Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Paul John Knowles: The Casanova Killer

The Seagull

Golden told Fawkes that he had read one book that had inspired him: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.  According to her, it was the "biggest" influence of his life, in part because it was about a creature of high intelligence who was not appreciated by his flock - a gifted outsider.  A sensation when it was published four years earlier in 1970, it features a seagull who breaks away from the flock and learns on his own to become an individual.  He experiments with flying techniques in ways that seagulls would never do and, in that experience, finds freedom to fly in his own pattern.  He risks disgrace, failure, and ostracism to go his own way, and in the process discovers experiences that the others could never know or enjoy.   Jonathan is no ordinary bird; he wants more than the other birds do.  They're content to just do what they need to do to survive, but Jonathan puts his efforts into the glory of flying.  He feels pressured by others - even shamed -- to conform to a more mundane way of existence, but he refuses.  He's utterly alone in his ambitions and experiences, especially when he learns to fly in the dark.  Seagulls supposedly never do that, but he explores it and finds that he enjoys it.  He brings his fear under control and sets out to break through the limitations imposed by the rules of the flock to become something entirely new to his species.  It doesn't matter how lonely he feels; what matters is that he has become something amazing.  The others view him as irresponsible and even dangerous, but Jonathan    continues to go his way alone, content in being an outcast.

Eventually other outcasts join him, and they return to the flock to try to wake up the younger generation.  Jonathan's guiding idea is, "You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self," and "Whatever stands against the freedom must be set aside."  No limitation should be accepted.  In the end, Jonathan is a Christ figure, both revered and reviled, and altogether misunderstood.  He gives his message to a young disciple, who sees things as they are and prepares to pass on the wisdom.

Ian Brady
Ian Brady

One might wonder why a man who had just committed multiple murders would find inspiration in a book with such a gentle, spiritual tone, but it would soon become clear that he identified himself with significant transcendent figures and believed that he ought to be as famous and important as they were.  Some people who strive to make their mark on life and who find that they're unable to do so with positive social contributions turn to crime.  Petty crimes are not sufficient for their purposes, so they turn to murder.  Leopold and Loeb were prime examples of this philosophy.  They viewed themselves as geniuses who ought to be recognized for their ability to commit the perfect crime, so they killed a boy to prove their clever intelligence.  Moors murderer Ian Brady wrote a book about how his belief in his intelligence set him apart (like Jonathan) and gave him a certain amount of freedom that most people would never know.  In short, some murderers view their crimes as a work of art, an expression of their special status as human beings.  Lester Daryl Golden appeared to be just such a person.  He needed to identify with those who had made a mark, because he felt it was his calling to do so as well.

Leopold & Loeb
Leopold & Loeb

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