In our modern society, the simple mention of the word homicide conjures up thoughts of ghastly criminal behavior. By definition, 'homicide' refers to the act of 'taking a human life.’ What's important to remember, however, committing homicide is not necessarily criminal in nature:
Homicide - Found guilty on multiple counts of murder, and as ordered by the trial judge, the state of Florida executed Ted Bundy by electrocution on January 24, 1989. The cause of Bundy's death is recorded as a homicide on the official death record.
There are those who continue to argue 'state-sponsored' execution is in itself, murder. The majority disagree and capital punishment remains legal in the United States. Thirty-two of the fifty states and fifty-eight countries worldwide practice capital punishment.
Mass Murder - The FBI classifies mass murder as the taking of four or more lives in a single incident, usually at the same location, one right after another.
In July 2012, James Eagan Holmes walked out on stage at the Century Theater in Aurora, Colorado, and began shooting indiscriminately into a crowd of moviegoers, killing twelve. The act earned Holmes the designation, mass murderer. He is currently awaiting trial on twelve counts of murder, twelve counts of murder with ‘extreme indifference' and one-hundred-sixteen counts of attempted murder. UPDATE: Holmes has since been convicted on all charges and is serving life in prison.
In April 2007, Seung-Hui Cho roamed the campus of Virginia Tech randomly targeting victims, killing 32. Cho took his own life as the police drew near. He will long be remembered as one of America's worst mass murderers.
In July 1984, John Oliver Huberty walked into a San Ysidro, California, McDonald's, and fatally wounded twenty-one. Huberty's victims ranged in age from eight months to seventy-four years. The methodic killing spree had lasted seventy-seven minutes before he was shot dead by a police sniper situated on a neighboring rooftop. His death was classified as justifiable homicide under the law.
In terms of body count, the worst mass murder in American history was perpetrated by Andrew Kehoe in Bath Township, Michigan, in May 1927. Kehoe blew up the Bath Elementary School, killing thirty-six children and six teachers. Kehoe died in the explosion just as he'd planned.
Before driving his explosive-laden truck to the school, Kehoe bludgeoned his wife to death in their home that he then blew up along with the barn and several out structures. A mass murderer by any measure, Andrew Kehoe is also an early example of what we refer to today as a homicide bomber.
In December 2012, a heavily armed Adam Lanza walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed twenty young school-aged children and six educators. Lanza, twenty, took his own life as the police closed in on him. As shown in the Kehoe case eighty-five years earlier, Lanza was not the first American mass murderer to target children.
Terror - Timothy McVeigh, the man, found to be most responsible for 168 deaths in the Oklahoma City bombing, could be categorized as a mass murderer. Instead, he's known as the countries worst example of a domestic terrorist. McVeigh's execution by lethal injection took place June 2001, six years after the bombing.
Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier, were also convicted in the attack. Nichols was sentenced to life, and is serving his term in a federal supermax prison in Fremont County, Colorado. At trial, jurors who heard the case against Nichols deadlocked on the death penalty.
Fortier transported and sold stolen guns in support of the attack. He also aided in surveying the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in the run-up to the bombing. In a plea bargain deal, he testified against McVeigh and Nichols and was sentenced to twelve years in prison and fined $200,000 in 1998. The fine was later reduced to $75,000.
Fortier served his sentence under an assumed name. His release from prison came in 2006 when he entered the witness protection program. Some have suggested he was granted early release for good behavior and time served prior to trial. The actual reason remains unknown.
Fortier's wife Lori was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony against her husband, McVeigh and Nichols. She made the forged drivers license McVeigh used to rent the Ryder Truck used in the attack on the federal building.