December 8, 2000 was the beginning of a week-long reign of terror known as The Wichita Horror in Kansas. Brothers Reginald and Jonathan Carr started relatively small with a mugging at gunpoint. Within a mere three days, however, things escalated by them shooting their next victim when she attempted to escape their clutches. By December 14th, the Carr brothers’ crime spree would reach its horrific climax and rapid denouement when they forcibly entered a triplex housing five friends who would be brutalized in the most heinous ways imaginable before being gunned down one-by-one in a soccer field nearby. A hair clip deflected the bullet intended for one of the victims, therefore saving her life. She was able to report the crimes to the police who, after news stations flooding their reports with the grisly story thus prompting citizens to turn in tips, were able to quickly apprehend the Carr brothers.


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The court case that eventually followed was basically open and shut based on evidence and eye witness testimony alone. There was really no doubt in the mind of the jury as to whether or not the Carr brothers committed the crimes they were accused of. Where the real deliberation came into play was when the jury was expected to make a decision regarding the death penalty for both Reginald and Jonathan. Many people were brought forward to testify during the penalty phase as to how the brothers’ formative years were spent. Their mother described apathetic parenting, neglect and abuse, both physical and verbal. The brothers’ sister described sexual abuse inflicted on all three of them by their father and subsequent boyfriends of their mother. She also talked about Reginald fighting in school and Jonathan attempting suicide at the age of 16. Forensic psychologists were even brought in by the defense to testify about the Carr brothers’ childhood and adolescence, and how growing up in the environment they did essentially set them up for failure and a lack of empathy to carry out such atrocities.

The age-old question that gets raised now is why? Why did Reginald and Jonathan find it necessary or okay to assault, rape and murder people for money and material objects? Both men held legitimate jobs that would allow them to eventually accrue these things on their own. The prosecution of this case tells you they committed these crimes simply out of greed and lust. The defense tells you the Carr brothers knew they were doing wrong but did not care because they were raised in a poor environment as children. Where does one possibility end and the other pick up? Is it possible this kind of abhorrent behavior is on a continuum? Does correlation definitely equal causation in this case? Is the nature vs. nurture argument a moot point with the Carr brothers? Unfortunately, questions like these and others may never be truly answered as society continues to see these kinds of inconceivable crimes.

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