Belfast Telegraph

Good people will always be targets for 'lost soul' killers

By Sharon Owens

He was a wonderful son and brother, always had a smile and a helping hand for everyone" - the heartfelt tribute of Nuala Kerr, the mother of murdered police constable, Ronan Kerr.

"I hope dad is there to meet you at Heaven's gates" - the poignant words of Ronan's brother, Cathair.

The thing that invariably strikes me when someone is killed is that the victim usually comes from a close, loving family; surrounded by parents who adored them, siblings who loved them dearly, friends who were proud to call themselves friends, employers who can't speak highly enough of them, and neighbours who enjoyed their company.

There will be a Press conference led by the grieving family; tears flowing freely and a declaration of love that will endure beyond the grave.

And you know it's all true, all totally sincere, because you can see the truth shining out of these heartbroken people who will have to carry this loss with them for the rest of their lives.

Not so for the murderers, have you noticed that? Rarely will you see the parents and siblings of a murderer appearing on the television, saying how much they loved their son, their brother; how he brightened their days, made them smile, how much they will miss him while he's in prison. Why is that, do you think?

It's just a theory, but I've always believed that killers have something missing from their souls. That part of us that makes us human, that lets us feel happiness and sadness, is missing from the soul of a murderer.

Perhaps they were abused, or neglected, as a child and they had to jettison their own soul and harden up to survive. Perhaps they were born without a soul.

But, definitely, I'm convinced of it: killers are not the same as the rest of us. They are resentful, bitter, aimless and empty.

They are angry, too; overflowing with rage, but they channel it outwards because they don't have the emotional intelligence to deal with it internally.

It's my belief that all killers are lost souls, whether they strangle a beautiful woman in the woods, or hijack a plane and crash it into a skyscraper, or place an explosive device beneath the car of a popular and much-loved police officer.

The method of killing is barely relevant to a lost soul. All they know is that they lack something intrinsic that other people take for granted, and the only way they can express their pain is to make other people feel pain, too. I don't think I'm being fanciful. If you look around you will notice that jealous people are always the ones who will say something mean to you, just at the moment when you most need praise and support.

Unloved people are always the ones who criticise Valentine's Day cards. Attention-seekers are always the ones who will contrive to make a scene at inopportune moments, such as weddings and funerals.

Notice me. Acknowledge me. Look at me. Listen to me. They crave attention. It's so obvious when you know what to look for.

And then you examine their background, their childhood, and there it is: an absent or abusive father, a depressed or ineffectual mother, emotional and physical neglect, or years of bullying. I've noticed this pattern so often now there must be something to it.

I truly believe that flags, emblems, borders, religion and politics are merely an easy vehicle for the lost soul to exploit. After all, if a person wishes to make a political statement they can join a party, or set up their own party, or chain themselves to railings. But when a person takes their internal angst and projects it outwards onto a complete stranger, onto someone who has never harmed them in any way and never would have harmed them in any way? To me that person is a lost soul wandering through life, looking for ways to release their inner rage, loving no one and with no one loving them.

So, yes, appeal for witnesses and information leading to an arrest. As well as that, however, I think we need to start recruiting more criminal psychiatrists.

We need to address the chronic lack of parenting skills in some parts of our community.

Ronan Kerr was a man blessed with a loving family. But I'd bet any money that I had that his killers are profoundly damaged, profoundly lost souls.

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