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Is psychopathy hereditary?
That is the question that's been weighing on Melissa Moore, the daughter of a notorious serial killer. So during a recent episode of "The Dr. Oz Show," Moore (who is also the show's true crime correspondent) underwent a brain scan to find out if she inherited her father’s psychopathic traits.
Moore is the daughter of Keith Jesperson, a truck driver who took credit for killing eight women in the early 1990s, according to a 1995 Associated Press report. He was known as the "Happy Face Killer" because of the trademark smiley faces he drew on his letters to the media and authorities. Then-columnist for The Oregonian Phil Stanford gave him the nickname before he was caught, according to an Oregonian story from 2014. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1995.
“Every time I look in the mirror, I see my father’s features on my face,” Moore revealed on Tuesday’s episode of “Dr. Oz.” “His eyes, his nose, his smile. Could I have inherited his brain as well? Could I be a psychopath?”
Moore was 15 when her father was arrested and said that she felt judged for it and guilty by association. She has been very public with her struggles regarding who her father is. In addition to acting as a crime correspondent for “Dr. Oz,” she's hosted the LMN show “Monster in My Family” and revealed in 2015 on “20/20” that she's ashamed of her dad’s lack of remorse.
Dr. Mehmet Oz explained the difference between a psychopath and someone who is not. He claimed a brain scan will show activity in the front of a person’s brain, which controls decision-making and morality, if they are not a psychopath. He insisted psychopaths don’t show that.
“It’s empty because it's not there, it’s not being used,” he said.
Moore decided to undergo a brain scan to see if she, too, is a psychopath, explaining she did fear she could be one. One reason for that fear? Her dad’s letters to her, which she read aloud in a segment of the show.
“Hey, look at me, I’m the daughter of the Happy Face killer. I’m the victim here,” Jesperson wrote her, seemingly in an attempt to mock her.
“I’ve created a monster in you,” her told her in one of the letters. Moore became so distraught reading the letters that she spiraled into a panic attack.
“I felt like my dad was there with me,” she said. “He knows all my fears and he put all my insecurities on two pages of paper.”
In those letters, her dad also suggested she see a doctor who can tell her the truth about the kind of person she is.
Luckily, her brain scan had a promising end for her. The result: She is not a psychopath. The test showed that her brain is, in fact, normal, despite what her father insisted.
“I can’t explain to you how free I am,” she said. “Since that moment, my life has changed for the better because I feel so much more self-confident, so much more secure with myself, and feeling OK in the world. I just feel like I belong again to the world. I don’t feel like I’m an outcast anymore.”
[Photo: Getty Images]
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