The phrase “Serial Killer” today has it owns serial celebrity fame notations from popular books written by well-known author who study and interview these killers, also world premiere serial killer movies on televisions watched around the world. High profile lawyers are hired at times to take on these cases with hopes of an insanity plea deal. Being mentally incapable of what you were doing at the time of the murders can get you to a mental institution to serve out your time instead of jail, or death sentence. Lawyers normally have their own psychological doctors sent to evaluate their client. Summarized in this paper discussed the case of Kristen Heather Strickland, Kristen Gilbert, “Angel of Death” these are a few of the names she has been known to go by. The focus is on the possible connection that Gilbert background growing up could have impacted her spree of serial killings or a role of mental disorders that went unrecognized until she snapped. Specialists investigated the heinous crimes committed by her and recorded their findings. The use of different scientific methods and theories were used to treat Gilbert and check the rate of occurrences.
Keywords: Serial Killer, Murder, Disorganized, Act-Focused, Pleasure-seeking, Psychopath, Mental Illness, Border Line Personality Disorder, Retrospective case study.
The notorious nurse who dodged a death sentence and got life without parole instead. Was it by pure luck or was it the law according to the state she was prosecuted in where the crimes were committed? Descriptive case studies involve a descriptive theory of what might have happened and was there a connection. Kristen Heather Strickland was observed by serval psychologist throughout her life, but it was not until after her killing spree she was diagnosed with a mental disorder. It would turn out to be a little too late for Kristen since all the evidence gathered pointed out she was a serial killer with a cold soul. Kristen Heather Strickland, a white female, was born on November 13, 1967, in Fall River, Massachusetts. I used chronological order research by recording her age and years as a time frame she committed such a horrendous act from childhood to adulthood.
Secondly, try to find a connection between the time period she committed all these acts and were they related in anyway. I wanted to see if there was a connection between Kristen’s behaviors that caused her to kill or attack the victims in the time line which the events occurred. Kristen lived with her biological parents and younger sister Tara Morgan in a stable home environment. Kristen’s dad was an electronics executive. Kirsten’s mom Claudia was a homemaker and part-time teacher (Daly, Davis, DeHart, & Palmadesso). According to Kristen preteen years no signification problems were recorded. Kristen Family moved to Groton, MA in early 1980’s. Kristen showed signs of being a pathological liar, according to friends, neighbors, and father (Daly, Davis, DeHart, & Palmadesso). Kristen would joke about being related to serial killer Lizzie Borden. Kristen’s behavior started to go downhill from her late teen years until she was later locked up behind bars for the rest of her for killing four men, attempted two, and it was noted that she may have killed more.
Case I: Born on November 13, 1967, as Kristen Heather Strickland, white female, in Fall River, Massachusetts. Kristen Family moved to Groton, MA in her preteen years. Information presented came from interviews, court records, pretrial hearings, and statements from Kristen H. Gilbert. Encyclopedia of Murders included a timeline of Kristen’s life events. According to, The Department of Psychology at Radford University, Radford, VA research was conducted to analyze Kristen’s life and what could have triggered such behavior (Daly, Davis, DeHart, & Palmadesso). What causes a person to do such an evil thing to people?
In 1984, Kristen graduated with honors from high school and went to college at Bridgewater State College with a major in pre-med (Daly, Davis, DeHart, & Palmadesso). In 1985, she developed a pattern of verbal and physical abuse towards her boyfriend’s according to court records listed by Encyclopedia of Murders (Medicalbag,2013) In the summer of 1986, she met her future husband Glenn Gilbert in which she transferred schools to Wachusett Community College, then to Greenfield Community College, to be near him (Daly, Davis, DeHart, & Palmadesso). In 1987, she became a home health aide at the Visiting Nurses Association of Franklin County in Massachusetts. At age twenty, she used bathwater to scold a retarded child over sixty percent of his body, and she was not prosecuted (Daly, Davis, DeHart, & Palmadesso). In 1988, at age twenty-one she eloped with Glenn Gilbert and became Kristen Gilbert (Fredrik,2016). That same year she chased her husband Glenn around the house with a butcher knife after an argument. She also graduated from Greenfield Community College with a diploma in nursing that same year.
In 1989, at age twenty- two she became employed as a nurse at Leeds Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Massachusetts (Daly, Davis, DeHart, & Palmadesso). In 1990, according to the research from The Department of Psychology, at age twenty-three patterns started developing with an abnormally number of deaths in Ward C, during Gilbert’s shift there (Daly, Davis, DeHart, & Palmadesso). One doctor refused to let her treat anymore of his patients because he suspected it might be her. Kristen had a well-known good reputation at work and all her coworkers never thought nothing of it until other incidents stared happing. In 1990, at age twenty-three Kristen Gilbert was jokingly given the name “Angel of Death” by her co-workers (Medicalbag,2013). In 1991, at age twenty-four she gave birth to her first son named Brian. In 1993, at age twenty-six she gave birth to her second son, Raymond, who shared the same birthday as her.
In 1994, at age twenty -six Kristen met James Perrault, a security guard at the hospital, and began having an affair with him (Daly, Davis, DeHart, & Palmadesso). Due to the affair her marriage fell apart shortly after. In 1995, at age twenty-seven she starts killing, gets divorced, and her coworkers start to suspect it is her killing the people in their rooms. In 1996, at age twenty-eight Gilbert confessed to killing patients during a phone call she made to Perrault (Daly, Davis, DeHart, & Palmadesso). He later testifies against her in front the grand jury along with her ex-husband (Medicalbag,2013). At age twenty-eight she was admitted to psychiatric ward in Arbour Hospital three times in one month. Kristen’s life was just spiraling out of control and it finally came to an end. On March 27, 2001, at age thirty-three the jury sentenced Gilbert to four consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole, plus twenty years. In May 2001, at age thirty-three Gilbert was transferred from a federal prison for women in Framingham, MA, to a federal prison in Carswell, TX, where she had remained until her death. On July 27,2003 at age thirty-five Kristen Gilbert dropped her federal appeal for a new trial, due to a recent US Supreme Court ruling that would have allowed prosecutors to pursue the death penalty. Kristen is known for the murderous nurse who escaped the death penalty and may have killed others and got away with it according to VA staff workers.
Kristen’s victims included four white male ages: thirty-five, forty-one, sixty-nine, and sixty -six. (Daly, Davis, DeHart, & Palmadesso). The method of killing was epinephrine which induced massive heart attacks. She would get the epinephrine from the hospital stock and go in their rooms and inject them. She was an organized serial killer, called the “Angel of Death.” She killed for the trill and the power, and maybe to attract the security guard she was having an affair with. Gilbert’s reasons for why she did what she did will never be clear. Staff at the Northampton VAMC have speculated that her intent was to demonstrate her nursing skills by creating emergency situations, since there were an unusual number of cardiac arrests during the time in question and many of the patients survived (Daly, Davis, DeHart, & Palmadesso). VA hospital rules required that hospital police be present at any medical emergency.
Retrospective case study methods were used in the case involving Kristen Heather Strickland. A retrospective study design allows the investigator to formulate hypotheses about possible associations between an outcome and an exposure and to further investigate the potential relationships (Retrospective Study). Kristen was a very smart girl with a troubled heart who turned mad serial killer. Kristen showed a lot of physical and emotional symptoms from the start of her late teen years. Kristen did not have any treatment in her early teen years, but her late teen years symptoms started and just seem to get worst. Kristen stated she was physically abused with claims her mother beat her, also she was psychologically abused because her parents were distant and unaffectionate towards her. (Daly, Davis, DeHart, &Palmadesso). She may have suffered tremendous emotional stress after her grandfather passed away, the ruin of her marriage and, her affair with the hospital security guard. Could that be why she turned out the way she did? Was she act-focused? According to Holmes typology, serial killers can be act-focused killing their victims quickly (Freeman,2007). Kristen did use drug that could be quickly administrated to induce cardiac arrest in her victims. Still there is just no specific reason why someone would do the things she did.
While serving her sentences in prison, she was treated for psychiatric problems for Borderline Personality Disorder. (Daly, Davis, DeHart, & Palmadesso). Direct observation from the psychologist resulted in his diagnostic findings. According to the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Borderline Personality Disorder is Borderline Personality Disorder with a code DSM-5 301.83(F60.3)(DSM,2013). Borderline Personality Disorder is a disease characterized by impulsive behaviors, intense mood swings, feelings of low self-worth, and problems in interpersonal relationships (BPD, WebMD). It has also been diagnosed among some of the United States most notorious serial killers. Remarkably, this disorder is more common among female criminals than male criminals.
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