Missing Red Flags of Violent Behavior?

One of the most common and gravest mistakes made when it comes to violent crime is missing or ignoring the warning signs.

Hannah Anderson
The recent kidnapping of Hannah Anderson by Jim DiMaggio is a good case to review. In one news article, Hannah's grandparents were quoted as saying that there was no warning - nothing to indicate the evil under the surface of DiMaggio. However, as you read the articles, there were plenty of warnings.

Perhaps the most subtle sign was DiMaggio's own past. His father kidnapped a teenage girl at gunpoint himself. She escaped and he was arrested and years later committed suicide. It is very unlikely that the kidnapping was the only domestic violence Jim DiMaggio was exposed to over his life. May stories have shown that kids raised in an abusive home are more likely to continue that kind of aggression themselves.

No one would expect the Andersons to do a background check on a friend, but it is also hard to imagine that over the years they knew each other there was no indication of some of the past behavior. It is possible that Jim wove a careful story to cover up the experiences. However, I'd be surprised.

James DiMaggio
More apparent were some of the present behaviors that could indicate violence. In studies of those who commit workplace murders, there are some characteristics that stand out. One of the more common traits was living alone. That shows a lack of family or social support, especially at DiMaggio's age, which could mean antisocial conduct.

He was going through foreclosure, losing his home and was going to have to move away. That is stressful for anyone and for someone without support or prone to violence or mental illness it could push them over the age.

The greatest warning of all came from Hannah herself. She had become uncomfortable with "Uncle Jim" after he told her he liked her. She had gone on a week long trip to Hollywood and came home after two days because she was uncomfortable You have to wonder why she was even traveling alone with a guy who was not a relative. When she came home early, the parents should have really questioned why.

Hannah was apparently not telling her parents about some of the her concerns, not wanting to ruin the friendship between her dad and Jim. So often in these cases, the individuals who see the warning signs either do not take them as seriously as possible or do not tell those that should know.

As soon as Hannah became uncomfortable with Jim, her family should have been on high alert. I believe in trusting your instincts; when something does not feel right or safe, there is most likely a reason that the subconscious mind picked up on. As a father, I could not imagine letting my family go anywhere with someone who made my daughter feel that uncomfortable.

This was a horrible crime. Hopefully, the lessons will be enough to help some other potential victims notice the red flags and avoid a dangerous individual before it is too late.


Eric Smith, CPP is the leading authority on organizational self-defense. He has extensive experience in law enforcement as well as security management. Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces. To learn more email eric@businesskarate.com.



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