This continues our series of student reflections and analysis authored by our research team.
The Case of Keith Luke (Part 1 of 3: general overview & background)
This journal is the first in a three part series on the case of Keith Luke. The first journal is a general overview and background information on the case. The second journal will be on the prosecution and legal proceedings surrounding the case, and the final journal be an analysis of the case. As a disclaimer this case is particularly egregious as the crimes he committed sexual assault, violent, and racially motivated.
Keith Luke is a neo-nazi and white supremacist from Brockton, Massachusetts. He went on a rampage that killed two people and shot and raped another person. All three victims of this crime were of Cape Verdean descent and he sought them out because of their race. He premeditated the crimes for months. Other than the racial motivations, he also committed the rape because he said that he had been turned down “100,000 (expletive) times” and he did not want to die a virgin. While he was sexually assaulting the woman, another woman came home and walked in on the act so Luke decided to shoot her. Then he shot the woman he had be raping and then got in his car, cranked the music up, and left. As he was driving down the street he spotted his next victim, who was a 72 year old homeless man pushing a carriage. Luke had bought a gun and over 200 rounds of ammunition. He had planned to end his rampage by shooting and killing bingo players at a synagogue. He was attempting to reload his gun while driving but was having difficulty then the police caught up with him and he attempted to shoot at them and then crashed his vehicle. Luke later said that he regretted shooting at the police officers because they were white.
Many details describing the unusual behaviors Luke exhibited throughout his life became evident in his trial from both testimonies as well as actions Luke himself took. These will be discussed more in detail in the next journal entry in the series. Luke was ultimately convicted of killing two people and raping and shooting a third person
Something that was interesting with coding this case is that he wanted to commit the rape so that he did not die a virgin, which initially caused some question as whether or not the case should be included in the project. However, it quickly became evident that this was motivated by his socio-political beliefs and that he had picked the victims due to their race and his hatred towards minorities after reviewing more sources. It was also interesting the varying amount of details different articles gave and it felt like no single article gave the entire story so we had to piece together the whole story from multiple articles that gave different details. Due to this, it constantly felt like we were finding new bits of information and details.
These problems we ran into while coding the case speak to the difficulty of using documentary data sources and how we have to be cautious about the sources used within our research and their credibility, reliability, representativeness, and ethics (Caulfield and Hill, 2014). There is clear bias within the way these articles present the facts, however that worked to our benefit in some of the articles as they went out of their way to include details about his motive, socio-political motive, and his ideological target. As Caulfield and Hill also discuss in their chapter, we can come to trust our sources due to the underlying facts of the case being a commonality in all of the articles and agreeing with other types of documents such as court records that we found.
Caulfield, Laura, and Jane Hill. 2014. Criminological Research for Beginners: A Student’s Guide. 1st edition. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. [Excerpt: Chapter 10, “Using documentary and secondary data sources”]