A serial killer is in Tampa, Florida. That's what is known.
But so many of us can only wrap our minds around that phenomenon through what we have experienced via years of watching television crime shows.
For better or worse, that insulates us from reality. Poet T.S. Eliot noted that's what we want: A barrier between our consciousness and reality.
That's how the members of the elite FBI team on "Criminal Minds" refer to those twisted creatures.
We're frustrated right now that law enforcement hasn't come up with the profile yet of the killer. Or posited motivation.
Dr. Spencer Reid on "Criminal Minds" would have already done that. And JJ would have handled the press briefings better.
But maybe serial murderers were never real to us. That's something we can't take in.
During the late 1960s, in university town Ann Arbor, Michigan, young women were being whisked away and found mutilated. I was a doctoral student there at the University of Michigan.
My friends and I didn't understand why our parents back where we came from were so worried. We felt invulnerable.
Of course, we even joked about finally being famous if we were snatched away. Maybe we wouldn't make it to the cover of the "Rolling Stone." Just the "Ann Arbor News." But that was enough. After all, like most graduate students, we felt "less than."
When John Norman Collins was arrested as the Michigan Murderer, no, we didn't feel relief. Serial killing wasn't real to us. It still isn't. That's why television programming like "Criminal Minds" thrives.
A few days after I moved into this residential development in Eastern Ohio, the neighborhood pest warned me about all the supposed bad guys. I rolled my eyes.
Had he provided a "profile" of those alleged miscreants I might have taken him seriously. Even added him to my network.
Meanwhile, last night I got lucky. "Law & Order SVU" had a episode about a serial rapist on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I felt very smart figuring out that the first guy "collared" (a police term we all know now) was not The One. Thanks to more and more pop culture, I have less and less involvement with what's real.
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