Mississippi Highway Killer May Be Dressed Like Police Officer
The person who shot two people to death along Mississippi highways possibly while dressed as a police officer is likely a meticulous and organized killer who studied police procedures and could soon feel the urge to kill again, according to a serial killer expert.
"It is not unusual for certain types of killers, particularly organized killers, to have an interest in, and even study, law enforcement practices," Scott A. Bonn, professor of sociology at Drew University, told The Huffington Post.
As an example, Bonn pointed to Dennis Radar, the "BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) Killer," who murdered at least 10 people in and around Wichita, Kan., between 1974 and 1991.
"Rader holds a degree in criminal justice and wanted to be a police officer," Bonn said. "Knowledge of policing techniques makes them more elusive and effective killers, and posing as an officer disarms and lowers the guard of unsuspecting victims."
Posing as an officer, he added, can also "fulfill a fantasy need of the killer and give him a sense of power, control and authority."
There were similarities between the Mississippi cases. The slayings were three days and about 50 miles apart, and both the victims' vehicles were found on the side of the road. Both victims were shot.
The first murder was during the afternoon of May 8. Thomas Schlender, 74, of Raymond, Neb., was found dead inside his pickup, which was parked in the median of southbound Interstate 55 near the Pope, Miss., exit in Panola County. Schlender's wallet and several hundred dollars in cash were missing. At the time of his death, Schlender was en route to Florida to pick up his grandson from college.
"He was a really good man and he didn't deserve what happened, whatever that was," Schlender's daughter, Tracy Anderson, told ABCNews.com. "Our minds go crazy with the possibilities and the theories."
The second homicide was May 11 also in the afternoon. The victim, 47-year-old Lori Anne Carswell, of Hernando, was found lying in the road next to her vehicle on the shoulder of State Highway 713 in Tunica County. An employee at a local casino, Carswell was on her way home from work when she was murdered.
Carswell's family has declined to comment, citing the ongoing police investigation.
"The homicides are linked, and we are putting credence in the common denominators that both vehicles were found on the side of the road and both subjects were shot," DeSoto County District Attorney John Champion told reporters Monday.
According to Larry Waggoner, director of the Mississippi Highway Patrol's Bureau of Investigation, authorities suspect the killer may be posing as a police officer. "The concern is that someone is posing as a law enforcement officer and that is how these vehicles end up on the side of the road," Waggoner said.
A recent incident in nearby Tate County strengthened officials' suspicions that a police impersonator was involved.
On April 2, a woman traveling on Interstate 55 in Tate County was pulled over by what investigators believe was a fake police officer driving a gold unmarked Crown Victoria sedan, with flashing lights. It was not until the driver -- a man dressed in a disheveled plaid shirt -- approached that the woman suspected something was amiss. Concerned for her safety, she only lowered the window a crack and demanded the man's badge and identification.
He became agitated by the request and drove off, police said.
The two homicides and the alleged officer impersonation prompted authorities to form a task force made up of investigators from Coahoma, DeSoto, Panola, Tate and Tunica counties, as well as the bureau of investigation, the ATF and the FBI.
"This task force has asked a FBI profiler to work on this case to help us with the investigation," Champion said.