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By January 2, 2008 10 Comments Read More →

A female serial killer

The Deccan Herald newspaper in Bangalore, India reports on the arrest of a female serial killer, 43 year old Mallika. The story can be read here and here.

Serial killers are actually very rare creatures, and the female of the species is truly unusual. Perhaps that is good reason not to make a big deal about something so rare. One thing, though, caught my eye and made me think lovefraud readers may be interested too. I’ll summarise the story and you tell me what you think.

Here’s what raised my eyebrow

She allegedly committed all the murders single-handedly and for gain. She is no psychopath, the commissioner said.

The case

Arrested in a sting operation after being spotted trying to sell jewellery and two cell phones, Mallika confessed to having poisoned six women to death with cyanide.

Mallika’s chit business had run into financial troubles and, with “money lenders making life difficult and her kin turning against her”, she deserted her family in 1998. (She has a son and two daughters – all now grown.) She has lived in temples since, frequently changing venue.

“Innocent devotees easily fell prey to her tactics as they wanted to get rid of their problems,” says the newspaper.

Posing as a pious woman who was acquainted with pujas and religious rituals, Mallika befriended well-to-do women devotees frequenting the temples. She recommended a host of rituals and poojas to women devotees, to overcome their bad times. Winning the confidence of her potential victims, Mallika would suggest to them that she herself would conduct pujas and rituals at some temple.

She used to choose the temple with great care to ensure that it was nowhere near the victim’s place. She would then take her victim to the temple and rent out a room in the choultry attached to it. Once inside the room, she would begin performing pujas and ask the victim to close her eyes. 

Later, she would thrust cyanide into the the victim’s mouth.

Except in one case where she first strangulated her victim before administering the cyanide, that is. Before leaving the scene she took any jewellery and valuables.

She was methodical, never returning to a temple where she had committed a murder. She obtained the cyanide from a gold polishing shop, enough to kill 2,000 people. When the owner was away she told his 10-year old son that his father had promised to sell her the cyanide for an ache she was suffering.

Acceleration

The police are concerned about the gap of nearly eight years between the first and second murders. One can assume that had she not be stopped now the killings would have continued, even accelerated. Four of her murders were reported within eight days in December 2007.

Queries

Should one use terms like ‘sociopath’ or ‘psychopath’ in this case?
Is there anything particularly female about these crimes or do they look like any other serial killer horror story?
Is there anything to be learned from the case?



10 Comments on "A female serial killer"

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  1. Benzthere says:

    Dr. Steve, it appears to me she displays most of the characteristics from Dr. Hare’s list. I think she displays everything listed under Antisocial Lifestyle other than nothing being mentioned about early behavior problems. I think she displays everything listed under Interpersonal Traits. But I see the distinction you make about Ps not having a lack of empathy. From her grandiose position of being religiously strong, “pious,” maybe she didn’t feel it, but she certainly was able to display empathy and from personal experience, that was another of the initial draws that lead me into the web. A web of manipulation of both “truths” and “lies” to fulfill a purely selfish ultimate goal, not of deceit but of domination. This woman spun her web that put these older women under her control for her own personal gain obviously without feeling remorse. Showing empathy had to have been a major part in gaining their trust.

    A discrepancy from other serial killers is the absence of rape as nothing is mentioned about sexual gratification or perversion. Even so, the other traits are there.

    A male priority is sex. A female priority is security.



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  2. DrSteve says:

    Benzthere – This is a very interesting point to contemplate about possible differences between male and female psychopaths, thanks: “A male priority is sex. A female priority is security”.

    I’ve felt for some time now that the classic criterion that psychopaths are incapable of empathy needs reworking. Empathy involves the ability to know what the other is experiencing (how else does the psychopath con people so well?) – it doesn’t necessarily involve empathic behaviour (although, as you point out, this can be feigned pretty darn well).



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    • strix says:

      Hello,

      in my opinion levels of empathy vary. I suppose it is rare to find a psychopath that lacks it completely but most will display some form of empathy towards people they know/live with. I’ve come across one psychopath saying that people he didn’t know were objects to him but this was not the case with his family as he managed to develop some form of attachment to them and actually feel some form of empathy.



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  3. Benzthere says:

    Dr. Steve, You’re welcome. I didn’t restate the obvious here but maybe it wasn’t as obvious to everyone else as I found it to be, so I’ll add it.

    I found information, actually information overload. It was coming from everywhere, and everyone was an expert, but there was little agreement or solid direction.

    What can be learned from this example you asked, I’d say that we need further study, revision and clarification, better guidelines, and dissemination of more accurate information. I realize it will never be an exact science, but can’t we expect to get closer than where we are now?



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  4. change06 says:

    findmyselfagain-Thank you Thank you sooo much! At least for tonight you got me not to leave a crazy psycho txt message….Not sleeping and drinking- thinking about it. Got me to tear up a bit too. Starting to LOVE this site!!!! Oh, well until tomorrow when I am freakin out again!!!!!XO



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  5. victoriavikingwarior says:

    Wow! I just happened into this. What an incredible sight. I grew up with two parents who were very dysfunctional, one borderline an one was a sociopath, I believe. Then no surprise, I married a man who I have been trying to divorce for eleven years now, who was an even worse sociopath and crueler person, than my two parents put together.

    I had to become a warrior at a very young age. I survived to protect my younger brothers and sisters. Without them I remember thinking a quick warriors death would have been a far superior choice.

    I am so grateful to find this site that will help me keep it square about the traits that identify my ex. Hopefully, I can learn to speak about it in a way that educates the judge. I have all sorts of evidence of his felonies and broken rules, yet he has been able to put me in an unbelievable crazy spot in the litigation arena.

    I have nothing to loose now, by calling his behavior what it is. Maybe through the help of a great expert. Anyone want to help?
    I’m in southern California.



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  6. OxDrover says:

    Dr. Steve,

    I wish they would settle on A (single, one) name for the disorder.

    Cyanide is a horrible death, I have witnessed a dog poisoned with this (thankfully saved) and the convulsions are horrible.

    This woman obviously had no empathy for her victims, she had no remorse and she probably would have continued to do this until caught.

    She was pretending to be pious and religious. She shought out EASY victims who were religious and who were especially vulnerable to someone who pretended to be offering spiritual help.

    On the other side of the coin. In many areas of the world a woman alone, and actually or essentially homeless, may resort to a great many “horrible” things in order to survive. Hunger and social isolation can lead to a great many “crimes.”

    Was the crime ultimately caused by her lack of empathy, or by her social situation? Without knowing more, I would say both. Putting a person (any person) in to a survival mode of starvation vs crime is going to produce some problematic behaviors. In Dr. Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” about his time in the Nazi concentration camps and the various reactions people had to those conditions of starvation and privation it gives some insight into the things people will do to survive, some behaving as saints and some as monsters.



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  7. kat_o_nine_tales says:

    Reminds me of Jim Jones and all those parents giving their children cyanide kool-aid. I was pretty young then and remember being so shocked at the rows of bodies lying in the sun. I remember thinking what a cruel, horrible person he must have been to want to take down everyone he knew with him to the grave.

    change06.. lol on the crazy psycho text message.. so me..just recently I realized he was saving my messages..yet another guy convinced I’m a nut.. great.
    Sorry to lol at you about it, but it’s such a common experience for us here, I like what Donna et. al call it.. “crazymaking”



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  8. Tilly says:

    How did you end up witnessing a dog poisoned by cyanide?? I myself have experienced homelessness and hunger and isolation and I have never found the “need” to go around poisoning people to death!
    OF COURSE her crime was caused by lack of empathy!! All psychopaths do is go around studying how to act like the “weaker” species so that they can commit their horrific crimes for yes…their gain. Who cares if their gain is security, sex or power??? It all leads to an act of deception and cruelty beyond measure!
    Please let me know your “story” of the dog!



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  9. Rosa says:

    This is really creeping me out. I believe my brother’s wife is capable of killing, or at least “arranging an accident”.

    She also happens to work in the medical profession, with access to every drug you can imagine. What are the odds??

    She is in her own class of psychopath, because she gets sadistic pleasure from other people’s pain/distress. She also carries this “I am going to show YOU who’s in charge” attitude. She shows it covertly, though.

    Overtly, she is an innocent lamb.

    If I ever get anything concrete on her, I am going straight to the police.



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