Expert Discusses Shopping Addiction As Possible Motive In Duncan Triple Homicide

Thursday, October 16th 2014, 5:32 pm
By: News 9

Cut off financially a reason to kill? Prosecutors believe that's why 19-year-old Alan Hruby murdered his mom, dad and sister. Alan's friends say he would spend tens of thousands of dollars a month. But how serious is an addiction to spending?

Keeping up with the Joneses is a term we often associate with meeting a lifestyle expectation. But as one doctor tells News 9, that lifestyle could be an addiction just like any other.

European trips, five-star hotels and high-dollar watches, all the subject of 19-year-old Alan Hruby's Twitter and Instagram, portraying a lavish lifestyle, one well known by his friends.

"It was characteristic of him to just go out and buy things on a whim," said Andrew Burmann, Alan's friend.

So much spending that Burmann recalls Alan was even in Shoppers Anonymous, a group focused on shopping addictions.

It was first diagnosed by Stanford University in 2006 as Compulsive Buying Disorder. It is something Dr. Terrence Shulman has studied for nearly a decade.

"Things are nice, but for a lot of individuals who get hooked early, they over depend on things and stuff to increase their sense of self-esteem and ability to fit in," said Shulman, with the Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending and Hoarding.

But is that desire to “fit in" a reason to kill? According to the affidavit, Alan murdered his family because he had recently been cut off financially.

"People will do desperate things when they are cut off from their source that funded their addiction, but this is one of the rare cases I have ever heard in terms of a possible shopaholic killing anybody over that," said Shulman.

As far as Alan boasting about his lifestyle on social media, Shulman sees that as a window into Alan's mind.

"That tends to sometimes reflect a narcissistic personality trait where people have a fragile sense of self and they have to appear bigger than life to others," said Shulman.

Shulmann also said this should be a wakeup call to parents and family and how easily they could be enabling an addiction.

For more information on shopping addictions, visit Dr. Shulman's website.