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Murder disproves mental health myths

The story is shocking. On Friday, Leo Moran, 75, of Chester Township, New Jersey, was charged with the murder of Charlotte Moran, who was 74. They had been high school sweethearts and were married for 54 years. A man who grew up with Leo Moran described them as the perfect couple.

So what sparked the violence? Moran’s wife and son repeatedly insisted that he get counseling. He finally agreed to go, and then, according to his family, was not honest with the counselor.

Please stop now and read Chester man accused of killing wife of 54 years believed she was unfaithful, working against him, on NJ.com.

Sometimes we see cases of an elderly person killing his or her spouse of many years because the spouse is gravely ill and unlikely to get better. It’s almost an act of compassion rather than murder.

In this case, a few crumbs of information indicate that Leo Moran was not suffering from despair or anguish. Rather, if the reported facts are accurate, they may indicate that the man was a sociopath:

  • Some neighbors thought the Morans were the perfect couple. Others thought Leo Moran was “a surly man quick to bicker.”
  • Moran offered his wife a kiss, which she refused, so he beat her with a baseball bat.
  • Moran said his wife was unfaithful and his family was conspiring against him.
  • Moran said his wife initiated the attack and hit him in the back with the bat, but he had no bruises.
  • Moran said his wife suggested they commit suicide together.

So the mask slipped, Moran became outraged by his family’s affront to his control, he allegedly beat his wife to death, and then blamed everything that happened on her. This is sociopathic behavior.

But for me, what is important is how this case disproves two generally held perceptions about sociopaths and mental health.

First, many therapists believe that sociopathy diminishes with age. I believe sociopaths never become less manipulative, although I was willing to concede that perhaps they became less violent, simply because they run out of steam. But maybe that’s not true either. Maybe they never lose their capacity for violence.

Secondly, many people, and perhaps therapists as well, have far too much faith in intervention. This is one of the most important things that we, as a society, need to thoroughly understand about sociopaths: Once they are adults, they are extremely unlikely to change.

Anger management classes won’t work. Restraining orders won’t work. Sometimes, the only sane and safe thing for people around sociopaths to do is escape.

But it’s too late for Charlotte Moran.

UPDATE:

Joyce Alexander notes that Moran’s actions may have been caused by dementia rather than sociopathy. See comments below. It turns out that she may be right—that is exactly what Moran’s attorney is saying. Read:

Attorney: Chester Township man accused of bludgeoning wife to death with a bat had mental issues, on NJ.com.

With this correction, this case brings out another important point—behavior that appears to be sociopathic may, in fact, have another cause.



97 Comments on "Murder disproves mental health myths"

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  1. DUPED NO MORE! says:

    Truthspeak: Thank you for your post. I read it twice. I understand you and where you are coming from.

    Yes, it’s absolutely imperative that we remember who we are and our value and our worth. You are invaluable to your son; right? Your assessment of putting yourself first and your son second is absolutely 1,000% correct.

    I am happy you are now in a ‘safe place’ and I pray that continues for you. Do you have extra protection from local law enforcement? I would make them aware of the situation if you haven’t as yet gotten a restraining or personal protection order.

    If you feel that you are in danger, of any kind whatsoever, please do make you and your son secure. Whatever that takes.

    It wasn’t YOU that made the error. You were duped just like I have been – without conscious and/or regard. The shame isn’t ON US: the shame is ON THEM. You have to get that right inside your mind. You did NOTHING to make this happen except love and care for someone; isn’t that right? I know it’s right because that is what has happened to ALL OF US. Betrayal when you are already giving so much of yourself is the lowest form of insult from them. And I see that and recognize it now for what it really is. And you need to do that as well.

    HATE will consume if you, if you let it. So make sure you ‘check’ that hate and temper it – replace it with the love you have for your son. Allow the love you have for your child to rebuild your soul from the inside out, Truthspeak, because it’s THAT which is the most important.

    I will remember you in my thoughts and prayers, Truthspeak. You sound like you are really ‘getting it all together’ in one spot now and I will pray that you continue making progress towards your healing. Your son needs you to be healthy, happy and vibrant…he is your first priority, after taking care of yourself.

    I wish you peace and blessings, Truthspeak,

    Dupey



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  2. nonamesplease says:

    Has anyone heard what is happening with Leo Moran? I dont want him back in my neighborhood.



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  3. Ox Drover says:

    No, do you have any updates?



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  4. nonamesplease says:

    No, but I would like to know that he wont get off.



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  5. Ox Drover says:

    I did a google search of his name and there is a professional musician with the same name, but I did not find anything besides the original news articles in December. I thought you might have some more local information. Maybe you can call the sheriff’s or DA’s office in that city and find out something current.



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  6. nonamesplease says:

    The PA police havent even been contacted. Thats what upsets me.
    Not a thorough investigation.In fact
    his kids told police in NJ that they didnt have a key to his 2nd home in PA.
    Then they were seen later entering that
    home. He had guns.



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  7. nonamesplease says:

    With a state trooper and a lawyer for sons Moran will get to sneak away and the neighbors will live in fear again.



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