Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Homicidal Harry Potter Fan & MA Native "Mucko" McDermott

Michael (AKA "Mucko") McDermott is one of our most notorious local murderers. In December 2000, he went on a rampage at Edgewater Technology in Wakefield, Mass., killing seven co-workers, four of them women, and including one guy who lived less than ten blocks from me. Once apprehended, McDermott claimed that he believed he was killing "Nazis" - the German-speaking, WWII kind, not metaphorical or figurative Nazis. He brought this claim to court in a farcical attempt to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. It did not work. His actual motives were more mundane. He was angry at the human resources and accounting departments for garnishing his wages, and clearly just lost it. Six-foot-two, weighing something like 300 pounds, not to mention bearded and wild-haired, the 42-year old software tester paced methodically down the halls of his workplace with an AK-47, targeting specific individuals. Yet another variation on the familiar theme of "going postal".

McDermott was an odd duck. To say the least. Born Michael McDermod Martinez, he was reputedly accepted by MIT during his senior year of high school, but declined to attend. He believed that he had been accepted only because of his Hispanic surname, and subsequently changed his surname to the Irish white-boy "McDermott". Then he joined the Navy and became a submariner. The sailors and the officers liked him all right, although some recalled that he tended to overreact to slights - often violently (also characteristics of McDonald's spree killer James Huberty and Luby's Cafeteria killer George Hennard). He didn't rack up a sterling record as a shipboard techie, but then he probably didn't want to. McDermott clearly belonged to the subspecies Homo sapiens nerdicus. Beyond that MIT acceptance (and his infantile repudiation of it), he is said to have scored 165 on at least some IQ test (most likely the Internet variety), and loved The X Files, Harry Potter, Dungeons & Dragons and the rest of that huge, weird subculture related to science fiction and fantasy. And he remained interested in the most child-oriented aspects of this subculture well into middle age. He was the veteran of a divorce and a suicide attempt and took anti-depressive medication. At one point, he actually even lived in a renovated grammar school, which graphically suggests a real need to regress back into childhood to escape his problems.

He regularly expounded his views on Internet bulletin boards (shades of other recent rage killers, like George Sodini and Anders Behring Breivik), and liked to fool around with chemicals that exploded when mixed together (shades of Ted Kaczynski and even of the murderous Atlanta day trader, Mark O. Barton, who was a chemist in a former life). As a matter of fact, he had helped design Duracell batteries for a living before his employers relocated from Massachusetts, after which he segued into a new career in IT. Like Hitler, he had a quirky compassionate streak, exhibiting a fondness for children and giving blood on a regular basis. And, like the suspected Zodiac Killer, Arthur Leigh Allen, he was an overweight, underachieving recluse with a high IQ. The guy was totally a textbook case, the quintessential profiler's composite.

The press at the time unfairly smeared middle-aged IT professionals everywhere by painting McDermott as merely another hapless, overage computer guy who, at the age of 42, took orders from people who were often (or at least occasionally) "a whole generation younger". All you need to do is take a good look at the guy to know that he was something else entirely - an intellectually talented man-child who never grew up and was torn apart by the distance between his inner self and the demands of maturity. Like the so-called "criminal genius", George Nassar, McDermott was a maladroit smart guy whose enraged social frustration left him no option but to communicate with a gun. The Boston area, whose many colleges and universities are a magnet to intellectually yearning folks worldwide, must surely host more than its share of dudes like this. Criminologists, take note.

Wakefield Massacre (Wikipedia)

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