IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Van Zandt: No easy answers in Pa. case

Former FBI profiler talks about the double murder and manhunt

The manhunt (barely at just age 18) is over concerning David Ludwig, the believed killer of Michael F. and Cathryn Borden. The who has apparently been answered -- the why may take much longer.

Evidently Ludwig had a relationship with 14-year-old Kara Borden, something that supposedly both sets of parents were against.  Kara returned home late Saturday night/Sunday morning in violation of her curfew.  Either Kara or her parents called Ludwig and asked him to come to the Borden house where he engaged in a lengthy argument with Mr. and Mrs. Borden around 8:00 a.m. on Sunday.  For some reason Ludwig came armed with at least one firearm.  Whether he felt he needed a gun to protect himself from the Bordens, or to use against them in a premeditated act of kidnap or murder is unknown at this time.  What is known, based to a statement from one of Kara's siblings, is that the Bordens and Ludwig argued and as Mr. Borden escorted Ludwig from the house, Ludwig allegedly pulled a gun and first shot and killed Michael Borden and then Mrs. Borden. Ludwig then fled the residence with Kara and pointed his red VW Jetta west, arriving in Indiana some 30 hours and 600 miles later.  Where they were going is unknown, although an Amber Alert aided police in locating the car and the couple were taken into custody after a high speed chase.

One state trooper described Kara as running from Ludwig's car crying and frantic -- not the likely actions of a co-conspirator.  The investigation will consider information from Kara's siblings and a review of her e-mails, instant messages, and interviews of her friends who might know of her relationship with Ludwig.  Ludwig will of course be interviewed and eventually returned to Pennsylvania to face murder charges.  What role, if any, Kara Borden played in this horrific crime has yet to be determined.  She may well be simply a young teenager who had a special relationship with someone believed by others to be too old for her.  Perhaps Ludwig shared her feelings and just couldn't take being told that he could not have a relationship with her.  Again, we just don't know at this time.

What makes this case special, in reality different from other shootings by youthful offenders is the shooter himself.  He wasn't a member of some "trench coat mafia," nor did he walk around dressed in black, write about murder, pick on others or was he the known victim of bullying by others.  In fact he did not appear to present any of the other obvious pre incident behavioral signs attributed to teenage shooters in the past.  Neither he nor his young girlfriend, nor their families fit the mold, the profile.  That a teenager shot someone, or two someones is, unfortunately, not that unusual.  Who did the shooting, and why, is what appears to make this case standout in the gentle harvest fields and quiet streets of rural Lancaster, Penn.  A review of Ludwig and Kara Borden's personal web sites reflect average, good kids going about average, good things.  Family photos, postings about sports and rock groups, usually Christian in nature, are apparent on their sites.  There are just no indications of rage, anger, or frustration -- emotions usually associated with significant anger management issues. 

Ludwig will eventually be returned to Pennsylvania to face murder charges and the investigation will continue in law enforcement's attempt to identify what role, if any, Kara Borden may have played in the death of her parents -- probably none.  No matter the answers though, two families, one community, and a nation are again left to the ultimate question of why did this happen, and could it happen again.  The answer, at least to the second question, is unfortunately yes.  Our task is to understand the why and be able to identify such emotions in our children to help them better confront the challenges of life and love -- to deal with challenge and loss in some manner other than at the end of a gun barrel.

For information on home, personal, travel and child security issues, see

Clint Van Zandt is an MSNBC analyst. He is the founder and president of Inc. Van Zandt and his associates also developed , a Website dedicated "to develop, evaluate, and disseminate information to help prepare and inform individuals concerning personal and family security issues." During his 25-year career in the FBI, Van Zandt was a supervisor in the FBI's internationally renowned Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He was also the FBI's Chief Hostage Negotiator and was the leader of the analytical team tasked with identifying the "Unabomber."