Despite being married since 2011, Troy LaFerrara responded to a Craigs List post for female companionship. He met the petite 19-year-old Miranda Barbour and jumped to the passenger seat of her Honda CRV when they met at the Susquehanna Valley Mall. They headed for nearby Sunbury, PA.
At some point, LaFerrara may have groped his new companion or he was not swayed by her claim that she was only 16. Without warning, Barbour plunged a knife into LaFerrara’s large frame over 20 times. Her husband, Elytte Barbour, 22 (concealed in the back seat) strangled the victim until his demise was complete. The body of the victim who was seeking companionship was discarded in a lonely backyard.
The murder investigation quickly linked the victim’s cell phone to Miranda Barbour. After her arrest and incarceration, she contacted a reporter and arranged for a jailhouse interview. Francis Scarcella from the Daily Item had no idea of the gravity of the upcoming interview. Miranda Barbour confessed that LaFerrara was one of many murder victims she had killed.
When asked how many, she responded, “When I hit 22, I stopped counting.” When pressed by Scarcella, she said that the death toll was less than 100 and that she morphed into “Super Miranda” when she was about to kill. She also claims that she can pinpoint on a map where each victim is located. She stated that she could recall every murder like watching a movie, but her recollections were more like the trailer to a thriller than the actual film.
According to her confession, the plan to kill LaFerrara did not include being stabbed, but the killing was to be accomplished with her husband of 3 weeks using strangulation. Miranda supposedly stabbed the victim after he was undaunted at the fact that she claimed to be only 16. She claimed that if the victim had become concerned about her age that she and her husband would have let him live.
Her back-story begins in Alaska at age 4, when she is said to have been sexually molested at the hands of her uncle. He was subsequently charged and sentenced to 14 years incarceration. At the age of 13, Miranda claims to have joined a satanic cult founded by an unnamed leader. This leader is the one that supposedly assisted her in aiming the gun towards her first victim and pulling the trigger. She also claims to have had a drug-induced abortion, but her mother denies the claim. She added that a doctor found no evidence of an aborted pregnancy.
Miranda claims that she resided in Alaska for the next three years and continued her activities with the satanic cult including additional murders and using drugs. She told the reporter that she harbored evil feelings and the satanic beliefs freed her of the demons. She also claims as a teenager that she had ascended to a high-ranking official in the satanic world. She became pregnant and the father of her child was murdered.
She went to North Carolina for a new start, but that appears short-lived. She met and married her new husband, Elytte. The two newlyweds headed to Pennsylvania focused on a honeymoon of murder. To the reporter, Miranda displayed no remorse for her victims because she only killed “bad people.” Her motivation for the grand confession was for a cathartic release of negative energy.
The Sunbury Police Department is investigating the claims with other jurisdictions and the assistance of the FBI. We have heard this song before from individuals who profess to having been prolific serial killers. Otis Toole and Henry Lee Lucas come to mind.
They initially claimed to have participated in 108 murders, at the behest of a satanic cult named “The Hands of Death.” Toole also was the victim of sexual abuse and claimed his grandmother was a Satan worshiper, who introduced him to her beliefs. Otis Toole also confessed to the murder of Adam Walsh. Most of the assertions by this serial killing duo as to the body count were either recanted or disproved. The authorities will have their hands full deciphering the claims alleged by Miranda Barbour.
I am not a serial killer profiler. My knowledge and area of study is focused towards mass killers and targeted violence. I am very skeptical of Miranda Barbour’s claims. Considering the disorganized planning and execution of LaFerrara, it is difficult to conceive that her trail is comprised of discarded corpses. The police easily identified her as the temptress and murderer after she and her husband disposed of the body in a public location. This is not the work of a highly skilled and experienced serial killer.
Barbour claims to have been a high-ranking member a satanic cult as a teenager. Dr. Steven Reiss, Emeritus Professor of Psychology of Ohio State University proposed that there are 16 basic human desires. Think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs on steroids. The desires were determined after a study of 6 thousand people.
These desires represent intrinsic motivational values for people in business, social settings and yes, criminals as well. The desires are: acceptance, curiosity, eating, family, honor, idealism, independence, individuality, order, physical activity, power, romance, saving, social contact, status, tranquility, and vengeance. These are the reasons we all drag ourselves out of bed in the morning.
A sexually abused 13 year old who is looking for acceptance, power, and love could easily find solace and acceptance with a group of individuals who claim they are worshiping Satan. Were they true believers or were they wannabe’s that were enamored with the concept? This belief system is similar to what we witness in the group dynamics of criminal gangs. Belonging to this group also allows the members to embrace a surrogate family, experience group honor, status, and social contact. The group is often shepparded by a charismatic leader, who more often than not preys upon the needy and exploits their weaknesses. The leaders are also often socio or psychopaths with high levels of narcissism. Like a Charles Manson or David Koresh.
What is narcissism? It is defined in the DSM V-TR (a compendium of psychiatric and psychological diagnosis information for mental health professionals) criteria as a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by 5 (or more) of the following:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love
- Believes they are “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also “special” or of high status
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a sense of entitlement
- Is interpersonally exploitative
- Lacks empathy
- Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
It should be noted that the newly published DSM V-TR has made changes to narcissism. Although many are inspired by the exploits of celebrities of reality television, could Miranda possess many of these narcissistic traits and a desire to be famous? Time will tell as the authorities flush out the details of her confession and determine fact from fiction.
Many people get wrapped around the axle concerning the definition of psychopaths and sociopaths. The best way that you can differentiate between the two is a description I heard in the play Wicked. One of the lines concerning the witch provides a good difference of the two pathologies. “Was her wickedness cast upon her (by social forces) or was she born with wickedness?” That is essentially the difference between psychopaths and sociopaths.
Psychopaths and sociopaths share the same traits and are both highly manipulative and very calculating. They are devoid of a conscience. Despite these ominous traits, many of them are capable of operating in the mainstream as your neighbor down the street or the boardroom executive. The nuance between whether they are socio or psychopaths is only useful for the causality of their illness. It has no effect on their actions, which are symptomatic of a shared psychosis.
If after the appropriate court ordered mental evaluation is conducted and law enforcement find the assertions of being a serial killer are true, they may label Miranda as a sociopath and the most prolific female serial killer in the 21st century. The alternative is that they wasted countless hours and resources chasing a poor act of fiction.
Dr. Mike Roche spent 30 years in law enforcement with the Little Rock Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and the U.S. Secret Service. On arrival in the Tampa Field Office in 2001, Mike Roche became the protective intelligence coordinator over all threat related investigations. Mike speaks on the subject of mass killers. He is an instructor at Saint Leo University teaching Behavioral Threat Assessments of Mass Killers. He has published three works of fiction and two non-fiction books, Face 2 Face: Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an ex-Secret Service Agents Guide and his newest book is Mass Killers: How You Can Identify Workplace, School and Public Killers Before they Strike. http://www.amazon.com/Mass-Killers-Identify-Workplace-School-ebook/dp/B00GHZWC1M/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389112969&sr=1-2&keywords=mass+killers You can get in touch with Mike through http://mikeroche.com or http://protectivethreat.com