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Rama S. PrasadProfessor TolmasovSoc 5January 9, 2018Charles Cullen, An Angel of DeathCharles Cullen was born on February 22, 1960 in West Orange, New Jersey. As the youngest of eight children, Cullen recounted his childhood as miserable. Seven months after his birth, his father who was a bus driver died. He told people that his self-disgust, low esteem, and depression drove him to commit suicide multiple times. The first attempt actually happend at 9 years of age, when Cullen drank a concoction of chemicals from a chemistry set. Throughout his life, Charles Cullen would attempt suicide at least 20 times. At the age of seventeen, his mother was killed in a car accident, which caused him to dropout of high-school and enlist in the US Navy. He served as a petty officer third class on the USS Woodrow Wilson, a ballistic missile submarine, and was a member of the team who operated the Poseidon missiles. (Webb, 2015) During his time in the Navy, Cullen began to showcase his mental instability. There was one incident when he completed a shift wearing a mask, surgical gown, and gloves that he had stolen from a medical office. He was then transferred to a supply ship called the USS Canopus and committed several of unsuccessful suicide attempts. (Webb, 2015) He finally received a medical discharge on on March 30, 1984 and enrolled at the Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing in Montclair, New Jersey. He graduated three years later and started working at the St. Barnabas Medical Center burn unit in Livingston, New Jersey. The same year he married Adrienne Taub and they had two daughters. This is when his serial killing started. Responsible for the murders of over 40 patients, Charles Cullen, the “Angel of Death,” exhibits most of the 14 signs of a serial killer and theories such as the Trait Theory, the Social Structure Theory, and the Developmental Theory can begin to explain the influences and motives on his mass murders.The first murder out of the eleven that were committed at Saint Barnabas happend in 1988. Cullen gave a lethal overdose of intravenous medication to a allergic reaction patient. When authorities started investigating tampered intravenous fluid bags, Cullen left Saint Barnabas and took a position at Warren Hospital in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. In 1992, he killed three elderly women by administering an overdose of digoxin. Digoxin is usually used for blood pressure support and it can treat health failure or rhythm problems. Unfortunately, in this case it was used as murder weapon. Cullen again quit his job in fear of being found, and joined the staff at the Hunter Medical Center in Raritan Township, New Jersey. Working in the intensive care unit, he murdered 5 other people by also administering overdoses of digoxin. (Webb, 2015) Unfortunately hospital records for this period were destroyed by the time of Cullen’s arrest in 2003, which prevented authorities from investigating. In 1998, he joined a hospital in Elston, Pennsylvania, where he murdered another patient using a lethal amount of digoxin. Because of the nursing shortage of 1990, Cullen found more nursing jobs. (Webb, 2015) In 1999, he took a position in a burn unit in a hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He attempted to kill a patient and failed and murdered another one. He resigned this position and joined a cardiac care unit in St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Over the next three years, he was responsible for the murder of another five more patients. In 2002, he left this job and found a new one at Somerset Medical Center in Somerset, New Jersey. Working in the critical care unit, he killed another eight patients by overdosing them with digoxin and insulin. In 2003, New Jersey Poison Information and Education System warned officials that there was suspicious overdoses happening, but the hospital took 3 months to inform the police. (Webb, 2015) Cullen had already killed another five more patients. In August 2003, Cullen took his last victim. His patient died of low blood sugar and a nonfatal insulin overdose. He was fired from Somerset Medical Center and later arrested on December 12th. Cullen had murdered over 40 patients in his sixteen year of serial killing. The number of patients murdered included the only ones reported.  Out of the fourteen signs of a serial killer, ten of them apply to Charles Cullen. The first sign states that over 90 percent of serial killers are male. Charles Cullen identified as a male and fulfils this requirement. These individuals are said to do poorly in school, have trouble holding down jobs, and work as unskilled laborers. Cullen dropped out of high school and couldn’t hold his nursing jobs for more than one or three years. Serial killers come from markedly unstable families. Cullen’s family was very unstable, his father had died, his brother James died of drug overdose, and his other brother Edmund died of brain cancer. As children, they are abandoned by their fathers and raised by domineering mothers. In this case, Cullen’s father died, but his mother took responsibility of Cullen. A serial killer’s family often have criminal, psychiatric and alcoholic histories. Cullen’s brother were into drugs, they also had lost two other siblings so this caused his family to be mentally unstable. Serial killers usually hate their fathers and mothers. Charles Cullen disliked his family members and he deemed his childhood as miserable. They are commonly abused as children: psychologically, physically and sexually. Charles Cullen was excessively abused and bullied in school. He took revenge by going to a party and laced the drinks with rat poison. Fortunately, no one died. Many serial killers spend time in institutions as children and have records of early psychiatric problems. Cullen fits this description the most because he attempted suicide at the age of 9; he was institutionalized but released; and even at a young age he and murderous ideations. Serial killers have high rates of suicide attempts. Over the course of his life, Cullen has attempted suicide over 20 times. These individuals are involved with tormenting small creatures. Cullen was known to inflict pain on small animals. Lastly, Charles Cullen’s IQ, fire starting tendencies, fetishisms, and bed wetting was not recorded. Overall, Cullen fulfills more than half of the fourteen signs of a serial killer and should be labeled as one. The trait theory definitely applies to Charles Cullen, more importantly the cognitive section. The trait theory states that criminality is a product of abnormal biological and physiological traits. Offenders view crime as an immediate personal needs pleaser that takes precedence of the law. The cognitive side of this theory states that individuals make “faulty calculations” and pursue behaviours that they think is beneficial, even though they are actually harmful. (Siegle, 2011, p. 125) When pleading guilty Cullen stated that seeing these critical patients suffering caused him to take action. He stated that he murdered patients to “spare them from being coded” (Webb, 2015) because he couldn’t bear to see or hear them suffering. Cognitively he was unaware of his contradictory statement and believed that he was helping these patients. As the cognitive side of the trait theory states murders think that they are helping society. In the same way, Cullen felt that he was helping these patients. If researchers had brain scans of Charles Cullen then they would have diagnosed him with conduct disorder (CD). This is a pattern of repetitive behaviour which social norms are violated. Cullen repeatedly overdosed patients and definitely would have be diagnosed with conduct disorder. The second trait that defines Charles Cullen would be the social process theory. This theory states that criminality is a function of people’s interactions with institutions in society. Cullen observed his drug addicted brothers when he was young and internalized this behaviour. On of the tenants is that a person becomes a criminal when he or she perceives more favorable than unfavorable consequences to violating the law. Again, Cullen believes that he is doing a favour for the patients by ending their suffering. There is also a denial of injury. Cullen probably viewed his behavior as benevolent or altruistic leading to neutralise his illegal behaviour. The third trait that fits this serial killer would be the development theory. A subtheme would be the latent trait theory that states that commiting crime is driven by a master trait present at birth or soon after. (Siegle, p. 227) Cullen disclosed at his hearing that he “fantasized about stealing drugs” from the hospital he working in to end his life. (Webb, 2015) Cullen grew up with the ideology of killing and this affected him as he grew older. The development theory also includes the problem behavior syndrome (PBS) which states that “a cluster of antisocial behaviour” such as family dysfunction, substance abuse, educational underachievement, suicide attempts, sensation seeking, and unemployment, and crime. (Siegle, 2011, 228) The more risk factors an individual suffers the more likely they will engage in antisocial and risky behaviours. Cullen had a lot of these risk factors and this resulted in antisocial behavior and serial killer mentalities. In the end, we can understand Charles Cullen’s serial killing of 40 people by highlighting ten of the fourteen signs of a serial killer and applying the Trait Theory, the Social Structure Theory, and the Developmental Theory. I believe that serial killers are made. They are influenced by their family, their surrounding environment, and the interactions they have with others. Experiences an individual goes through can also motivate them to kill others. A murder can be rehabilitated by recognizing the reasons for their actions. If given the proper targeted treatment and help they can turn around to do better. I feel that they should be put to work to earn money for the victim’s families or for the community. I feel that they won’t have a place in society, but they can make others lives better while under surveillance. Works CitedSiegel, L. J. (2011). Criminology: the core(4th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.Webb, Emily. (2015, January 4). Charles Cullen, The Killer Nurse: A Deeper Evil. Retrieved from http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/angels-of-death-tells-how-nurse-charles-cullen-killed-patients/news-story/3f1482705c3ee2a6ff47238fdb1f0fa6