. Vandwellers and travelers of all kinds are on edge after the news of Chynna Noelle Deese, a 24-year-old American, and Lucas Robertson Fowler, her 23-year-old Australian boyfriend. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said the couple's bodies were found on July 15 about 12 miles south of Liard Hot Springs in northern British Columbia. Since their bodies were found and the story of a killer(s) were at large, anyone who travels for any reason is afraid that the roads and highways have become too dangerous to travel. The fact is, the roads are safe. People are dangerous. The murders of Deese and Fowler are no reason to stop traveling. But the news should give us all pause to stop and rethink our personal safety. It's also time to learn about what spree and serial killers are and how to avoid being their next target.
WHAT IS A SERIAL KILLER, A SOCIOPATH, OR A SPREE KILLER?
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a serial killer is typically a person who murders three or more people, with the murders taking place over more than a month and including a significant period of time between them. A serial killing is described as "a series of two or more murders, committed as separate events, usually, but not always, by one offender acting alone".
Serial killers can be men or women, black, white, brown, Asian, but they tend to be predominantly white and male. Estimates for the number of unidentified to uncaptured but active serial killers in North America runs from between 200 to 2,000. It's not exactly like they line up at a census count to be numbered, so the FBI has to guess based on the number of missing persons, homicides (murders), and the percentage of the population known to be sociopaths or psychopaths (about one in twenty-five people). While not every sociopath or psychopath is a killer, and many are actually quite successful and fit in well in upper level careers as lawyers, doctors, and bankers. However, those sociopath's and psychopaths that kill don't always fit in. Almost everyone who has ever known someone who later turned out to be a sociopathic, or psychopathic killers said, "They were strange. They were charming, but a bit odd." In fact, that's an indicator that a person is a sociopath or psychopath to begin with:
Unlike psychopathy, where a person is born without the ability to feel empathy or care about others, sociopathy is believed to be a product of childhood trauma and abuse. In other words, sociopaths learn their behavior, and psychopaths are born with the behavior.
According to Psychology Today:
Psychopaths are much harder to spot than sociopaths. In fact, many people never know they know a psychopath unless something happens to make them suspect. The psychopath can appear normal, even charming and charismatic. However, behind his/her facade, there is no conscience and no empathy. This makes him manipulative, volatile and often (but by no means always) a serious criminal. "Adult psychopaths are mostly impervious to treatment.
Psychology Today says Psychopaths show:
According to the FBI, the general definition of spree killer is a person (or more than one person) who commits two or more murders without a cooling-off period; the lack of a cooling-off period marks the difference between a spree killer and a serial killer. The spree killer can kill people he/she knows, or may select random targets for reasons known only to them.
When we're afraid, or uncertain our greatest tendency is to "learn more" as if knowing more about the threat or fear can save or protect us. In some cases it can. We can learn what behaviors to spot, who or what to avoid, or what to do or not do in a situation. I know all my reading beforehand allowed me to save myself and my father when our canoe was swamped by waves in the middle of a lake during a thunderstorm. I was able to evade and survive a black bear attack, and to change my own tire when I had a flat on a road out of cell phone range.
Being prepared is a good thing. Understanding, reading, and studying topics that tell us how to be safe, like the book The Gift of Fear, By Gavin McLeod . I read this book the first month it came out, and have reread it about every year or so since. The advice and situations McLeod describes, have, I swear, saved my life. I was able to push past my need to "please" and "not offend" everyone to put my own safety first. I highly recommend it.
But there comes a time when we have to step back and trust that we won't die, or be killed unless it's our time to go. I firmly believe, having seen the things I have, that we do not die unless it is our appointed time to die. And, we die as we are predestined. Not everyone believes this, and that simple statement may anger some, but it's a critical part of how I am able to get out of the house, and live in a van as I do. I trust God is protecting me from threats I don't even know about, and that He has set his angels around me. I know there are many times I survived things only through a supernatural intervention.
You must make your own decision about your safety. People are killed in their homes, on the street, while shopping or going out to eat. It happens every day. Are you going to allow fear to dictate your actions? I hope not. But if you do, I certainly understand.
There have always been, are, and always will be, mentally ill people in society. By learning to spot them, steer clear of them, and avoid interacting with them you might just help save your life. The books I've listed below, except for the one being released this November, are all books I own and have read. They are all excellent resources for anyone wanting to learn how to best protect themselves.
Stay safe. Be aware, and enjoy every day you have. And don't worry. You're much more likely to die from cancer, heart disease, accidents, or diabetes. In fact, around 74% of all deaths in the United States occur as a result of 10 causes. So enjoy life. Travel. Camp. Thank God for every day you're given, and relax. In 2013 the North American homicide rate was 3.9 per 100,000 in population. Considering a populous of 464 million, you’ve got a .00039% chance of being a serial killer’s victim.
With an estimated 300 serial killers currently active in North America there is only a.00064% of the population comprised of these relatively rare killers. You've got better odds of scoring big on the lottery than bumping into a serial killer. In fact, if you're going to die anytime soon, you're more likely to die of one of the top 10 causes of death:
Not convinced? Then read one of the books below, or leave a comment, or both.
The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout, PhD
We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people—one in twenty-five—has an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in twenty-five everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath. They could be your colleague, your neighbor, even family. And they can do literally anything at all and feel absolutely no guilt.
The Big Book of Serial Killers, by Jack Rosewood
There is little more terrifying than those who hunt, stalk, and snatch their prey under the cloak of darkness. These hunters search not for animals, but for the touch, taste, and empowerment of human flesh. They are cannibals, vampires, and monsters, and they walk among us.These serial killers are not mythical beasts with horns and shaggy hair. They are people living among society, going about their day-to-day activities until nightfall. They are the Dennis Rader's, the fathers, husbands, church-going members of the community.
This A-Z encyclopedia of 150 serial killers is the ideal reference audiobook. Included are the most famous true crime serial killers, like Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, and not to mention the women who kill, such as Aileen Wuornos, and Martha Rendell. There are also lesser known serial killers, covering many countries around the world, so broad is the range.
The Gift of Fear, By Gavin McLeod (Survival signals that keep us alive)
Fear can save your life. It directs you to avoid that stranger, to leave the room, to call for help. The intuitive message of fear, together with rational principles, can help you to predict and thereby avoid personal violence. In this book, Gavin de Becker, America's leading expert on predicting violent behavior, demystifies the apparently random and unpredictable nature of violence and shows you how interpersonal violence can be detected and derailed. De Becker's clients include celebrities, corporations, and political organizations, and he serves as an adviser to the CIA and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Spree Killers (to be released November 2019) Police Textbook
Spree Killers: Practical Classifications for Criminology and Law Enforcement is the only exhaustive, up-to-date analytical book on spree killers, standing apart from those dedicated to mass murderers and serial killers.
When my father died of brain cancer in 2006, I quit my job, bought a used van $750 and hit the road. He hadn't started traveling or living really until he got sick, and regretted it. I didn't want to regret not living. I was working seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day and for what? So I ditched it all for the van life. I'd lived for more than a year in a full-sized RV and loved it. A van wouldn't be that much different - or so I thought. Unfortunately, the van didn't look this "good" until after I found an apartment and had the space, time, and money to work on it. But once I had it outfitted, it was great!
The short story of my van life is in my TED Global Talk. What I thought would be full-timing turned out to be being homeless. If I'd had an RV I could have parked at Camping World, where I was working full-time, and been fine. But a ratty old van (not painted at the time), screamed "homeless" to my co-workers. That was odd since the business was all about selling stuff to people who lived in their vehicles. That just went to prove my point - that homelessness is about having money or not, and choices.
The van was old, and eventually threw a rod and was sold to the scrapyard for $400. I used that money to buy a $400 Saturn van. I fixed it up, but then sold it to buy a Dodge Caravan...and was almost finished converting it when it too, threw a rod after a mechanic forgot to fill the oil after changing the oil. My next car was a Plymouth Voyager. I'll post photos of it later. $900 (I paid too much). It's now a dream car, although not much to look at, it's a work in progress. But it runs, is dependable and fun to drive. I recently bought a 2000 Isuzu Rodeo. It's still at the mechanics getting brakes and new hubs etc. but for $800, it was a deal. My goal vehicle is a NEW Dodge Ram Van - the tall one you can stand up in, or not. I'd like for it to be diesel so I can put in a wood burning stove.
I've always (since I was 14 years old), loved to camp, hike, fish, explore and travel. I'm now 63 and still intent on getting back to a traveling lifestyle - van dwelling, camping etc. I'll stay at hotels from time-to-time, but I love the van life. It's not for everyone, but it's worth doing for at least 3-6 months just to know you can.
When you live in a van you become more independent, confident, and capable. You learn to do things you never thought you could do. You survive, and then you thrive. You let go of fear. Yes, you'll still be afraid, but it will be different. This website, blog, and advice is my way of giving back to those who have chosen to live in their vehicles, as well as those forced to live in their vehicles. I hope you find something here that inspires, or helps.
If there's something you'd like to know, or if you have a question, contact me or leave your comments in the comment section below.
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