Daniel Harold Rolling was born in Shreveport, LA on May 26, 1954 to James and Claudia Rolling. Danny's childhood was filled with turmoil and abuse. From the very beginning, Danny was deprived of love and attention from his mother and was treated with hatred and contempt by his father. Verbal and physical abuse coupled with consistent exposure to domestic violence helped to lay the groundwork in creating the monster that was Danny Rolling.
The murders committed by Danny Rolling were gruesome and have forever scarred the community of Gainesville, FL. In Gainesville, there is a retaining wall covered in graffiti (see below) spanning a quarter of a mile along SW 34th Street. Built in 1979, the wall is covered in well wishes and messages of tribute but, most notable is the memorial dedicated to the victims of Danny Rolling: Sonja Larson, Christina Powell, Christa Hoyt, Tracy Paules, and Manuel Taboda.
While in Gainesville, Danny Rolling camped out in the woods close to the murder scenes. Below is a map of the area with relevant sites marked; all within a 2.5 mile radius.
Danny fancied himself an artist and musician. Below are a bunch of his drawings from his time in prison, dark stuff. I have also included a number of the songs he recorded into a cassette tape recorder from his campsites in Gainesville.
You often hear discussions of brain trauma when listening to true crime podcasts or watching true crime shows but, did you understand what was being discussed? If you are interested in learning more about the human brain and the importance of each part of this beautifully complex organ, this blog is for you!
The human brain – it can do magic. The brain is the control center of the nervous system - accepting and transmitting chemical and electrical signals. These signals allow us to see, hear, speak, move, love, understand, and ultimately – live. The brain’s complexity is utterly astounding. I remember reading somewhere that the human brain has more molecular switches than all of the computers, routers, and Internet connections on the planet. Wow, right?
So what does the brain do, exactly? That is a loaded question, do a little research on the Internet and it will seem like we know TONS. In reality, we don’t know what we don’t know. I will tell you that the “10% brain use” myth is precisely that: a myth. So back to the question “…what does the brain do, exactly?” Well, the answer depends upon the area of the brain being discussed. The thing that makes us different from other animals is our cerebrum – where higher thinking happens. The brain (part of the CNS) is the control center of the nervous system accepting and transmitting chemical and electrical signals. These signals allow us to see, hear, create language, move, love, understand, and ultimately – live. The brain is an incredibly complex organ that scientists are still working to decipher.
The nervous system is divided into two parts; the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The Central Nervous System includes the brain and the spinal cord. The Peripheral Nervous System includes the somatic (body) and autonomic divisions.
Lobes of the Brain
Lobes are simply anatomically distinct 'sections' of the brain. The brain is super complex so, keep that in mind as you read on. Let's start with general descriptions of the brain lobes; from back to front.
The cerebellum is the most primitive areas of the human brain. It is responsible for movement, posture, and balance; things that we do not need to think about constantly.
The occipital lobes – located at the very back of the brain – are the home of the Primary Visual Cortex (receives visual input from the Optic Nerves) and the Visual Association Area (process visual input). Damage to the posterior aspect of the brain will often lead to visual impairments. One structure that is located within the occipital lobes are the lingual gyri.The right lingual gyrus is involved an individual's sense of attachment to one's self.
The parietal lobes of the brain are responsible for sensation, perception, and for the integration of sensory input (mainly with the visual system). If the right parietal lobe is damaged it causes the injured person to neglect part of their body or neglect space on the left side– contra-lateral neglect. Seems ridiculous but it is true.
The temporal lobes of the brain are the primary organization of sensory information – auditory input and perception (hearing), visual perception, memory, and emotion. Damage to the temporal lobes can result in memory problems, disturbances in auditory and/or visual perception, and language comprehension. Injury in this area can also cause alterations in personality, affect (the way others perceive you) behaviors, and sexual behavior. The precuneus, located within the temporal lobe is a major component of the default mode network and is involved in self-referential thinking (the tendency to view innocuous stimuli as having a specific meaning for the self and is associated with personality traits and disorders) and self-centered mental imagery (often associated with narcissistic personality).
The insula are lobes located deep to the temporal lobes and facilitate self-awareness (awareness of our bodies and emotions, and how they interact to create our perception of the present moment). The anterior insula contains an interoceptive (sense of the internal state of the body) representation that provides the basis for all subjective feelings from the body. The insula are often activated in conjunction with the anterior cingulate gyrus and together, they seem to function as limbic sensory and motor cortices that respectively engender the feelings (insula) and the motivations (cingulate gyrus) that constitute any emotion. Some have argued that the anterior insula provides a critical substrate for self-awareness. Recently, the somatic marker hypothesis (emotional processes guide our behavior and decision making) has been attributed to the insula.
The frontal lobes of the cerebrum are responsible for our ability to think critically, solve problems, and feel emotion – the frontal lobes are the origin of personality. Have you heard the story of Phineas Gage, a train foreman from the mid-1800s? One day at work, Gage was struck through his left eye and into the frontal lobe of his brain with a tamping iron. By all reported evidence, Gage had been a personable guy prior to the accident…after the accident was a different story. Gage’s personality had changed drastically; he became a crude and difficult man. Historically, this was an important medical case because it was the first time brain trauma had been linked to a change in personality. The frontal lobes of the brain are responsible for higher mental functions; behavior, impulse control, personality, and critical thinking. This is the last lobe of the brain to mature, it does not finish developing until at least age 25 (this is why car insurance rates drop at 25).
All the Little Pieces
The prefrontal cortex is important in inhibiting impulses and allowing us to exhibit proper social behavior. The medial prefrontal cortex is responsible for extinguishing the fear response. The orbitofrontal cortex is involved in certain types of decision making (understanding changes in the value of a reward) and impulse control. It also plays a significant role in emotion and is interconnected with the limbic system. The rostral (anterior) portion of the middle frontal gyrus is activated by social cognition tasks, which involve self-awareness and the ability to understand the mental state of others or yourself.
The limbic system is a group of structures that are associated with emotion and includes the cingulate gyrus, hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala. The cingulate gyrus (cortex) is considered the limbic lobe and is divided into two regions; anterior and posterior. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is interconnected with other limbic structures including the hypothalamus and amygdala. The ACC is thought to be partly responsible for overall affect (how your behavior are perceived by others). It assigns emotions to stimuli and assists in the management of social behavior. Finally, the ACC is involved in the regulation of autonomic and endocrine responses as well as the perception of pain. The posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) is part of the default mode network which is thought to be activated when you are awake but not engaged in activities that require attention. The PCC is active when you are trying to recall autobiographical memories, especially memories that have an emotional element. The hypothalamus is the control center of the endocrine system and it plays a huge role in regulating and maintaining homeostasis (the body's internal balance). The hypothalamus is among the first structures to be activated during a sympathetic (fight or flight) response. The hippocampus has a critical role in memory, it assists in memory consolidation and the formation of new memories. Alzheimer's patients display decreased volume in the hippocampus which explains why short-term memory is the first thing to go. The amygdala controls autonomic nervous system responses associated with fear, arousal, and emotional stimulation.
The corpus callosum connects the two hemispheres (right & left) of the brain is responsible; it maintains the balance between arousal and attention. The fornix, located inferior to the corpus callosum and the lateral ventricles (spaces filled with cerebrospinal fluid), acts as the primary outgoing pathway from the hippocampus, and thus its most recognized function is its involvement in memory.
What to know more?
The Duperraults were a lovely and active family who enjoyed spending time together in the outdoors. Arthur Duperrault wanted to take his family on a year long adventure aboard the Bluebelle. The family set sail on November 8, 1961 from Ft. Lauderdale, FL en route to the Bahamas for a week long sea trial. The sailboat was captained by Julian Harvey.
The Dupperault family from left to right above: Jean, Arthur, Brian, & Rene.
Captain Julian Harvey was a decorated war hero. He modeled as a young adult and continued to seize any opportunity to take his shirt off to show off his athletic physique.
Terry Jo Duperrault and Captain Julian Harvey were the only survivors of the Bluebelle tragedy. What happened? Listen to Case 1 - The Duperrault Family Massacre to find out.
It is hard to believe that the sweet little face of a very young Jeffrey Dahmer would someday be the face of the Milwaukee Cannibal. His parents, Lionel and Joyce, seemed to be the typical American family of the 1960s; dad worked and mom stayed home to take care of the house and children. Lionel was a highly intelligent, driven, workaholic. As a child, Lionel had been obsessed with fire but he was able to harness his obsession into a love of chemistry. Joyce was the daughter of a violent alcoholic who seemingly suffered from a number of mental health issues including substance abuse. The couple married in 1959 and soon realized how little they had in common.
Jeffrey grew up in a volatile household under the care of a mother who was unable to emotionally bond with her son. As a young boy, Jeffrey underwent a double hernia surgery which, reportedly, changed the once exuberant boy into a shy and introverted one. Jeffrey likely had Asperger's Syndrome (one of the Autism Spectrum Disorders), a disorder that typically will manifest sometime between 2 and 4 years old.
Above are photos of Jeffrey's high school graduation, a few photos with his father and brother, his army basic training portrait, and a photo of Jeffrey and Lionel after Jeffrey had been incarcerated.
Dahmer was arrested a couple of times prior to 1991. Once was for indecent exposure and another was for molesting a young Laotian boy. He went on to kill at least 17 boys and young men between the years of 1978-1991. Listen to my three part series to hear more about the Milwaukee Cannibal.
You will notice that there are 2 victims included in the above flyer that have not been 100% linked to Dahmer.
Edmund Emil Kemper, III (the Coed Killer) claimed a total of 10 victims between 1963 - 1974; 3 family members, 1 family friend, and 6 coeds. Ed was born on December 18, 1948 in Burbank, CA. to parents Edmund Emil Kemper, Jr. (EE) and Clarnell Strandberg Kemper. Ed's father was a WWII vet and an incredibly passive man and his mother was overbearing and domineering. Ed's childhood was fraught with confusion, anger, violence, and abuse. Ed’s parents had a very toxic and tumultuous marriage; Clarnell would regularly ridicule and belittle EE in front of the children, effectively emasculating him with her cruelty. There was a great deal of physical and verbal abuse in the Kemper house. The effect of this constant turmoil between his parents had lasting consequences; the least of which was a distorted view of male/female relationships. Childhood exposure to violence between parents coupled with a lack of sexual education (sex was a taboo topic in the Kemper house) can obscure the line between sex and violence. Kemper may have inadvertently seen his parents engaged in sex. The blurring of violence and sex in children can be devastating. In fact, Dr. Davidson Abrahamsen (who was a leading authority on violence in American) postulated that children interpret sex between parents as a violent act in which his father is hurting his mother. “To the child’s mind sex, the primal scene, is a bloody crime which, because it is a secret, he is forbidden to watch”. So, when a child sees his parents having sex, the child often interprets this as violence, especially when there is no sex education in the home. Margaret Cheney, in her book “The Coed Killer: A Study of the Murders, Mutilations, and Matricide of Edmund Kemper, III” speculates that Ed may have been exposed to some sort of heterosexual over-stimulation. Psychologists would later remark that Ed had an insatiable interest in sex. The effect on young Ed was profound and he began to have morbid, sexual fantasies at a very early age. The couple separated when Ed was just 6 years old but, his father had been absent because of his job for a couple of years prior.
Clarnell Kemper managed to make her son both hate her and love her. Posthumously diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, she knew how to manipulate her son and what's worse is that she knew how to press his buttons. She called him a weirdo and made fun of his size. MOTHER OF THE YEAR!
As a teenager, Ed was sent to live with his paternal grandparents (Edmund Emil Kemper & Maude Matilda Hughey Kemper) and subsequently murdered them when he was 15 years old. For his crime, Ed spent 5 years at California's Atascadero State Hospital for the criminally insane. Here he lived among adult male, mentally disordered, sex offenders. Obviously an excellent environment for a teenager diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, right? An especially great place for a teenager with morbid sexual urges. When he was released from Atascadero, the one piece of advice his doctors gave him was to never speak to his mother again. Instead, he was paroled to her. From 1969 - 1972, Ed attempted to live a normal life but, eventually, he allowed his dark fantasies to take over.