20 Mass Killer Traits


Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.

As Information and Communications Technology becomes vital to all aspects of humanity, Dr. Michael Nuccitelli strongly suspects social media, the veil of anonymity afforded to all online users and the greater range of information exchange will change the frequency and methods of criminal and deviant acts. Information and Communications Technology will be relevant in understanding the minds of all criminals, deviants and the severely disturbed. All future alleged mass killers and violent offenders will be assessed and judged by their criminal actions, their past and their Information and Communications Technology usage.

As Dr. Nuccitelli has stated, Given it is estimated there are 2.23 billion active Internet users globally and quickly growing, it falls to reason to assume cyber predators and classic human predators will use Information and Communications Technology to plan, document and research their nefarious and malevolent activities.

Research into the profiles of mass murderers, rampage killers and spree killers have yield various traits, factors and emotional experiences. Although the terms to describe these violent offenders vary in definition and construct, there are common themes amongst a high percentage of these assailants, despite the verbiage used to describe their profiles.

The 20 traits, affective states and behavioral patterns to follow are similar when comparing the Arizona Shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, Norwegian Mass Killer, Anders Breivik, Colorado Shooter, James Holmes, the Oregon Mall Shooter, Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter and many other mass killers throughout history. The list this writer has compiled is as follows:


  • 1. Mass murderers tend to exhibit a gradual and/or noticeable change towards social withdrawal.
  • 2. Testimony by the mass murderer’s social supports or in his writings suggest he felt being treated unfairly, unheard and others did not prioritize his priorities as highly as he did.
  • 3. Testimony by the mass murderer’s social supports or in his writings suggest he felt being persecuted by others or groups leading him to become more paranoid and untrusting.
  • 4. Testimony by the mass murderer’s social supports or in his writings suggest he increasingly blamed others, other systems, other cultures or other political groups causing him stress and concern.
  • 5. Testimony by the mass murderer’s social supports or in his writings suggest he increasingly was experiencing extreme chronic stress causing him to feel a sense of powerlessness and helplessness.
  • 6. Testimony by the mass murderer’s social supports or in his writings suggest he increasingly was experiencing a lack of emotional support from friends and family, extreme disappointment, frustration and failure.
  • 9. Testimony by the mass murderer’s social supports or in his writings suggest he was feeling an inability to cope with life and its disappointments or feeling that life had become hopeless.
  • 10. Testimony by the mass murderer’s social supports or in his writings suggest he was planning, fantasizing and desired revenge against those who caused him some type of real or fictitious harm.
  • 11. The majority of mass killers murder strangers.
  • 12. In a mass killer’s recent history, there is a triggering event such as a divorce, breakup, employment loss or academic failure that leads the assailant to conclude a mass killing is the answer.
  • 13. Shopping centers, schools, malls, college campuses, and various other public places are arenas mass killers choose to display their violent assaults.
  • 14. Adult mass killers tend to act alone. Adolescent assailants are more likely to involve other participants in their rampage.
  • 15. Over 50% of mass killers have a history of documented mental illness.
  • 16. Historically, mass killers tend to be male and Caucasian.
  • 17. 1/3 of mass killers have high levels of education and unemployed at the time of the rampage killings.
  • 18. Mass killers rarely attempt to flee from the incident. Many of them commit suicide at the scene of the crime or allow themselves to be taken into custody.
  • 19.  Adult mass killers often have military backgrounds or interested in the military and possess weapons they have obtained legally.
  • 20. Most mass killers are single or divorced.


The Internet and Information and Communications Technology is a mere 20 years old and destined to become the primary arena to obtain, exchange and disseminate information. Knowing this to be inevitable, this writer presents additional traits and behavioral patterns that he believes will be found in mass killers living in the Information Age. These traits have not been clinically or research supported, but created from this writer’s research on his theoretical construct of iPredator. They are as follows:

1. Given their proclivity to engage in heightened fantasy and dissociative states, mass killers in the Information Age will compulsively spend large amounts of time playing online interactive video games and all forms of virtual reality and alternate reality environments available to online users.

2. Given their proclivity to engage in heightened fantasy and grandiose perceptual states, mass killers will compulsively spend large amounts of time writing about their grandiose predictions of how their inevitable mass assault will change society, their personal manifestos, journals, biographies and any other forms of information that can be disseminated online and justify their actions.

3. Access to Information and Communications Technology will accelerate the mass killer’s trajectory of becoming increasingly isolative. By increasing an isolative existence, the mass killer will become even more dangerous if not interrupted in his fantasy.

4. Given Information and Communications Technology and the Internet affords all online users access to information, news and events globally, mass killers will use this access to read, study and identify with other mass killers and nefarious criminals globally. Having global access to all events will increase what has been called the “copycat” phenomenon. Today, information and news happening globally are accessible to everyone within minutes.

5. Given Information and Communications Technology and the Internet affords all online users access to geotagginggeolocationGPS and digital surveillance, future mass killers will have a plethora of tools to help refine their deadly plans.

The primary area this writer feels  lead Mass Killers to commit their atrocious acts is their proclivity to engage in fantasy. Fantasy and semi-dissociative states are very common amongst mass killers and this writer posits that James Holmes, Anders Breivik, Jared Loughner and this week’s Oregon & Connecticut Shooters entire lives are played in their minds and very different than reality. Involving grandiosity of some sort, mass killers have compelling fantasies where they are capable of controlling the world or omnipotent in some fashion resembling a deity or some super human entity.


Dark Psychology

Dark Psychology: Dark Psychology is the study of the human condition as it relates to the psychological nature of people to prey upon other people motivated by criminal and/or deviant drives that lack purpose and general assumptions of instinctual drives and social sciences theory. All of humanity has the potentiality to victimize humans and other living creatures. While many restrain or sublimate this tendency, some act upon these impulses. Dark Psychology seeks to understand those thoughts, feelings, perceptions and subjective processing systems that lead to predatory behavior that is antithetical to contemporary understandings of human behavior.

Dark Psychology assumes that criminal, deviant and abusive behaviors are purposive and have some rational, goal-oriented motivation 99% of the time. It is the remaining 1%, Dark Psychology parts from Adlerian theory and Teleology. Dark Psychology encompasses all that makes us who we are in relationship to our dark side. All cultures, faiths and humanity have this proverbial cancer. From the moment we are born to the time of death, there is a side hidden within us that some have called “Evil” and others have defined as criminal, deviant or psychopathic.

Dark Psychology posits there are people who commit these same acts and do so not for power, money, sex, retribution or any other known purpose. They commit horrid acts without a goal. Simplified, their ends do not justify their means. There are people who violate and injure others for the sake of doing so. Within in all of us is this potential. A potential to harm others without cause, explanation, or purpose is the area explored. Dark Psychology assumes this dark potential is incredibly complex and even more difficult to define.


Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.

Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D. is a NYS licensed psychologist and cyber criminology consultant. He completed his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Adler University in 1994. In 2010, Dr. Nuccitelli authored the dark side of cyberspace concept known as “iPredator.” In November 2011, he established iPredator Inc., offering educational, investigative, and advisory services involving criminal psychology, cyberstalking, online predators, internet trolls, the dark side of cyberspace and internet safety. Dr. Nuccitelli has worked in the mental health field over the last thirty-plus years and he has volunteered his time helping cyber-attacked victims since 2010. His goal is to reduce victimization, theft, and disparagement from iPredators.

In addition to aiding citizens & disseminating educational content, Dr. Nuccitelli’s mission is to initiate a sustained national educational and awareness internet safety campaign with the help of private, state, and federal agencies. He is always available, at no cost, to interact with online users, professionals, and the media. To invite Dr. Nuccitelli to conduct training, media engagements, educational services, or consultation, please call him at (347) 871-2416 or via email at drnucc@ipredatorinc.com.


Founded by Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D., iPredator Inc. is a NYC Internet Safety Company founded to offer educational and advisory products and services to online users and organizations on cyberbullying, cyberstalking, cybercrime, internet defamation and online sexual predation. iPredator Inc.’s goal is to reduce victimization, theft, and disparagement from online perpetrators.
New York City, New York
Phone: 347-871-2416

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