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Florida university class is teaching course on Jodi Arias

Posted at 5:37 PM, Feb 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-16 20:27:01-05

A Florida associate professor who has studied serial killers now teaches 'Jodi Arias' as a topic in her criminology class.


The case of Jodi Arias is so unique, especially because she's a woman.

"One of the things that has made this so fascinating to the public is if they saw someone like Jodi Arias walking down the street, it wouldn't induce any fear in us," said University of South Florida Associate Professor, Dr. Bryanna Fox.

Fox, a former FBI profiler who worked at Quantico, has studied American serial killers like Ted Bundy and Charles Manson.

"They tend to be very low emotion , they tend to be very low empathy, more narcissistic, coning, manipulative," said Dr. Fox.

Prosecutors said Arias violently attacked her boyfriend Travis Alexander in a jealous rage after he wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman. Arias has acknowledged killing Alexander but claimed it was self-defense after he attacked her.

The guilt phase of Arias' trial ended in 2013 with jurors convicting her but deadlocking on punishment. A second sentencing trial ended in early 2015 with another jury deadlock, leading a judge to sentence Arias to prison for life.

Dr. Fox never met or interviewed Arias but has studied dozens of hours of her and the behavior.

She can't say without conducting analysis on Arias if she is a psychopath, but she said she appears to have similar characteristics as the serial killers she's studied.

"The fact that Jodi Arias had committed such a heinous murder, the fact that it was dozens of stab wounds, and near decapitation and shooting of Travis Alexander, that would indicate to me that she probably lacked empathy, she was probably very anti social, things that would elevate her psychopathy score which is something we also see with serial killers," said Fox.

Fox said it's one thing to teach students in a textbook 'manipulation' in a courtroom, but its another to show examples.

The associate professor is able to show her criminology students how Arias appears to change her appearance at trial to seem more sympathetic, "and when she was in front of the investigators she sort of softened her tone, acted more docile and mousy," said Dr. Fox.

Arias also showed bizarre behavior in an interrogation room while being questioned for Alexander's murder. In one surveillance video captured by police, Arias appears to do yoga in the room, sing, and then do a handstand.

Knowing a psychopath is hard to the untrained eye, explained Dr. Fox. She said stats show that one in one hundred people are psychopaths.

However, she said its still hard to predict human behavior.

"When we think of a horrible murderer, it's important to know, they can look like Jodi Arias," said Dr. Fox.