Daily Post:Copycat


I’ve gotta admit, while I am a true Dave Ramsey nerd just based on the radical positive shift that has taken place in my life since completing my first Financial Peace University class, I have another nerdy obsession. I’m addicted to any media related story, movie or television show that involves figuring out who dun it! I have a B.S. Degree in Criminal Justice and actually interviewed with the FBI!  Due to an uh oh while in college (he will be twenty-nine in December!), I had to put my dream of becoming a crime solving ninja warrior on the back-burner!  However, the upside is that I only had to put to rest the idea of being PAID for my services! I can still participate in, and enjoy the high attained from solving murders vicariously through crime shows! I experience pure joy unlike any other when I don my detective hat and solve the mystery! If I beat the actor to determining who the killer was, I’m even more thrilled! I’ve been known to pat myself on the back and celebrate my victory in a variety of ways. Truth be told, I might or might not be tempted to turn down a date if he invites me at a time that I am involved with a case! I might be more agreeable to put my partners on standby if the date takes me to a movie that involves some type of criminal act, or to an actual crime scene!

My favorite crimes to solve are those that involve copy-cat killers! There’s nothing better than a plot twist to double my excitement! It’s like getting a bonus, solving two crimes for the price of one! An opportunity to determine whether the initial suspect or additional characters introduced into the plot committed the murder(s), is like striking gold!  Talk about major excitement! I sometimes have to go into overtime (without pay) to solve these! I don’t mind working additional hours for free, however, since I’m performing work I truly enjoy! Sadly, however, none of my friends or family are as excited about crime or even horror shows as I am. I’m not saying women are squeamish, but I don’t have even one female friend willing to view these types of features with me. It’s not uncommon for me to enjoy a love story a lot better if there is some sort of killing involved (don’t judge me, it could be worse!).  I guess there is an actual reason behind my sons having nicknamed me the alpha dog? I’m pretty positive all mothers having nicknames as loving as this one!

Today I am sharing interesting facts about Copy-cat killers from Wikopedia! I’m sure someone out there in the social media world will be as fascinated by this information as I was, lol. Sit back and prepare to be entertained! You might even want to get a pen and paper to take notes! I wouldn’t even be surprised if you decided to have a complete career change after reading this!

Copycat effect

The copycat effect is the tendency of sensational publicity about violent murders or suicides to result in more of the same through imitation.[1]

The term was first coined around 1916 due to the crimes that were inspired by Jack the Ripper. Due to the increase of replicated crimes, criminologists soon began to realize that media coverage played a role in inspiring other criminals to commit crimes in a similar fashion.[2]

There is also a book written by Loren Coleman called The Copycat Effect that describes the effect that the media has on crimes and suicides, which are inspired by crimes that have been widely covered across the media. Coleman’s view on the media is that the constant coverage of these events, rather than the events with a positive message, gives these criminals a type of fame. The five minutes of fame, book or movie that is dedicated to these criminals provokes individuals with a tendency to behave in a similar way. Due to this type of fame, the “copycat effect” takes place.[3]


Various criminal acts have been inspired by many television shows, movies, books as well as other criminals. A list of a few crimes that have been a result of the copycat effect are:

Breaking Bad

The television show Breaking Bad has been suspected of inspiring a number of crimes. A few crimes include the following:

  • 2010: In Kansas City, Missouri, police found the dealing of blue coloured methamphetamine that seemed to be inspired by Walter White‘s meth.[4]
  • A 27-year-old man, Jason Hart, was found guilty of strangling his girlfriend to death, and then used sulfuric acid in a plastic tub to dispose of the body. The incident had many similarities to various scenes in Breaking Bad, where White and Jesse Pinkman dispose of bodies in a similar fashion. It was later found out that he had been a fan of Breaking Bad.[4]
  • Alabama: A 55-year-old drug dealer was going by the name of “Walter White”.[4]
  • 2013: Stephen W. Doran, a teacher, was arrested when police found $10,000 in cash, as well as equipment. He appeared in court with a clean-shaven head, and it was later found that he had been battling with cancer. He had been inspired by the television show to take things into his own hands and earn cash so he could receive the surgery/therapy he needed.[4]


  • Scream: A 24-year-old young man, Thierry Jaradin, stabbed a young girl, Alisson Cambier, 30 times; similar to the way the victim was stabbed in the movie. He had been wearing the Ghostface costume, and later confessed that he had planned the murder in a similar way to the movie.[5]
  • Fight Club: There have been many incidents inspired by the movie. One of the incidents occurred in 2009 during the Memorial Day weekend in New York City. Bombs were set off in various locations supposedly representing their oppression. Kyle Shaw was found guilty, and was himself a member of the local fight club.[5]
  • Saw: In Salt Lake City two teenage boys were turned in after they had been overheard that they were planning on kidnapping, torturing and murdering people. The boys had been planning on teaching a few people, who had been harming others, a lesson. They had also set up cameras around so they could record their killings. In Tennessee, two girls were charged with phone harassment after they had left a 52-year-old woman a voicemail (similar to the ones in the movie) stating that they had her friend and were about to release a toxic gas. The voicemail stated that the woman could either risk her life to save her friend, or let her friend die.[5]
  • The Dark Knight has inspired many copycat crimes. A few of them include a shooting in a movie theatre filled with Batman fans, after yelling “I am the Joker!”. In 2010, a Wisconsin man assaulted his cousin and girlfriend, dressed as the Joker, when he found them sleeping together. And In 2009, a young girl attacked her teacher with a razor blade. Her face had been painted in a similar way to the Joker.[5]

Fictional Examples

Fictional series can reference the concept of copy-cat crimes.

  • Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning: Roy Burns uses the evidences of the main antagonist of most of the films Jason Voorhees to become a spree killer just like Jason himself as well as the latter’s mother Pamela from the original film to kill everyone at Pinehurst which housed patients with all many kinds of disorders after he was devastated from seeing his son Joy killed by an annoyed Vic.
  • Detention: Sander committed serial killings in Grizzly Lake inspired by a horror movie Cinderhella and was disguised as such idol character, which brought the manager to confine the group of pupils who searched for him before being killed by Sander himself. Sander was actually killed when he grabbed Riley Jones while the company managed to lure him into the time machine after revealing his identity to them.


  • Zodiac Killer: After twenty years of the original killer, Eddie Seda attacked victims in a similar manner in New York City, killing his victims with a homemade gun. He left similar notes at the scene of the crime, as well as sent cryptic letters to the police. Unlike The Zodiac Killer he was eventually caught because of the fingerprints that he had left behind on the notes.[6]
  • Jack the Ripper: Derek Brown, 48, was found guilty of killing two young women in a similar way as the ripper. He had targeted the two women, one a prostitute and the other a street vendor; because he had believed that the two would not have been noticed missing. The two bodies were never found, but it is said that he may have dismembered the women in his bathtub and later disposed of the bodies.[6]
  • Murder-suicide: Murder suicides have inspired many notable mass shootings, in which the killer goes on a shooting rampage before shooting himself. There have been a wide range of similar cases that include many school shootings, work rampages etc. Most of these incidents happen in a particular time and area where incidents like these are common.[6]
  • Chicago Tylenol murders: In 1982, seven people had died after taking the over-the-counter Tylenol after it had been laced with cyanide. Deaths in a similar fashion occurred a few years later. A woman was found dead after she had taken two Tylenol pills which had also been laced with cyanide. In another case, a woman was found guilty of tampering with Excedrin, which caused the death of two individuals, as well as her husband.[6]


It has been shown that most of the people who mimic crimes seen in the media (especially news and violent movies) have in most cases prior criminal records, prior severe mental health problems or histories of violence suggesting that the effect of the media is indirect (more affecting criminal behaviour) rather than direct (directly affecting the number of criminals).[7] However that indirect influence that the media has on the individual does give them the idea of how to commit the crime. The type of reaction that the media coverage gives crimes can determine the path another criminal might take. This is because most copy-cat criminals are intent on the shock value of their actions. They want to do something that will cause a high media coverage because of the attention that they will get, as well as the horror of the population. If going on a shooting rampage in a public space causes this attention (because of previous incidents), then an individual with the tendency to commit the crime will more likely take that path.[8]

The norms, heroes, anti-heroes and the spectacles of the time and place also influence how a crime is committed. In today’s society, dressing up as one’s favorite villain, and going to a public place armed is what some criminals do, or sometimes they even replicate their favorite movie or TV show scene, whereas in the Middle Ages, the crimes would be associated with the devil, snakes, or witches. But in both scenarios, it is the public interest that sparks what crime might be committed.[8]

Some researchers hold the view that an individual’s interaction between violent media content and emotional development play a role in copycat behaviors. Individuals who are less emotionally developed will more likely commit the crimes that they see on TV. Characteristics such as demographic (age and sex), criminal factors (mental/personality disorders, failure in human bonding/lack of identity, social isolation and alienation) and relationship to Media (trust in media, Media literacy, identification with the perpetrators seen in media,) mixed with media characteristics and cultural-environment factors influences the copycat behavior in individuals. Media characteristics include the blur between fantasy and reality, positive response to violence and crime and how the crime is being committed. Cultural-environmental factors include the cultural view of fame and crime, reliance to the media for information and moral panics. Most offenders to likely be influenced by these characteristics are usually under the age of 25.[9] However, these claims are an object of an ongoing debate in research on the effects of violence in mass media.

The article goes on to show the correlation between copycat killers and  the role social media and news reporters might possibly play in their decision making, which was not surprising. Social media not only gives the public ideas they would have never come up with on their own, (positive and negative)  with step by step directions on how to pull it off,  but also impacts the general public in other surprising ways!  Many hiding behind facades pretending to be something they’re not. Others became bold only under the cover of anonymity, and choose to use the social media forum as a platform to spew hatred from behind closed doors. Studies also show that society is influenced by the Joneses (now via facebook) and become copycats, needing to attain the status of their friends in order to be happy. This just goes to show that criminals are not the only ones lured into the temptation of becoming copycats!

See the related link on how Facebook and how it impacts society in both negative and positive ways!



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