Neuropsychologist Writes Book With Family Mass Murderer Hoping to Prevent Future Killings

Sep 10, 2013, 10:00 ET from Dr. Robert E. Hanlon

CHICAGO, Sept. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Can you imagine a mass murderer seeking to understand the psychological issues that led him to commit the heinous act of murdering his entire family two decades earlier? Further, can society learn something from reviewing the factors related to this horrific crime that may help prevent future cases of extreme domestic violence against parents and children?

Dr. Robert E. Hanlon, a neuropsychologist who has examined and studied hundreds of murderers, found the answer to those questions is 'yes' and has written a new book with the help of a man who brutally killed his parents and three siblings one day in November of 1985.

"This is one of the most shocking mass murders in Illinois history," said Jefferson County State's Attorney Kathleen Alling.

Indeed, she was referring to the November 8, 1985 murder of an entire family at the hands of the oldest son, Thomas Odle, who was 18 at the time.  But after 17 years on death row, his sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole.

For the first time, a convicted mass murderer personally shares his thoughts and feelings alongside a neuropsychologist who offers invaluable insights into the mind of the individual responsible for one of the most notorious domestic homicides in American history.  This unique collaboration is presented in a new book, Survived By One: The Life and Mind of a Family Mass Murderer, released by Southern Illinois University Press.

At the age of 19, he was the youngest death-row inmate in the Illinois prison system. Viewed as a remorseless, coldblooded killer devoid of normal emotions, Odle spent 17 years waiting to die.  But once he was literally given a new lease on life, he began a long period of self-examination that continues today.    

Odle's reflection on the difference between the death penalty and life without parole is a rare perspective.  Very few people have directly experienced both sides of this controversial issue.  This book serves as an unusual glimpse into the life and mind of a killer, as told both by a murderer firsthand and an experienced neuropsychologist who has examined hundreds of killers.  Dr. Hanlon's book relies, in part, on the words of Odle, and also refers to court documents, newspaper accounts, original research, and interviews with others related to the case.


SOURCE Dr. Robert E. Hanlon