The feds just nabbed an alleged serial killer in-the-making.
He just wanted to have some fun.
He hoped this guy would be worth his time. That he wouldn’t be going out with another pig. Holden was about done with Grindr as his hope of having fun with a good guy slowly withered. Most that he met were just scumbags.
The house he was headed to that night was thankfully empty as his date’s dad was working on an offshore oil rig.
He just wanted to have some fun.
Maybe he could score some booze tonight. He wasn’t a heavy drinker mind you, but he did enjoy a beer from time to time. Getting some for the parties in Lafayette would give him total street cred and let people know that…
He just wanted to have some fun…
before he heads to his nrxt chapter — leaving these glory days in the rearview mirror.
Holden White had no idea f the bear trap he just stuck his foot in. An allegedly wannabe-serial-killing, Jeffrey Dahmer acolyte was just beginning his campaign of terror against gay men in southwest Louisiana.
Luckily, the FBI was hot on his trail.
Chance Seneca. Source: Lafayette Sheriff.
I. The Scene
Holden White was beaten so badly that he, “suffered from strangulation that popped nearly every blood vessel in his face, six stab wounds to the neck, blunt force trauma to his head and cuts so deep to his wrists that his hands were nearly sawed off.”
He was not the only alleged victim of 19-year-old Chance Seneca that balmy Louisiana June night. Seneca also allegedly successfully kidnapped two other gay or bisexual men.
There were six counts in the indictment according to the FBI and the Attorney General’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana: attempted murder, committing a hate crime, kidnapping, firearms violations, and obstruction of justice because he tried to cover his alleged crimes up by deleting electronic communications about them.
Seneca faces a potential life sentence. Read the entire criminal complaint here.
II. That Night
White arrived at Seneca’s dad’s house and was strangled into unconsciousness before being dumped in the bathtub. It is not clear whether he willingly put the handcuffs on, but they ended up on his wrists.
We are not sure what happened from there, but he woke with profound pain in his wrists. They had been sliced to the bone and White had been stabbed six times in the neck.
White’s hands were intended as a trophy but Seneca could go no further when he saw bone.
III. A Deep and Disturbing Pathology
What is most remarkable in the Federal Grand Jury’s allegations against Chance Seneca is his alleged “overarching plan” to dismember and keep parts of the men he was going to kidnap. The Attorney General’s office did release a press release saying Seneca was planning to keep parts of the men “as food” and “mementos” (trophies) as serial killers are prone to do. Seneca did have a picture of Jeffrey Dahmer as his Facebook avatar.
There’s a lot that could be said of Mr. Seneca if indeed he did entertain genuine fantasies of anthropophagy (the consumption of human flesh) — it would be pure speculation though, even if he was found guilty on these other counts after trial because it would be far more likely he just entertained them and broadcast them to investigators for shock value, not because of genuine psychopathology.
The author cannot say one way or the other about Seneca and alleged cannibalistic drives. It seems, from what we know so far, that if the allegations in the complaint are true, that Seneca’s criminal drives are at best a tad muddled.
IV. The Hate Crime Element
If the allegations in the complaint against Seneca are true, his crimes would be considered hate crimes based on sexual orientation — that is, hate of “the other” drove him.
This explicit bigotry is not something you see in real cannibals. There is definitely a level of self-hatred arguably present in real cannibals. Andrei Chikatilo, talked about below, hated himself for his impotence to the point that he cursed God for being born in open court.
Real cannibals tend to direct their rage internally, not externally. The killer Mr. Seneca idolized, Jeffrey Dahmer, was a case in point of this — his self-hatred after his parents’ divorce manifesting in a rapidly-deepening alcohol problem.
The bottom line here is that acts of cannibalism and hate crimes tend to exist separately. One does not motivate the other. This fact would seem to point to Seneca talking about cannibalism for its shock value and not because of real psychopathology.
This is not to say that Seneca couldn’t have escalated into distinct cannibalistic fantasies which then become actual acts.
Escalation is an important concept to understand with any serial violent offender including cannibals. Not a single cannibal serial killer started out that way. Chikatilo killed several before escalating to cannibalism; Jeffrey Dahmer honed his killing skills and sadism on animals and a few victims before escalating to cannibalism.
Had Seneca not been stopped by law enforcement and what appears to be his own unplanned distaste for the violent act itself (allegedly when he saw bone while trying to saw Mr. White’s hands off he couldn’t go any further) it’s almost guaranteed that he would’ve escalated too.
Still, what has a tendency to plant cannibalistic fantasies in an offender’s head to begin with?
VI. Fairy Tales and Anthropophagy
Fairy tales told to genuine cannibals at just the right time in childhood tend to play a surprisingly large role in making cannibals what they are.
Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo (convicted on 52 counts of murder but guilty of much, much more) was motivated in part by a tale told to him by his mother. Chikatilo was born around the time of Stalin’s Collectivization of Agriculture and the ensuing Great Famine (the Holodomor) in Ukraine. His mother told him a story about one of his cousins who acted out by stealing food from the village and disappeared — the insinuation being that the villagers cooked and ate the boy.
It is unknown whether there was any truth to this story. Moscow did, however, release anti-cannibalism PSAs during the famine. The translation to this one is: “People who eat one [sic] other because of the famine are not cannibals. Cannibals are those who don’t want to redistribute the church’s gold to the starving.”
Nevertheless, the veracity of the story is irrelevant because it still had a profound traumatic effect on the psyche of the monster-in-the-making Chikatilo. So, the story functioned like a fairy tale.
Chikatilo arguably cannibalized parts of his victims as a way of reversing the early childhood fear of being cannibalized himself — not to mention the pure conditioning that paired sex and extreme violence (which became anthropophagy) in his mind.
His actions were highly symbolic of overcoming those fears and creating his own universe where he alone was God in having total power over life and death. The author has argued in another piece that Chikatilo was the worst serial killer of all time.
Another interesting example is the Cannibal of Rotenburg Armin Meiwes. Meiwes cites the historical, NSFW telling of Hansel and Gretel as pivotal in his psychology as a cannibal (read it here). He identified with the power the witch exercised over particularly Hans (the passage where the Witch “fattens” him up) and found the idea of chewing raw flesh highly erotic.
It is interesting that Meiwes found a willing victim who found being chewed and eaten highly erotic. According to their online chats, his willing meal, Bernd-Jurgen Brandes, also developed his pathology (known as vorarephilia) in part from a fascination with Hansel and Gretel that started in childhood.
Andrei Chikatilo. Source: The Lineup.
Armin Meiwes. Source: NY Post.
Wess Haubrich is a freelance writer and journalist specializing in true crime and film, the former contributing editor of London’s award-winning The 405 Film, staff writer at Citizen Truth, and ½ of the weekly true-crime podcast Real Monsters. Follow him on Twitter here or email him here.