How to Determine If Your Date Is an Axe Murderer

1. Watch for the following:

* A Caucasian male in his twenties or thirties

* Obsession with fire or matches

* Cruelty to animals

* History of bed-wetting

* Sexually abused as a child

* Middle-class background combined with loner behavior

* Difficulty maintaining relationships

An individual who exhibits more than three of these traits may be dangerous.

2. Trust your intuition. Your instinct is a powerful weapon. If something feels wrong, it probably is.

3. Check him out officially. Obtain his social security number and investigate him. Call the Federal Prison Locator Service (202-307-3126) to determine if he was ever incarcerated. Many online companies can aid in financial reports or tracking down previous addresses. You may also want to enlist the services of a private detective.

4. If you discover grounds for suspicion, break off the relationship immediately. Be clear and definitive about your decision. Return all of his belongings and gifts. Do not make promises to keep in touch. Be straightforward and kind, and talk only about yourself and why the relationship no longer works for you. Do not blame him. Try not to make him angry.

5. Take steps to maintain your safety.

* Carry a cell phone.

* Install a home security system.

* Change your phone numbers.

* Stay near populated, well-lit areas.

* Apprise a friend or relative of your concerns.

* Document any strange or unusual happenings.

* Take a personal safety/self-defense class.

More to be found in the Patta book recommendation of the week: