Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

10 Most Senseless Acts of Murder

Lives are lost every day to senseless acts of murder. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, 13,636 people were murdered in 2009, and out of these murders, most were committed during arguments (including romantic triangles), felony circumstances, and the rest are unknown. Their motives to kill may vary, but there is never a good enough reason to take an innocent life. If we can learn anything from these gruesome murders it is that we need to report warning signs and any bizarre behavior to authorities before a murderer claims his or her next victim. Here are the 10 most senseless acts of murder:

  1. Columbine High School Massacre: The Columbine High School shooting in Columbine, Colorado, will forever be engrained in our minds as one of the most disturbing events to ever happen at an American high school. On April 20, 1999, high school seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on a shooting spree inside their school, killing 12 students and one teacher and injuring about 21 students before committing suicide in the school library. Journal entries and homemade videos documented the shooters’ carefully planned massacre that included setting off bombs in the cafeteria during lunchtime, which they hoped would kill hundreds of students and they’d shoot survivors as they ran out of the school. Their original plan failed because the explosives didn’t detonate, causing the boys to enter the school shooting. Harris and Klebold were known as outcasts and were often bullied. Although there is no clear cut reason behind the horrific massacre, the boys were angry with society and wanted to kill those who annoyed them.
  2. Virginia Tech Massacre: Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, was turned upside down when a gunmen, senior Seung-Hui Cho, opened fire in a residence hall and classrooms, killing 32 people and wounding several others before committing suicide on April 16, 2007. Cho had been diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder and was declared mentally ill after he was accused of stalking two female students. He received therapy and special education support in secondary school, but Virginia Tech was not notified of his previous diagnosis and accommodations due to federal privacy laws. Cho left behind a suicide note that talked about "rich kids," "debauchery" and "deceitful charlatans," as well as 27 video recordings, an 1,800-word manifesto and photos that were mailed to NBC News in between his shooting attacks. Cho compared himself to Jesus Christ and expressed his hatred for the wealthy, which he claimed drove him to kill. It was the deadliest peacetime shooting incident by a single gunman in U.S. history.
  3. Luby’s Massacre: The Luby’s massacre in Killeen, Texas, was one of the most horrific shooting rampages of all time. On October 16, 1991, George Jo Hennard drove his pickup truck into the front window of a Luby’s Cafeteria and began shooting staff and customers, killing 23 people and wounding 20 others before ending his own life in the restaurant. Before Hennard opened fire, survivors said that he yelled, "This is what Bell County has done to me!" About 80 people were in the restaurant at the time of the shootings and it was particularly crowded because it was National Boss’s Day and many were out for lunch. There was no known motive for Hennard’s brutal killings, and it was the deadliest shooting rampage in history until the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.
  4. University of Texas Sniper Massacre: The University of Texas sniper massacre on August 1, 1966, in Austin, Texas, was one of the most shocking events to ever happen on a college campus. Charles Whitman, a UT student and former Marine, killed 16 people and wounded 32 others from the observation deck of the University’s tower. Prior to the tower shootings, Whitman murdered his mother and wife and left a suicide note admitting to killing his loved ones and what should be done with his life savings, requesting that after his debts are paid off to donate the rest to a mental health foundation. He did not mention his future attacks at the university in his note. After many attempts to subdue the shooter, police finally shot and killed Whitman. In his autopsy, a brain tumor was found which may have contributed to his erratic behavior and emotional struggles.
  5. The Clutter Family Killings: The 1959 killings of the Clutter family shook the town of Holcomb, Kansas, and the rest of the country. The quadruple murder was committed by Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith, who originally planned to rob the Clutters, take their money and flee, but when Smith discovered there was no money he became angered and slit Herb Clutter’s throat, shot him in the head, and shot the wife and two children in the head. Although the men pleaded temporary insanity, the local practitioners evaluated them and determined that they were sane. Both men spent five years on death row before being executed on 1965 in Lansing, Kansas. The small town murder became widely known because of Truman Capote’s nonfiction novel that examines the crime and the two parolees.
  6. San Ysidro McDonald’s Massacre: The San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre shocked the country when James Oliver Huberty casually walked into a McDonald’s restaurant on July 18, 1984, in the San Ysidro section of San Diego, California, and started shooting customers and employees. Huberty killed 21 people, ranging in age from 8 months to 74 years, and wounded 19 others, before he was fatally shot by a SWAT team sniper. His victims were predominantly Mexican and Mexican-American. Huberty had a history of violent behavior and he was a known survivalist, who believed that America was in deep trouble and the government was behind economic problems and unemployment rates, so he stocked up food, guns and provisioned his house in preparation for the breakdown of society. Right before the incident, Huberty told his wife he was "hunting humans" and "society had its chance."
  7. Westroads Mall Shooting: The Westroads Mall shooting occurred on December 5, 2007, in Omaha, Nebraska, where 19-year-old Robert A. Hawkins walked into the Von Maur department store and opened fire on shoppers and employees. Hawkins killed nine people and wounded four before turning the gun on himself inside. Hawkins was a troubled young man with a history of violent threats and psychiatric problems. Two weeks prior to the incident, Hawkins was fired for stealing $17 at his McDonald’s job and was depressed after separating from his girlfriend. He left behind a suicide note that stated he was going to take some lives and described how famous he would be.
  8. Murder of Derrion Albert: On September 24, 2009, 16-year-old high school honor student Derrion Albert was brutally beaten to death by a group of students near Christian Fenger Academy High School on Chicago’s South Side. The incident was captured on tape, as Albert was unintentionally caught in between a gang-related fight from two neighborhoods. Eugene Riley, Silvanus Shannon, Eric Carson and Lapoleon Colbert were arrested by police and charged with first-degree murder.
  9. Diane Downs’ Killings: The well-known case of Diane Downs goes down as one of the most senseless acts of murder. On May 19, 1983, Downs shot her three children, killing one, and lied to the police that a stranger had tried to carjack her, shot her in the arm and her three kids near Springfield, Oregon. She drove to the McKenzie-Willamette Hospital with her children in the back and her middle child was already dead. Downs had been shot in her left forearm, which was later determined to be a self inflicted wound used to support her original story. Downs behavior was suspicious and her manner was too calm for such a traumatic event. She was even recorded laughing during police videotapes of describing the gruesome events. Police discovered that Downs was involved with a man in Arizona named Robert Knickerbocker, who did not want children in his life. Prosecutors believed that Downs attempted to kill her kids so she could continue her affair with Knickerbocker, but it was the testimony of her daughter Christie that finally determined Downs’ guilt and she was sentenced to life in prison.
  10. Beltway Sniper Attacks: The Beltway sniper attacks occurred in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia during a three-week killing spree in October 2002. Led by John Allen Muhammad and a minor, Lee Boyd Malyo, they killed 10 people and critically injured three others throughout the Washington Metropolitan Area. They traveled using the Capital Beltway and created utter chaos and fear throughout communities, in which children were kept indoors for their protection. The two shooters were found sleeping in their car at a rest stop and were arrested on federal weapons charges. Although few motives were firmly established, Muhammad was guilty of killing "pursuant to the direction or order" of terrorism, according to a Virginia court. Malyo testified that they killed people in hopes of kidnapping children to extort money from the government and teach them how to terrorize cities. In 2003, Muhammad was sentenced to death and Malyo was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences without parole.