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MSNBC Interviews Gary M. Lavergne

October 16, 2002

On October 16, 2002, Rick Sanchez, morning anchor of MSNBC Live, interviewed Gary Lavergne about the similarities and differences between the Washington, DC-area sniper and Charles Whitman, the University of Texas Tower sniper. Nine days before the alleged snipers were apprehended, Gary warned that "[the sniper] kind of defies a lot of what you hear profilers saying."

Rick Sanchez: As we continue we take you inside the story once again. We see there is a lot of questions surrounding the sniper attacks. Who could be doing this? Why are they doing it? How are they getting away with it every single time? Joining us now in Austin, Texas is Gary Lavergne. He is the author of A SNIPER IN THE TOWER: THE CHARLES WHITMAN MURDERS, which is really a true crime tale of a sniper who shot more than 50 people from a university tower in Texas. Good to have you with us Gary we appreciate it. 

Gary Lavergne: Thank you.

Sanchez: Some viewers may not remember this, but anyone who lives in Texas knows this story, but people across the country may not. This is a little different. This guy was shooting knowing in the end he was going to be caught. He wasn't going to be coming down alive from that tower or not without handcuffs. Right?

Lavergne: Absolutely. And most simultaneous mass murders like Charles Whitman and the Luby's Cafeteria murderer fully expect to die in an episode of murder in which they try to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. And that's what makes this particular person very different.

Sanchez: Yea. Do you think, though, in the end, the fact that this person keeps committing crimes, I was going to say weekly, but it has been more than weekly, that in the end, he, too, has a bit of a death wish? From your own studies in the Texas case, would you share your thoughts with us on that?

Lavergne: Well, what's hard about this particular case is that we are dealing with a person who by definition is a serial killer, who, on the other hand is using the weapons and MO of a mass murderer. Generally, serial killers want to be up close and personal with their victims so that they can see the agony and the pain that they are causing. This person is not doing that. This person is shooting like a mass murder and then running to shoot again like a serial killer. So, he kind of defies a lot of what you hear profilers saying.

Sanchez: What did you learn later on about Charles Whitman. I haven't had the pleasure of reading your book yet, but I imagine it is a good read. When you studied the person after the shooting what did you find out about him? What kind of individual was he? What might we learn from that that we can compare with the person in DC?

Lavergne: I went into the Charles Whitman project searching for a reason that turned this "All-American" boy into someone who is an insane killer. And what I found about that book, and with the two other books I written about multiple murders, is that, far from being insane, these are cunning, planning people who make serial decisions in a correct order. They know exactly what they are doing and what's really disturbing about them is that really enjoy doing what they do.

Sanchez: Is that why they do it? Is it the sheer enjoyment of it?

Lavergne:  There is something about multiple murders that we don't understand and probably never will. By and large, until they get caught, they are getting exactly what they want. This person, whomever he is, is getting what he wants when you stop and think about it. And he will until he gets caught.

Sanchez: Interesting perspective. Good book. Gary Lavergne, A SNIPER IN THE TOWER: THE CHARLES WHITMAN MURDERS, which happened back in Texas, and we do thank you for taking time to talk with us this morning.

Lavergne: Thank you.

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