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Psychologist weighs in on lack of remorse from man accused of multiple homicides throughout Hampton Roads

Lack of remorse could signal personality disorder
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Posted at 10:35 PM, Mar 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-31 23:01:53-04

NORFOLK, Va. - From behind bars Thursday, Cola Beale IV, a man accused of multiple homicides throughout Hampton Roads, admitted to shooting his girlfriend and setting her Virginia Beach townhome on fire. During our interview, he said he didn't have any remorse for killing her.

Having no remorse, like Beale said he didn't have, can often be a sign of different personality disorders.

Thursday, we spoke with a psychologist about Beale. Not having done a full assessment on Beale, Dr. Ernestine Duncan, the psychologist we spoke to, said that both genetic and environmental factors can play a role in the development of personality disorders.

"To admit remorse versus not admit remorse takes you down a whole different rabbit hole. And you have to experience emotions - of sorrow, of guilt, of pain - that perhaps a person is not prepared to deal with,” said Dr. Duncan, a professor at Norfolk State University.

She further explained, “And so, an easy answer is, 'No, I don't feel any remorse.' And to just kind of leave it at that, but it does take me back to the conversation about whether people are antisocial - which is a diagnosis - versus whether they are psychopathic, or whether they are sociopathic. And we know that there is weak levels of conscience for all of those conditions. And the ability to feel as though something I did was harmful to another person is sometimes lacking."

Dr. Duncan says there is no blueprint for what these disorders look like in an individual’s brain - no one size fits all.

Related: Man accused of 3 homicides in Hampton Roads admits to shooting girlfriend, setting house on fire in jailhouse interview