SinC Puget Sound

January 2021 Meeting Recap: Michael Crowley: A Real Rogues’ Gallery of Murderers

Michael Crowley

For twenty-one years Michael Crowley listened to criminals petitioning to be paroled. As a member of the Parole Board of Canada, he met them all: murderers, rapists, young, old, men, women and child murderers. There is no capital punishment in Canada, just life imprisonment. His views are conditioned by that rule. Also, most murderers plead guilty, so there is very little CSI work to be done.

He described the different motives for killing and the impulses behind them. Most “lifers” (as he called those imprisoned for life) are middle-aged men who do not seem to be terrible people, present as normal, and are not likely to kill again if allowed back into Canadian society. They can vote (even in jail), get jobs, and are helped in stages to re-enter life outside. He contrasted them with the physician diagnosed “psychopaths” who present themselves as overly normal and how careful he had to be not to be deceived by the fact they did everything right in order to obtain release.

How long does it take to strangle someone? It takes three-four minutes. To him that was a conscious decision by the murderer. How long does it take to lose control before the victim is stabbed, or thrown over a cliff? Murderers often claim a red haze overwhelms them. Is that a real thing?

As far as our members writing their books, there were several points he made that did not ring true to him when reading mystery novels: murders are very rarely planned, they are not organized, often happen in the heat of the moment and the killer does not think about the consequences of the act before the murder. But Michael always enjoys trying to guess “who dunnit.” Also, sorry, but the use of poison is very, very, rare.