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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The innocent face of evil

When people think of mass murderers, they probably imagine a man or woman they can immediately classify as evil. They assume they will look like bad people, with eyes out of hell and behavior to match.

Alas, evil can look very different, even innocent. Just watch the face of Kim De Gelder, who murdered two women and two babies, next to wounding many more. A decent lad, at first sight. One who is rather shy, who has problems telling about his emotions.

Or take Ronny Janssens, equally a serial killer. Nothing special about the guy, who used to be a teacher and was active in community life. His colleagues and friends in the club had problems believing their Ronny murdered a couple of girls.

You can't see evil in a person. Perhaps sense it, but not when you only meet the person occasionally. I knew Ronny Janssens, he once did an interim job at a school where I also worked. He was an ok guy, easy to talk with, good with the pupils, nothing special. He only complained about his wife every now and then, but that's something guys do.

Although I can see lots of things on first sight (like intelligence, nationality, age) I could never suspect Ronny Janssens of being a serial killer. He did not give me the creeps. Neither did Andras Pandy, another serial killer (he was responsible for the murders of his entire family). I knew him as a cultivated man who always came for coffee and we chatted about cultural events in Brussels. Only afterwards I realized he must have been busy committing his murders at that time. So I've come into close contact with two of these serial killers and I never knew it.

I guess you can only tell something is wrong when you know the person better. When you experience them day in, day out. Then you'll probalby see things that don't fit or are lacking. Traits that point to a disturbed nature. I'm not a psychologist, but I did study exeperimental psychology for a while and was told I excelled in it. I'm good at finding out what concerns people. It is a good thing when working with pupils, as they confide in me and I'm often the only one who can find out what's bothering them.

But I've never came across evil in my life, so I don't know a lot about it. I had great parents and grandparents who cared for us children and there never was anything wrong in our childhood.We were lucky and happy kids - which is far more important than having a lot of money!

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