Kristen Gilbert is regarded as serial killer because of having been convicted for killing four patients she took care of while working as a nurse. She was therefore charged of first degree murder and was to face death sentence but her lawyers managed to defend her to be sentenced to life imprisonment due to the nature of the offences she had committed. The application of the classical theory of criminology allows to determine that indeed Kristen Gilbert was motivated by her free will while killing the patients at the veterans medical Centre between 1993 and 1996.
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Kristen Gilbert’ Background
The renowned US nurse serial killer Kristen Gilbert was born on the 13th of November, 1967 (Holmes & Holmes, 2009). She was born to the family of Mr. Richard and Mrs. Claudia Strickland who resided in the state of Massachusetts. Apart from parents, Kristen Gilbert also had a younger sister with whom she grew up. As a child, Kristen Gilbert was never reported to have had any unacceptable behavior except. However, in their testimonies, her former friends and boyfriends said she was a very peculiar liar (Holmes & Holmes, 2009). The friends also termed her as a very controlling and strange lady. It is these character traits that made some of her friends call her a thief. Kristen, however, was never expelled from school. She was well schooled at the Greenfield Community college where in 1988 she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (Holmes & Holmes, 2009). Gilbert Kristen also enjoyed a fairly good life in marriage with Glenn Gilbert whom she married immediately after school. Later, she also had a quite successful career as a nurse at Northampton VA medical Centre.
All the killings done by Kristen Gilbert occurred in Massachusetts at the veterans administration medical Centre. The location of the murder was therefore in the United States of America, in Northampton, Massachusetts. Kristen used injections to commit the murders. Injecting the patients and fellow nurses with an overdose of not prescribed drugs, she managed to kill them (Holmes & Holmes, 2009). After a thorough investigation, the police found out that in fact, Kristen used to inject the patients with a drug called epinephrine which eventually led to the deaths.
The Criminology Theory Applicable to Kristen Gilbert’s Murders
The most suitable theory of criminology applicable to the criminal behavior of Gilbert is the Classical Theory. The theory argues that the decision to commit a crime is an individual choice which is made by weighing the possible advantages and disadvantages of the crimes (Akers, 2013). Therefore, Kristen committed the crimes out of her own free will. Her background, the time and location, as well as the motive point to the fact that she willingly made a choice to kill the people.
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The Time of Crimes
Kristen Gilbert was first suspected of being a serial killer in the year of 1993 when her colleagues in the hospital has started calling her an angel of death. During this period, some of her coworkers were very scared of her, while those who loved her did so with passion. The suspicion resulted from the fact that Gilbert always forged circumstances to attract attention from everyone (Holmes & Holmes, 2009). Once, for example, she raised an alarm in the hospital ward saying that she had been threatened with a bomb. Her colleagues said this was a lie. As the result, all the people including the patients were evacuated from the ward to give room for the search. At the end of the search, however, it was discovered that in fact there was no bomb in the room.
All these things started happening after she had fallen in love with a watchman at the hospital. At this period, therefore, Kristen Gilbert’s husband Glenn started having a suspicion that she was going to kill him in order to continue her love affair with the watchman (Field & Pearson, 2010).
The suspicion became stronger when the deaths became more frequent at the hospital. These suspicious deaths made the people perceive Kristen as a serial killer. In 1994, 1995, and 1996, several deaths occurred under her watch. In 1994, she had been accused of giving an injection of epinephrine to one of her fellow nurses who ended up suffering from asthma and eventually died (Holmes & Holmes, 2009). Most drugs also started disappearing from the hospital and this was linked to her. These drugs were the ones used to kill patients in the wards. Another death occurred in 1995. A nurse had noticed Gilbert entering a ward with a syringe in her hand, and some minutes later, the patient in the ward died. The same year, she received a threat from her watchman lover. He promised to kill her if she did not leave her husband. Meanwhile the death cases at the hospital were becoming more frequent. The investigation into the deaths of the patients however started in 1996 and proved that Kristen was responsible for the murders.
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The Motivation Behind the Killings
One of the criminological theories that can best explain the killings of the innocent people by Kristen Gilbert is the rational choice theory. The theory argues that people choose to commit crimes because of their free will. Kristen’s motives are not clear. It cannot be argued that the urge to kill the patients was the result of her lover’s influence, rather, she acted out of the love she had for the watchman (Akers, 2013). For example when she took poison to kill herself, she called the lover to tell her that she had committed the killings as she had been advised by him. The lover had even gone further to tell her to leave her husband or he would kill her (Field & Pearson, 2010). The influence of the watchman was only a catalyst for the desire to kill, which had already appeared. The choice of victims was not organized as all the murdered people were either patients or the nursing colleagues whom she was working with. The target, therefore, were the people within the hospital setting. There were no victims who were responsible for their own deaths. Instead, all the deaths were a result Kristen Gilbert’s planned actions.
In conclusion, Kristen Gilbert, a serial killer from Massachusetts working at the VA medical centre lived a good life during her early years. She became a serial killer in her adult age while being a nursing professional. The criminological theory applicable is the classical theory which elaborates that people choose to do crimes based on their own volition. Kristen was, therefore, not motivated by anything rather than her own will and managed to kill four people.