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Radcliff author discusses serial killers with mystery book club

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By Amber Coulter

Nelda Shattles Copas knows all about the twisted side of humanity.

The Radcliff author shared that understanding Monday with 15 members and visitors of the M3 Mystery Club at the North Branch of Hardin County Public Library in Radcliff.

The author of “Twisted Desires: A Suspenseful Murder Mystery” and “Twisted Revenge” outlined the differences and motivations of some of the nation’s most famous serial killers to interested residents who have spent plenty of time reading about he killers’ fictional counterparts.

“Twisted Desires,” self-published in 2009 through iUniverse, is set in a town based on Bowling Green, where the Florida native studied psychology, criminology and mental health counseling at Western Kentucky University after retiring from the U.S. Army. It follows a female detective and an FBI profiler on a hunt for a serial killer in the town.

“Twisted Revenge,” published in 2011 by Wasteland Press, picks up with a new string of murders that resemble those from the previous book and introducing a potential new danger to the protagonist of “Twisted Desires.”

Both of the books have won awards from Readers’ Favorite website.

Copas expects to release a third book featuring her original heroine in a town based on Radcliff.

She also hopes to write a book abou Alex Suleski, 6, of Radcliff, whose father and stepmother were convicted of her 1989 torture and murder.

Copas became interested in antisocial personalities and serial killers while she was in college.

She used Richard Trenton Chase, the “Vampire of Sacramento,” as an example of a disorganized serial killer.

Such people often have below-average IQs, are socially inadequate, suffer family emotional abuse and have an absent or unstable father among various common characteristics, she said.

“You can’t cure a sociopath,” she said. “If that’s what he is, that’s what he’s always going to be because they don’t have what they need to have empathy for other people.”

Organized sociopaths can mimic empathy, Copas said.

Such people tend to have above-average IQs, handle social situations well or charismatically, suffer harsh family physical abuse and have stable father figures among other characteristics, she said.

That doesn’t mean they can’t be caught, she said.

“Eventually, they get sloppy,” she said.

Copas noted Los Angeles’ infamous Hillside Stranglers, cousins Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi, were caught after car upholstery repairer Buono left carpet fibers on a victim’s body.

Statistics show between 30 and 50 serial killers are working in the nation at any given time, Copas said.

Some of the convicted killers Copas detailed told their victims they were police officers.

She and attendees then discussed safety tips, such as locking doors, walking with car keys in hand and calling police or a service department when unsure about whether an authority figure or service people are who they claim to be.

Copas said she hoped listeners left with that information more than anything else she discussed.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.