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“The Incel danger is here…”: A rising concern for law enforcement

March 23, 2023  By Joseph Pangaro

A blast of gunfire – or the slashing of a knife – and tragedy descends on innocent victims. The question is: who is this killer?

We have many kinds of dangerous people in the world today. We’ve become familiar with some of them, like the school-age student shooter or the aggrieved workplace shooter who aims to kill their classmates or co-workers, but have we familiarized ourselves with the Incel killer?

“Incels” – or Involuntary Celibates – are most often males who believe that they are entitled to and are desirous of sexual relationships with beautiful women, but are denied these relationships by the cruel realities of life. There are some “Incel” females, but their numbers are very small.

The cruel realities of life they believe they suffer from are defined as a set of circumstances they consider to be dictated by human nature. More specifically, they think that women will only engage in sexual activity with a limited number of high-status, very attractive men. They call this the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of women have sex with only 20 per cent of the very attractive men in the world. This leaves many men lonely and unfulfilled sexually, or in relationships devoid of sex.


So, as the belief system goes, an average looking man has limited opportunity at best to find female sexual partners and an unattractive man has almost no chance of engaging with women.

This belief system and the inability to connect to the female partners they desire leaves these men involuntarily celibate.

Several active shooter events have taken place where the shooter was a self-described Incel. The recent college killings in Idaho, where four young college students were brutally stabbed to death, is an example—or I believe it could be an example—of the killer being an Incel, or at least headed down that road. I posited this idea after seeing reports about the crime scene and the method of operation of the killer. The violence of the attack, the repeated stabbings and the use of a knife as the weapon of choice all indicated to me that this was perhaps an Incel-related attack. In a recent news report, a retired FBI agent from the profiling unit also said he thought there may have been Incel tendencies involved in this crime.

For all of us in law enforcement who investigate crime, we must consider this rising concern of Incel crime as we look at incidents going further.

The use of the knife in a close, personal attack such as this is also indicative of the mindset of the killer. A knife, when used to repeatedly stab a victim, can be a sexually motivated action—the knife being a phallic symbol. We often see this pattern of behavior in a domestic violence homicide.

I have personal experience with this kind of investigation. I was the lead in a brutal double homicide investigation; the killer was the boyfriend and father of one of the victims’ children. The other victim was the killer’s elderly grandmother. The killer was jealous of the girlfriend and believed a possible sexual affair was taking place between her and another man. To prove this, he snuck into the home, anticipating catching the girlfriend in bed with the lover. The killer didn’t find this, but the topic came up and a fight ensured. The killer, in a rage, used a large knife to stab the victim 33 times.

This motive came out during the investigation and revealed the repeated stabbing, the overuse of the knife, was a statement of sexual power over the victim.

It’s this experience, and my research on the actions, thought patterns and beliefs of the Incel community, that leads me to believe these killings in Idaho are also Incel related. Time and evidence will tell.

The Idaho suspected killer, charged with the four murders, used a large knife to repeatedly stab the victims; three of the victims were attractive young women, and the fourth was a male that was in bed with one of the women. The Idaho suspected killer is reported to be “very awkward” with woman and was teased by women when he was in high school. The reports of his other behaviors have not yet been revealed, but a picture is starting to come together.

These facts combined give indications that Incel actions are involved in this case.

For all of us in law enforcement who investigate crime, we must consider this rising concern of Incel crime as we look at incidents going further.

Canada is no stranger to this danger. An Incel Killer has already struck in Toronto. We must be aware of this possibility when investigating danger.


  1. Moskalenko, Sophia et all. “Incel ideology, radicalization and mental health: A survey study.” Journal of Intelligence, Conflict, and Warfare. Simon Fraser University. 2022. Accessed at https://journals.lib.sfca/index.php/jicw/article/view/3817/3376.
  2. Land, Olivia. “Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger had an ‘incel complex’ that drove him to kill: ex-FBI agent.” New York Post. January 2023. Accessed at

Lt. Joseph Pangaro is a 27-year veteran law enforcement officer and former director of school security. Pangaro is the CEO of Pangaro Training, a provider of training for law enforcement, schools, business and religious communities. He can be contacted at

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