,” Burenhult, an associate professor of general linguistics, said in a university release.

The people who speak Jedek are settled hunter-gatherers, and their language may influence — or reflect — other aspects of their culture. As detailed by the linguists, “There are no indigenous verbs to denote ownership such as borrow, steal, buy or sell, but there is a rich vocabulary of words to describe exchanging and sharing.”

The community in which Jedek is spoken is different in other ways than just sharing versus owning. It’s more gender-equal than Western societies, according to the linguists. They also report that there are no professions; everyone knows how to do everything. “There are no indigenous words for occupations or for courts of law. There is almost no interpersonal violence, they consciously encourage their children not to compete, and there are no laws or courts.”

https://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/blogs/malaysias-jedek-language-rich-vocabulary-words-describe-sharing-cooperation

By Jane Ridley

Four years ago, Lillyth Quillan cowered behind a padlocked door as her teenage son, taller and stronger than she is, paced back and forth in a rage.

Suddenly he went quiet. “Don’t let me hurt you, Mom,” he said, his voice sounding chillingly calm.

It was the first time the high school freshman had used that particular tone, but he continued to deploy it as he menaced his mom and dad.

“He used the kind of language of abusive husbands — manipulating and controlling,” says Quillan, who had installed locks on every door in her house except her son’s bedroom. “I was terrified of what he was going to do next.”

The boy — whom Quillan chooses to call Kevin in her interview with The Post in reference to the unnerving Lionel Shriver novel “We Need To Talk About Kevin” about a school shooter in upstate New York — was out of control.

After years of cruel and violent behavior plus multiple suspensions and expulsions from school, psychiatrists finally diagnosed the then-14-year-old Kevin with “conduct disorder,” which, in its most extreme form, can be a precursor to psychopathy.

Psychopathy, which is often used interchangeably with the term sociopathy, is believed to affect 1 percent of adults. Key attributes that sociopaths and psychopaths have in common include a disregard for laws, social mores and the rights of others, a failure to feel remorse or guilt and, in some but not all cases, a tendency to violence.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) dictates that people under the age of 18 cannot be labelled psychopaths. However, in 2013 the American Psychiatric Association decided to include the condition “conduct disorder with callous and unemotional traits” for children ages 12 and over.

According to a 2001 report published in the journal American Family Physician, approximately 6 to 16 percent of boys and 2 to 9 percent of girls meet the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorder — only a fraction of which have the “callous and unemotional” label that can potentially lead to psychopathy in adulthood.

More than 50 studies have found that kids with the latter diagnosis are more likely to become criminals or display aggressive, psychopathic traits later in life. It has been reported that Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who allegedly shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month showed classic signs of the disorder as a child, including abusing animals.

“Psychopaths don’t just appear when they are 20. They are always different from an early age,” Kent Kiehl, a psychology professor at the University of New Mexico and the author of “The Psychopath Whisperer,” tells The Post.

Characteristics to look for — as detailed in the widely used Hare Psychopathy Checklist Youth Version considered by clinicians and researchers to be the “gold standard” in assessing psychopathy — include lack of empathy, lack of guilt and regret, pathological lying, grandiose self-worth and failure to accept responsibility for actions such as fighting and bullying.

“Individuals who score high on those traits are more likely to produce further violence,” adds Kiehl. “If they are sanctioned but continue on the same path, it’s not a perfect indicator, but it’s enough to cause concern.”

Kiehl notes that research has shown that psychopathy is hereditary roughly half of the time. But his own breakthrough was the discovery that the psychopathic brain has a different structure than a “normal” one.

In 2014, he conducted a major study that found at least two abnormalities in the brains of adult psychopaths. There was a lack of gray matter in the section involved in processing emotions, while the area that reacts to excitement and thrills is overactive. Although the research has not been carried out yet, the pattern is likely to also occur in the brains of “callous and unemotional” children. “Brain science has helped us understand what is different about these kids,” adds Kiehl.

At the moment, there is no such thing as a “cure” for psychopathy or conduct disorder. But early intervention can be key for harm reduction, even with children as young as 2 or 3.

Paul Frick, a psychology professor at Louisiana State University and the author of “Conduct Disorder and Severe Antisocial Behavior,” recommends a range of therapies, most of which revolve around rewards systems rather than punishments.

“There are so-called ‘emotion coaching’ techniques that parents and therapists can employ to help children pay attention to the feelings of others,” he explains. “We find that they miss the cues that another child is upset.

“By saying: ‘Can you see how Johnny is feeling?’ [when a toy is snatched from him] and getting them to respond correctly, you can motivate them. You give them a star or a sticker as an incentive.

“Even though it doesn’t come naturally to them, they can learn others’ perspectives.”

Experts can identify a callous and unemotional child when they are as young as 3 or 4. Faced with a crying peer, typically developing children either try to comfort them or take flight. But those with the mental condition remain in place, showing apathy and coldness.

Remarkably, the psychology department at King’s College London has been able to trace the characteristics back to infancy. They tested more than 200 babies at 5 months old, tracking whether they preferred looking at a person’s face or at a red ball. The tots who favored the ball displayed more callous traits two and a half years later.

For Quillan, hindsight is 20/20, but she distinctly recalls the first signs that Kevin had behavioral issues at the age of just 8 months.

“He had teeth and would bite me while he was breast-feeding and he would laugh. He thought it was hilarious. I tried looking very sad and mimicking crying to show it was hurting me, but he would only laugh,” says Quillan, who ended up having to put him on formula.

“It didn’t occur to me until much later that this was a child for whom the amusement of my reaction when he bit me was a greater reward than food.”

Now 18, Kevin, who has had numerous run-ins with police, including for shoplifting, was made a ward of state and no longer lives with his parents. He lives in a residential school for “at-risk” youth in California, where he is on a waiting list to receive treatment, such as therapy, to build empathy.

“Because there is no real treatment for conduct disorder. All you can do is wait for your child to be arrested and enter the juvenile system and hope they get better,” says his 40-year-old homemaker mom.

“Luckily, Kevin is no longer violent and is actually cooperative.”

He is doing so well that he is about to receive his high school diploma, recently won an award for wrestling and has encouraged his mother to tell his story.

Now Quillian, who has no other kids, is focusing on advocacy and encouraging parents facing similar nightmares to hers. Three years ago, she formed a support group for families with kids with CD that has 420 members worldwide. More recently, she launched the Society for Treatment Options for Potential Psychopaths to bring awareness and to campaign for treatment for these children before they cause serious harm.

Adds Quillan: “As every news article came out about Parkland and Nikolas Cruz, I thought: ‘My God, this could easily be one of our kids.’”

https://nypost.com/2018/03/07/how-to-tell-if-your-child-is-a-future-psychopath/

George Dore, a librarian in Orlando, Florida was suspended from his position as branch manager after an investigation revealed that he had created a fake identity to borrow library books that were falling out of fashion. His creation, the fictional Charles Finley, was given a career (ballplayer), a drivers license number, an address and a voracious appetite for reading. He was also endowed with a wide-ranging taste in literature.

Basically, Dore was gaming the system. Finley’s reading marathon was engineered to inflate the library’s data, tricking its algorithm by creating the appearance of popularity for books that were not being borrowed much. (Culling books that have not been read for a long time is a common practice at libraries.)

Finley borrowed more than 2,300 books over the course of 2015, increasing circulation at East Lake County branch by 3.9%. He was also a super-fast reader, checking books in and out within an hour. Nine months into Finley’s reading marathon, his speed-reading led to suspicion and an investigation, which began in November 2015.

The notion of rebel bibliophiles breaking the law to save books is undeniably charming to book lovers. But actually, the librarian is alleged to have committed fraud and authorities in Florida are not impressed. The inspector general’s report on Dore states that creation of a fake library card “amounts to the creation of a false public record.”

Dore was recommended for termination and put on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. He says he was just trying to save the library time and money, as books that are not borrowed are deemed irrelevant by the software that the local library system uses to track circulation and taken off the shelves. Then they are often repurchased again later.

But there are several twists to this story. Circulation can influence annual funding. Nine city-run libraries in Lake country receive nearly $1 million based on circulation. Chuck Finley’s prolific reading not only made East Lake Country library books seem more popular, it cast doubt on whether other libraries were involved in similar book-checkout schemes. A county-wide audit is underway

Jeff Cole, director of the Lake County Public Resources Department that oversees library services, wouldn’t comment on whether other libraries were involved but he told the Orlando Sentinel, “I think we’d have to evaluate it if the [allegations] bear out.”

Meanwhile, Dore’s library was not among the nine receiving money from the County so funding was not an incentive. He says his aim was actually to save the library money in the long run, by not having to repurchase books which often go in and out of fashion with readers. One of Finley’s choices, for instance, was John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row.”

If Dore is to be believed, he’s not the only renegade librarian fighting the algorithms. His colleague, library assistant Scott Amey, who helped dream up their fictional reader was reprimanded for being part of the scheme. And Dore told investigators that gaming the system with “dummy cards” is common, noting, “There was a lot of bad blood between the libraries because of money wars.”

A librarian in Florida went rogue to save 2,361 books from an algorithm

Thanks to Tracy Lindley for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.

San Bernardino, CA – An armed man who entered an adult-themed store Wednesday and demanded cash was chased off by two employees who lobbed sex toys at him in a bizarre confrontation that was caught on camera.
The man can be seen pacing around outside Lotions and Lace, which bills itself as San Bernardino’s “One Stop Sex Shop,” before pulling a hood over his head and entering the store. He marched toward the cashier’s counter with gun drawn, but two women working the late shift refused to back down.

Instead, they began yelling at the man and throwing sex toys at him.
“It blew me away,” said store owner Janel Hargreaves. “I initially walked in and see all these toys all over the store, and I say, ‘Did you throw these at him?’ They’re launching them all the way from the cash register all the way up to the front door. It just blew me away that they took it into their own hands.”

Hargreaves said the employees thought the gun might be fake, but added employees are encouraged to avoid any type of confrontation.
The man demanded cash, but left with nothing under the barrage of adult merchandise. One of the sex toys appeared to sail just over his head, but a second struck him in the upper body.
Cameras showed the robber walking out with his back turned to employees, but not before they tossed a third toy that rolled on the floor near the robber’s feet as he left.
“I told the girls it was not a good idea,” she said. “But nope, they took it one step further.

“I think they felt violated. Away from home, this is their home. The message is get out, we’re not going to stand for it.”
No arrests were reported.

Thanks to Michael Moore for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.

A woman who was recently released from prison in Oregon robbed a bank in Wyoming only to throw the cash up in the air outside the building and sit down to wait for police, authorities said Friday.

Investigators say 59-year-old Linda Patricia Thompson told them she wanted to go back to prison.

Thompson said she had suffered facial fractures after strangers beat her at a Cheyenne park last weekend.

She said she couldn’t get a room at a homeless shelter and decided to rob the bank Wednesday because she could no longer stay on the streets, court records say.

She faces a detention hearing Tuesday on a bank robbery charge and doesn’t have an attorney yet.

FBI Special Agent Tory Smith said in court documents that Thompson entered a US Bank branch in Cheyenne and handed a teller a cardboard note that said, “I have a gun. Give me all your money.”

The teller turned over thousands of dollars.

Outside, Thompson threw money into the air and even offered some to people passing by, Smith stated. He added that Cheyenne police Lt. Nathan Busek said he found Thompson with a large sum of money when he arrived at the bank.

“Lt. Busek asked Thompson what was going on, and Thompson replied, ‘I just robbed the bank, I want to go back to prison,'” Smith wrote.

Thompson had been serving time at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, Oregon, for a second-degree robbery conviction in Union County until her release in June, Betty Bernt, communications manager with the Oregon Department of Corrections, said Friday.

Thompson told investigators then that she didn’t want to be released and advised the Oregon state parole office that she would not do well on parole.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/07/29/fbi-woman-robbed-wyoming-bank-to-return-to-prison.html