"Why Do We Kill?"

The New Sociopaths

On May 3, 2008, a star lacrosse play and honor student living in Cockeysville Maryland named Nicholas Browning made a decision that to this day remains unexplained. He took a break from playing video games at a friend’s house, walked home, picked up his father’s gun and shot his entire family as they slept.

Dead were his father Tom, mother Sylvia, and little brothers Gregory 10 years old and Benjamin eight. Worse yet, Nicholas confessed to crime but gave little explanation or motive other than the fact that his father wouldn’t let him use the family car to attend a party.

But Nicholas was not alone in his savagery.

Several weeks later just miles from the Browning residence another promising young man inexplicably turned to murder. A 17-year old star athlete Lewin Powell had been fighting with his mother over his flagging grades., But at some point in the dispute Powell picked up a bat and beat his mother to death.

But he wasn’t done.

The 17 year old Lewin Powell hid his mother’s corpse in a bedroom and waited for his father to return from work. The elder Powell fell asleep on the couch, where his son attacked him with the same bat, fracturing his father’s skull in two places before the bewildered parent could subdue his murderous son.

It’s a case that confounds the normal explanations for violent crime. Neither boys came from troubled homes or suffered from mental illness. In fact, they were leading exemplary lives.

Which is I why I decided these crimes were worth exploring in depth in our continuing televisual dialog on crime called “Why Do We Kill?” In this episode we look at the influence of the simulacra upon our psyches and its potential influence on criminality. Specifically, how our deepening immersion in a world of illusion and symbolism affects or behaviors and may limit our ability to be empathetic.

If you want to read more about the topic of why people chose to kill, click on the links below to the books written by the two former Baltimore homicide detectives who appear in this episode.

"You Can't Stop Murder: Truths about Policing in Baltimore and Beyond"


"Why Do We Kill?: The Pathology of Murder in Baltimore"


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"Why Do We Kill?"

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Series Summary:
When someone takes the life of another, do they need a reason? Are human beings wired to kill? The crime docu-drama “Why Do We Kill?” aims to answer this question and more.

Why did three teen girls set a fellow gang member on fire…

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Series Summary:
When someone takes the life of another, do they need a reason? Are human beings wired to kill? The crime docu-drama “Why Do We Kill?” aims to answer this question and more.

Why did three teen girls set a fellow gang member on fire while he was still alive? Was the summary execution of drug dealers by a mysterious vigilante group called Black October justified? How did a convicted sex offender get away with strangling eleven women, then burying them in his backyard in plain sight?

These simple yet provocative questions define the show “Why Do We Kill?”, a tele-drama that delves into the world of twisted rationales and merciless cruelty at the root of some of the most inexplicable crimes. A show that charts the descent into the madness of those who choose to kill, a fascinating and innovative look at the a very essence of murder. A visual explication of how social inequities and a dysfunctional justice system contribute to the pathos of violence which defines one of the most violent countries on earth.

And its a show that goes beyond the standard array of cops, criminals and victims to tell tales of treachery. Instead “Why Do We Kill?” delves deep into environs of where the crimes occurred. The unremarkable suburban blight that blankly reflects the Bounty Hunter’s savagery. Or the emptied streets lined with vacant homes that lay in repose after Black October’s campaign of vengeance. Even the seemingly nondescript neighborhood where a serial killer lured, strangled, then buried his victims.

These chilling atmospherics which will grab any viewer are complemented by recurring characters, who provide a sense of security in the middle of the chaos: Narrator X, the storyteller, emotional foil, and provocateur played by former star athlete turned drug addict and criminal Michael Willis who drives the show with crisp narrative punctuated with moments of evocative introspection; providing the viewer with an internal dialogue in the midst of the chaos.

Willis is joined by two Baltimore homicide detectives Kelvin Sewell and Stephen Tabeling who cut their investigative teeth on the floor of the world’s most fabled murder squad. Both have witnessed the bloody underbelly of crime and the effects of criminals with nothing to lose, in one of the most violent cities in the country. Both men provide glimpses how this world of extremes they inhabit create conflict within themselves. We will immerse the viewer in the center of that conflict.

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