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|Recently I watched a half-hour programme on double killer Jason Massey. I was already familiar with the case so it held no surprises - except for the fact that the programme makers dismissed his childhood with one line, saying that he was the son of an alcoholic mum. The rest of the programme concentrated on his lurid murders and on the police's attempts to nail him - so the casual viewer was left with the impression that he was simply born bad. But those of us who have studied such killers know that they don't spring, malevolent, from the womb. Instead, they are taken down an increasingly brutalising path...|
|Jason Eric Massey was born
in Hopkins County, Texas, on January 7th 1973 to a young single American
mother. She continued to party after his birth, simply leaving him in
the car whilst she went to pubs and clubs. Two years later she got
pregnant again and gave birth to Jason's sister. She now left both
children unattended for hours and also beat them with a wooden paddle
and a belt.
The year before he started school, Jason was sexually assaulted by a male babysitter. He struck out at the man as he'd been taught by example that using violence gets you what you want.
It was almost impossible for Jason and his sister to get what they wanted. They were often bruised, hungry and impoverished. Their mum would hide food in her bedroom and go to sleep. If she found the children sneaking into her room for something to eat she'd beat them. They turned up at school, unwashed and underfed. Unsurprisingly, Jason couldn't concentrate on his studies though he was desperate to please.
|The family's nomadic existence also damaged his stability for they frequently moved house, sometimes being evicted for non-payment of rent. At one stage they all lived in his mother's car.|
|By nine he was already moving from the role of beaten victim to victimiser, restraining a younger boy and whipping him with a tree branch. He was becoming a sexual sadist. Shortly afterwards he made his first kill, strangling and mutilating a cat.|
|When Jason was fourteen his mother gave birth for the third time. Jason doted on his new baby brother but his hatred of adults continued to grow. He was becoming a man but his view of womanhood was all tied up with dreams of beatings and mutilation. He also believed in demons - and thought he heard such imaginary creatures talking to him - as his devout grandmother kept telling him religious tales.|
|Like many abused teenagers he turned to drink and would continue to drink heavily and experiment with drugs until his arrest.|
|He hadn't been shown love consistently so his attempts to show love to others was desperately skewed. He became attracted to a girl but completely overreacted to her lack of interest. He began to stalk her, made obscene phone calls to her home and slaughtered her dog. She had no idea that her unwanted admirer was by now killing torturing cats and cows, killing them and hiding their skulls in a secret trunk in the woods.|
|He also kept numerous badly spelt diaries in this trunk, writing of how `just thinking of killing a lot of young girls makes me happy.' Later his fantasies became more detailed and he said that rape wasn't enough, that he wanted a corpse to hold, talk to and make love to. He was moving closer to necrophilia.|
|Such violent sexual fantasies were becoming everything to this increasingly disturbed teenager. They gave him a release from the fights with his mother and shored him up when his neighbours looked at him as if he was vermin. He was poorly educated, poorly loved and unemployed so dreams of becoming a famous serial killer - a somebody rather than a nobody - gave him a reason to live.|
|And in July 1993, the twenty one year old roofer put these brutal dreams into practice, going to the home of a thirteen-year old girl he fancied called Christina Benjamin and persuading her to go for a late night drive in his car. She took James Brian King, her fourteen-year old stepbrother, with her and they headed off into the woods.|
|We'll never know the exact sequence of events, but Jason shot James King twice through the head and left his corpse in a field. He then shot the girl, Christina, twice in the back, imagining that he saw three angels leaving her body. Then he decapitated her corpse and cut off her hands. He also inflicted post mortem slashes on her pubis and her abdomen, cutting so deeply that her internal organs were exposed. It's likely that he spent many hours with her body, fuelled by lust and backed by his religious beliefs. He'd previously written in his diary that women `must die... It's written in Esekiel 16:35.'|
|He was quickly arrested for the double killing and seemed to bask in the media attention. The charges included kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault.|
|At the trial, several witnesses admitted that Jason Massey spoke of killing girls all the time. Most hadn't taken him seriously. It also transpired that his mother had found his diaries when he was eighteen and had taken him to a mental hospital but he was soon released.|
|Found guilty of both murders, Jason Massey was put on Texas Death Row. For the next eight years he went through the Appeals process, at one stage writing to his victims' family and saying that they hadn't suffered and that he'd thrown Christina's head and hands in the river Trinity. Privately, investigators believe that he buried these parts in the hope of returning to them for sexual pleasure at a later date.|
|But he was never to return to his gruesome trophies for on 3rd April 2001 he entered Huntsville's execution chamber. As he was strapped to the gurney, he mouthed `I'm sorry' over and over again. He remained religious as he was put to death by lethal injection, saying `Let those without sin cast the first stone.'|
|By 2002 the many years of cruelty and neglect that this youth had suffered had been forgotten and his horrendous crimes were simply quoted out of context. But hopefully the words of his defence team will linger in a few more thoughtful minds. These words are not an excuse for what Jason Massey did, for nothing can excuse the lust murders of two innocent people. But they do explain his actions and they do show that we must stop other children experiencing the same start in life. The defence simply said `Jason Massey was not born a capital murderer. He was a baby. He wanted a dad. He wanted love. Instead he got rejection and he got hit.'|
Carol Anne Davis true crime book Women Who Kill: Profiles Of Female Serial Killers explores the childhood experiences that make some women kill multiple times.