The Case of Timothy McVeigh

Timothy McVeigh

Name: Nathan Johnson

Instructor: Dr. Wendy Hicks

Course: CRJ 308

Date: April 26, 2015Timothy McVeigh


Both mass and serial murders are considered one of the most surprising types of crime. Knight (2006) believes that the reason for this is the fact that it is not easy to understand the reason why others would derive joy in killing others. Serial and mass murders are surprising because they present a small section of the population involved in insane acts. This is despite the fact that they are not insane. Under most circumstances, victims of serial and mass killers are always caught off-guard. This paper examines the psychology these brutal killers by using Timothy McVeigh as a case in point.

The Case of Timothy McVeigh

In the year 1995, Timothy McVeigh who was an ex-army man hired a Ryder truck and parked it in Oklahoma City close to Alfred P. Murray Federal Building. McVeigh was prepared to commit mass murder (FBI, 2015). The vehicle was fitted with a strong bomb that had been made from a combination of chemicals. He got out, shut the door and walked towards the car that he sought to use in order to escape. The bomb exploded at about 9.02 am. In a short period of time, the neighborhood appeared like a war zone. Part of the building was destroyed with a number of floors brought down. In addition, several vehicles were burned and more than three hundred buildings in the neighborhood were damaged. This event led to the death of a hundred and sixty eight people including nine children (FBI, 2015). Hundreds of people also suffered injuries. This was the worst case of homegrown terrorism the US every witnessed.

Psychology of Serial and Mass Killers

The actions of Timothy McVeigh were triggered by his hatred for the government. His main goal was to topple the government (FBI, 2015). Though a large section of the population could hate Timothy for heinous act and lack of remorse, McDermott (2013) would beg to differ. On the contrary he would ask that McVeigh not be blamed for his actions. This is attributed to research which has established that serial and mass killers cannot help doing what they do. It has been submitted that psychopaths lack basic hard-wiring within the brain that makes it necessary for people to show care and compassion.

From a psychological perspective, criminal and aggressive behavior would be founded on the connections between the behaviors of people and their thought processes. The psychological approach would lay emphasis on the individual. However, it differs from biological approach given that psychology analyzes the individual based on the connections with the rest. In the same vein, Keppel and Birness (2003) believe that the successful development of a kid is determined by its early relationships with the major caregivers. According to Whitman and Akutagawa (2004), psychological disorders with the inclusion of depression could sometimes lead to violent behaviour. Finally, the sociological approach could be used so as to order to determine other kinds of crime. The sociological approach holds that criminal behaviors are those that shift from the norms that are acceptable in society.


In conclusion, research offers information regarding serial and mass murder murders. Based on the case of McVeigh, it is apparent that these people are selective and are capable of committing heinous crimes. This notwithstanding, in analyzing the life of a mass killer like Timothy McVeigh, it is hard to understand the manner in which a person like McVeigh operates. It can be deduced that McVeigh is an outcome of both biological and environmental factors.



Federal Bureau of Investigation {FBI}. (2015). Terror Hits Home: The Oklahoma City Bombing.

Retrieved from

Keppel, R., & Birnes, W. (2003). Profiling the serial killer: The efficacy of profiling. The Psychology of Serial Killer Investigations, 32(3), 129-168

Knight, Z. (2006). Some thoughts on the psychological roots of the behavior of serial killers as narcissists: an object relations perspective. Social behavior and personality, 34(10), 1189-1206

McDermott, K. (2013). Is this proof evil killers are born not made? Psychopaths’ brains ‘lack

basic wiring that triggers empathy and compassion.’ Retrieved from

Whitman, T., & Akutagawa, D. (2004). Riddles in serial murder: a synthesis. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 9(6), 693-703

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *