Rogue cop Caroline Kangongo, child serial killer and self-professed vampire Masten Wanjala and vampire and serial killer Philip Onyancha
Rogue cop Caroline Kangongo, child serial killer and self-professed vampire Masten Wanjala and vampire and serial killer Philip Onyancha

How does a seemingly normal, perhaps charming person, become a killer?

Various explanations narrow down to childhood experiences. Most notorious killers grew up in abusive, dysfunctional homes.

For example, child serial killer and self-professed vampire Masten Wanjala once spent time in an approved school, which is a rehabilitation centre for offenders under the age of 18.

Vampire Philip Onyancha was allegedly abused as a child, something a judge mentioned in one of his cases.

Not much is known about rogue cop Caroline Kangongo’s childhood but workmates told journalists that she had a troubled romantic life that included multiple partners.

It is also said she was temperamental.

A 2018 report on the development of serial killers confirms that childhood experiences such as abuse, loneliness and abandonment are a big factor.

Childhood humiliation, neglect and early adoption are factors listed in the report written by Meher Sharma of the Eastern Illinois University in the United States.

“Adults who were emotionally, physically and sexually abused during their childhood were three times more likely than non-abused adults to act extremely violently during adulthood," Meher noted in her report.

These unstable and unhealthy relationships hinder the child's ability to form emotional attachments with other people.

 Dennis Miano, a lecturer in criminology and forensic science, believes that the spate of killings currently seen in Kenya is not a sign of a broken society as some have suggested.

The killers are not a symptom that society is beyond redemption. Killers existed in African traditional history.

“Think of the stories about giants and ogres eating humans. Perhaps those stories were meant to explain mysterious deaths and disappearances in ancient times,” he proposes.

He however agrees that modern media can influence the minds of children through constant exposure to violence on television and video games.

Though not yet a problem in Kenya, school shootings perpetrated by children elsewhere in the world are attributed to violent media content.

Miano, who works for the Institute of Forensics and Security Studies at Dedan Kimathi University, says that serial killers fall into four categories; the visionary killer, the mission killer, the hedonistic killer and the killers playing out their power and control fantasies.

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