Pure Evil

Codex_Gigas_devilWriting horror and detective novels requires research into some very dark subjects. The writer must always ask his or herself, why do people intentionally hurt or kill other people?

What was the motive for the crime?

The villain in my novel Secondhand Sight was the embodiment of pure evil, a sadistic person who derived pleasure from the suffering and pain of others. Do people that sick and twisted really exist?


My imagination isn’t anywhere near that dark or fantastic to conjure up a serial killer without any inspiration from real life.

My dreams are of rescuing puppies, not beheading them.

I can’t comprehend nor want to contemplate the sort of evil, twisted mind that could compose a letter to a young mother suggesting that she euthanize her autistic son.

We all know that such evil exists. That is inarguable. History is replete with accounts of evil people committing atrocities for various reasons or flimsy excuses.

The only remaining question to consider is whether or not pure evil exists, which has been defined as the idea that bad people inflict intentional harm on others for no rational reason.

Do Satan and his minions actually exist? Are real demons present in the natural world?

I say yes.

Professional skeptic Michael Shermer reported that Florida State University professor Roy Baumeister proclaimed that the concept of pure evil is nothing but a myth, asserting that any act of aggression can be sorted into one of these four categories:

  1. Instrumental violence — meaning violence with war-like purpose of conquest and plunder.
  2. Revenge — payback; rather self-explanatory.
  3. Dominance and recognition — violence with the motive to gain attention.
  4. Ideology — violence committed in the name of religion.

There seems to be at least one glaring omission from the list: sadistic pleasure derived from the pain and suffering of others.

Here are a couple of examples to consider:

In the early morning hours of July 23, 2007, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky broke into the home of Dr. William Petit. Komisarjevsky’s attention had been drawn to the family by the doctor’s eleven-year-old daughter.

Without warning and for absolutely no reason, Dr. Petit was viciously attacked and beaten with a baseball bat. His wife was raped and strangled. His two daughters were also raped and tortured, doused with gasoline and then set on fire.

When my friends ask me why I support the death penalty, the tragic events in the case of Dr. William Petit often come to mind, and rather quickly.

Some “academics” might try to categorize the incident as instrumental violence because robbery was the secondary motive. But remember, the Petits were only chosen because a pedophile was attracted to their eleven-year-old daughter.

But here’s a tougher nut to crack for the deniers of pure evil: the senseless murder of Christopher Lane. The three perpetrators have been caught and the motive revealed, though not understood because it is truly incomprehensible.

The three murderers said they acted because they were bored. So these teenaged thugs decided to kill somebody, a total stranger, for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

One of the three said they shot Lane in the back as he jogged “for the fun of it.”


Ponder the implications of those new words, long and hard, for a few minutes.

One life has tragically ended. Three more lives will be permanently altered for committing a capital crime without a real motive.

Families will probably be destroyed by the ripple effects of this single, random act of violence.

There is no consolation to think that these three future convicts will learn the true meaning of boredom as they rot in prison for the next several decades.

No logic or attempt to rationalize such a travesty can begin to explain such mindless insanity.

For the fun of it.

Sadly, it wasn’t just a loner nutcase. The shooter had two accomplices, neither of whom said anything like, “Hey, that’s insane. You can’t shoot somebody in the back for no reason.”

Truly, it boggles the mind. Senseless, cruel murder, only for the fun of it.

Now that’s pure evil.

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