Serial killers do what they do because of a psychotic drive to do so... deriving pleasure... often sexual in nature... from not only the act of the torture or murder itself... but in the birth of the fantasy to the planning of the event & even in observing the aftermath from a distance.
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Jack the Ripper
John Wayne Gacy
Henry Lucas & Otis Toole
Angelo Buono & Kenneth Bianchi
"One day men will look back and say
I gave birth to the twentieth century."
-Jack the Ripper
The Most Notorious & considered to be the first serial Killer, Jack The Ripper terrorized the largely impoverished Whitechapel & adjacent districts of London England during the autumn of 1888, although many believe the killer's rampage may have spanned the entire mid to late 1880's & early 1890's. Two of the victims' throats were cut, after which the bodies were mutilated, each more gruesomely than the last. Theories suggest that the victims first were strangled, in order to silence them, which may explain the reported lack of blood at the crime scenes. The removal of internal organs from three of the victims led some officials at the time of the murders to propose that the killer possessed anatomical or surgical knowledge. Newspapers during this era, in the midst of a circulation boom, bestowed widespread and enduring notoriety on the Ripper because of the pure savagery of the attacks and the failure of the police to capture him. Although taunted constantly with clues, the authorities seemed almost helpless and sometimes even missed Jack at the crime scenes by mere minutes. Because the killer's identity has never been confirmed, the legends surrounding the murders have become a combination of genuine historical research, folklore, and pure speculation. Many authors, historians, and amateur detectives have proposed theories about the identity of the killer and the number of lives he took.
The five murders most often attributed to Jack the Ripper occurred in the latter half of 1888, though the brutal killings in Whitechapel persisted at least until 1891. A number of the murders involved extremely gruesome acts, such as mutilation and internal organ removal. The rumours that the murders were connected started in September and October of 1888, when a series of news organizations and officials at Scotland Yard received a series of extremely disturbing letters from a writer taking responsibility for some or all of the murders. One letter, received by The Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, included a preserved human kidney. Because of the extraordinarily brutal character of the murders, and the media's treatment of the events, the public came to believe that a single person was terrorizing the residents of Whitechapel. A single killer committing a series of horrific killings, hence the birth of the term "serial killer". He was known only as "Jack the Ripper" due to the signature on a postcard received by the Central News Agency. Even though the investigation was unable to connect the later killings conclusively to the murders of 1888, the legend of Jack the Ripper solidified. To this day, only a set of five murders are almost universally agreed upon as the work of a single killer, the Ripper, but Metropolitan Police files show that the investigation began in 1888 and eventually included eleven separate murders, stretching from April 3, 1888 to February 13, 1891, known collectively as "the Whitechapel Murders." In addition, at least seven other murders and violent attacks have been connected with Jack the Ripper. Most of Jack's victims were older prostitutes, living on the streets or in common lodging houses. The following is a brief look at all those believed by many to have met their demise at the hands of the Ripper.
Mary Ann Nichols aka "Polly" was killed Friday August 31, 1888 at the age of 43. She was 5'2", "plump", and missing five teeth. She had a fleshy plain face, brown eyes, & graying dark brown hair. Her body was discovered at about 3:40 A.M. on the ground in front of a gated stable entrance in Buck's Row (now Durward Street), a back street in Whitechapel only 200 yards from the London Hospital. Her throat was severed deeply by two cuts... the lower part of the abdomen was ripped open by a deep, jagged wound... there were several incisions running across the abdomen... & three or four similar cuts on the right side caused by violent downward thrusts of the same knife.
Annie Chapman aka "Dark Annie" was killed on Saturday September 8, 1888 at the age of 47. Annie was described by police reports as having "seen her better days". She was a mere 5' tall & overweight, with blue eyes, short dark wavy hair and missing her two front teeth. Her body was discovered about 6 A.M., lying on the ground near a doorway in the back yard of 29 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields. Like Mary Ann Nichols's, her throat was severed by two cuts, one deeper than the other. The abdomen was ripped entirely open and the uterus was removed.
Elizabeth Stride aka "Long Liz" was killed on Sunday September 30, 1888 at the age of 45. Swedish born, Elizabeth was about 5'2", pale complected, of an average weight, with age darkened hair. Her face was nicely shaped & she had a pretty mouth aside from missing two upper front teeth. Her body was discovered about 1 A.M., lying on the ground in Dutfield's Yard, in Whitechapel. There was one clear-cut incision on the neck; the cause of death was massive blood loss from the nearly severed main artery on the left side. The cut through the tissues on the right side was more superficial, and tapered off below the right jaw. That there also were no mutilations to the abdomen has left some uncertainty about the identity of Elizabeth's murderer though many believe the Ripper was interrupted during the attack since there was another brutal murder on the same nite, not far from the place Elizabeth Stride met her end.
Catherine Eddowes aka "Kate Conway" and "Mary Ann Kelly," was killed on Sunday September 30, 1888 the same nite as Elizabeth Stride. She was 43 years old, extremely thin, and due to a hard life & exessive drinking, aged beyond her years. Catherine had high cheekbones, dark eyes & black hair. Her body was found in Mitre Square, in the City of London. The throat was, as in the former two cases, severed by two cuts & the abdomen was ripped open by a long, deep, jagged wound. The left kidney and the major part of the uterus had been removed. Her murder, and the murder of Elizabeth Stride would go on to be called "The Double Event," in the media.
Mary Jane Kelly aka "Ginger" was killed Friday November 9, 1888. at the age of 25. There is very little known about Mary Kelly's appearance except that she was a very pretty young woman with a very nice figure. Her gruesomely mutilated body was discovered shortly after 10:45 A.M., lying on the bed in the single room where she lived at 13 Miller's Court, off Dorset Street, Spitalfields. Her throat had been severed down to the spine, and her abdomen virtually emptied of its organs. Her heart was missing.
The above mentioned are the generally accepted "canonical five" linked to the Ripper. The facts linking these five in particular are as follows...Except for Stride, whose attack may have been interrupted, mutilations of the "canonical five" victims became increasingly severe as the series of murders proceeded. Nichols and Stride were not missing any organs, but Chapman's uterus was taken, and Eddowes had her uterus and a kidney carried away as well as her face mutilated. While only Kelly's heart was missing from the crime scene, many of her internal organs were removed and left in her room. The "canonical five" murders were generally perpetrated in the dark of nite, on or close to a weekend, in a secluded site, but one that the public could gain access to, & either at the end of a month or a week or so after. Yet every case differed from this pattern in one way or another. Aside from the differences already mentioned, Eddowes was the only victim killed within the actual City of London. Nichols was the only victim to be found on an open street, though a dark and deserted one. Chapman was supposedly killed after the sun had started to rise. Kelly's murder ended six weeks of inactivity for the murderer. Although the large number of horrific attacks against women during this era adds some uncertainty as to exactly how many victims were killed by the same man, most accept those with deep throat slashes, abdominal and genital-area mutilation, removal of internal organs, and progressive facial mutilations as the distinctive features of Jack the Ripper's modus operandi.
The following seven victims are thought by many to have lost their lives to Jack even though not included in the official "canonical five". Two of these murders occurred before the "canonical five" and five after.
Emma Elizabeth Smith was attacked on Osborn Street, in Whitechapel, on April 3, 1888. Her attacker inserted a blunt object into her vagina. She initially survived the attack and walked back to her lodging-house where friends helped get her to a hospital. There she told police that she was attacked by two or three men, one of whom was a teenager. It is noted that her statement seemed forced & the victim herself fearful & unsteady as well as intoxicated. Emma fell into a coma and died on April 5, 1888. According to the attending surgeon at the London Hospital, the injuries indicated use of great force, causing a rupture of the internal organs which he deemed the cause of death. She was 45 at the time of her death. This case has been associated with the Ripper, though rarely.
Martha Tabram was killed on August 7, 1888. She had a total of 39 stab wounds. Of all the non-canonical Whitechapel murders, Tabram is named most often as another possible Ripper victim, because of the evident lack of motive, the geographic proximity & timeframe to the canonical attacks, and the attack's remarkable savagery. The main difficulty in including Tabram as a Ripper victim is that the killer stabbed, rather than slashed the throat, but it is now accepted that a serial killer's method can change, sometimes quite dramatically. Her body was found in George Yard, Whitechapel. She was 39.
Rose Mylett died on December 20, 1888. She was reportedly strangled "by a cord drawn tightly round the neck," though some investigators believed that she had accidentally suffocated herself on the collar of her dress while in a drunken stupor. Her body was found in Clarke's Yard, High Street, Poplar. She was only 26. This case is also rarely associated with Jack.
Alice McKenzie was killed on July 17, 1889. She reportedly died from "severance of the left carotid artery," but several minor bruises and cuts were found on the body. She was found in Castle Alley, Whitechapel. Authorities initially believed this to be a Ripper murder and one of the pathologists examining the body agreed, though later writers have suggested that the unknown murderer tried to make it look like a Ripper killing to detract suspicion from himself. Alice was 40 at the time of her death.
"The Whitehall Mystery" and "The Pinchin Streets Murder" have been suggested to be part of a series of murders, called the "Thames Mysteries" or "Embankment Murders", committed by a single serial killer, dubbed the "Torso Killer."
The discovery of the Pinchin Street torso prompted renewed speculation as to the identity of Jack the Ripper. A headless and legless torso of a woman was found under a railway arch in Pinchin Street, Whitechapel on September 10, 1889. The mutilations were similar to the body which was the subject of the "The Whitehall Mystery," though in this case the hands were not severed. It seems probable that the murder had been committed elsewhere and that parts of the dismembered body were dumped at the crime scene. The identity of the victims was never established. Whether Jack the Ripper and the "Torso Killer" were the same person or separate serial killers active in the same area has long been debated.
Frances Coles was killed on February 13, 1891. Minor wounds on the back of the head suggest that she was thrown violently to the ground before her throat was cut. Otherwise there were no mutilations to the body, which was found under a railway arch at Swallow Gardens, Whitechapel. Frances was 26. After this eleventh and last "Whitechapel Murder" the case was closed.... but never solved.
Jack the Ripper's 5 most widely recognized victims....
referred to as the "Canonical Five"
"Depart from me- I never knew you"
-Jack the Ripper
The Identity Theories
The residents of the Whitechapel district accused the police of being incompetent and many to this day criticize them for not catching the killer. The reality is that the murders occurred before forensic science and fingerprinting. The only way the police could prove someone committed a murder was by catching them in the act or by their own confession.
However, investigators were able to form a general physical description of Jack the Ripper from alleged eyewitness accounts. He was believed to be a white male, between 20 and 40 years of age, well dressed, average to below average height, and possibly a foreigner. Examination of the victims’ wounds indicates that he was right-handed and appeared to have had some medical training, although he could have gained his anatomical knowledge from readily available books. Since he generally claimed his victims on the weekend in the early morning hours, it was believed that he worked a regular job and was single, able to stay out all night without being questioned.
Certain suspects have gained more attention than others. Sir Melville Macnaghten, the Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in 1889 named three ripper suspects. First named was Montague John Druitt who was born to a well-off family, graduated with a degree in classics and went on to teach at a boarding school in Blackheath. Druitt’s father was a surgeon, and died in 1885. Depression and suicide were prominent in his family. His mother was institutionalized for depression. He did well financially and mingled within respectable social circles. Shortly after being dismissed from his teaching position, rumored to have been participating in pedophiliac activities, his body was found floating in the Thames River on December 31, 1888. This was just a little over a month after the last Ripper victim, Mary Kelly, was found, on November 9, 1888. A suicide note was discovered by his brother and stated, "Since Friday I felt I was going to be like mother, and the best thing for me was to die." No hard evidence exists that Druitt was Jack the Ripper with the exception of the commissioner’s statement: "From private information I have little doubt but that his own family believed him to have been the murderer." Since Macnaghten claimed to have destroyed all of the documents pointing to Druitt as the Ripper, the truth may never be known.
The second of the Macnaghten suspects was Aaron Kosminski, a Polish Jew, who lived in the Whitechapel district when the murders were committed. Known to have a great hatred for women and strong homicidal tendencies, he was admitted to a lunatic asylum in March 1889. The only evidence against Kosminski was a positive identification by an eyewitness to the Ripper’s Mitre Square murder. At the time of the murder this witness declared that he could not identify the murderer again, but two years later he claimed that Kosminski was indeed the man who committed the crime. Many Ripper investigators do not believe that this evidence holds enough weight to point the finger at Kosminski, claiming he may simply have been an insane man in the wrong place at the wrong time
Michael Ostrog is the last of Melville Macnaghten’s three suspects. Ostrog spent the majority of his life in prison for theft and was eventually transferred to a lunatic asylum where he registered himself as a Jewish doctor. The only facts used to declare him a Ripper suspect were that he claimed to be a doctor, he was a well-known criminal, and he had spent time in a lunatic asylum. No actual evidence exists that Ostrog was even in the Whitechapel area during the time of the murders. He was not a violent criminal, and according to eyewitness accounts, he was much too tall, standing 5’11" and being in his late 50’s to early 60’s, too old to fit the description of the killer. Research also shows that Ostrog was jailed for petty offences in France during the Ripper murders.
It is obvious that Macnaghten was grasping at straws, broadcasting his personal, unfounded theories to the hungry press. The reason was undoubtedly the pressure placed upon him by an outraged public screaming of the ineffectual methods of the authorities to stop the horrific murders plaguing the Whitechapel area.
Inspector Abberline, the head of the Jack the Ripper investigation, had his own theory as to the identity of the Ripper, labeling George Chapman as a likely suspect. Chapman, his real name being Severin Klosowski, was born in Poland in 1865 and entered an apprenticeship as a surgeon in Warsaw. After he immigrated to London in 1887, he found work as a barber’s assistant in the Whitechapel district, close to where the murders were committed. Chapman was considered a "lady’s man," often living with one woman while being married to another. He was known to have been abusive to his wives. He ultimately resorted to poisoning three of his wives and was finally arrested for the murder of his final wife after a doctor found large doses poison in her body. Chapman was hanged on April 7, 1903. The fact that Chapman lived in the Whitechapel district during the time of the murders supports Abberline’s theory and it cannot be ignored that he arrived in London shortly before the murders began. The murders also ceased when he traveled to America, where another prostitute was killed in a similar fashion. He had experience as a surgeon and was obviously violent and homicidal towards women. Hard evidence points to Chapman as Jack the Ripper, however, the question still remains whether he could be both a brutal mutilator of prostitutes and a conniving "wife-poisoner."
The above mentioned suspects are those most often associated with The Ripper crimes. Other suspects were investigated in varying degrees of diligence by the
Authorities… Hundreds of books have been written about the killer... many authors deem to have solved the long-standing debate over Jack's true identity, yet despite all the identity theories, the case remains unsolved. The following is a brief look at some of the other identity theories.
John Pizer was a Polish Jew who worked as a boot maker in Whitechapel. After the first two Ripper murders, Police brought Pizer in for questioning, apparently believing that Pizer was a man known as "Leather Apron", a local man notorious for committing minor assaults on prostitutes. In the early days of the Whitechapel murders, many locals suspected that "Leather Apron" was the killer. Pizer was cleared of any suspicion when it turned out that he had been talking with a police officer at the time of one of the murders.
"Dr" Francis Tumblety was a seemingly uneducated or self-educated Irish-American raised from infancy in Rochester, New York, where he presumably trained as a homeopathic physician. He earned a small fortune posing as a quack "Indian Herb" doctor throughout the United States and Canada, and Europe and was connected to the deaths of some of his patients. He was charged by the authorities in Canada, but skipped the country. It is uncertain if these deaths were deliberate or not. Tumblety was arrested on May 6, 1865 in St. Louis, Missouri, for suspected involvement in the Lincoln assassination, but released upon the plea of mistaken identity. Tumblety was in England in 1888. He was arrested on November 7, 1888, on charges of "gross indecency", apparently for engaging in homosexuality. Awaiting trial, he fled to France on November 24, 1888, and then to the United States. It has been suggested that he was released on bail before the final canonical murder of Mary Kelly on November 9th. After the initial interest in Tumblety in 1888, he was mentioned as having been a Ripper suspect by the Metropolitan Police in a letter to journalist and author George R. Sims, dated September 23, 1913. Claims that Scotland Yard sent an officer to the United States in 1888 to try to bring Tumblety back in connection with the Ripper crimes have been disputed, although there are American newspaper reports to suggest that this was the case.
The most famous of the Jack the Ripper suspects is Prince Albert Victor, the grandson of Queen Victoria. This opinion actually didn’t surface until 1962, when the book Edward VII by Phillippe Jullien was published. One of the foundations for the accusation is a rumor that syphilis caused him to go insane and commit the murders. This theory has for the most part been discredited, because Prince Albert was in Scotland at the time of two of the murders, he did not possess any medical knowledge, and he was not a violent man.
Subsequently, conspiracy theorists, such as Stephen Knight in Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, have elaborated on the supposed involvement of Albert Victor in the murders. Rather than implicate Albert Victor directly, they claim that he secretly married and had a daughter with a Catholic shop assistant, and that Queen Victoria, British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, his Freemason friends, and the London Metropolitan Police conspired to murder anyone aware of Albert Victor's supposed child. Many facts contradict this theory whose originator was Joseph Gorman (also known as Joseph Sickert). Variations of the theory involve the physician Sir William Gull, the artist Walter Sickert, and the poet James Kenneth Stephen to greater or lesser degrees, and have been fictionalized in novels and films, such as Murder by Decree and From Hell.
Sir William Withey Gull was physician-in-ordinary to Queen Victoria. He was named as the Ripper as part of the evolution of the widely discredited Masonic/Royal conspiracy theory. Thanks to the popularity of this theory among fiction writers and for its dramatic nature, Gull shows up as the Ripper in a number of books and films, including a 1988 TV film Jack the Ripper starring Michael Caine and the graphic novel From Hell written by Alan Moore, with it’s subsequent film of the same name, released in 2001 and starring Johnny Depp as Inspector Frederick Abberline.
Walter Richard Sickert , a German-born artist of Dutch and Danish ancestry, was first mentioned as a possible Ripper suspect as part of one of the many conspiracy theories and crime novelist Patricia Cornwell later also claimed in her book, Portrait of a Killer, that Sickert was the Ripper, based largely on what she sees as cynicism toward women in his art and her belief that the taunting letters claiming to be from the killer were written by him. Sickert is not considered a serious suspect by most who study the case, and strong evidence shows he was in France at the time of most of the Ripper murders.
James Kenneth Stephen was first suggested as a suspect in a 1972 biography of another Ripper suspect, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale. Michael Harrison dismissed the idea that Albert Victor was the Ripper but instead suggested that Stephen, a poet and one of Albert Victor's tutors from Trinity College, Cambridge, was a more likely suspect. Harrison's suggestion was based on Stephen's contemptuous writings regarding women and on similarities between his handwriting and that of the "From Hell" letter, supposedly written by the Ripper. Harrison supposed that Stephen may have had sexual feelings for Albert Victor and that his hatred of women arose from jealousy because Albert Victor preferred female company and did not reciprocate Stephen's feelings. There is no proof that Stephen was ever in love with Albert Victor, although he did starve himself to death very shortly after hearing of Albert Victor's death.
William Henry Bury relocated to Scotland from London, and shortly thereafter strangled his wife Ellen Elliot, a former prostitute, on February 5, 1889, inflicted deep wounds to her abdomen after she was dead and "packed" her into a wooden box, which he subsequently used as a table to play dominoes on. She remained in the box and Bury went about his normal life for almost a week before reporting the murder to the local police on February 10th. Some people believe the wounds were similar to ones inflicted upon Martha Tabram and Mary Ann Nichols. In fact, Bury claimed the reason he inflicted these wounds and packed her in the wooden box was because he was frightened that people would think he was Jack the Ripper. Bury was hanged soon afterwards, having by then made a full confession to his wife's murder.
Dr Thomas Neill Cream, a doctor secretly specializing in abortions, was born in Scotland and educated in London. He was active in Canada and later in Chicago, Illinois. In 1881 he was found to be responsible for fatally poisoning several of his patients of both sexes. Originally there was no suspicion of murder in these cases, but Cream himself demanded an examination of the bodies, apparently an attempt to draw attention to himself. Imprisoned and released on July 31, 1891, on good behavior. Moving to London, he resumed killing and was soon arrested. According to some sources, his last words, before being hung, were reported as being "I am Jack..." interpreted to mean Jack the Ripper. Experts note that this whole incident may be nothing more than a story invented at a later date, as police officials who attended the execution made no mention of this alleged interrupted confession. He was still imprisoned at the time of the Ripper murders, but some authors have suggested that he could have bribed officials and left the prison before his official release, or that he left a look-alike to serve the prison term in his place. Neither notion is seen as very likely by most authorities.
Frederick Bailey Deeming was a sailor and a British subject living at the time in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and four children. He was brought to court in England on December 15, 1887, on charges of bankruptcy, and sentenced to fourteen days' imprisonment. He was released on December 29, 1887. He immediately fled with his family to Cape Town, South Africa to escape debt collectors. Soon after arrival he was brought to the attention of the local police on charges of fraud. He sent his family to England and headed to Johannesburg, disappearing for a time from historical record. There is no reliable account of his activities or his whereabouts between March 1888 and October 1889, which covers the period of the murders. He later resurfaced in England, using the alias of Harry Lawson. Soon after, he attempted to reconcile with his estranged wife. They moved together with their children to a rented house in July of 1891. The reconciliation ended on August 11, 1891, when he cut his wife and children's throats as they slept. Having introduced himself to the locals as a bachelor and his family as his visiting sister and nephews, it proved easy to explain their absence. He wed Emily Mathers, his landlord's daughter on September 22, 1891. The newlyweds left by ship from Southampton, on November 2, 1891, and arrived in Australia on December 15, 1891. He murdered Emily nine days later, buried her under their rented house, and left. Her body was soon found, resulting in a local investigation and the discovery of the other bodies in England. This led to Deeming’s arrest on March 11, 1892, and his subsequent execution by hanging. The Australian public was convinced he was the Ripper. He is said to have been an acquaintance of victim Catherine Eddowes, a Ripper victim, and to have maintained correspondence with her, but this allegation remains unproven.
Carl Feigenbaum was arrested in 1894 in New York for cutting a woman's throat. After his execution his lawyer claimed that Feigenbaum had admitted to having a hatred of women and a desire to kill and mutilate them. The lawyer further stated that he believed Feigenbaum was Jack the Ripper. This theory gained some press coverage at the time but the idea was not pursued for more than a century. Author Trevor Marriott, a former British police murder squad detective, argues in the second edition of his book, Jack The Ripper - The 21st Century Investigation, that Feigenbaum was in Whitechapel at the time of the Ripper murders and also that he was responsible for other murders in the United States and Germany between 1891 and 1894.
Robert Donston Stephenson, aka Roslyn D'Onston, was a journalist and writer known to be interested in the occult and black magic. He arrived as a patient at the London Hospital in Whitechapel shortly before the murders started, and left shortly after they ceased. He is the author of a newspaper article and a letter to the police concerning the case. His strange manner and interest in the crimes resulted in an amateur detective reporting him to Scotland Yard. Two days later, Stephenson visited them himself to report his own suspect, a Dr Morgan Davies. Subsequently he fell under the suspicion of newspaper editor William Thomas Stead, the writer Mabel Collins and her friend Baroness Vittoria Cremers. Author and historian Melvin Harris argued in his two most recent books that Stephenson was a leading suspect. Researchers argue that Stephenson is not a viable Ripper suspect because Stephenson had been staying within the Currie Ward at the London Hospital from July 26, 1888 to at least October 16th of the same year. Four of the so-called "Canonical Five" victims were killed prior to October 16, 1888.
Joseph Barnett, a one-time fish porter, was victim Mary Kelly's lover from April 8, 1887, to October 30, 1888, when they quarreled and separated. He visited her daily afterwards, reportedly trying to reconcile. There are suspicions that he was denied and it was proposed that he was a suspect for her murder as a scorned lover, although some people attribute the other murders to him as well. His accounts about what Kelly is said to have told him about her life constitute most of what is known of her. The validity of both her statements and his reports have been questioned.
David Cohen was a Polish Jew whose incarceration at Colney Hatch asylum roughly coincided with the end of the murders. Described as violently antisocial, the poor East End local has been suggested as a suspect by author and Ripper researcher Martin Fido in his book, The Crimes, Detection and Death of Jack the Ripper (1987). Fido claims that the name 'David Cohen' was used at the time to refer to immigrant Jews who either could not be positively identified or whose names were too difficult for police to spell, in the same fashion that 'John Doe' is used in the United States today. It is speculated that Cohen's true identity was Nathan Kaminsky, a boot maker living in Whitechapel who had been treated at one time for syphilis and who allegedly vanished at the same time that Cohen was admitted. Fido and others believe that police officials confused the name Kaminsky with Kosminski, resulting in the wrong man coming under suspicion (see Aaron Kosminski listed as second of the Macnaghten’s suspects above). Cohen exhibited violent, destructive tendencies while at the asylum, and had to be restrained. In his book The Cases That Haunt Us, former FBI criminal profiler John Douglas, has asserted that behavioral clues gathered from the murders as well as linguistic hints from the "From Hell" letter (the only one he considers to be authentic) all point to Cohen, "or someone very much like him."
Thomas Hayne Cutbush is indicated, in files released from Broadmoor high security, as a suspect in the Ripper murders, which ceased during the time of his detention hospital. Cutbush was sent to Lambeth Infirmary in 1891, suffering delusions thought to have been caused by syphilis. After stabbing one woman and attempting to stab a second he was pronounced insane and committed to Broadmoor that same year, where he remained until his death in 1903. It is also reported that Cutbush was the nephew of a Scotland Yard superintendent, and speculates that this may have led to a cover-up of the killer's identity, and Melville Macnaghten's memorandum naming the three police suspects Druitt, Kosminski and Ostrog was written to refute the idea that Cutbush was the Ripper.
Francis Thompson, perceived as a devout Catholic, was a writer, a member of the Aesthetic movement and influenced the young J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In 1889 Thompson wrote the short story "Finis Coronat Opus", Latin for, "The End Crowns the Work". It features a young poet sacrificing women to pagan gods, seeking hell's inspiration for his poetry in order to gain the fame he desires. Thompson is alternatively seen as a religious fanatic or a madman committing the actions described in his story. In the autumn of 1878 he entered his name on the Manchester Royal Infirmary register, where he studied for the next six years as a surgeon. The study of anatomy, with dissection classes, was a major part of study from the first term. Between 1885 and 1888 Thompson spent the majority of his time homeless, living in the Docks area south of Whitechapel. Thompson tried a number of occupations, including a surgeon, priest, and soldier. He also worked in a medical factory. This may have been where, apart from his years as a surgeon, Thompson procured the dissecting scalpel which he claimed to have possessed when he wrote to the editor of the ‘Merry England’ in January 1889 of his need to swap to a razor for shaving. Researchers put little stock in the validity of this theory
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and William Stewart advanced theories involving a female murderer dubbed "Jill the Ripper." Supporters of this theory believe that the murderer worked, or posed, as a midwife. She could be seen with bloody clothes without attracting unwanted attention and suspicion and would be more easily trusted by the victims than a man. A suspect suggested as fitting this profile is Mary Pearcey, who in October 1890 killed her lover's wife and child, though there is no indication she was ever a midwife. E. J. Wagner, in The Science of Sherlock Holmes, offers another possible suspect, Constance Kent, who had served 20 years for the murder of her younger brother at the age of sixteen. In 2006 analysis of the gum used on postage stamps and letters believed to have been sent by the culprit showed that the DNA was likely to have been that of a woman.
It is also possible the Ripper was an unknown Whitechapel resident. Serial killers, like Kansas' BTK killer, Ted Bundy, the Green River Killer, etc., are typically clever at "hiding in plain sight", appearing normal and blending into the background. The Ripper's apparent ability to stalk, kill, and then immediately disappear suggests an intimate knowledge of the Whitechapel neighborhood, including back alleys, hiding places, and police patrol schedules. Whitechapel possessed several small slaughterhouses and butcher shops. In an age before reliable refrigeration, butchers had little time to slaughter animals and cut meat before spoilage occurred... As a result, meat cutters had to work quickly and precisely. This may explain the "surgical" appearance of Jack the Ripper's disembowelments, and local butchers and meat cutters would intimately know Whitechapel's streets and back alleys, to deliver product to customers before spoilage occurred.
There are also several theories suggesting that "Jack the Ripper" was actually more than one killer. Some authors argue that this is the explanation for why police could not pinpoint a single suspect and how the murders on September 30th could happen so closely timed together.
Regardless of these five theories as to the identity of Jack the Ripper, a suspect could never be charged due to the lack of sufficient evidence. Though over a hundred years have passed since the infamous killer stalked the foggy streets of East London, the case is still being studied by scholars and novices alike, to this day uncovering new theories and clues as to the identity of Jack the Ripper.
Charles Manson & The Manson "Family"
"Look down on me, you will see a fool,
look up at me, you will see your lord,
look straight at me, you will see yourself"
Charles Manson is an American criminal who led what became known as the Manson Family, a socially dysfunctional commune like group that arose in California in the late 1960s. He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit the Tate/ LaBianca murders, which members of the group actually carried out at his instruction. Although he himself did not participate in the actual slayings, through the joint-responsibility rule of conspiracy, he was convicted of the murders themselves.
Manson is associated with the term "Helter Skelter," which he took from the Beatles song of the same name and construed as an apocalyptic race war that the murders were assumedly intended to hasten. This connection with rock music linked him, from the beginning of his notoriety, with pop culture, in which he became a symbol of insanity, violence, and the macabre. Ultimately, the term was used as the title of the book that prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi wrote about the Manson murders.
First known as "no name Maddox," Manson was born to unmarried, 16-year-old Kathleen Maddox in Cincinnati, Ohio on November 12, 1934. Three weeks after his birth, he was named Charles Milles Maddox. For a period after her son's birth Kathleen Maddox was married to a laborer named William Manson, whose last name the boy was given. Charles Manson's biological father appears to have been a "Colonel Scott", against whom Maddox filed a paternity suit that resulted in an agreed judgment in 1937. It is believed that Charles never really knew him. According to Manson, his mother once sold him for a pitcher of beer to a childless waitress, from whom his uncle retrieved him some days later. When his mother and her brother were sentenced to five years imprisonment for robbing a Charleston, West Virginia, service station in 1939, Manson was placed in the home of an aunt and uncle in McMechen, West Virginia. Upon his mother's 1942 parole, Manson was retrieved by his mother and lived with her in run-down hotel rooms. He would one day characterize her physical embrace of him on the day she returned from prison as his sole childhood joy. In 1947, Kathleen Maddox tried to have her son placed in a foster home but failed because no such home was available. The court placed Manson in Gibault School for Boys, in Terre Haute, Indiana. After 10 months, he fled from there to his mother, who rejected him. By robbing a grocery store, Manson obtained cash that enabled him to rent a room. A string of burglaries of other stores, ended when he was caught in the act and sent to an Indianapolis juvenile center. He escaped after one day and was recaptured shortly thereafter and placed in Boys Town. He escaped with another boy four days after his arrival. The pair committed two armed burglaries on their way to the home of the other boy's uncle. Caught during the second of two subsequent grocery stores break-ins, Manson was sent, at age 13, to the Indiana School for Boys, where according to Manson he was brutalized sexually and otherwise. After many failed attempts, he escaped with two other boys in 1951. In Utah, having robbed gas stations all along the way, the three were caught driving to California in a stolen car. For the federal crime of taking a stolen vehicle across a state line, Manson was sent to the National Training School for Boys in Washington, D.C., Despite four years of schooling and an average IQ of 109 (later tested at 121), he was illiterate. He was, a caseworker concluded, aggressively antisocial. He was transferred to Natural Bridge Honor Camp, a minimum security institution in October 1952 on a psychiatrist's recommendation. The first hint at Manson’s violent psychotic side came when less than a month before a scheduled February 1952 parole hearing, Charles took a razor blade and held it against another boy's throat while he sodomized him. He was transferred to the Federal Reformatory in Petersburg, Virginia, where he was considered "dangerous." In September 1952, a number of other serious disciplinary offenses resulted in his transfer to the Federal Reformatory in Chillicothe, Ohio, a more secure institution. About a month after the transfer, he became an almost model resident, exhibiting good work habits and a rise in his educational level from the lower fourth to the upper seventh grade. This won him a May 1954 parole. After temporarily honoring a parole condition that he live with his aunt and uncle in West Virginia, Manson moved in with his mother, also In West Virginia. In January 1955, Charles married a hospital waitress named Rosalie Jean Willis. By his own account, Manson found genuine, if short-lived, marital happiness with her, and he supported their marriage by means of smalltime jobs and auto theft. Around October, about three months after he and his then pregnant wife arrived in Los Angeles in a car he had stolen in Ohio, Manson was again charged with a federal crime for taking the vehicle interstate. After a psychiatric evaluation, he was given five years' probation. His subsequent failure to appear at a Los Angeles hearing on an identical charge filed in Florida resulted in his March 1956 arrest in Indianapolis. His probation was revoked and he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment at Terminal Island, San Pedro, California.
Rosalie gave birth to their son, Charles Manson Jr., while Manson was in prison. During his first year at Terminal Island, Manson received visits from his wife and mother, who were now living together in Los Angeles. In March 1957, when the visits from his wife ceased, his mother informed him Rosalie was living with another man and less than two weeks before a scheduled parole hearing; Manson tried to escape by stealing a car. He was subsequently given five years probation, and his parole was denied. Manson received five years parole in September 1958, the same year in which Rosalie was granted a decree of divorce. By November, he was pimping a 16-year-old girl and was receiving additional support from another girl with wealthy parents. Pleading guilty in September 1959 to a charge of attempting to cash a forged U.S. Treasury check, he received a 10-year suspended sentence and probation after a young woman, whose name was Leona and had an arrest record for prostitution, made a "tearful plea" before the court that she and Manson were "deeply in love... and would marry if Charlie were freed." Leona did, in fact, marry Manson before the year’s end, possibly so testimony against him could not be gained from her. After Manson took Leona and another girl from California to New Mexico for purposes of prostitution, he was held and questioned for violation of the Mann Act, which addresses the crime of men for having sex with underage women. Though he was released, he evidently suspected that the investigation had not ended. He was right. When he disappeared, in violation of his probation, a bench warrant was issued and an indictment for violation of the Mann Act was handed down in April 1960. In June, when one of the women Manson was with was arrested for prostitution, in Laredo, Texas, Charles taken into custody and returned to Los Angeles for violation of his probation on the check-cashing charge. He was ordered to serve his ten-year sentence. In July 1961, after unsuccessfully appealing the revocation of his probation for a year, Manson was transferred from the Los Angeles County Jail to the United States Penitentiary at McNeil Island. Although the Mann Act charge had been dropped, the attempt to cash the Treasury check was still a federal offense. Manson’s September 1961 annual review noted that he had a "tremendous drive to call attention to himself," an observation repeated in his September 1964 evaluation. In the meantime, in 1963, Leona was granted a divorce, and alleged that she had a son by Manson, Charles Luther. In June 1966, Manson was sent, for the second time in his life, to Terminal Island, in preparation for early release. By March 21, 1967, his release date, he had spent more than half of his 32 years in prisons and other institutions. Telling the authorities that prison had become his home, he requested that he be permitted to stay. Unfortunately that request was denied.
On his release day, Manson requested and was granted permission to move to San Francisco, where, with the help of a prison acquaintance, he obtained an apartment in Berkeley. Surviving by panhandling he soon got to know Mary Brunner, a twenty-three-year-old University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate working as an assistant librarian at UC Berkeley. After moving in with her, according to a second-hand account, he overcame her resistance to his bringing other women in to live with them, and before long, they were sharing Brunner's residence with eighteen other women.
Manson also established himself as a guru in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, which, during 1967's "Summer of Love", was emerging as the ultimate hippie backdrop. Displaying a philosophy that included some of the Scientology he had studied in prison, he soon had his first group of young followers, most of them female.
Before the summer was out, Manson and eight or nine of his enthusiasts piled into an old school bus they had re-fashioned in hippie style, with colored rugs and pillows in place of the many seats they had removed. Hitting the road, they roamed as far north as Washington State, then southward through Los Angeles, Mexico, and the southwest, eventually returning to the Los Angeles area, and settling in Topanga Canyon. The rest is as they say "history". Manson was found guilty on all counts even though he did not actively participate. He was sentenced to death but Manson's death sentence was automatically reduced to life imprisonment when a decision by the Supreme Court of California eliminated any death penalty imposed before 1972. California's eventual reestablishment of capital punishment did not affect Manson, who is currently an inmate at Corcoran State Prison.
"I'm the devil- here to do the devil's business"
The Manson Family
Number of victims: 11. Span of killings: August 1969
Patricia Dianne Krenwinkel was born on December 3, 1947 in Los Angeles, California, to an insurance salesman father and a homemaker mother. She attended University High School and then Westchester High School, both in the Los Angeles area. Not a particularly popular teen, she suffered from low self-esteem and was frequently teased for being overweight and for an excessive growth of body hair caused by an endocrine condition. After her parents divorced when she was 17, Krenwinkel remained in Los Angeles with her father until she graduated from Westchester High. For a time, she taught Catechism, a type of Catholic religious instruction, and considered becoming a Nun. She decided to attend the Catholic Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, where her mother then lived. Within one semester, however, she dropped out and moved back to California. Moving into her step-sister's apartment in Manhattan Beach, she found an office job as a processing clerk. She met Charles Manson on Manhattan Beach in 1967, along with Lynette Fromme and Mary Brunner, who were already known as "Charlie's Girls". She slept with Manson the first night they met, and she has stated that he was the first person who had told her she was beautiful. Mesmerized by Manson's charisma and starved for attention, she decided to go to San Francisco with him and the other two girls, leaving behind her apartment, car, and last paycheck. Krenwinkel was a participant in the infamous Tate / LaBianca murders. During her trial, Krenwinkel was quoted as saying, "I stabbed her and I kept stabbing her." She was also asked how it felt, to which she replied, "Nothing, I mean, what is there to describe? It was just there, and it was right." At the end of the nine-month trial, Krenwinkel was convicted of all counts and then sentenced to death on March 29, 1971. She and the other two women were transferred from Los Angeles to a brand new death-row facility built especially for them at the California Institution for Women , near Corona, California. Her sentence was automatically commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court's decision to invalidate all death sentences imposed in California prior to 1972. At the beginning of her new life in prison, Krenwinkel remained loyal to Manson and the Family, but in time began to break away from them. In distancing herself from Manson, she has maintained a perfect prison record, and received a Bachelor's degree in Human Services from the University of La Verne. She is active with prison programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and along with these involvements, she has also taught illiterate prisoners how to read. Reportedly, Krenwinkel writes both poetry and music, plays the guitar, plays on a prison volleyball team and gives dance lessons. She also participates in a service-dog training program. Krenwinkel remains incarcerated; now at the California Institution for Women in Chino, California.
Charles Denton "Tex" Watson was born on December 2, 1945 to a strict and religious family, with his mother considered a domineering presence in the home and in her son's life. He was a model child who did well in school, was a star football player and popular among his peers. Watson briefly attended college after graduating from high school. This was his first time away from home and the controls of his family, and he began using drugs and became uninterested in school. He briefly had a job as a baggage handler for Braniff International Airways, which afforded him travel opportunities. After visiting a friend in California, he decided to move there. He again briefly attended college and worked at a wig shop. He soon dropped out of college and also opened his own wig business, which quickly failed. During this time, he also became more involved with using and dealing drugs. One night, he picked up Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, who was hitch-hiking. Wilson invited him back to his home, where Watson met Charles Manson. Watson was the lead participant in the infamous Tate / LaBianca murders. Watson was tried separately from the others convicted in the murders. At the time of the Tate murders, he was reported to have responded to questioning from Wojciech Frykowski with "I'm the devil, and I'm here to do the devil's business." In trial testimony, Watson denied making the statement, but later acknowledged the statement in his autobiography. He was convicted, and sentenced to death on October 21, 1971, Watson escaped execution when the California Supreme Court's People v. Anderson decision resulted in the invalidation of all death sentences imposed in California prior to 1972. In 1978, Watson wrote a book titled Will You Die For Me? He married Kristen Joan Svega in 1979. They were able to have four children through conjugal visits. Largely through the lobbying of Doris Tate, mother of murder victim Sharon Tate, conjugal visits for imprisoned individuals convicted of murder were eventually banned. Watson separated from and divorced his wife in 2003. Watson wrote that he became a Born-again Christian in prison and operates Abounding Love Ministries. He has written about his role in the murders, the sorrow he feels for his involvement, and has made an apology to the family members of his victims on his website, stating that he believes he is "forgiven by God." Watson remains incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California.
Susan Denise Atkins was born on May 7, 1948 in San Gabriel, Los Angeles County, California. Born the second of three children, Atkins grew up in northern California, where she had a difficult childhood. Both of her parents, Edward and Jeanette, were allegedly alcoholics. Atkins and her family lived in a middle-class home in the Cambrian Park area of San Jose, California until she was 14. She has been described by those who knew her as a quiet, self-conscious girl who was a member of her school glee club and the local church choir. Two weeks before her mother was hospitalized for cancer, the final time, Atkins arranged for members of the church choir to sing Christmas carols under her bedroom window. After Jeanette Atkins' death, in 1963, relatives were asked to help look after Susan and her two brothers. His wife's long illness was financially ruinous to Edward Atkins; he was left with huge bills and no means of paying them. By some accounts, Atkins' family life subsequently deteriorated further as her father drank more heavily and roamed around searching for work, which resulted in Atkins' being uprooted, frequently changing homes and schools. Edward Atkins eventually moved to Los Banos, California with Susan and her younger brother Steven. When he found work on the San Luis Dam construction project, he left the two children behind to fend for themselves. Atkins took a job during her junior year in school to support herself and Steven. Atkins had been an average student in Leigh High School in San Jose, but her grades deteriorated when she entered Los Banos High School. During this time, she lived with various relatives. She dropped out of high school at 18 and went to San Francisco, where she supported herself as a secretary, an office aid and topless dancer. During her time as a dancer, Atkins met Church of Satan founder Anton Szandor LaVey when she was hired for a stage production which featured her as a vampire. In 1966, she was arrested and charged with possession of a concealed weapon and receiving stolen property. In 1967, Atkins met Charles Manson when he played guitar at the house where she was living with several friends. When the house was raided several weeks later by the police and she was left homeless, Manson invited her to join his group, who were embarking on a summer road trip in a converted school bus painted completely black. She was given the nickname "Sadie Mae Glutz" by Manson and a man who was creating a fake ID for her at the time. Atkins later claimed to have believed Manson to be Jesus. On October 7, 1968, she bore a son, by an unnamed father, whom Manson named Zezozose Zadfrack Glutz. Atkins' parental rights were terminated once she was convicted of the murders and no one in her family would assume responsibility for the child. She has had no contact with her son since her incarceration in 1969, when he was 1 1/2 years old. Her son was adopted and renamed "Paul". Atkins was a participant in the Hinman as well as the Tate / LaBianca murders. She was convicted and sentenced to death with her sentence being commuted to life in prison when California invalidated all death sentences imposed before 1972. In 1977, Atkins published her autobiography, Child of Satan, Child of God, in which she recounted the time she spent with Manson and the family, her religious conversion, and her prison experiences. Since 1974, Atkins claims to have been a born-again Christian, and over the course of her imprisonment has been involved in prison programs. She has also been given two commendations for helping save the lives of other inmates. She was married in 1980 to Donald Lee Laisure, a Texan claiming to be a multi-millionaire who would use his resources to help secure her freedom, but Atkins ended the marriage when it was revealed that many of his claims were false. She married a second time, to a man 15 years her junior, in 1987. Her second husband, James W. Whitehouse, received a law degree, and represented her at her 2000 and 2005 parole hearings. He maintains a website dedicated to her legal representation. In 2002, Atkins filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that she is a "political prisoner" due to the repeated denials of her parole requests regardless of her suitability. On June 1, 2005, Atkins had her 17th parole hearing. This hearing was attended by various family members of the victims, such as Debra Tate and members of the Sebring family, and they requested that her parole be denied. She received a four-year denial (out of a maximum of five years). Her next hearing is scheduled for 2009. In April 2008, it was revealed that Atkins had been hospitalized for more than a month with an undisclosed illness, which was subsequently reported to be terminal brain cancer and one leg had been amputated. Atkins was given less than six months to live and subsequently requested a "compassionate release" from prison. In June, Atkins' attorney, Eric P. Lampel stated that Atkins condition had deteriorated to the point that she was paralyzed on one side, could only talk "a little bit" and couldn't sit up in bed without assistance." The eleven members of the California Board of Parole Hearings ultimately denied Atkins' request in a unanimous decision after final deliberations. Atkins was transferred back to the Central California Women's Facility, which has a skilled nursing facility, in Chowchilla, California on September 24, 2008. It is now expected that Atkins will almost certainly die in prison.
Linda Darlene Kasabian was born Linda Darlene Drouin on June 21, 1949 in Biddeford, Maine. She was the star witness in Vincent Bugliosi's prosecution of Manson and his followers for the Tate-LaBianca murders. Kasabian was raised in the quiet northeast town of Milford, New Hampshire and had a fairly average American childhood that was initially happy and idyllic. She enjoyed splashing around in the town river with her friends and was named her middle school's best athlete. Life changed when her father left the family to remarry. Her mother also remarried and Linda reportedly did not have a good relationship with her new stepfather. Linda was the oldest child, and her mother Joyce Drouin has remarked that with so many younger children to care for she was not able to devote the necessary attention to her teenage daughter. "I didn't have time to listen to her problems. A lot of what has happened to Linda is my fault." Kasabian was described by friends, neighbors, and teachers as intelligent, a good student, but a "starry-eyed romantic". The girl was known as kind and shy but "forced to grow up too soon". She dropped out of high school and fled her home at the age of sixteen due to increasing problems with her stepfather who she claimed treated both Linda and her mother very poorly. She headed west, looking for God." She fell into a hippie lifestyle, wandering all over the country from commune to commune, experimenting with psychedelic drugs. She married, divorced, married again, and gave birth to a daughter in 1968. When her second marriage, to hippie Robert Kasabian, began to sour, Linda and her baby daughter Tanya returned to New Hampshire to live with her mother. Eventually Robert Kasabian contacted Linda to tell her that he missed his young wife. He invited her to meet him in Los Angeles. He wanted her to join him and a friend on a sailing trip to South America. Kasabian, who has said she was hoping for reconciliation, returned to Los Angeles to live with Robert in the L.A. hippie hangouts of Topanga Canyon. By the time she became pregnant with her second child, Kasabian was feeling rejected by her husband. An acquaintance Catherine Share, described an idyllic ranch where a group of loving hippies was establishing a "hole in the earth" paradise in which to escape the coming social turmoil. In July 1969, she decided against attending the July 4th Malibu Beach Love-In and instead followed Share, Tanya in tow, to the Spahn Ranch. There, she met and soon became enchanted with Charles Manson Kasabian was welcomed by group members, who greeted her with professions of peace and love and assurances that she and her daughter would be cared for, provided she proved loyal. Kasabian became privy to various events and statements that would later prove to be important to the criminal case. During her first night with the Family, she met and slept with high-ranking Manson follower "Tex" Watson. Both have described their initial encounter as extremely intense. It was Watson who convinced Kasabian to steal a sum of money from a friend of her ex-husband. By turning this sum over to the "Family," she proved herself as a trustworthy member. Kasabian was then introduced to Charles Manson, a dramatic event for her. She thought that he looked magnificent in his buckskin clothing… almost Christ like. Manson talked with her about why she had come to the ranch, and after feeling her legs, accepted her. That night, Manson and Kasabian had sex in a Spahn Ranch cave. She thought that Manson could "see right through her". Although present at the Tate / LaBianca murders Linda was not an active participant. This put her in a position to pea bargain with the authorities & thus she became the star witness for the prosecution. She was offered immunity in exchange for turning state's evidence. There were reports that Kasabian wanted to tell her story to the prosecution with or without any kind of deal, to "get it out of my head," as prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi described it, but that her attorney, Gary Fleischman, insisted that she remain silent until the district attorney produced an offer. Kasabian, by then pregnant with her second child, agreed readily to the immunity offer. The heavy media coverage of the trial had rendered Linda Kasabian a well-known if controversial name by the time the proceedings had concluded, with opinions about her varying from sympathetic to hostile. Linda eventually returned to her home state of New Hampshire with her husband and children, seeking to escape the glare of the media and raise her children quietly. She lived on a hippie commune and obtained employment as a cook. She was called back to Los Angeles several times after the first trial. She took the stand again during the trial of Tex Watson in 1971, and also during two re-trials of Leslie Van Houten in 1977. She divorced Robert Kasabian and remarried. She is reported to have continued to lead a troubled life. She has had numerous traffic violations and a car accident that left her partially disabled. During an Easter celebration in New Hampshire in 1978, she along with friends interfered with firefighters who were attempting to extinguish a bonfire. Though she had completely disconnected all ties with the Manson group, the Secret Service nevertheless subjected her to considerable monitoring after her former Manson associate Lynette Fromme attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford, and she was the target of scorn from the few remaining but loyal and potentially dangerous Family members. Relocating to the state of Washington, she had legal troubles involving the possession of drugs. Over the years, Kasabian has refused most media attention.
Leslie Louise Van Houten was born on August 23, 1949 in Altadena, California to an automotive auctioneer and a schoolteacher. She grew up in a middle class household with an older brother, along with a younger brother and sister adopted from Korea. Van Houten attended Monrovia High School, where she was twice elected homecoming princess. In 1963, her parents divorced, with her father moving out while the children stayed with their mother. Van Houten took the divorce very hard and later started experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs and marijuana. At 15, she became pregnant and her mother arranged an abortion. She wanted to keep the child, but was forced to undergo the abortion. Van Houten was deeply angered, and the relationship with her mother became extremely difficult. Van Houten graduated from high school in 1967. She moved in with her father and began attending business college, studying to become a legal secretary. She became very interested in spiritualism and planned to become a nun in a yogic spiritual community. In the summer of 1968, Van Houten met Catherine Share and Bobby Beausoleil in San Francisco. It was through them that she heard of Charles Manson and his community. She was told that Manson was "like Jesus Christ and that he had the answers." When she met Manson, she was immediately captivated by him and the people associated with him. His way of life intrigued her, and she joined his group in September of 1968, moving to the Spahn Ranch. Although Van Houten was devoted to Manson, he was never very interested in her and treated her as "Bobby Beausoleil's woman," since she had been Beausoleil's girlfriend when she arrived at the ranch in 1968. Manson's attitude left her with a strong need to prove herself to him and the rest of the family. Like the other members of Manson’s group, Van Houten was very susceptible to Manson’s insane concepts. Van Houten was an active participant in the LaBianca murders. She was sentenced to death with the sentence being automatically commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court decision to invalidate all death sentences imposed in California prior to 1972. Van Houten won a retrial in 1977 on the grounds that her counsel had not effectively represented her at the original trial. Her lawyer, Ronald Hughes, disappeared during the trial and was later found dead. It was alleged that members of the Manson Family killed Hughes, but this has never been proven. Van Houten's second trial ended in a hung jury. She was tried a third time, during which she was free on bond. She was found guilty of felony robbery, murder, and conspiracy to commit murder. Once again, she was sentenced to life in prison. Van Houten remains housed in the California Institution for Women in Chino, along with Krenwinkel.
Manson & his followers
"I didn't feel anything- there was nothing to feel.
It was there and it was right."
The events that would culminate in the infamous Tate / LaBianca murders were set into motion in late spring 1968, when Dennis Wilson, of The Beach Boys, picked up two hitch-hiking Manson girls and brought them to his Pacific Palisades house for a few hours. Returning home in the early hours of the following morning from a night recording session, Wilson was greeted in the driveway of his residence by Manson, who emerged from the house. Uncomfortable, Wilson asked the stranger whether he intended to hurt him. Manson assured him he had no such intent. Inside the house, Wilson discovered 12 strangers, mostly girls. Over the next few months their number doubled, and the Family members made themselves part of Wilson's Sunset Boulevard household, costing him approximately $100,000. Nonetheless Wilson seemed to bond with Manson & would sing and talk with him often, while the girls were servants to them both.
Wilson paid for studio time to record songs written and performed by Manson, and he introduced Charles to acquaintances of his within the entertainment business. These included Gregg Jakobson, Terry Melcher, and Rudi Altobelli. Altobelli owned the house that would soon be rented by actress Sharon Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski. Jakobson, who was impressed by "the whole Charlie Manson package" of artist/ lifestylist /philosopher, also paid to record Manson material. By August 1968, when a fed up Wilson had his manager clear the Family members from his house, Manson had established a base for the group at Spahn's Movie Ranch, not far from Topanga Canyon. The evictees joined the rest of the Family there. The ranch had once been a location for the shooting of Western films. Manson kept the nearly-blind, elderly owner, George Spahn, on his side by having Lynette Fromme act as Spahn's eyes and, along with other girls, service Spahn sexually. The Family was soon joined at Spahn Ranch by Charles Watson, who had met Manson at Dennis Wilson's house. Watson's drawl earned him the nickname "Tex" from George Spahn. In the first days of November 1968, Manson established the Family at alternative headquarters in Death Valley's environs, where they occupied two rarely used ranches, the Myers and the Barker. The former was owned by the grandmother of a new girl in the Family. The latter was owned by an elderly, local woman to whom Manson presented himself and a male Family member as musicians in need of a place congenial to their work. When the woman agreed to let them stay there if they'd fix up things, Manson honored her with one of the Beach Boys' gold records, one of several which he'd been given by Dennis Wilson. In December, Manson heard the recently released Beatles' White Album including the song "Helter Skelter". For some time Manson had been saying that racial tension between blacks and whites was growing and that blacks would soon rise up in rebellion in America's cities. He had emphasized Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, which had taken place on April 4, 1968. On a bitterly cold New Year's Eve, the Family members, gathered outside around a large fire, listened as Manson explained that the social turmoil he had been predicting had also been predicted by The Beatles. He declared that The White Album songs told it all in code. In fact, he maintained the album was directed at the Family itself, a chosen group that was being instructed to preserve the worthy from the impending disaster. Manson’s lunacy was becoming more & more evident but members of his group were blind to the insanity of their charismatic leader, being pulled into the madness right along with him. In early January 1969, the Family positioned itself to monitor L.A.'s supposed tension by moving to a canary-yellow home in Canoga Park, not far from the Spahn Ranch. Because this locale would allow the group to remain "submerged beneath the awareness of the outside world," Manson called it the Yellow Submarine, another Beatles reference. There, Family members prepared for the impending apocalypse which, Manson had termed "Helter Skelter,". By February 1969, Manson's vision was complete. The Family would create an album whose songs would trigger the predicted chaos. Ghastly murders of whites by blacks would be met with retaliation, and a split between racist and non-racist whites would yield the white race’s self-annihilation, while the blacks race’s triumph, as it were, would merely precede their being ruled by the Family. While this conflict took place, the Family would ride it out in "the bottomless pit" — a secret city beneath Death Valley. Manson contacted Terry Melcher to set up a time for Melcher to come and hear the Family’s demos, but Melcher never showed up. This infuriated Charles and on March 23, 1969, Manson entered, uninvited, the residence located at 10050 Cielo Drive, which he had known as the residence of. It was actually a rental property belonging to Rudi, and Melcher was no longer the tenant. As of that February, the tenants were actress Sharon Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski. Manson was met by Shahrokh Hatami, a photographer and Tate friend who asked him what he wanted. When Manson told Hatami he was looking for Melcher, Hatami informed him the place was the Polanski residence. When Tate appeared behind Hatami and asked who was calling, Hatami said the man was looking for someone. Manson, without a word, went back to the guest house, returned a minute or two later, and left. On May 18, 1969, Terry Melcher visited Spahn Ranch to hear Manson and the girls sing. Melcher arranged a subsequent visit, and brought a friend who possessed a mobile recording unit; but he himself did not record the group. By June, Manson was telling the Family they might have to show blacks how to start "Helter Skelter". When Manson gave Watson the task of obtaining money supposedly intended to help the Family prepare for the conflict, Watson defrauded a black drug dealer named Bernard "Lotsapoppa" Crowe. Crowe responded with a threat to wipe out everyone at Spahn Ranch. Manson countered on July 1, 1969, by shooting Crowe at his Hollywood apartment. Manson's mistaken belief that he had killed Crowe was seemingly confirmed by a news report of the discovery of the dumped body of a Black Panther in Los Angeles. Although Crowe was not a member of the Black Panthers, Manson, concluding he had been, expected retaliation from the group. He turned Spahn Ranch into a defensive camp, with night patrols of armed guards. "If we'd needed any more proof that Helter Skelter was coming down very soon, this was it," Tex Watson would later write, "Blackie was trying to get at the chosen ones." On July 25, 1969, Manson sent Family member Bobby Beausoleil along with Mary Brunner and Susan Atkins to the house of acquaintance Gary Hinman, to persuade him to turn over money Manson thought Hinman had inherited. The three held the uncooperative Hinman hostage for two days, during which Manson showed up with a sword to slash his ear. After that, Beausoleil stabbed Hinman to death, allegedly on Manson’s instruction. Before leaving, Beausoleil used Hinman’s blood to write "Political piggy" on the wall and to draw a panther paw. Susan Atkins, in her 1977 autobiography, wrote that Manson directly told Beausoleil, Brunner, and her to go to Hinman’s and get the supposed inheritance — $21,000. She said Manson had told her privately, two days earlier, that, if she wanted to "do something important," she could kill Hinman and get his money. When Beausoleil was arrested on August 6, 1969, after he had been caught driving Hinman's car, police found the murder weapon in the tire well. Two days after Beausoleil's arrest, Manson told Family members at Spahn Ranch, "Now is the time for Helter Skelter." On the night of August 8, Manson directed Watson to take Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel to "that house where Melcher used to live" and "totally destroy everyone in it, as gruesome as you can." He told the girls to do as Watson would instruct them. When the four arrived at the entrance to the Polanski home, Watson climbed a telephone pole near the gate and cut the phone line. It was now around midnight and into August 9, 1969. Backing their car down to the bottom of the hill that led up to the place, they parked there and walked back up to the house. Thinking the gate might be electrified or rigged with an alarm, they climbed a brushy embankment at its right and dropped onto the grounds. Just then, headlights came their way from farther within the angled property. Telling the girls to lie in the bushes, Watson stepped out, gave a command to halt, and shot to death the approaching driver, 18-year-old Steven Parent. After cutting the screen of an open window of the main house, Watson told Kasabian to keep watch down by the gate. He removed the screen, entered through the window, and let Atkins and Krenwinkel in through the front door. As Watson whispered to Atkins, Polanski's friend Wojciech Frykowski awoke on the living-room couch. Watson kicked him in the head. Stunned, Frykowski asked him who he was and what he was doing there, and Watson replied, "I’m the devil, and I’m here to do the devil’s business." On Watson’s direction, Atkins found the house's three other occupants and, with Krenwinkel's help, brought them to the living room. The three were Sharon Tate, eight and a half months pregnant; her friend and former lover Jay Sebring, a noted hairstylist; and Frykowski’s lover Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folger coffee fortune. Polanski was in London, at work on a film project. Watson began to tie Tate and Sebring together by their necks with rope he'd brought and slung up over a beam. Sebring's protest of the rough treatment of Tate prompted Watson to shoot him. After Folger was taken momentarily back to her bedroom for her purse, out of which she gave the intruders $70, Watson stabbed Sebring seven times. Frykowski, whose hands had been bound with a towel, freed himself and began struggling with Atkins, who stabbed his legs with the knife with which she had been guarding him. As Frykowski fought his way toward and out the front door, onto the porch, Watson, who joined in against him, struck him over the head with the gun multiple times, breaking the gun's right grip in the process. He stabbed him repeatedly, and shot him twice. Around this time, Kasabian, drawn up from the driveway by "horrifying sounds", arrived outside the door and, in a vain effort to halt the massacre, told Atkins falsely that someone was coming. Inside the house, Folger had escaped from Krenwinkel and fled out a bedroom door to the pool area. Folger was pursued to the front lawn by Krenwinkel, who tackled and stabbed her. Watson sent Atkins to assist in the attack and Folger’s two assailants stabbed her a total of twenty-eight times. As Frykowski struggled across the lawn, Watson ended his life with a final stabbing. Frykowski had been stabbed a total of fifty-one times during the assault. Back in the house, Atkins and Watson killed Tate, who was stabbed sixteen times. Tate pleaded to be allowed to live long enough to have her baby; she cried, "Mother... mother..." until she was dead. The last words she heard were "Woman I have no mercy on you" Rumors that Tate's unborn child was cut from her womb & laid upon her chest have circulated since the murders first made the news in 1969, but this writer found nothing in the research to indicate that this occured. Earlier, as the four Family members had headed out from Spahn Ranch, Manson had told the girls to "leave a sign… something witchy". Using the towel that had bound Frykowski’s hands, Atkins wrote "pig" on the house’s front door, in Tate's blood. On the way home, the killers changed out of bloody clothes, which were ditched in the hills, along with their weapons. The next night, six Family members, the four from the Tate murders as well as Leslie Van Houten and Steve "Clem" Grogan, rode out at Manson’s instruction. Displeased by the panic of the victims the previous night, Manson accompanied the six, "to show them how to do it." Manson gave Kasabian directions that brought the group to 3301 Waverly Drive, home of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, a dress shop co-owner. Located in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles, the LaBianca home was next door to a house at which Manson and Family members had attended a party the previous year.
According to Atkins and Kasabian, Manson returned, after disappearing up the driveway alone, to take Watson back up with him. Manson pointed out a sleeping man through a window, and they entered through the unlocked back door. Rousing the sleeping Leno LaBianca from the couch at gunpoint, Manson had Watson bind his hands with a leather thong. After Rosemary LaBianca was brought briefly into the living room from the bedroom, Watson followed Manson’s instructions to cover the couple’s heads with pillowcases, which he bound in place with lamp cords. Manson left, sending Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten into the house with instructions that the couple be killed. Sending the girls from the kitchen to the bedroom, to which Rosemary LaBianca had been returned, Watson went to the living room and began stabbing Leno LaBianca with a chrome-plated bayonet, the first thrust going into the man's throat. Sounds of a scuffle in the bedroom drew Watson there to discover Mrs. LaBianca keeping the girls at bay by swinging the lamp tied to her neck. Subduing her with several stabs of the bayonet, Watson returned to the living room and resumed attacking Leno, who was stabbed twelve times with the bayonet. After Watson had finished, he carved the word "WAR" on the man's exposed abdomen. Returning to the bedroom, where Krenwinkel was stabbing Rosemary LaBianca with a knife from the LaBianca kitchen, Watson, heeding Manson’s instruction to make sure each of the girls played a part, told Van Houten to stab her too. She did, on the exposed buttocks and elsewhere. While Watson cleaned off the bayonet and showered, Krenwinkel wrote "Rise" and "Death to pigs" on the walls and "Helter Skelter" on the refrigerator door, all in blood. She gave Leno LaBianca fourteen puncture wounds with an ivory-handled, two-tined carving fork, which she left jutting out of his stomach; she also planted a steak knife in his throat. Hoping for a double crime, Manson had gone on to direct Kasabian to drive to the Venice home of an actor acquaintance of hers, another "piggy." Dropping off the trio of Family members at the man's apartment building, he drove back to Spahn Ranch, leaving them to hitch-hike home. Kasabian thwarted this murder by deliberately knocking on the wrong apartment door and waking a stranger. As the group abandoned the murder plan and left, Susan Atkins defecated in the stairwell.
The Tate / LaBianca Murder Victims
Number of victims: 33. Span of killings: January 1972–1978
"A clown can get away with murder."
-John Wayne Gacy
Behind the Mask
John Wayne Gacy, Jr. was born on March 17, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois. He was convicted and later executed for the rape and murder of 33 boys and young men between 1972 and the time of his arrest in 1978. 27 of his victims were found buried in a crawl space under the floor of his house, while others were found in nearby rivers. He became notorious as the "Killer Clown" because of the many block parties he threw for his friends and neighbors, entertaining children in a clown suit and makeup, under the name of "Pogo the Clown". John was the second of three children. His parents were John Wayne Gacy, Sr., a machinist, and Marion Elaine Robinson. He was of Polish and Danish heritage. His relationship with his father was troubled. Gacy Sr. was an alcoholic who abused him and called him a "sissy". He was, however, close to his sisters and mother, who affectionately called him "Johnny". When Gacy was 11, he was struck on the forehead and the resulting head trauma formed a blood clot in his brain that went unnoticed until he was 16, when he began to suffer blackouts. He was prescribed medication to dissolve the clot. After attending four high schools, Gacy dropped out before completing his senior year and left his family, heading west. After running out of money in Las Vegas, Nevada, he worked long enough to earn money to travel back home to Chicago. Without returning to high school, he enrolled in and eventually graduated from Northwestern Business College. A management trainee position with the Nunn-Bush Shoe Company was obtained shortly after graduation, and in 1964, Gacy was transferred to Springfield, Illinois. There he met co-worker Marlynn Myers, who he married in September 1964. He became active in local Springfield organizations, joining the Jaycees and rising to vice-president of the Springfield chapter by 1965. Marlynn's parents, purchased a string of Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises, and offered Gacy a job as manager at a Waterloo, Iowa location. John accepted the position and the Gacys moved there from Springfield. The Gacys had two children, a son and a daughter. John worked hard at his KFC franchise but still found time to again join the local Jaycees. Rumors of his homosexuality began to spread but did not stop him from being named "outstanding vice-president" of the Waterloo Jaycees in 1967. However, there was a darker side of Jaycee life in Waterloo. It involved prostitution, pornography, and drugs and Gacy was deeply caught up in it. He was cheating on his wife regularly, and during that time, he opened a "club" in his basement for the young boys of Waterloo, where he allowed them to drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, and subsequently made sexual advances towards them. Gacy's normal middle class facade came crashing down in March 1968 when two Waterloo boys, aged 16 and 15, accused him of sexually assaulting them. Gacy professed his innocence and it appeared he might beat the charges until August of that year when a youth was arrested for assault and confessed that Gacy had hired him to beat up one of his accusers. Gacy was consequently arrested. Before the end of the year, he was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to 10 years in the Iowa State Penitentiary. Gacy's imprisonment was rapidly followed by his wife's petition for divorce, which was final in 1969. He never saw his children again. During his incarceration, Gacy's father died on Christmas Day in 1969. John was paroled in 1970, after serving 18 months. He moved back to Illinois to live with his mother, after his release and successfully hid his criminal record until police began investigating him for his later murders. After moving in with his mother Gacy got a job as a chef in a Chicago restaurant. In 1971, with his mother's help, he bought a house at 8213 West Summerdale Avenue, in an unincorporated area on the northwest side of Chicago. On February 12, 1971, Gacy was charged with disorderly conduct when a teenage boy claimed that Gacy picked him up and tried to force him into sex. The complaint was dropped when the boy did not appear in court. The Iowa Board of Parole was unaware of this violation and Gacy was discharged from parole in October 1971. On June 22, 1972, Gacy was arrested again and charged with battery after another young man said that Gacy flashed a sheriff's badge, lured him into his car, and forced him into sex. The charges were again dropped. In June 1972, Gacy married Carole Hoff, an acquaintance from his teenage years. Hoff and her two daughters moved into the Gacy home. In 1975, Gacy started his own construction company called PDM Contractors. Around the same time, Gacy’s sick reign of torture & murder was picking up steam. His marriage began to deteriorate, the couple’s sex life came to a halt, and John started going out late and staying out all night. Carole Gacy started finding wallets with IDs from young men lying around and Gacy began bringing gay pornography into the house. In July 1975, one of Gacy's employees, John Butkovich, disappeared. Butkovich had recently left Gacy's employ after an argument over back pay owed to Butkovich. Butkovich's parents urged police to check out Gacy, but nothing came of it and the young man's disappearance went unsolved. The Gacys divorced in March 1976. During the same time period, Gacy became active in the local Democratic Party, first volunteering to clean the party offices. In 1975 and 1976, he served on the Norwood Park Township street lighting committee, and eventually earned the title of precinct captain. In December 1976, another Gacy employee, Gregory Godzik, disappeared, and his parents asked police to investigate Gacy, one of the last people known to have spoken to the boy. Again the police did not pursue Gacy nor did they discover his criminal record. In January 1977, John Szyc, an acquaintance of Butkovich, Godzik and Gacy, disappeared. Later that year, another of Gacy's employees was arrested for stealing gasoline from a station and the car he was driving had belonged to Szyc. Gacy said that Szyc had sold the car to him before leaving town and the police failed to pursue the matter further. In December 1977, a 19-year-old man complained that Gacy had kidnapped him at gunpoint and forced him into sex. Yet again, Chicago police took no action. Early in the year 1978 Gacy hired one of his employees David Cram to help dig hole in the crawl space under his home. Cram also stayed in the spare bedroom in his boss' house. One night, Cram came home from work and found Gacy drunk and in his clown costume. They had a few drinks and then Gacy tricked Cram into handcuffs. John then started growling and began spinning Cram around the room screaming "I'm going to rape you". Cram pushed Gacy down and somehow grabbed the key and escaped to his room. Not all of Gacy's victims died. In March 1978, Gacy lured Jeffrey Rignall into his car. He chloroformed the young man, took him back to the house on Summerdale, raped and tortured him, and dumped him in Lincoln Park. Police drew a blank, but Rignall remembered, through the chloroform haze of that night, a black Oldsmobile, the Kennedy Expressway, and some side streets. He staked out the exit on the Expressway until he saw the black Oldsmobile, which he followed to 8213 West Summerdale. After the police were contacted with this information, a warrant was issued and Gacy was arrested on July 15 1978. In May 1978, a mere two months prior to his arrest, Gacy was directing the annual Polish Constitution Day parade, for the third year in a row, when he met and was photographed with First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who was in town for the Parade. Mrs. Carter posed for pictures with Gacy and autographed one photo, "To John Gacy. Best Wishes. Rosalynn Carter". In the picture, Gacy is wearing an "S" pin, indicating a person who has received special clearance by the United States Secret Service. During the search of Gacy's house after his arrest, this photo caused major embarrassment to the Secret Service. Gacy was soon released on bond and Robert Piest, a 15-year-old boy, disappeared on December 11, 1978 from the Des Plaines pharmacy where he worked after school. Just before he vanished, Piest told a co-worker he was going to a house down the street to talk to "some contractor" about a job. Gacy had been at the pharmacy that night discussing a remodeling job with the owner. Gacy denied talking to Piest when Des Plaines police called him the next day, but the Des Plaines police did what Chicago police failed to do and checked Gacy's record, discovering that he had done time for sodomy. A search of Gacy's house on December 13 turned up some suspicious items including a 1975 high school class ring, drivers' licenses for other people, handcuffs, a two-by-four with holes drilled in the ends, a syringe, clothing too small for Gacy, and a photo receipt from the pharmacy where Piest worked. Detectives noticed an offensive odor coming from the crawlspace beneath the house, but focused their investigation at that point on evidence gathered from the home. Further inquiry revealed that the high school ring was belonged to Szyc. From Gacy's second wife, they learned of Butkovich. Shortly thereafter, Gacy was arrested for marijuana possession. On December 21, 1978, one of Gacy's employees told the police that Gacy had confessed to more than 30 murders. Police took out a second warrant, went back to the house on Summerdale, and at that time found human bones in the crawlspace. He was facing trial on a battery charge for the Rignall incident when he was arrested in December for the other murders. After being informed that he would now face murder charges, Gacy confessed to some 25-30 murders, telling investigators that most were buried in the crawlspace and on his property, and that he threw the last five bodies, after the crawlspace was full, off the I-55 bridge and into the Des Plaines River, including that of Piest. Gacy drew police a diagram of his crawlspace to show where the bodies were buried. Gacy told the police that he would pick up male teenage runaways or male prostitutes off the streets, and take them back to his house He either promised them money for sex, or would just grab them by force. He picked up at least one of his victims at the bus station. Once they got back to his house, he would handcuff them or tie them up in another way. Gacy would often stick clothing in their mouths to muffle their screams. After this, he would choke them with a rope or a board as he sexually assaulted them. Gacy would also keep the bodies with him for as long as decomposition would allow. The police went back to the house to search for more remains, mostly under the crawlspace and the next four months, more and more human remains emerged from the Gacy home. Twenty-nine bodies were found in Gacy's crawlspace and on his property between December 1978 and March 1979, as reporters, TV news crews, and a horrified public looked on. The youngest identified victims were Samuel Stapleton and Michael Marino, both 14 years old and the oldest were Russell Nelson and James Mazzara, both 21 years old. Eight of the victims were so badly decomposed that they were never identified. Robert Piest's body was discovered on the banks of the Des Plaines River on April 9 1979. On February 6, 1980, Gacy's trial began in Chicago. During the trial, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. However, this plea was rejected outright. Gacy's lawyer, Sam Amirante, said that Gacy had moments of temporary insanity at the time of each individual murder, but regained his sanity before and after to lure and dispose of victims. While on trial, Gacy joked that the only thing he was guilty of was "running a cemetery without a license." He was found guilty on March 13 and sentenced to death. On May 10, 1994, Gacy was executed at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois, by lethal injection. According to reports, Gacy never did express remorse. His last words to his lawyer in his cell were to the effect that killing him would not bring anyone back, and it is reported his last words were "kiss my ass," which he said to a correctional officer while he was being sent to the execution chamber. During the execution, the lethal chemicals unexpectedly solidified, clogging the IV tube that led into Gacy's arm, and prevented any further passage. Blinds covering the window through which witnesses observed the execution were drawn, and the execution team replaced the clogged tube with a new one. Ten minutes later, the blinds were reopened and the execution resumed. It took 18 minutes to complete. This apparently led to Illinois' adoption of a different method of lethal injection. On this subject, the chief prosecutor at Gacy's trial, William Kunkle, said "He still got a much easier death than any of his victims." After his execution, Gacy's brain was removed. It is currently in the possession of Dr. Helen Morrison, who interviewed Gacy and other serial killers in an attempt to isolate common personality traits of violent sociopaths; however, an examination of Gacy's brain after his execution by the forensic psychiatrist hired by his lawyers revealed no abnormalities. During his 14 years on death row, Gacy took up oil painting, his favorite subject being portraits of clowns. He said he used his clown act as an alter ego, once sarcastically saying that "A clown can get away with murder". His paintings included pictures of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and his fellow serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein. They are among the most famous examples of serial killer art. Many of Gacy's paintings were sold at auction after his execution. Nineteen were put up for sale, prices ranging from $195, for an acrylic painting of a bird, to $9500 for a depiction of dwarfs playing baseball against the Chicago Cubs. Some bought Gacy's paintings to destroy them. The privately owned National Museum of Crime & Punishment exhibits two Gacy paintings including "Baseball Hall of Fame", signed by 46 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame including Duke Snider, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra, and Roy Campanella. President Richard Nixon also signed the work. All signers were unaware that Gacy was the artist.
John Wayne Gacy
"I should never have been convicted of anything more serious than running a cemetery without a license"
- John Wayne Gacy
Remembering The Victims
Timothy McCoy, 18, disappeared January 3, 1972
John Butkovitch, 17, disappeared July 21, 1975
Darrell Sampson, 18, disappeared April 6, 1976
Randall Reffett, 15, disappeared May 14, 1976
Sam Stapleton, 14, disappeared May 14, 1976
Michael Bonnin, 17, disappeared June 3, 1976
William Carroll, 16, disappeared June 13, 1976
Rick Johnston, 17, disappeared August 6, 1976
Kenneth Parker, 16, disappeared October 25, 1976
Michael Marino, 14, disappeared October 25, 1976
Gregory Godzik, 17, disappeared December 12, 1976
John Szyc, 19, disappeared January 20, 1977
Jon Prestidge, 20, disappeared March 15, 1977
Matthew Bowman, disappeared 19, July 5, 1977
Robert Gilroy, 18, disappeared September 15, 1977
John Mowery, 19, September 25, 1977
Russell Nelson, 21, disappeared October 17, 1977
Robert Winch, 16, disappeared November 10, 1977
Tommy Boling, 20, disappeared November 18, 1977
David Talsma, 19, disappeared December 9, 1977
William Kindred, 19, disappeared February 16, 1978
Timothy O'Rourke, 20, disappeared June 1978
Frank Landingin, 19, disappeared November 4, 1978
James Mazzara, 21, disappeared November 24, 1978
Robert Piest, 15, disappeared December 11, 1978
Eight of Gacy's victims are still unidentified.
The ninth unidentified victim was identified in June 2007 as Timothy McCoy. McCoy was Gacy's first known and identified victim It is also believed that there may have been other victims never identified or found who were buried at other locations.
The Lady KIller
Number of victims: 35. Span of killings: 1972–1978
"We serial killers are your sons. We are your husbands. We are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow."
-Theodore Robert Bundy
The Making of a Killer
Theodore Robert Bundy, was born Theodore Robert Cowell on November 24, 1946 1989. He was born at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont, to Eleanor Louise Cowell. While the identity of his father remains a mystery, Bundy's birth certificate lists a "Lloyd Marshall" although Bundy's mother would later tell of being seduced by a war veteran named "Jack Worthington". The family did not believe this story, however, and expressed suspicion about Louise's violent, abusive father, Samuel Cowell, possibly having fathered the child. To avoid social stigma, Ted's maternal grandparents, Samuel and Eleanor Cowell, claimed him as their son. He grew up believing that his mother was his older sister. For the first few years of his life, Ted and his mother lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1950, they moved to live with relatives in Tacoma, Washington. Here, Louise Cowell had her son's surname changed from Cowell to Nelson. In 1951, one year after their move, Louise Cowell met Johnny Culpepper Bundy at an adult singles night held at a local church. In May of that year, the couple was married, and soon after Johnny Bundy adopted Ted, legally changing his last name to "Bundy". Johnny and Louise Bundy had more children, whom the young Bundy spent much of his time babysitting. Johnny Bundy tried to include his stepson in camping trips and other father-son activities, but the boy remained emotionally detached from his stepfather. Bundy was a good student at Woodrow Wilson High School, in Tacoma, and was active in a local Methodist church, serving as vice-president of the Methodist Youth Fellowship. He was also involved with a local troop of the Boy Scouts of America. Socially, Bundy remained shy and introverted throughout his high school and early college years. He would say later that he "hit a wall" in high school and that he was unable to understand social behavior, stunting his social development. He maintained a facade of social activity, but he had no natural sense of how to get along with other people, saying: "I didn't know what made things tick. I didn't know what made people want to be friends. I didn't know what made people attractive to one another. I didn't know what underlay social interactions." Years later, Bundy described a part of himself that developed at an early age, and was fascinated by images of sex and violence. He called this part of himself "the entity". While still in his teens, Bundy would look through libraries for detective magazines and books on crime, focusing on anything that described sexual violence and featured pictures of dead bodies and violent sexuality. Before he was even out of high school, Bundy was a compulsive thief, a shoplifter, and on his way to becoming an amateur criminal. He was arrested twice as a juvenile, although these records were later expunged. In 1965, Bundy graduated from Woodrow Wilson High and was awarded a scholarship to the University of Puget Sound. He began classes that fall, taking courses in psychology and Oriental studies, but after two semesters, he decided to transfer to Seattle's University of Washington. While he was a college student, Bundy worked as a grocery bagger and shelf-stocker at a Seattle Safeway store, as well as other odd jobs. As part of his course studies in psychology, he would later work as a volunteer at Seattle's Suicide Hot Line. There, Ted met and worked alongside former Seattle policewoman and fledgling crime writer Ann Rule, who would later write a biography of Bundy and his crimes, entitled "The Stranger Beside Me".
He began a relationship with fellow student that he met while enrolled at UW in 1967. Following her graduation in 1968 she returned to her family home in California, and ended her relationship with Bundy. It is said that she was fed up with Bundy's immaturity and lack of ambition. The break-up was very traumatic for Bundy and Rule states that, around this time, he decided to pay a visit to his birthplace, Burlington, Vermont. There, according to Rule, he visited the local records clerk and finally uncovered the truth of his parentage. After his discovery, Bundy became a more focused and dominant person. In 1968, he managed the Seattle office of Nelson Rockefeller's Presidential campaign and attended the 1968 Republican convention in Miami, Florida as a Rockefeller supporter. He re-enrolled at UW, this time with a major in psychology, and became an honors student, well liked by his professors. In 1969, he started dating Elizabeth Kloepfer, a divorced secretary with a young daughter, who fell deeply in love with him. They would continue dating for more than six years. Bundy graduated in 1972 from UW with a degree in psychology. Soon afterward, he again went to work for the state Republican Party. In the fall of 1973, Bundy enrolled in the law school at the University of Utah, but he did poorly. He began skipping classes, finally dropping out in the spring of 1974. While on a business trip to California in the summer of 1973, Bundy came back into the life of his ex-girlfriend from 1968. Ted presented a new look and attitude, as a serious, dedicated professional who had been accepted to law school. Bundy courted her throughout the rest of the year, and soon proposed marriage, which she accepted. Two weeks later, however, shortly after New Year's 1974, he broke off their engagement without warning or explanation. Bundy had continued to date Kloepfer as well, and neither woman had been aware the other’s existence. A few weeks after this breakup, Bundy began a homicidal rampage in Washington State. No one knows exactly where and when Bundy began killing. Many Bundy experts believe Bundy may have started killing as far back as his early teens. Ann Marie Burr, an eight-year-old girl from Tacoma, vanished from her home in 1961, when Bundy was 14 years old, though Bundy had always denied killing her. The day before his execution, Bundy told his lawyer that he made his first attempt to kidnap a woman in 1969, and implied that he committed his first actual murder sometime in 1972. He was a suspect for many years in the December 1973 murder of Kathy Devine in Washington State, but DNA analysis led to another man's arrest and conviction for that crime in 2002. Bundy's earliest known, identified murders were committed in 1974, when he was 27.
"You feel the last bit of breath leaving their body. You're looking into their eyes. A person in that situation is God!"
The Murderous Storm
Shortly after midnight on January 4, 1974, Ted Bundy entered the basement bedroom of an 18-year-old dancer and university student. Bundy bludgeoned her with a metal rod from her bed frame while she slept and then sexually assaulted her. The girl’s naked body was found the next morning by her roommates in a coma and lying in a pool of her own blood. She survived but suffered permanent brain damage. Bundy's next victim was Lynda Ann Healy, another university student who was also his cousin's roommate. Early on the morning of February 1, 1974, Bundy broke into Healy's room, knocked her unconscious, and carried her away. Co-eds began disappearing at a rate of approximately one each month. On March 12, 1974, Bundy kidnapped and murdered Donna Gail Manson, a 19-year-old college student. On April 17, 1974, Susan Rancourt disappeared from the campus of Central Washington State College. Later, two different co-eds would report meeting a man with his arm in a cast, who asked for their help to carry a load of books to his Volkswagen Beetle. Next was Kathy Parks, last seen on the campus of Oregon State University on May 6, 1974. Brenda Ball was never seen again after leaving The Flame Tavern on June 1, 1974. Bundy then murdered Georgeann Hawkins, a student and member of an on-campus sorority. Early on June 11, 1974, she walked through an alley from her boyfriend's dormitory to her sorority house. She was never seen again. Witnesses later reported seeing a man with a leg cast struggling to carry a briefcase in the area that night. One co-ed reported that the man had asked for her help in carrying the briefcase to his car, a Beetle. Bundy's first killing spree concluded on July 14, 1974, with the daytime abduction of Janice Ott and Denise Naslund from Lake Sammamish State Park. That day, eight different people told the police about the handsome young man with his left arm in a sling who called himself "Ted". Five of those witnesses were women that "Ted" had asked help from with unloading a sailboat from his Beetle. One of them went with "Ted" as far as his car, and when where there was no sailboat, declined to accompany him any farther. Three more witnesses testified to seeing him approach Ott with the story about the sailboat and to seeing her walk away from the beach with him. She was never seen alive again. Naslund disappeared without a trace four hours later. With the description of both of the suspect and his car, King County detectives now began to intensify their investigation. Some witnesses told investigators that the suspect spoke with a "British-like" accent. Fliers went up all over the Seattle area. After seeing the police sketch and description in both local newspapers and on TV news reports, Bundy's girlfriend at the time, one of his psychology professors from UW, and former co-worker Ann Rule all reported him as a possible suspect. Unfortunately, the police were receiving up to 200 tips every day and did not pay any special attention to a tip about a clean-cut law student. The disjointed remains of Ott and Naslund were discovered on September 7, 1974, off Interstate 90. Found along with the women's remains was an extra femur bone and vertebrae. Bundy would later identify them as remains of Georgeann Hawkins. Between March 1 and March 3, 1975, the skulls and jawbones of Healy, Rancourt, Parks and Ball were found on Taylor Mountain. Years later, Bundy claimed that he had also dumped Donna Manson's body there, but no trace of her was ever found. That autumn, Bundy began attending the University of Utah law school in Salt Lake City, where he resumed killing in October. Nancy Wilcox disappeared from Holladay, Utah, on October 2, 1974. She was last seen riding in a Volkswagen Beetle. On October 18, 1974, Bundy murdered Melissa Smith, the 17-year-old daughter of the Midvale police Chief. Bundy raped, sodomized and strangled her. Her body was found nine days later. Next was Laura Aime, also 17, who disappeared when she left a Halloween party in Lehi, Utah, on October 31, 1974. On Thanksgiving Day, her naked, beaten and strangled corpse was found by hikers on a river bank in American Fork Canyon. On November 8, 1974, In Murray, Utah, Carol DaRonch was approached by Bundy who claimed to be Officer Roseland of the Murray Police Department and told her someone had tried to break into her car. He asked her to accompany him to the police station, and although she got into his car she refused his demand to buckle her seat belt. They drove for a short period before Bundy suddenly pulled to the shoulder and attempted to put a pair of handcuffs on her. In the struggle, he mistakenly fastened both loops to the same wrist. He then pulled out a crowbar, but DaRonch caught it in the air just before it would have fractured her skull. She managed to get the door open and tumbled out onto the highway, thus escaping from her would-be killer. About an hour later, a strange man showed up at Viewmont High School in Bountiful, Utah, where the drama club was putting on a play. He approached the drama teacher and then a student, asking both to come out to the parking lot to identify a car, but both women declined. The drama teacher saw him again shortly before the end of the play, this time breathing hard, and looking quite disheveled. Another student saw the man lurking in the rear of the auditorium. Debby Kent, a 17-year-old Viewmont High student, left the play at intermission to go and pick up her brother, and was never seen again. Later, investigators found a small key in the parking lot outside Viewmont High. It unlocked the handcuffs taken off Carol DaRonch. In 1975, while still attending law school at the University of Utah, Bundy shifted his crimes to Colorado. On January 12, 1975, Caryn Campbell disappeared from the Wildwood Inn at Snowmass, Colorado, where she had been vacationing. Her body was found on February 17, 1975. Next, Vail ski instructor Julie Cunningham disappeared on March 15, 1975, and Denise Oliverson in Grand Junction on April 6, 1975. While in prison, Bundy shed more light on the Colorado murders, confessing to Colorado investigators that he used crutches to approach Cunningham, after asking her to help him carry some ski boots to his car. At the car, Bundy clubbed her with his crowbar and immobilized her with handcuffs. Later he strangled her in a crime highly similar to the Hawkins murder. Bundy briefly went to Idaho and shortly thereafter, Lynette Culver went missing in Pocatello, Idaho, on May 6, 1975, from her junior high school. He then returned to Utah, where Susan Curtis vanished on June 28, 1975. Bundy confessed to the Curtis murder only minutes before his execution. The bodies of Cunningham, Culver, Curtis and Oliverson have never been recovered.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, investigators were attempting to prioritize their enormous list of suspects. They used computers to cross-check different likely lists of suspects (classmates of Lynda Healy, owners of Volkswagens, etc) against each other, and then identify suspects who turned up on more than one list. "Theodore Robert Bundy" was one of 25 people who turned up on four separate lists, and his case file was second on the "To Be Investigated" pile when the call came from Utah of an arrest. Ted Bundy was arrested on August 16, 1975, in Salt Lake City, for failure to stop for a police officer. A search of his car revealed a ski mask, a crowbar, handcuffs, trash bags, an ice pick, and other items that were thought by the police to be burglary tools. Bundy remained calm during questioning, explaining that he needed the mask for skiing and had found the handcuffs in a dumpster, but Utah detective Jerry Thompson connected Bundy and his Volkswagen to the DaRonch kidnapping and the missing girls. A search warrant was issued and Bundy’s apartment was searched. The search uncovered a brochure of Colorado ski resorts, with a check mark by the Wildwood Inn where Caryn Campbell had disappeared. After searching his apartment, the police brought Bundy in for a lineup before DaRonch. He was identified as "Officer Roseland". Following a week-long trial, Bundy was convicted of DaRonch's kidnapping on March 1, 1976, and was sentenced to 15 years in Utah State Prison. Colorado authorities were pursuing murder charges, however, and Bundy was extradited there to stand trial. On June 7, 1977, in preparation for a hearing in the Caryn Campbell murder trial, Bundy was taken to the Pitkin County courthouse. During a court recess, he was allowed to visit the courthouse's law library, where he jumped out of the building from a second-story window and escaped. In the minutes following his escape, Bundy at first ran and then strolled casually through the small. He made it all the way to the top of Aspen Mountain without being detected, where he rested for two days in an abandoned hunting cabin. Afterwards, he lost his sense of direction and wandered around the mountain and missed two trails that led down off the mountain and toward his intended destination, the town of Crested Butte. At one point, he met with a gun carrying citizen who was one of the searchers hunting for Ted Bundy, but he talked his way out of danger. On June 13, 1977, Bundy stole a car and drove back into Aspen and could have gotten away, had two police deputies not noticed the Cadillac with dimmed headlights weaving in and out of its lane. Bundy was pulled over and they recognized him, promptly taking him back to jail. Bundy had been free for six days. He was back in custody, but Bundy worked on a new escape plan. He was being held in a Colorado jail while he awaited trial, but he had acquired a hacksaw blade and $500 in cash. Over a two week span, he sawed through the welds holding a small metal plate in the ceiling and, was able to access the crawl space above. An informant in the prison told guards that he had heard Bundy moving around the ceiling during the nights before his escape, but the matter was not investigated. When Bundy's Aspen trial judge ruled on December 23, 1977, that the Caryn Campbell murder trial would start on January 9, 1978, and changed the venue to Colorado Springs, Bundy realized that he had to make his escape before he was transferred out. On the night of December 30, 1977, Bundy dressed warmly and packed books and files under his blanket to make it look like he was sleeping. He climbed through the hole and up into the crawlspace. He crawled over to a spot directly above the jailer's linen closet — the jailer and his wife were out for the evening — dropped down into the jailer's apartment, and walked out the door.
Bundy was free again, but he was on foot in the middle of a bitterly cold and snowy Colorado night. He stole a car, but it stalled out in the mountains. Bundy was stuck on the side of Interstate 70 in the middle of the night in a blizzard, but another driver gave him a ride into Vail and from there he caught a bus to Denver where he boarded a flight to Chicago. The Glenwood Springs jail guards did not notice Bundy was gone until noon on December 31, 1977, 17 hours after his escape, by which time Bundy was already in Chicago. Following his arrival, Bundy then caught a train to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he got a room at the YMCA. He stole a car, which he abandoned in Atlanta, Georgia before boarding a bus for Tallahassee, Florida, where he arrived on January 8, 1978. There, he rented a room at a boarding house under the alias of "Chris Hagen" and committed numerous petty crimes including shoplifting, purse snatching, and auto theft. He stole a student ID card that belonged to a Kenneth Misner and sent away for copies of Misner's Social Security card and birth certificate. He grew a mustache and drew a fake mole on his right cheek when he went out, but aside from that, he made no real attempt at disguising his appearance. One week after Bundy's arrival in Tallahassee, in the early hours of Super Bowl Sunday on January 15, 1978, two and a half years of repressed homicidal rage erupted. Bundy entered a Florida State University sorority house at approximately 3 a.m. and killed two sleeping women, Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman. Bundy bludgeoned and strangled Levy and Bowman and he also sexually assaulted Levy. He beat and killed two other sorority members, Karen Chandler and Kathy Kleiner. The entire episode took no more than half an hour. After leaving, Bundy broke into another home a few blocks away, clubbing and severely injuring a university student, Cheryl Thomas. On February 9, 1978, Bundy traveled to Lake City, Florida. While there, he abducted, raped, and murdered 12-year-old Kimberly Leach, throwing her body under a small pig shed. On February 12, 1978, Bundy stole yet another Volkswagen Beetle and left Tallahassee for good, heading west across the Florida panhandle. On February 15, 1978, shortly after 1 a.m., Bundy was stopped by Pensacola a police officer. When the officer called in a check of the license plate, the vehicle came up as stolen. Bundy then wrestled with the officer before he was finally restrained. As the officer took the unknown suspect to jail, Bundy said "I wish you had killed me." At his booking Bundy gave the police the name Ken Misner and presented the stolen identification for Misner. Florida Department of Law Enforcement however made a positive fingerprint identification early the next day. He was immediately transported to Tallahassee and subsequently charged with the Tallahassee and Lake City murders. He was later taken to Miami to stand trial for the FSU murders. He went to trial for the FSU murders in June 1979. Despite having five court-appointed lawyers, Bundy insisted on acting as his own attorney and even cross-examined witnesses, including the police officer who had discovered Margaret Bowman's body. Two pieces of evidence proved crucial. First, an FSU sorority member Nita Neary, getting back to the house very late after a date, saw Bundy as he left, and identified him in court. Second, during his homicidal frenzy, Bundy bit Lisa Levy in her left buttock, leaving obvious bite marks. Police took plaster casts of Bundy's teeth and a forensics expert matched them to the photographs of Levy's wound. Bundy was convicted on all counts and sentenced to death. After confirming the sentence, Cowart gave him the verdict:
"It is ordered that you be put to death by a current of electricity, that current be passed through your body until you are dead. Take care of yourself, young man. I say that to you sincerely; take care of yourself, please. It is an utter tragedy for this court to see such a total waste of humanity as I've experienced in this courtroom. You're a bright young man. You'd have made a good lawyer, and I would have loved to have you practice in front of me, but you went another way, partner. Take care of yourself. I don't feel any animosity toward you. I want you to know that. Once again, take care of yourself."
Bundy was tried for the Kimberly Leach murder in 1980. He was again convicted on all counts, mainly due to fibers found in his van that matched Leach's clothing and an eyewitness that saw him leading Leach away from the school. He was again sentenced to death. During the Kimberly Leach trial, Bundy married former coworker Carole Ann Boone in the courtroom while questioning her on the stand. Following numerous conjugal visits between Bundy and his new wife, Boone gave birth to a daughter in October 1982, however, in 1986 Boone moved back to Washington and never returned to Florida. Her whereabouts and those of Bundy's daughter are unknown.
While awaiting execution in Starke Prison, Bundy was housed in the cell next to fellow serial killer Ottis Toole, the murderer of Adam Walsh. Bundy confessed to eight official unsolved murders in Washington State for which he was the prime suspect. Bundy told Keppel that there were actually five bodies left on Taylor Mountain, not four as they had originally thought. Bundy confessed in detail to the murder of Georgeann Hawkins, describing how he lured her to his car, clubbed her with a tire iron that he had stashed on the ground under his car, drove away with her in the car with him, and later raped and strangled her. Bundy had hoped that he could use the revelations and partial confessions to get another stay of execution or possibly commute his sentence to life imprisonment. At one point, a legal advocate working for Bundy asked many of the families of the victims to fax letters to Florida Governor Robert Martinez and ask for mercy for Bundy in order to find out where the remains of their loved ones were. All of the families refused. The ploy failed and Bundy was executed on schedule.
The night before Bundy was executed, he stated that, while pornography did not cause him to commit murder, the consumption of violent pornography helped "shape and mold" his violence into "behavior too terrible to describe." He alleged that he felt that violence in the media, "particularly sexualized violence," sent boys "down the road to being Ted Bundys." He further went on to say "You are going to kill me, and that will protect society from me. But out there are many, many more people who are addicted to pornography, and you are doing nothing about that." At 7:06 a.m. local time on January 24, 1989, Ted Bundy was executed in the electric chair at Florida State Prison in Starke, Florida. His last words were, "I'd like you to give my love to my family and friends."
The Real "Leatherface"
Number of victims: unknown. Span of crimes: 1947-1957
"I had a compulsion to do it."
-Edward Theodore Gein
Edward Theodore Gein was born August 27, 1906 and died July 26, 1984. His grisly crimes, that were committed around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin, created widespread notoriety when it was discovered that Gein had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and made trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin. Although he is often called a serial killer, he was only convicted for two actual murders. He did however provide an influence for several fictional serial killers: Norman Bates from Psycho, Jame Gumb from The Silence of the Lambs, and Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
His parents, George and Augusta Gein, both natives of Wisconsin, had two sons: Ed, and his older brother, Henry G. Gein. Gein’s mother, Augusta, was somewhat reminiscent of the mother of the main character in the novel "Carrie" by Stephen King. His father, George was a violent alcoholic who was frequently unemployed and despite Augusta's deep contempt for her husband, the dysfunctional marriage persisted because of her religious belief about divorce. Augusta operated a small grocery store and eventually purchased a farm on the outskirts Plainfield, which became the Gein family's permanent home. The family was moved to this location so that Augusta could prevent outsiders from influencing her sons. Edward was allowed to leave the premises only to go to school, and any attempt to forge friendships was fiercely discouraged. Besides school, he spent most of his time doing chores on the farm. Augusta, was a fervent Lutheran, and drummed into her boys the innate immorality of the world, the evil of drink, and the belief that all women, aside from her, were prostitutes, and instruments of the devil. She reserved time every afternoon to read to them from the Bible, usually selecting graphic verses from the Old Testament dealing with death, murder, and divine retribution.
With a slight growth over one eye and a "mama’s boy" demeanor, Ed easily became a target for bullies. Classmates and teachers recalled odd mannerisms, such as seemingly random laughter, as if he were laughing at his own personal jokes, but despite his poor social development, he did fairly well in academically, particularly in reading. Gein tried to make his mother happy, but she was rarely pleased with either of her boys. She often verbally abused them, believing that they were destined to become failures like their father. Throughout their teens and early adulthood, the boys remained detached from people outside of their farmstead, and relied solely on one another for companionship.
George Gein died of heart failure in 1940, after which the Gein brothers began working at odd jobs, in addition to their chores on the farm, to help their mother make ends meet. The brothers were considered reliable and honest by people in town. They both worked as handymen, and Ed also frequently babysat for neighbors. He seemed to relate more easily to children than adults. Henry began to reject his mother's view of the world and worried about his brother's attachment to her. He frequently spoke ill of her around his mortified brother.
On May 16, 1944, a brush fire burned close to the farm, and the Gein brothers went out to fight it. They were reportedly separated, and as night fell, Ed supposedly lost sight of his brother. After the fire was extinguished, he reported that his brother was missing. A search party was organized, and Gein led the authorities directly to his missing brother, who lay dead on the ground. There were several pressing questions about the circumstances of the discovery of the body. The ground on which Henry Gein lay was untouched by fire, and he had bruises on his head. Despite this, police dismissed the possibility of foul play and the county coroner listed asphyxiation as the cause of death.
After his brother's death, Ed lived alone with his mother. She died on December 29, 1945, from a series of strokes. In his own words, Gein had "lost his only friend and one true love. And he was absolutely alone in the world".
Gein remained on the farm, and supported himself with earnings from odd jobs. He boarded up the rooms used by his mother, leaving them untouched. He lived in a small room next to the kitchen. Gein became obsessed with reading death-cult magazines and adventure stories, and between 1947 and 1954 made as many as 40 nighttime visits to three local graveyards in order to exhume a number of recently buried bodies.
Police suspected Gein's involvement in the disappearance of a hardware store owner, Bernice Worden, in Plainfield on November 16, 1957. Armed with a search warrant the authorities went to the Gein farm. Upon entering a shed on his property, they made the first discovery of the night: Worden's corpse. She had been decapitated, her headless body hung upside down by means of ropes at her wrists and a crossbar at her ankles. The torso was empty, the ribcage split and the body "dressed out" like that of a deer. She had been shot at close-range with a .22-caliber rifle and the mutilations had been performed postmortem. Searching Ed Gein’s house, authorities made several gruesome discoveries:
• Human skulls mounted upon the corner posts of his bed
• Human skullcaps used as soup bowls
• A variety of shriveled heads
• Skin fashioned into lampshades and used to upholster chair seats
• Skin from the face of Mary Hogan, a local tavern owner, found in a paper bag
• Socks made from human flesh
• A sheath made from human skin
• A human heart in a saucepan on the stove
• A window shade pull made of human lips
• Four noses
• Organs in the refrigerator
• Pieces of salted genitalia in a box
Some neighborhood children, whom Gein had babysat, saw or heard of the shriveled heads, but Gein described them simply as relics from the South Seas sent by a cousin who had served in World War II. Upon investigation, these turned out to be human facial skins, carefully peeled from cadavers and used by Gein as masks.
Gein eventually admitted under questioning that he dug up the graves of recently buried middle-aged women he thought resembled his mother and took the bodies home, where he tanned their skin to make his possessions. During interrogation, Gein further admitted to the shooting death of Mary Hogan, who had been missing since 1954.
Gein also admitted to putting on the tanned skins of women and this was described by psychologists on the case as an "insane transvestite ritual". Gein denied having sex with the bodies he exhumed. Shortly after his mother's death, Gein had decided he wanted a sex change. He created a "woman suit" so he could pretend to be a female.
Gein was found mentally incompetent and thus unfit to stand trial at the time of his arrest. He was sent to the Central State Hospital in Wisconsin. Later, Central State Hospital was converted into a prison, and Gein was transferred to Mendota State Hospital in Madison. In 1968, Gein's doctors determined he was sane enough to stand trial and the trial started on Wednesday, November 14, 1968, lasting just one week. He was found guilty of first degree murder but because he was found to be legally insane, he spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital.
On July 26, 1984, Gein died of respiratory and heart failure due to cancer at the Mendota Mental Health Institute. His gravesite in the Plainfield cemetery was frequently vandalized over the years; souvenir seekers chipped off pieces of his gravestone before the bulk of it was stolen in 2000. The gravestone was recovered in June 2001 near Seattle and is displayed at present in a museum in Waushara County, Wisconsin.
Edward Theodore Gein
"No I didn’t have sex with ‘em. They smelled bad"
Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer
Number of victims: 17 Span of crimes: 1978-1991
"This is the grand finale of a life poorly spent and the end result is just overwhelmingly depressing..... a sick pathetic, miserable life story, that's all it is"
Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Little did his parents know at the time of his birth that their son would become one of America's most famous serial killers not only for the number of his victims but also for the horrific tortures and rapes performed before the murders, and his necrophilia and cannibalistic tendencies. Jeffrey's childhood started like any other he had two parents who loved and adored there son dearly giving him what ever his heart desired. Joyce Dahmer started a scrap book on her son recording events that happened in his life, his first step, his first accident, his first tooth, his first haircut and even his first scolding. At the age of eight, Dahmer’s family moved to Bath, Ohio, near Akron. He was always extremely shy and carried a very low self-esteem. As a child he was molested by a neighbor. His father left the home and after a bitter divorce, his mother took his brother, and left Jeffrey with his father. His parents had no contact with one another and Dahmer didn’t even know how to contact his mother and brother. His history of abandonment and abuse left him with feelings of loss and rejection. As a young boy, he collected dead animals and had necrophilia type desires and impaled the heads of animals he killed on stakes in his yard. His stepmother once stated that, during the late 1980s, an odor emanating from the basement and garage prompted Jeffrey's father to investigate. He found "bones and residue in containers." Jeffrey told him he had stripped flesh from an animal he found". As a teen, Jeffrey had fantasies of killing and mutilating men. After graduating from high school at age 17 he was left alone at home, for an extended period of time without money, or food and a broken refrigerator. It is believed by some that this experience added to his feelings of abandonment, and gave him the justification he needed to commit his crimes, however his own history shows that he had serious mental health issues long before this event. In 1978, Dahmer committed his first murder at age 18. He killed a young hitchhiker, Stephen Hicks. He had invited Hicks to his house and after engaging in sexual activities, killed him with a barbell, and then smashed his bones with a hammer because he "didn't want him to leave." He buried the broken remains of his victim in the backyard of his home. He wouldn't kill again for another nine years. Dahmer attended college but did not do well and dropped out after two terms. Dahmer's father then forced him to enlist in the military and was to serve for a six-year enlistment; he become an army medic but was dishonorably discharged after two years, due to his excessive drinking, in 1981. When he was discharged Dahmer, was provided a plane ticket to anywhere in the country. Dahmer told police he couldn't go home to face his father, so he headed to Miami Beach, Florida, because he was "tired of the cold". He spent most of his time there at a rehabilitation hospital but was kicked out shortly after admission for drinking. After that, in 1982, Dahmer moved in with his grandmother in Wisconsin, where he lived for six years. In August of that year he was arrested for exposing himself at a state fair and in September 1986 he was charged again with public exposure after two boys accused him of masturbating in public. This time he was sentenced to a year in prison, and served 10 months. He secured a factory job in Milwaukee, where he soon discovered gay bars and picked up his second victim, Steven Toumi in 1987. In the summer of 1988 Dahmer's grandmother asked him to move out because of his late nights and the foul odors from the basement. He found an apartment on Milwaukee's West side. On September 25, 1988 he was arrested for sexually fondling a 13-year old boy and served another 10 months of a one-year sentence incarcerated in a work release camp. He convinced the judge that he needed therapy, and he was released on good behavior with five years probation. He was required to register as a sex offender after his release. His father would later write that when Jeffrey was convicted of child molestation, it showed that he would "never be more than a liar, an alcoholic, a thief, an exhibitionist, a molester of children." Lionel Dahmer went on to say "I could not imagine how he had become such a ruined soul. For the first time I no longer believed that my efforts and resources alone would be enough to save my son. There was something missing in Jeff. We call it a 'conscience.' That had either died or had never been alive in the first place." While Dahmer was on probation he checked in every month as required, but his corrections officer never visited his home. A Wisconsin Department of Corrections spokesperson said the requirement was waived due to a work overload.
"Yes, I do have remorse, but I'm not even sure myself whether it is as profound as it should be. I've always wondered myself why I don't feel more remorse."
Reign of Terror
Shortly thereafter he began the grisly string of murders of young men and by July 1991 Dahmer picked up the pace of his killing and was claiming one victim a week. His fantasy was for an accommodating sexual partner, and for necrophilia. Most of Dahmer's victims were minorities, usually African Americans, and all were males. According to Dahmer, himself, he was not a racist, he simply chose primarily minority victims because he lived in a predominantly ethnic area. In gay bars, he usually offered young homosexual or bisexual men money to pose for photos or invited them to his home to watch videos and drink beer. He would then drug his victims with spiked drinks before strangling or stabbing them to death. Then to satisfy his necrophilia fantasies he would have anal sex with the cadavers, and afterward dismember them with a hacksaw. He often kept their heads and genitalia as trophies. Biceps and other muscles were frozen and kept for future consumption. Dahmer was quoted as saying human flesh "tasted like beef." The remains were boiled with chemicals and acids and washed down the drains. Dahmer also conducted lobotomies on some of his victims. Most died instantly, but according to Dahmer, to those that survived, he poured acid into a hole drilled in the skull and the victim lived and functioned in a zombie like state for several days.
In the early morning hours of May 27, 1991, three police officers were routed to a 911 call from a rundown Milwaukee suburb. Sandra Smith and her cousin Nicole Childress witnessed an incoherent Asian boy aimlessly wandering, naked, heavily under the influence of drugs and bleeding from his rectum and head. That boy was 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone, who was the younger brother of the boy whom Dahmer had molested. Even though he couldn't speak English it was obvious that he was frightened of the white man following him out into the street trying to get him to return to the apartment. Dahmer told police that the boy was his 19 year old lover, and they were having had a lover’s quarrel after drinking too much. Against the teenager's protests and those of the civilians who had called 911, police escorted the child to Dahmer's apartment, leaving him to die. Dahmer’s calm demeanor hid the mind of a psychopath and after the officers’ departure he strangled Konerak, abused his body and dismembered it, keeping some parts to eat and the skull as a trophy. If the police had run an identity check on Dahmer they would have learned he was on probation for a child molestation conviction. Instead Konerak and four more young males were to die at the hands of Jeffrey Dahmer. Police transcripts indicate that the officers joked and laughed about the incident with the dispatcher. The cop reported, "Intoxicated Asian, naked male was returned to his sober boyfriend," adding his partner "is going to get deloused." Glenda Cleveland, whose daughter and niece originally made the 911 call to the authorities, later called the police asking repeatedly what was done with the "child." An officer from the scene responded, "It wasn't a child, it was an adult. It is all taken care of. It's a boyfriend-boyfriend thing." The officers didn't check the boy's ID. They didn't notice the drill holes in his head. They didn't investigate the stench of death inside the apartment, although they did make statements of noticing a "strange odor" while in Dahmer's home. The smell was in fact from the decomposing body of Dahmer's previous victim, Anthony Hughes, being kept in the bedroom. Later that night, Dahmer killed and dismembered Sinthasomphone, keeping his skull as a souvenir. The two police officers who returned Sinthasomphone to Dahmer, John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish, were fired from the Milwaukee Police Department after their actions were widely publicized. An audiotape of the officers making homophobic statements to their dispatcher and cracking jokes about having reunited the "lovers" was released to the media. The two officers, however, appealed their termination and were reinstated with back pay. Appallingly, they were named officers of the year by the police union, and Balcerzak would go on to be elected president of the Milwaukee Police Association in May 2005.
On July 22, 1991 Dahmer lured another man, into his home. According to the would-be victim, Tracy Edwards, Dahmer struggled with him while trying to handcuff him. Edwards escaped and alerted a passing police car, with the handcuffs still hanging from one hand. Edwards told them about watching a video with a "weird dude," and being drugged, handcuffed, and threatened with a knife. He had fought back and escaped from the apartment. He led police back to Dahmer's apartment. Dahmer answered the door and at first acted friendly to the officers, explaining that he lost his job, got drunk, and lost his temper. When he went to get the handcuff key to from his bedroom, an officer followed him in. The stench of death and rotting flesh was overwhelming. He spotted Polaroid photos of dismembered bodies and skulls in a refrigerator. He went into the kitchen and the refrigerator was covered with Polaroids of mutilated men. He screamed when he opened the door and found a human head sitting on shelf inside. Three more heads and human meat were in the freezer. Hands from several victims and a penis were in a stockpot in a close. Two boiled skulls painted grey were on a bedroom closet shelf. Male genitalia were also found preserved in formaldehyde. A bottle of chloroform was found that which had been used to drug the victims. There were hundreds of photos of victims before, during the murders, and after death. There was an altar of candles and human skulls in his closet. He planned to create a shrine using skulls, human trophies and a statue of a griffin he owned to honor evil. He said it would give him "special powers and energies to help him socially and financially." Dahmer told Detective Patrick Kennedy during questioning, "I have to question whether there is an evil force in the world and whether or not I have been influenced by it. Although I am not sure if there is a God or if there is a Devil, I know that as of lately I've been doing a lot of thinking about both."
"I should have gone to college and gone into real estate and got myself an aquarium, that's what I should have done."
The story of Dahmer's arrest and the inventory in his apartment quickly gained notoriety. And stories soon surfaced that Dahmer had practiced necrophilia and cannibalism. During his trial he confessed to attempting a form of trepanation in order to create so-called "zombies". Jeffrey Dahmer was officially indicted on 17 murder charges, which were reduced to 15.
Jun 1978 Stephen Hicks 19
Sep 1987 Steven Toumi 26
Oct 1987 Jamie Doxtator 14
Mar 1988 Richard Guerrero 25
Feb 1989 Anthony Sears 24
Jun 1990 Eddie Smith 36
Jul 1990 Ricky Beeks 27
Sep 1990 Ernest Miller 22
Sep 1990 David Thomas 23
Feb 1991 Curtis Straughter 19
Apr 1991 Errol Lindsey 19
May 1991 Tony Hughes 31
May 1991 Konerak Sinthasomphone 14
Jun 1991 Matt Turner 20
Jul 1991 Jeremiah Weinberger 23
Jul 1991 Oliver Lacy 23
Jul 1991 Joseph Bradeholt 25
His trial began in January 1992. Dahmer admitted to his crimes. He made no excuses and blamed nobody but himself. After being charged with fifteen counts of murder, he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Beyond the sheer horror of his killings and gruesome evidence found in his house, the public were stunned by the well-spoken seemingly intelligent man. On February 17, 1992, the court rejected his insanity plea and found Dahmer guilty on all 15 counts. He was sentenced to fifteen consecutive life sentences, a minimum of 936 years. May 16, 1992, a consecutive life sentence was added for a 1978 murder. At his sentencing hearing Dahmer expressed remorse for his actions, also saying that he wished for his own death. Dahmer served his time at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin, where he ultimately declared himself a born-again Christian. This conversion occurred after viewing evangelical material sent to him by his father. A local preacher from the Churches of Christ, Roy Ratcliff, met with Dahmer and agreed to baptize him. After attending a church service in the prison chapel an inmate tried to slash Dahmer's throat with a razor blade. Dahmer escaped the incident with superficial wounds. On November 28, 1994, Dahmer was severely beaten by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver with a bar from a weight machine while on work detail in the prison gym. Dahmer died from severe head trauma in the ambulance while en route to the hospital.
After the murders, the Oxford Apartments at 924 North 25th Street, where Dahmer resided and conducted his reign of macabre terror, were demolished. The site is now a vacant lot. Plans to convert the site into a memorial garden failed to materialize. In 1994, Lionel Dahmer published a book, A Father's Story, and donated a portion of the proceeds from his book to the victims and their families. Dahmer's younger brother David changed his last name and lives in anonymity. Dahmer's estate was awarded to the families of 11 of Dahmer's victims who had sued for damages.
Number of victims: 7. Span of crimes: 1989-1990
"I wanted to clear all the lies and let the truth come out. I have hate crawling through my system."
Considered to be the first serial killer wanted by the FBI, Aileen Wuornos, a.k.a. the monster was born on February 29, 1956. She was executed on October 9, 2002 in the state of Florida.
Aileen was born as Aileen Carol Pittman in Rochester, Michigan to Diane Pratt and Leo Pittman. She never knew her father, a convicted child molester; he died in prison serving a sentence for the rape of a 7 year old girl. Her mother, she never really got to know. Shortly before her fourth birthday her mother Diane, who had just turned 18, abandoned Aileen and her brother, leaving them with the maternal grandparents. In March they legally adopted Aileen and her brother giving them their surname.
From early on Aileen was sexually active with multiple partners. Some sources even say one being her brother. At age 13 she became pregnant giving birth to a son in a home for unwed mothers. He was given up for adoption. Shortly after that, in the summer of 1971, her grandmother died and her grandfather disowned her, forcing her into prostitution at the age 15.
Throughout the 70's and early 80's her criminal career ranged from a dui charge to grand theft auto. She ended up in Florida where she met Tyria Moore, who would later become her lover and her downfall.
It has stated that Aileen started killing for the victims’ money and the cars they were driving just keep Tyria happy because she had a fear that if she did not keep the good times rolling she would loose Tyria.
She would find her victims prostituting herself along the highways of Florida. She would then shoot them, take any cash they had and their car. Her first victim, Richard Mallory, on November 30, 1989, was an electronics store owner in Clearwater, FL and a convicted rapist whom she claimed she killed in self-defense. His body was not found until Dec 13. He had been shot twice. Next was Dick Humphreys, on May 19, 1990. He was a retired Air Force major, a former child abuse investigator for the state of Florida and a former police chief. His body was not found until September 12, 1990. He had been shot six times in the head and torso. Then on May 31, 1990 there was Charles Carskaddon, who was a part-time rodeo worker. His body was found June 6, 1990, in Pasco County. He had been shot nine times with a small caliber weapon. Peter Sirns, her next victim, was traveling to New Jersey in June of 1990, although some sources say September, but his body was never found. Troy Burress, believed to be shot on July 30, 1990, was not found until August 4 1990. He had been shot twice. On November 24, 1990, the nude body of Walter Jeno Antonio was found shot four times. It is believed he was shot on November 19, of that same year. David Spears’ nude body was found on June 1, 1990, along Highway 19 in Citrus County. He had been shot six times, although she never admitted to this shooting.
On January 9, 1991 Aileen was arrested outside a biker bar on an outstanding warrant. A hand print left in one of the cars linked her to the murders. To get a full confession police tracked down Tyria and had her set up Wuornos via a phone call begging Aileen to help her. She stated that the police were trying to pin all the murders on her. Desperate to save her long time lover, Aileen confessed three days later, saying that all the men had tried to rape her and she killed them in self defense.
January of 1992 she was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Richard Mallory. In March she pled no contest to the murders of Dick Humphreys, Troy Burress, and David Spear. In June of 1992 she pleaded guilty to the murder of Charles Carskaddon and received her fifth consecutive death sentence in November of 1992. In February 1993, she pled guilty to the murder of Walter Gino Antonio and received a sixth death sentence. No charges were ever brought up for Peter Siems, as his body was never found.
In 1996 her appeal was denied and in 2001 she appealed to the Supreme Court to have the right to fire her legal council so they would stop appealing. She had the mind set that she had killed those men and she should be punished for it. She refused having a last meal and instead requested just a cup of coffee. Her last words were "I'd just like to say I'm sailing with the rock, and I'll be back like Independence Day, with Jesus June 6, like the movie, big mother ship and all, I'll be back."
Aileen Carol Wuornos was executed on October 9, 2002 by lethal injection. She was the tenth woman in the United States to be executed since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on capital punishment in 1976 and the second woman ever executed in Florida.
"I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again. "
Article Contributed by evilkitty
Number of victims: Estimated 650. Span of crimes: 1604-1610
The word vampire is defined as "the reanimated body of a dead person believed to come from the grave at night and suck the blood of persons asleep." Since the word was first coined in 1734 the myth of the vampire has grown, entering into popular culture with several works of fiction. Still, the myths did not simply appear without some factual basis and throughout the ages, human killers have been fascinated by the blood of their victims. One such killer was the Hungarian Countess Erzebet Bathory, also known as Elizabeth Bathory. While she may not actually be the first, she is credited as the first person on record to be murderously motivated by blood. What is most notable is that while most killers with vampiric appetites are male, Erzebet was female, and one of the strangest things about Erzebet is that she kept her sadistic cruelty entirely separate from the rest of her life. Her letters suggest that she was devoutly religious, and yet she never seemed to have applied any sense of right or wrong to her bloody rituals. She is known as one of the most bloodthirsty "vampire killers" in history.
Erzebet was born in 1560 into one of the oldest and wealthiest families in Transylvania. Her ancestors had assisted Vlad Dracule during his rise to power and other relatives went on to become cardinals, princes, Prime Ministers, and one the King of Poland. She was well educated, and able to both read and write in four languages, but grew up experiencing uncontrollable seizures and rages. At the age of 11, her parents arranged her future marriage to 16-year-old Count Ferencz Nadasdy for political reasons. Before the marriage took place she became pregnant with a child from a peasant. She was taken away to a family castle under the excuse that she was sick, where she gave birth to a daughter, who was given away. She then returned to her parents’ home and the marriage took place as planned. Her new husband was a very sadistic man and taught her various cruel methods by which to discipline the servants. She began the practice of torturing servants and was introduced into the occult while her husband was away at battle. The fascination with torture began for her as she saw her family deal with political enemies and witnessed her husband’s cruel nature
After her husband died in 1604, Erzebet moved to Vienna, and her fears of growing old began to grow increasingly. Once, when striking a servant girl for combing her hair too hard some of the girl’s blood fell on her hand. The Countess thought the blood made her skin look younger and become convinced that blood was the secret of eternal youth, and that blood from virgin girls would be the most effective. The maid was murdered so that Erzsebet could bathe in her blood. And thus began her reign of bloody terror. She increased the frequency and intensity of her arbitrary beatings and was soon torturing and butchering her servants. She might stick pins into sensitive parts of their bodies, cut off their fingers, or beat them about their face until the bones broke. In the winter, they were dragged outside, doused with water, and left to freeze to death. Even when Erzebet was ill, she did not stop. She would have girls brought to her bed so she could bite them. The girls would be tortured for weeks, months, before being cut in several different ways to provide blood for Bathory to wash herself with.
Her downfall came when she turned her blood-thirst to young noblewomen. Investigations on Erzsebet's activities began in 1610. These investigations came only after four noble women were found murdered. Laws forbade she be put to trial because of her royal standing. These laws were removed to deal with her and Erzebet went through two separate trials. Erzsebet did not admit to the crimes but during the second trial, a journal in her own handwriting was discovered in her home and included the names of over 650 victims. She was found guilty and imprisoned for life in a small, walled in, room in her own castle. Only a small opening to provide food was allowed. She stayed four years in that room until her death in 1614. Many of her accomplices were also found guilty and put to death but Bathory avoided that punishment due to her status.
Number of victims: 6 killed, 7 wounded Span of crimes: July 29, 1976–July 31, 1977
"I didn't want to hurt them, I only wanted to kill them." - David Berkowitz
The Early Years
Berkowitz was born Richard David Falco in Brooklyn, New York, on June 1, 1953. His mother, Betty Broder Falco was married to Tony Falco, with whom she had a daughter. After separating from Falco, Betty had an affair with the married Joseph Kleinman, and became pregnant. Kleinman suggested she abort the child, but she decided to give birth to the child and put it up for adoption. She listed Falco as the father. Before he was a week old, the baby was adopted by hardware store owners Nathan and Pearl Berkowitz, who reversed the order of his first and middle names in addition to giving him their own surname.
Berkowitz's childhood was somewhat troubled. Although of above-average intelligence, he lost interest in learning at an early age and began an infatuation with petty larceny and pyromania. Berkowitz's adoptive mother died of breast cancer when he was thirteen, and his home life became extremely stressful, particularly because he disliked his adoptive father's second wife, who would frequently abuse him. He later claimed his new step-sister had been interested in witchcraft, sparking an interest in the occult he would later pursue more actively.
In 1969, Berkowitz attended the Woodstock Festival. He joined the U.S. Army in 1971, served on active duty until his honorable discharge in 1974. He avoided service in the Vietnam War, instead serving in both the U.S. and South Korea. In 1974 Berkowitz located his birth mother, Betty Falco. After a few visits, she disclosed the details of his illegitimate conception and birth, which greatly disturbed him. They fell out of contact, but Berkowitz did stay in touch with his half-sister, Roslyn. After leaving the Army, Berkowitz held several blue collar jobs. At the time of his arrest, he was employed by the U.S. Postal Service.
Berkowitz stated that he joined a cult in the spring of 1975. Initially, he said, the group was involved in harmless activities, such as séances and fortune telling. Gradually, however, Berkowitz claimed that the group introduced him to drug use, sadistic pornography and violent crime. He related that they began by killing dogs, mostly German Shepherds. Over a dozen mutilated dog corpses were discovered in Yonkers, especially near Yonkers' Untermeyer Park, which Berkowitz claimed was a frequent meeting place for the cult.
"I am deeply hurt by your calling me a woman hater. I am not. But I am a monster. I am the 'Son of Sam.' I am a little brat." - David Berkowitz
According to Berkowitz, his first attacks on women allegedly occurred in late 1975, when he attacked two women with a knife on Christmas Eve. One victim was never identified, but Berkowitz supposedly wounded the other victim, Michelle Forman, seriously enough to put her in hospital. Not long afterward, Berkowitz moved to an apartment in Yonkers.
His first substantiated attack occurred at about 1:10 a.m. on July 29, 1976. When Mike and Rose Lauria returned to their apartment in Pelham Bay, NY after dining out, their daughter Donna, 18, and her friend Jody Valenti, 19, were sitting in Valenti's car. As Valenti was about to leave, Mike Lauria agreed to his daughter's suggestion that they walk the family's dog together. As he was going inside to retrieve the poodle, Lauria noticed a man seated in a yellow compact car parked across the street and about sixty feet behind his own car. Neighbors would later report to police that an unfamiliar yellow compact car had been cruising the area for hours before the shooting. After her parents were inside, Donna Lauria opened the car door to depart, and noticed a man coming toward them. From the paper sack he carried, the man produced a handgun and, crouching as he aimed, fired three shots. Lauria was struck in her chest by one bullet that killed her almost instantly, Valenti took a bullet in her thigh, and the third missed both girls. The shooter turned and quickly walked away. Valenti, who survived her injuries, said she did not recognize the killer. She described him as a white male in his 30s with a fair complexion, standing about 5'9" and weighing about 160 lb. His hair was short, dark and curly in a "mod style." This description was echoed by Mike Lauria in his description of the man who was sitting in the yellow compact car parked he noticed earlier. Detectives from the 8th Homicide precinct of the New York Police Department had little in the way of evidence, but they were able to determine, from ballistics, that the handgun used was a .44 caliber Charter Arms Bulldog. Police followed two working hypotheses in the absence of further evidence. Either the shooter was a spurned admirer of the popular Lauria or the shooting was a mistaken assassination attempt of the wrong person. The neighborhood had seen recent mob activity, and police even hinted that Mike Lauria, a member of the Teamsters union, might be involved in organized crime. Berkowitz later claimed that although he shot Lauria and Valenti, several other cult members were involved in the crime, either by surveillance of the victims, or by acting as lookouts.
In the early morning of October 23, 1976, another shooting occurred. Carl Denaro, 25, and Rosemary Keenan, 38, were parked in a secluded residential area in Flushing, Queens. At about 1:30 a.m., the car's windows seemed to explode, and the two passengers dropped low in their seats as several bullets struck the car. Denaro and Keenan did not realize someone was shooting at them, even as Denaro was bleeding from a bullet wound to his head. They panicked and Keenan drove to a bar about half a mile away. Keenan sustained superficial injuries from the broken glass, and Denaro eventually needed a metal plate to replace a portion of his skull. Neither victim had seen the shooter. Police determined that the slugs embedded in Keenan's car were .44 caliber bullets, but because they were so damaged and deformed, it was unlikely that they could ever be linked to a particular weapon. Denaro had shoulder-length hair, and police would later speculate that the shooter had mistaken him for a female. Keenan's father was a 20-year veteran police detective of the NYPD, which spurred an in-depth investigation. As with the Lauria-Valenti shooting, however, there seemed to be no motive for the shooting, and police made little progress in the case. Though many details of the Denaro-Keenan shooting were similar to the Lauria-Valenti case, police did not initially make a connection, partly because the shootings occurred in different sections of New York City and were investigated by different police precincts. Berkowitz later claimed that, while he observed and helped plan the crime, an unnamed female cult member actually shot Denaro.
Late in the evening of November 26, 1976, Donna DeMasi, 16, and Joanne Lomino, 18, were talking outside DeMasi's Queens apartment building when a man approached the girls. They later described him as about 5'9", tall and slender, weighing perhaps 150 lb (68 kg) with straight, dirty blond hair and dark eyes. He wore a slim, knee-length coat reminiscent of military surplus gear. DeMasi and Lomino suspected the man was lost and asking directions. In a high-pitched voice he said, "Can you tell me how to get," then he produced a revolver. He shot each of the victims once, and as they fell to the ground injured, he fired several more times, striking the apartment building before running away. Hearing the gunshots, a neighbor rushed from the building and saw the blonde shooter rush by, gripping a pistol in his left hand. Lomino was ultimately rendered a paraplegic as a result of her injuries but DeMasi's wounds were less serious. Based on the testimony of DeMasi, Lomino, and their neighbor, police produced several composite sketches of the blonde shooter. Police determined the gun was a .44, but the slugs were so deformed that linking them to a particular gun was ruled out. Berkowitz later claimed that while he helped plan the DeMasi-Lomino shooting, the actual perpetrator was a cult member and that a Yonkers police officer, also a cult member, was involved in the crime.
The New Year brought more shootings in Queens. In the early morning of January 30, 1977, an engaged couple, Christine Freund, 26, and John Diel, 30, were sitting in Diel's car. Three gunshots penetrated the car at about 12:40 a.m. In a panic, Diel drove away for help. He suffered minor superficial injuries, but Freund was shot twice. She died several hours later at the hospital. Neither victim had seen their attacker. Police determined the shooter had used a .44 Bulldog. Police made the first public acknowledgment that the Freund-Diel shooting was similar to the earlier cases, and that the crimes might be connected. NYPD sergeant Richard Conlon stated that police were "leaning towards a connection in all these cases." Composite sketches of the black-haired Lauria-Valenti shooter and the blonde Lomino-DeMasi shooter were released, and Conlon noted that police were looking for multiple "suspects", not just one. Berkowitz later claimed that while "at least five" cult members were at the scene of the Freund-Diel shooting, the actual shooter was a cult associate nicknamed "Manson II", who was brought in from out of state due to a special circumstance that Berkowitz claimed to have no knowledge of.
At about 7:30 p.m. on March 8, 1977, a university student, Virginia Voskerichian, 19, was walking home from school. She lived a block from where Christine Freund was shot. There were no direct witnesses to the Voskerichian murder, and in a desperate move to defend herself, Voskerichian lifted her textbooks between herself and her killer, only to have the makeshift shield penetrated, the bullet striking her head and killing her. Moments after the shooting, a neighborhood resident who had heard the gunshots was rounding the corner and nearly collided with a person who was dashing away from the crime scene. He later described the suspected assailant as a short, husky boy, 16 to 18 years old and clean-shaven, wearing a sweater and cap, The neighbor said the youth pulled the cap over his face and said, "Oh, Jesus!" as he sprinted by. Other neighbors claimed to have seen the "teenager," and another matching Berkowitz's description, loitering separately in the area for about an hour before the shooting. Berkowitz later claimed that he was at the Voskerichian murder scene, but the actual shooter was a "woman from Westchester." Additionally, Berkowitz claimed the Voskerichian shooting designed to confuse police by seeming to change the modus operandi established in the earlier cult shootings…. i.e.: one victim instead of a pair and a different time of day.
On June 26, 1977, there was another shooting. Sal Lupo, 20, and Judy Placido, 17, were sitting in their car at about 3:00 a.m. in the Bayside section of Queens, when three gunshots blasted through the car. Both were struck by slugs, but their injuries were relatively minor, and both survived. Neither Lupo nor Placido had seen their attacker, but witnesses reported a tall, stocky, dark-haired man running from the area, and a blonde man with a mustache who sped from the neighborhood in a Chevy Nova without turning on its headlights. Police speculated the dark-haired man was the shooter, and that the blonde man had observed the crime. Berkowitz later claimed that cult member Michael Carr shot Lupo and Placido.
It was near the one-year anniversary of the first .44 caliber shootings, and police set up a sizable dragnet, focusing on the shooter’s past hunting grounds of Queens and The Bronx. However, the next .44 shooting was in Brooklyn. Early on July 31, 1977, Stacy Moskowitz and Robert Violente, both 20, were in Violente's car, which was parked near a city park. They were kissing when a man approached to within about three feet of the passenger side of the car, fired several gunshots into the car, striking both victims in the head, before running into the park. Moskowitz died several hours later in the hospital. Violente survived, though one of his eyes was destroyed and he retained only very limited vision in the other eye. With her short, curly blonde hair, Moskowitz was a departure from the other female victims. Based on telephone calls to police within seconds of the shooting, the crime occurred at 2:35 a.m.
"In all honesty, I believe that I deserve to be in prison for the rest of my life. I have, with God's help, long ago come to terms with my situation and I have accepted my punishment."- David Berkowitz
The Media~The Hunt~The End
In a March 10, 1977 press conference, NYPD officials and New York City Mayor Abraham Beame declared that the same .44 Bulldog revolver had fired the shots that killed Lauria and Voskerichian. Official documents would later surface saying that while although police strongly suspected the same .44 Bulldog had been used in the shootings, the evidence was actually inconclusive. The same day, the "Operation Omega" task force made its public debut. Charged solely with investigating the .44 Caliber shootings, the task force was led by Deputy Inspector Timothy J. Dowd, and was composed of over 300 police officers. Speculation was made that the killer had a vendetta against women, perhaps due to chronic social rejection, and also declared that the "chubby teenager" was now regarded as a witness, not a suspect in the Voskerichian shooting and the taller, black-haired male shooter in the Lauria-Valenti case was suspect in all the .44 Caliber murders.
The crimes earned considerable mass media publicity, every detail and speculation of the case being published & broadcast. Australian publisher Rupert Murdoch had recently purchased the failing New York Post, and as a result of the paper offering perhaps the most sensational coverage of the crimes, the near bankrupt paper was practically vaulted back into profitability. Mayor Beame, meanwhile, helped funnel unprecedented amounts of money into the NYPD to help solve the case.
The Son of Sam letters
In the street near the Esau-Suriani shooting, a police officer discovered a hand-written letter. Written mostly in block capital letters with some lower-case letters, it was addressed to NYPD Captain Joseph Borrelli. Though the discovery of the letter was an open secret, the contents were not made public. Only a few hints were leaked.
In full, it read:
I am deeply hurt by your calling me a wemon hater! I am not. But I am a monster. I am the "Son of Sam." I am a little brat. When father Sam gets drunk he gets mean. He beats his family. Sometimes he ties me up to the back of the house. Other times he locks me in the garage. Sam loves to drink blood. "Go out and kill," commands father Sam. Behind our house some rest. Mostly young — raped and slaughtered — their blood drained — just bones now. Papa Sam keeps me locked in the attic too. I can't get out but I look out the attic window and watch the world go by. I feel like an outsider. I am on a different wavelength then everybody else — programmed too kill. However, to stop me you must kill me. Attention all police: Shoot me first — shoot to kill or else keep out of my way or you will die! Papa Sam is old now. He needs some blood to preserve his youth. He has had too many heart attacks. "Ugh, me hoot, it hurts, sonny boy." I miss my pretty princess most of all. She's resting in our ladies house. But I'll see her soon. I am the "Monster" — "Beelzebub" — the chubby behemouth. I love to hunt. Prowling the streets looking for fair game — tasty meat. The wemon of Queens are prettyist of all. It must be the water they drink. I live for the hunt — my life. Blood for papa. Mr. Borrelli, sir, I don't want to kill anymore. No sur, no more but I must, 'honor thy father.' I want to make love to the world. I love people. I don't belong on earth. Return me to yahoos. To the people of Queens, I love you. And I want to wish all of you a happy Easter. May God bless you in this life and in the next. And for now I say goodbye and goodnight. Police: Let me haunt you with these words: I'll be back! I'll be back! To be interpreted as — bang bang bang, bank, bang — ugh!! Yours in murder, Mr. Monster
On May 30, 1977, columnist Jimmy Breslin of the New York Daily News received a hand-written letter from someone who claimed to be the .44 shooter.
The letter read:
Hello from the gutters of N.Y.C. which are filled with dog manure, vomit, stale wine, urine and blood. Hello from the sewers of N.Y.C. which swallow up these delicacies when they are washed away by the sweeper trucks. Hello from the cracks in the sidewalks of N.Y.C. and from the ants that dwell in these cracks and feed in the dried blood of the dead that has settled into the cracks. J.B., I'm just dropping you a line to let you know that I appreciate your interest in those recent and horrendous .44 killings. I also want to tell you that I read your column daily and I find it quite informative. Tell me Jim, what will you have for July twenty-ninth? You can forget about me if you like because I don't care for publicity. However you must not forget Donna Lauria and you cannot let the people forget her either. She was a very, very sweet girl but Sam's a thirsty lad and he won't let me stop killing until he gets his fill of blood. Mr. Breslin, sir, don't think that because you haven't heard from me for a while that I went to sleep. No, rather, I am still here. Like a spirit roaming the night. Thirsty, hungry, seldom stopping to rest; anxious to please Sam. I love my work. Now, the void has been filled. Perhaps we shall meet face to face someday or perhaps I will be blown away by cops with smoking .38's. Whatever, if I shall be fortunate enough to meet you I will tell you all about Sam if you like and I will introduce you to him. His name is "Sam the terrible." Not knowing the what the future holds I shall say farewell and I will see you at the next job. Or should I say you will see my handiwork at the next job? Remember Ms. Lauria. Thank you. In their blood and from the gutter "Sam's creation" .44 Here are some names to help you along. Forward them to the inspector for use by N.C.I.C: [sic] "The Duke of Death" "The Wicked King Wicker" "The Twenty Two Disciples of Hell" "John 'Wheaties' -- Rapist and Suffocator of Young Girls. PS: Please inform all the detectives working the slaying to remain. P.S: [sic] JB, Please inform all the detectives working the case that I wish them the best of luck. "Keep 'em digging, drive on, think positive, get off your butts, knock on coffins, etc." Upon my capture I promise to buy all the guys working the case a new pair of shoes if I can get up the money. Son of Sam
Breslin notified police, who thought the letter was probably from someone with knowledge of the shootings. Based on the "Wicked King Wicker" reference, police arranged a private screening of The Wicker Man, a 1970s horror film. A week later, after consulting with police and agreeing to withhold portions of the text, the Daily News published the letter, and Breslin urged the killer to turn himself in. The letter caused a panic in New York. As all the shooting victims so far had long, dark hair, thousands of women in New York cut or dyed their hair. Despite being one of the hottest summers on record, people stayed indoors at night, ignoring the longstanding tradition of spending sultry evenings outdoors.
The Moskowitz-Violente crime produced more witnesses than any of the other Son of Sam murders, notably the only direct eyewitness who was not an intended victim. Tommy Zaino, 19, was parked with his date in front of Violente's car. Just moments before the shooting, Zaino caught a peripheral glimpse of the shooter's approach and happened to glance in his rear view mirror just in time to see the crime occur. Due to the bright street light and full moon, Zaino clearly saw the perpetrator for several seconds, later describing him as 25 to 30 years old, 5'7" to 5'9", with shaggy hair that was dark blonde or light brown — "it looked like a wig", Zaino said. About a minute after the shooting, a woman seated next to her boyfriend in his car on the other side of the city park saw a "white male wearing a light-colored, cheap nylon wig" sprint from the park and enter a "small, light-colored" automobile, which sped away. "He looked like he just robbed a bank," said the woman, who wrote what she could see of the car's license plate: unable to determine the first two characters, she was certain the others were either 4-GUR or 4-GVR. Other witnesses included a woman who saw a light car speed away from the park about 20 seconds after the gunshots, and at least two witnesses who described a yellow Volkswagen driving quickly from the neighborhood with its headlights off. A neighborhood resident heard the gunshots and Violente's calls for help. Looking from her apartment window, she saw a man she later positively identified as Berkowitz, who was walking casually away from the crime scene as others were rushing toward the scene to render aid. Shortly after 2:35 a.m., a man was passing through an intersection a few blocks from the park and was nearly struck by what he described as a yellow Volkswagen Beetle that sped through the intersection, against the red light and without headlights. He followed the Volkswagen at high speed for several minutes before losing sight of the vehicle. The driver was described as a white male in his late 20s or early 30s, with a narrow face; dark, long, stringy hair; several days growth of dark whiskers on his face; and wearing a blue jacket. About an hour after the shooting, police set up a series of roadblocks, stopping hundreds of cars to question drivers and inspect vehicles. Based on extended interviews of those who described the Volkswagen speeding from the crime scene, police now suspected that the shooter owned or drove such a vehicle. In subsequent days, police determined there were over 900 Volkswagens in New York or New Jersey, and they made plans to track down each of these cars and their owners. The evening of the Moskowitz and Violente shooting, a woman, who lived near the crime scene, saw Berkowitz loitering in the neighborhood and glaring menacingly at passersby for several hours. Two days after the shooting, she contacted police. Despite their claims to the contrary, police initially thought Berkowitz was a possible witness, rather than a suspect. Not until August 9, 1977, seven days after the woman’s call, did a NYPD Detective telephone Yonkers police to ask them to schedule an interview with Berkowitz. The Yonkers police had their own suspicions about Berkowitz, in connection with other strange crimes in Yonkers, crimes they saw referenced in one of the Son of Sam letters. To the shock of the NYPD they told the detective that Berkowitz might just be the "Son of Sam."
The next day, police investigated Berkowitz's car parked on the street outside his Pine Street apartment in Yonkers. Police saw a Commando Mark III rifle in the backseat. Searching the car, police found a duffel bag filled with ammunition, maps of the crime scenes and a letter to Sgt. Dowd of the Omega task force, threatening further murders. Police decided to wait for Berkowitz to emerge from the apartment rather than risk a violent encounter in the narrow apartment hallway. Berkowitz emerged from the building shortly before 10:00 p.m., carrying a .44 Bulldog in a paper sack. Police arrested Berkowitz as he was starting the car outside his apartment on Pine Street in Yonkers on August 10, 1977. His first words upon arrest were reported to be, "You got me. What took you so long?"
Police searched his apartment, and found it in disarray, with satanic graffiti on the walls. They also found a diary wherein Berkowitz took credit for as many some 1,400 arsons throughout the New York area.
Berkowitz quickly confessed to the shootings, and expressed an interest in pleading guilty in exchange for receiving life imprisonment rather than facing the death penalty. Berkowitz was questioned for about 30 minutes in the early morning of August 11, 1977, and he quickly confessed to the "Son of Sam" killings. During questioning, Berkowitz said that the "Sam" mentioned in the first letter was Sam Carr, his former neighbor. Berkowitz claimed that Carr's Labrador retriever was possessed by an ancient demon, and that it issued irresistible commands that Berkowitz must kill people. Berkowitz said he once tried to kill the dog, but was unsuccessful due to supernatural interference.
During his sentencing, Berkowitz repeatedly chanted "Stacy was a whore" at a low yet audible volume. He was, presumably, referring to Stacy Moskowitz, who died in the final .44 caliber shooting. His behavior caused an uproar, and the courtroom was adjourned. Berkowitz later claimed that his statement was a response to Moskowitz's mother, who frequently stated that Berkowitz should be executed. On June 12, 1978, he was sentenced to six life sentences in prison for the murders, making his maximum term 365 years.
In 1979, there was an attempt on Berkowitz's life. He refused to identify the person(s) who had attacked him with a knife, but suggested that the act was directed by the cult he once belonged to. He bears a permanent scar from the wound that took 52 stitches to close.
Berkowitz consistently denies his rights to parole hearings saying, "In all honesty, I believe that I deserve to be in prison for the rest of my life. I have, with God's help, long ago come to terms with my situation and I have accepted my punishment."
Number of Victims: 3 known ~ Hundreds suspected
Span of Crimes:1910 - 1932
"I always had a desire to inflict pain on others and to have others inflict pain on me. I always seemed to enjoy everything that hurt. The desire to inflict pain… that is all that is uppermost."
- Albert Fish
Albert Hamilton Fish
Albert Hamilton Fish was the most notorious serial killer in the annals of early 20th century American crime. Also a child molester and cannibal, he boasted that he had "had children in every state," and at one time put the figure at around 100. However, it is not clear whether he was talking about molestations, murders, or acts of cannibalization. Nor will it ever be known whether he was telling the truth. He was a suspect in at least six murders in his lifetime. Fish confessed to three murders that police were able to trace to a known homicide, and confessed to stabbing at least two other people. Also known as the Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria, the Brooklyn Vampire, and The Boogeyman, Fish was the product of a respected Washington, D.C. family. A closer examination, however, reveals at least seven relatives with severe mental disorders in the two generations preceding Fish’s birth, including two members of the family who died in institutions.
Born as Hamilton Fish in Washington, D.C. on May 19, 1870, Fish was the youngest child and had three living siblings: Walter, Annie, and Edwin Fish. His father Randall Fish was 43 years older than his mother. He was a river boat captain, and by 1870 he was a fertilizer manufacturer. In 1875 he died of a heart attack . Fish was five years old at the time and his mother, who was now forced to find work and not able to care for her son, put him into an orphanage. Records describe young Fish as a problem child who "ran away every Saturday," persistently wetting the bed until his eleventh year. During his stay at the orphanage, Fish observed and experienced numerous acts of perversions including forced masturbation in front of other children. He was frequently whipped and beaten, and eventually discovered that he enjoyed physical pain. The beatings would often give him erections, for which the other orphans teased him. This, according to Fish, helped to further his obsession with sado-masochism. He would later say, "That place ruined my mind."
By 1880, his mother got a government job and Fish was reunited with his mother, at age 7. Shortly thereafter, he fell from a cherry tree causing severe head trauma. After this he frequently suffered from dizzy spells and severe headaches. In 1882, at age 12, he began a relationship with a local boy, who introduced Fish to such practices as urophilia (drinking urine) and coprophagia (consumption of human excrement). Fish also began visiting public baths where he could watch other boys undress, and spent a great portion of his weekends on these visits.
After graduating from high school, Fish started working odd jobs and traveling around the country. This gave him perfect opportunity to commit crimes. This is when he began calling himself "Albert," after a dead sibling, discarding the hated first name. He felt he needed to escape the nickname "Ham & Eggs" that he had been given at the orphanage where he had spent his early childhood. By 1890, Fish had arrived in New York City, where he became a male prostitute. Fish also stated that he also began raping young boys at this time, a crime he kept committing even after his mother arranged a marriage, to a woman nine years his junior, in 1898. The marriage produced six children: Albert, Anna, Gertrude, Eugene, John, and Henry Fish.
Throughout 1898 he was making an irregular living as a housepainter and handyman and, according to his own statements, continued molesting children, mostly boys under six. He later recounted an incident in which a male lover took him to a waxworks museum, where Fish was fascinated by a bisection of a penis. Soon after, he developed a morbid interest in castration. During a relationship with a mentally retarded man, Fish attempted to castrate him after tying him up. The man became frightened and fled. Fish then increased the frequency of his visits to brothels where he could be whipped and beaten. In 1903 he was arrested for embezzlement and was sentenced to incarceration in Sing Sing.
"I use the paddles on myself. I get certain feelings over me. When I do, I've got to torture myself."
- Albert Fish
In January 1917, Fish's wife abandoned him for John Straube, a handyman who boarded with the Fish family. She came back once, with her lover in tow, and Fish took her back on the condition that she send him away. Later, he discovered that his wife was keeping the other man in the attic, and she departed after a violent argument. She never returned and left Fish to care for their six children. He was an affectionate father and grandfather, but at the same time, he admitted to other feelings toward children. As he grew older, he became increasingly possessed by what he described as a "lust for their blood."
Following this rejection, Fish began to behave very strangely. Fish began to hear voices. He once wrapped himself up in a carpet, explaining that he was following the instructions of John the Apostle. He frequently took his family up to their summer home, in Westchester County, New York for outings where they would watch, terrified, as he climbed a nearby hill, shook his fist at the sky and repeatedly screamed, "I am Christ!" Pain seemed to delight him, whether inflicting it on himself or others. Though never divorced from his first wife, Fish married three more time, enjoying a sex life which court psychiatrists would describe as one of "unparalleled perversity." He began deliberately harming himself. He burned himself constantly with hot irons and pokers and would self-embed needles into his groin, which initially he would remove, but soon he began to insert them so deep that they were impossible to take out. Later x-rays revealed that Fish had at least 29 needles lodged in his pelvic region. He also hit himself repeatedly with a nail-studded paddle. He then began encouraging his own children, as well as neighbor children, to paddle his buttocks until bleeding. and On nights of the full moon, his children later testified, Fish would consume huge quantities of raw meat. Over the years, he collected a great amount of published material on cannibalism and he carried the most gruesome articles with him on his person at all times. Before he ever turned to murder, Fish was examined several times by psychiatrists at Bellevue but he was always released and judged "disturbed but sane." Fish’s personality steadily deteriorated while his behavior became increasingly bizarre, and finally murderous.
"That's the way I like meat, and you'll have to eat it that way, too."
- Albert Fish
Tracing his sadomasochism back to the age of five or six, when he began to relish bare-bottom paddling in the orphanage, Fish’s obsession with pain was focused primarily on children. In 1910, Fish committed what may have been his first attack on a child, the murder of Thomas Bedden, in Wilmington, Delaware, in which he mutilated and tortured his victim. From that point on, he set his sights on children as he saw them as easy targets. Later, he stabbed a mentally challenged boy around 1919 in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.. Consistently, many of his intended victims would be either mentally challenged or African-American, because he believed they would not be missed. Fish traveled from state to state in the 1920’s, impartially molesting children of both sexes as he traveled around the country, leaving a trail of victims from molestation to cases of child disappearances. Prosecutors confidently linked him with "at least 100″ sexual attacks in 23 states, from New York to Wyoming, but Fish felt slighted by their estimate. "I have had children in every state," he declared, placing his own tally of victims closer to 400. Fish would torture, mutilate and eventually murder his victims using what he called his "Implements of Hell" which consisted of a meat cleaver, a butcher knife, and a saw. At the age of 55, Fish began to experience delusions and hallucinations that God commanded him to torment and castrate little boys.
Fish was careless in his crimes, frequently losing jobs "because things about these children came out." Arrested eight times over the years, he served time for grand larceny, passing bad checks and violating parole or probation, but was never, at that time linked to any of the crimes he committed. Obscene letters were another of his passions, and Fish mailed of countless examples to strangers, their addresses obtained from newspaper want ads or "lonely-hearts" columns. This obsession was to be his downfall.
The Grace Budd Murder
In 1928, Fish indulged his taste for human flesh. On May 25, 1928, Edward Budd put a classified ad in the Sunday edition of the New York World that read: "Young man, 18, wishes position in country. Edward Budd, 406 West 15th Street." On May 28, 1928, Fish, then 58 years old, visited the Budd family in Manhattan, New York City under the pretense of hiring Edward. He introduced himself as Frank Howard, a farmer from Farmingdale, New York. When he arrived, Fish met Budd's younger sister, 10-year-old Grace. Fish promised to hire Budd and said he would send for him in a few days. On his second visit he agreed to hire Budd, then convinced the parents, Delia Flanagan and Albert Budd I, to let Grace accompany him to a birthday party that evening at his sister's home. Grace left with Fish that day, but instead of a party, Fish took her to his cottage in Westchester County, New York. Stripping himself naked, He strangled the child, and then beheaded and dismembered her with a meat cleaver. He then cooked her body parts into a stew seasoned with onions and carrots. Albert Fish then consumed this grisly meal down to the last awful morsel, and then he vanished.
The police arrested Charles Edward Pope on September 5, 1930 as a suspect in the kidnapping. He was a 66-year-old apartment house superintendent. He spent 108 days in jail between his arrest and trial on December 22, 1930. He was found not guilty.
Fish married on February 6, 1930, in Waterloo, New York, and divorced after one week. Fish was arrested in May 1930 for "sending an obscene letter to a woman who answered an advertisement for a maid." He was detained at the Bellevue psychiatric hospital in 1930 and 1931 for observation. He was evaluated as disturbed but not insane and released on both occasions.
In November 1934, six years after the disappearance of Grace Budd, her parents received an anonymous letter telling them exactly what had been done to their little girl. Mrs. Budd was illiterate and could not read the letter herself, so she had her son read it instead.
The letter is quoted here, with all of Fish's misspellings and grammatical errors:
‘Dear Mrs. Budd. In 1894 a friend of mine shipped as a deck hand on the Steamer Tacoma, Capt. John Davis. They sailed from San Francisco for Hong Kong, China. On arriving there he and two others went ashore and got drunk. When they returned the boat was gone. At that time there was famine in China. Meat of any kind was from $1-3 per pound. So great was the suffering among the very poor that all children under 12 were sold for food in order to keep others from starving. A boy or girl under 14 was not safe in the street. You could go in any shop and ask for steak—chops—or stew meat. Part of the naked body of a boy or girl would be brought out and just what you wanted cut from it. A boy or girl's behind which is the sweetest part of the body and sold as veal cutlet brought the highest price. John staid there so long he acquired a taste for human flesh. On his return to N.Y. he stole two boys, one 7 and one 11. Took them to his home stripped them naked tied them in a closet. Then burned everything they had on. Several times every day and night he spanked them – tortured them – to make their meat good and tender. First he killed the 11 year old boy, because he had the fattest ass and of course the most meat on it. Every part of his body was cooked and eaten except the head—bones and guts. He was roasted in the oven (all of his ass), boiled, broiled, fried and stewed. The little boy was next, went the same way. At that time, I was living at 409 E 100 St. near—right side. He told me so often how good human flesh was I made up my mind to taste it. On Sunday June the 3, 1928 I called on you at 406 W 15 St. Brought you pot cheese—strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her. On the pretense of taking her to a party. You said yes she could go. I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wildflowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them. When all was ready I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run down the stairs. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mamma. First I stripped her naked. How she did kick – bite and scratch. I choked her to death, then cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms. Cook and eat it. How sweet and tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body. I did not fuck her tho I could of had I wished. She died a virgin.’
This letter did eventually lead the police to Albert Fish. After the horrific letter was received, investigators went into action, pulling out all stops to find the monster who had written it. The investigation was led by Detective King, who had deferred his retirement two years earlier so that he could continue to work on the Grace Budd case. Using a microscope on the letter, King discovered an almost indiscernible design on the flap of the envelope. It turned out to be the letters N.Y.P.C.B.A. and a quick search through the Manhattan telephone directory revealed the letters to stand for the New York Private Chauffeur’s Benevolent Association. The association gladly opened its files to Detective King and he spent hours checking the backgrounds and handwriting of their 400 employees. Sadly though, he did not come up with a match. Undaunted, he called all of the employees together and questioned them rigorously. A janitor at the company told police he had taken some of the stationery home but left it at his rooming house at 200 East 52nd Street when he moved out. The landlady of the rooming house said that Fish had checked out of that room a few days earlier. She said that Fish's son sent him money and he had asked her to hold his next check for him. King waited outside the room until Fish returned. He was shocked and stunned when a seemingly harmless old man showed up to claim the check. When asked to accompany him to police headquarters for questioning, he agreed to go, but at the street door Fish lunged at King with a razor in each hand. He was no match for the solidly built officer, who disarmed and handcuffed him, turning Fish around to face him and stare into his withered face. "I’ve got you now," King said triumphantly, ending a six year manhunt. Fish made no attempt to deny the Grace Budd murder, saying that he had meant to go to the house to kill Edward Budd, Grace's brother. He told the police, when asked, that it "never even entered his head" to rape the girl, but he later admitted to his attorney that he did indeed rape Grace Budd.
"I kept track of the case papers. If they had accused someone else of the murder, I would have come foward. My best days are over."
- Albert Fish
Once incarcerated for Grace’s murder, Fish confessed to the murder of a child named Billy Gaffney. Fish said that the boy was playing in the hallway outside of his family's apartment in Brooklyn with his friend, Billy Beaton, on February 11, 1927. He attempted to abduct both boys but one got away. The friend was found on the roof of the apartment house. When asked what happened to Gaffney, Beaton said "the boogey man took him." Initially Peter Kudzinowski was a suspect in the boy's murder. Then, Joseph Meehan, a motorman on a Brooklyn trolley, saw a picture of Fish in the newspaper and identified him as the old man that he saw February 11, 1927, who was trying to quiet a little boy sitting with him on the trolley. According to Meehan, the boy was not wearing a jacket and was crying for his mother while being dragged on and off the trolley by the man. Police matched the description of the child to Billy Gaffney. Gaffney's body was never recovered. Gaffney's mother visited Fish in Sing Sing to try to get more details of her son's death. Fish confessed the following:
I brought him to the Riker Ave. dumps. There is a house that stands alone, not far from where I took him. I took the boy there. Stripped him naked and tied his hands and feet and gagged him with a piece of dirty rag I picked out of the dump. Then I burned his clothes. Threw his shoes in the dump. Then I walked back and took the trolley to 59 St. at 2 A.M. and walked from there home. Next day about 2 P.M., I took tools, a good heavy cat-of-nine tails. Home made. Short handle. Cut one of my belts in half, slit these halves in six strips about 8 inches long. I whipped his bare behind till the blood ran from his legs. I cut off his ears - nose - slit his mouth from ear to ear. Gouged out his eyes. He was dead then. I stuck the knife in his belly and held my mouth to his body and drank his blood. I picked up four old potato sacks and gathered a pile of stones. Then I cut him up. I had a grip with me. I put his nose, ears and a few slices of his belly in the grip. Then I cut him through the middle of his body. Just below the belly button. Then through his legs about 2 inches below his behind. I put this in my grip with a lot of paper. I cut off the head - feet - arms - hands and the legs below the knee. This I put in sacks weighed with stones, tied the ends and threw them into the pools of slimy water you will see all along the road going to North Beach. I came home with my meat. I had the front of his body I liked best. His monkey and pee wees and a nice little fat behind to roast in the oven and eat. I made a stew out of his ears -- nose -- pieces of his face and belly. I put onions, carrots, turnips, celery, salt and pepper. It was good. Then I split the cheeks of his behind open, cut off his monkey and pee wees and washed them first. I put strips of bacon on each cheek of his behind and put them in the oven. Then I picked 4 onions and when the meat had roasted about 1/4 hour, I poured about a pint of water over it for gravy and put in the onions. At frequent intervals I basted his behind with a wooden spoon. So the meat would be nice and juicy. In about 2 hours, it was nice and brown, cooked through. I never ate any roast turkey that tasted half as good as his sweet fat little behind did. I ate every bit of the meat in about four days. His little monkey was a sweet as a nut, but his pee-wees I could not chew. Threw them in the toilet.
Examination, Trial, & Execution
Prior to his trial, Fish was examined by teams of doctors and he relished the notoriety. He gleefully described his fetishes and perversions to the fascinated psychiatrists, revealing that he took immense pleasure in inserting needles into his scrotum (later X-rays revealed 29 rusty needles in his body) and shoving wool that was doused with light fluid into his anus and setting it on fire. One psychiatrist in particular, Dr. Frederic Wertham, a psychiatrist with a focus on child development who conducted psychiatric examinations for the New York criminal courts, got remarkably close to Fish before and after his trial. He described Fish as the most complex example of a "polymorphous pervert" he had ever known, someone who had practiced every perversion and deviation known to man, from sodomy to sadism, self mutilation and eating excrement. Like the other examining physicians, Wertham judged Fish to be insane. He said that Fish was a sadist of incredible cruelty, a homosexual and a pedophile with a penchant for young children. As a self-employed painter, Fish had skulked around basements and cellars for 50 years and preyed on scores of innocent children. He could not begin to guess how many victims the man had claimed "but I believe to the best of my knowledge," Wertham concluded, "that he has raped one hundred children, at least."
The trial of Albert Fish for the premeditated murder of Grace Budd began on March 11, 1935, in White Plains, New York with Frederick P. Close as judge, and Chief Assistant District Attorney, Elbert F. Gallagher, as the prosecuting attorney. James Dempsey was Fish's defense attorney. The trial lasted for 10 days. Fish plead insanity, and claimed to have heard voices from God telling him to kill children. The psychiatrists who had examined him, testified about Fish's sexual fetishes, including the coprophilia, urophilia, pedophilia and masochism, but there was disagreement as to whether these activities meant he was insane. The defense's chief expert witness was Wertham, who stated that Fish was insane. Another defense witness was Mary Nicholas, Fish's 17-year-old stepdaughter. She described how Fish taught her and her brothers and sisters a "game" involving overtones of masochism and child molestation. The state, however, was desperate to win a death penalty, overriding Fish’s insanity defense with laughable psychiatric testimony. Speaking for the state, a battery of doctors declared, straight-faced, that "Coprophagia is a common sort of thing. We don’t call people who do that mentally sick. A man who does that is socially perfectly all right. As far as his social status is concerned, he is supposed to be normal, because the State of New York Mental Hygiene Department also approves of that." With Fish’s rambling, obscene confessions in hand, the jury found him sane and guilty for premeditated murder. The judge ordered the death sentence.
After being sentenced, Fish also confessed to the murder of eight-year-old Francis McDonnell. The boy was playing on the front porch of his home near Port Richmond, Staten Island on July 15, 1924, when his mother saw an "old man" walk by clenching and unclenching his fists. He walked past without saying anything. Later in the day, the old man was seen again, but this time he was watching McDonnell and his friends play. The boy disappeared soon afterward, and his body was found in the woods near where a neighbor had seen the "old man" taking the boy earlier that afternoon. He had been assaulted and strangled with his suspenders.
Fish arrived in March 1935, and as his appointment with the electric chair grew closer, Fish told reporters that he was looking forward to his execution. "It will be "the supreme thrill of my life, the only thrill I have not tried." On January 16, 1936, he reportedly climbed into the seat and readily helped the guards fix the electrodes to his legs. The reporters and witnesses who were present were aghast at his behavior. He could barely manage to contain his joy at going to a violent death. Just before the switch was flipped, he stated "I don't even know why I am here." He entered the chamber at 11:06 p.m. and was pronounced dead three minutes later. According to one witness present, death did not come as quickly as Fish might have liked. When the switch was pulled, the first massive jolt of over 3,000 volts failed to kill him. Blue smoke appeared around him but that was all and it has been surmised that the needles that he had put into his body actually created a short circuit. Another, prolonged and massive charge had to be sent through his body in order to execute him. He was buried in the Sing Sing Prison Cemetery.
While the old man’s corpse was being taken out to the autopsy room, his defense attorney met with reporters. In his hand, he held Albert Fish’s final statement, several pages of hand-written notes that he had penned in the hours before his death. To this day, the statement has never been revealed. "I will never show it to anyone," Dempsey said. "It was the filthiest string of obscenities that I have ever read."
The numbers speak for themselves, or maybe not. Lucas and Toole could either be the deadliest team of killers in the Archives, or the greatest frauds in crime history. No one can be quite sure how many people they killed even if they did confess to approximately 600 murders.
Henry Lucas was once labeled the "most infamous man on death row". At the time of his death, he was remembered by prison authorities as "the best" at working the prison sewing machines. With his death the night of March 12, 2001, Henry Lee Lucas took to his grave either a far-reaching confessional hoax, or a massive cross-country rampage of random serial killing.
As a kid, Henry was the poster child of the dysfunctional "Future Serial Killer Club". Though he had eight brothers and sisters who were farmed out to institutions, relatives, and foster homes, he managed to stay at home where he was mistreated and abused. In true hillbilly fashion, Henry was uneducated, malnourished, beaten, and forced to watch his uncaring, bootlegging, prostitute mother, Violet Lucas, turn tricks. His alcoholic father, called "No Legs" because of a chance encounter with a freight train, killed himself after repeatedly being humiliated by his abusive wife. Henry was often forced to go to school barefoot and wearing a dress and curlers. Not surprisingly, he dropped out by the fifth grade and remained semi-literate for the rest of his life.
As a teenager he engaged in sex with his half-brother and dead animals. Henry had once said that he first killed and raped a girl at the age of 15. When he was 17, He sliced open his eye while he & his brother were playing with a knife. He left the gashed orb unattended for days until it eventually withered and had to be removed by a doctor and replaced with prosthetic glass. Once he was beat so severely with a piece of wood that he lay in a semi-conscious state for three days before one of Violet's boyfriend decided to take him to a local hospital. All this explains why Lucas spent most of his youth in and out of correctional institutes until January 11, 1960, when, in a drunken binge, Henry stuck a knife in his mother's back and proceeded to rape her dead corpse. Later, like on many other occasions, he recanted his act of incestuous necrophilia.
He was sentenced 40 years for matricide and was sent to Jackson State Penitentiary in southern Michigan. A social worker there met Lucas and observed "a very inadequate individual with feelings of insecurity and inferiority." After two attempted suicides, Hank was transferred to a mental facility for the criminally insane, where he was diagnosed as a suicidal psychopath, sadist, and sexual deviant. Inexplicably he was released after serving only 10 years. After his release things didn't get any better. He had an unsuccessful marriage which ended when his wife discovered he was having sex with her two small girls. Then he lived with his sister Wanda, leaving when she accused him of sexually abusing her young daughter.
In 1978, after a chance meeting in a Jacksonville soup kitchen, he joined up with a deeply psychotic, part-time transvestite, Ottis Toole, to carry out numerous murderous escapades. Ottis was erotically stimulated by arson and had a taste for human flesh. Henry, however, was not a cannibal, & he said, he "disliked the taste of Ottis' barbecue sauce." Henry was more of a sadist and a necrophile, preferring sex with mutilated bodies and dead animals: "I enjoy dead sex more than I do live sex."
The consummate killer couple, they enjoyed picking up hitchhikers to satisfy their lust for blood. Sometimes, when they didn't want to go through the hassle of killing and disposing of their prey, they would just run over the occasional hitchhiker and continue on their merry way.
These lethal lovebirds parted ways after Ottis' mildly retarded 12-year-old niece, Becky Powell, began living with & having a sexual relationship with Henry. This was not an issue for Toole until one day the unfortunate lassie lost her temper and struck Henry in the face. Not ‘Mr. Nice Guy’, Lucas grabbed a carving knife and stabbed her in the heart killing her instantly. After raping her post-mortem, he dismembered her, stuffed her in pillowcases and left her remains strewn over a field.
Lucas was arrested on June 15, 1983, for a minor weapons charge. Within days he confessed to the one-year-old murder of 82-year-old Kate Rich, a Montague County woman who had taken Becky Powell and him in when they moved to Texas. Then he confessed to murdering and dismembering little Becky and led detectives to the field where he dumped her body. During the Powell trial he confessed to having sex with her after her death: "I had sex, intercourse with her. It’s one of those things that I guess got to be part of my life, having sexual intercourse with the dead."
After he was sentenced to life in prison he congratulated the prosecutor for a job well done and continued confessing to the tune of 600 murders throughout the United States. Lucas' highly publicized confessional extravaganza prompted detectives from 40 states to visit him & talk about an estimated 3,000 homicides which in turn led to one of the greatest mockeries of the U.S. legal system with cops clearing their books of unsolved murders and Lucas parroting whatever information he was fed. "I've killed by strangulation. I've killed by hit-and-runs, by shootings, by robberies, by hangings. Every type of crime, I've done it. I've got more female population hating my guts, more than any other place in the earth."
According to his confessions, Lucas claimed he and Toole would pick up most of his victims along the interstates: "Just about everyone I pick up, I kill 'em. That's the way it always turns out." Toole, who at the time was incarcerated in Florida on an arson murder, confirmed many of the claims, adding his own details. According to Ottis they picked up many more hitchhikers when he wore a dress. Not surprisingly the confessions became morbidly bizarre with the episodes of necrophilia, dismemberment, and cannibalism on account of Toole's taste for human flesh.
Later, when he recanted his confessions, he said he just wanted to make police "look stupid", which after all is said and done, he did. "That's just a bunch of garbage I put together," Lucas said of the confessions in a 1998 interview with The Associated Press. "I'm not some kind of saint, but I do believe I'll go to heaven. And I do believe those who did the killings will be punished by God." He blamed the confessions on a steady diet of tranquilizers, steaks, hamburgers and milkshakes fed to him by investigators, along with crime scene clues he said he parroted back to detectives. Unfortunately for the victims and their relatives, many of those murder cases were never reopened.
Lucas toured the country as a ‘star killer’ looking for evidence of his handiwork for avid police departments. Curiously, not a bit of evidence was uncovered by the excursions, but as Henry continued rambling on about murders, another police department invited him to their jurisdiction hoping to pin whatever they could on the garrulous confessor. In 1985, Dallas Times-Herald journalist, Hugh Aynesworth, claimed their reign of terror was a hoax and that overzealous detectives fed the would-be killers many details of their supposed crimes. Henry and Ottis confessed to a huge number of murders in 26 states. Henry even claimed to have carried the poison to Guyana as a favor to his good friend Jim Jones.
Many investigators still believe that Lucas was responsible for between three and twelve killings and the real criminals were the officers who fed him the information on unsolved cases and coerced his confessions. Serial killer expert Robert Ressler believes Henry might be responsible for as little as five killings. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
To many investigators' surprise, one of Henry's earliest alleged victims, a Virginia schoolteacher, was found alive and kicking after he was charged with her murder. Not one to hold back his most outrageous boasts, he claimed to have committed murders in Spain and Japan even though there's no evidence suggesting he ever left the United States.
Some of the crimes, he said, were committed under orders from the satanic cult, the Hand of Death, who recruited them to help out with their human sacrifices. "They take a live girl and put her on the table and split her open and take all of her organs out," he told police, adding that sometimes they would take the entrails and "put them in a pot and cooked 'em." The Hand of Death has also been mentioned by Charles Manson and New York's infamous Son of Sam as the true masterminds behind their crimes. It is unclear if the group actually exists or its mythical reality has become transcendental.
Meanwhile back in Florida, Ottis was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and his death sentence was commuted to six consecutive life terms for an arson murder. Ottis, too, got the confession bug and claimed to have killed 6-year-old Adam Walsh, whose 1981 disappearance outside a Hollywood, Florida, mall set off a nationwide manhunt and launched the TV career of his father, John Walsh, as the creator and host of the Fox television series "America's Most Wanted."
On September 15, 1996, Ottis died in a prison hospital of liver failure. Walsh, who repeatedly criticized the police handling of his son's case, questioned why investigators did not try to interview Toole on his deathbed or try for another confession. Speaking from prison after Ottis' death, Lucas said Toole killed Adam and later showed him the remains of the boy in a shallow grave. "I got sick about it. I said let's get the hell out of here."
On March 31, 1998, Texas State District Judge John Carter set June 30 as the execution date for Henry Lee, for the 1979 murder of an unidentified female hitchhiker known by law enforcement as "Orange Socks". The victim was so named because the socks were all she was wearing when her body was found in a ditch off Interstate 35 near Georgetown, north of Austin. On June 27, 1998, the then Governor (later president) George W. Bush spared Henry's life because of overwhelming evidence proving that the drifter was not in Texas when "Orange Socks" was murdered. Although Lucas confessed four times to killing her, work records and a cashed paycheck indicated he was working as a roofer in Florida at the time of the murder. Bush, who as governor executed 152 inmates, issued the only reprieve in his career on the recommendation of the state parole board. "I can only thank them for believing the truth and having guts enough for standing up for what's right," Lucas said from death row. After the commutation, Lucas predicted that there was an "80 percent chance" he would walk free someday. "Henry Lee Lucas is unquestionably guilty of other despicable crimes which he has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison," said Bush, in Brownsville for a conference of U.S.-Mexico border state governors. "However, I believe there is enough doubt about this particular crime that the state of Texas should not impose its ultimate penalty by executing him." Besides the life term for the Orange Socks killing, Lucas was serving five other life sentences and 210 years in prison for three other slayings. The district attorney who prosecuted the Orange Socks case, Ken Anderson, said he believed Lucas killed anywhere from three to a dozen people. "I don't think he knew exactly," Anderson said "He had no reliability. He had such a chaotic life. It's difficult to imagine you can rely on anything he said, but the fact remains he was a serial killer even though we're unable to pinpoint the exact number."
In 1999, Henry made it in the news again when he told reporters he had become fascinated by drifter Angel Maturino Resendiz, the Railroad Killer who has been connected to at least eight slayings in Texas, Kentucky and Illinois. "If this was 1983, I'd claim these murders, too," Lucas told the Houston Chronicle. He told the paper he admired Resendiz and thought he was playing a "brilliant" cat and mouse game with the FBI agents trying to track him.
While on Death Row in Huntsville, Henry became a born-again Christian and spent the last 18 years of his life making guard uniforms. According to prison personnel, he was model prisoner and an ace on the sewing machines. Henry died the night of March 12, 2001 in Huntsville Prison's infirmary. He was pronounced dead of natural causes at 11:16 p.m. Lucas was a chain smoker and had a history of heart disease. He had recently complained of breathing difficulties and spent two nights in the prison hospital. He was buried in the inmate cemetery as no family members claimed his body. He was 64 at the time of his death.
Article Contributed by ZeRo
"Choking is what I did and I was pretty good at it."
–Gary Leon Ridgway
Gary Ridgway, known as the Green River Killer, is one of the most prolific serial killers in American history.
Number of victims: 48 confirmed. Span of killings: 1992 - 1998
Gary Ridgway was born February 18, 1949 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Mary Rita Steinman and Thomas Newton and was the middle child of three sons. He was raised in McMicken Heights, Washington. His mother reportedly dominated the household and was especially controlling towards her middle son. Relatives remember that she was never content with him and was constantly yelling at her husband. At the age of fourteen Gary was still a bed-wetter and his mother would wash his private parts, even if he was aroused. Ridgway felt feelings of intense lust mixed with humiliation towards his mother. This unsavory relationship would also have an impact on Ridgway's development.
As a child Ridgway was tested with an I.Q. of 82, signifying low intelligence and his academic performance in school was so poor that at one point in high school he had to repeat a single school year twice in order to attain grades decent enough to pass. His classmates at Tyee High describe him as congenial but largely forgettable. His teenage years, however, were troubled: Ridgway was 16 when he stabbed his first victim. The young six year old boy, who was lured into the woods, survived the attack. According to the victim and Ridgway himself, Ridgway walked away laughing and saying, "I always wondered what it would be like to kill someone".
Friends and family, questioned about Ridgway following his arrest, described him as friendly but strange. The same man who went door to door for his Pentecostal Church was also obsessed with prostitutes and had dysfunctional relationships with women. His first two marriages were riddled with infidelities by both partners. Both a prostitute and his second wife testified that, in 1982, he had placed them in choke-holds.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the Green River Killer is believed to have murdered as many as 50 women near the cities of Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. Most of the murders took place during a two-and-a-half-year period in the early 1980s. Most of the victims were either prostitutes or teenage runaways picked up along Pacific Highway South (State Route 99) and strangled. Most of their bodies were dumped in and around the Green River in Washington, except for two victims found in the Portland, Oregon area. The bodies were often left in clusters, sometimes posed, usually nude. As the bodies were often not discovered until skeletonized, four victims are still unidentified. Ridgway would occasionally contaminate the dump sites with gum, cigarettes, and written materials that belonged to others to confuse the police.
In the early 1980s, the King County Sheriff's Office formed the Green River Task Force to investigate the murders. The most notable members of the task force were Robert Keppel and Dave Reichert, who periodically interviewed incarcerated serial killer Ted Bundy; their interviews with Bundy were of little help in the Green River investigations, but elicited confessions from Bundy on unsolved cases. Also contributing was John E. Douglas, who nearly died as he worked the case when his stressed and overworked body was unable to fight off viral encephalitis. He has since written much on the subject of the Green River Killer.
Ridgway was arrested in 1982 and 2001 for charges related to prostitution. He became a suspect in 1983 for the Green River killings. In 1984 Ridgway took and passed a polygraph test, and on April 7, 1987, police took hair and saliva samples. These were later subjected to a DNA analysis, providing the evidence for his arrest warrant.
On November 30, 2001, Ridgway was at his life long place of employment, Kenworth, trying to finish work early to attend a retirement party for two co-workers when police arrived to arrest him. Ridgway was arrested on suspicion of murder for four deaths, nearly 20 years after first being identified as a potential suspect, DNA evidence conclusively linked semen left in the victims to the saliva swab taken by the police. The four victims named in the original indictment were Marcia Chapman, Opal Mills, Cynthia Hinds and Carol Ann Christensen. Three more victims, Wendy Coffield, Debra Bonner, and Debra Estes, were added to the indictment after forensics laboratories detected microscopic paint particles similar to those used by Ridgway while performing his work at Kenworth.
Gary Leon Ridgway
"There were a few women that for some reason I didn't kill, but they were few and far between.''
- Gary Leon Ridgway
Plea bargain ~ confessions ~ sentencing
Early in August 2003, Seattle television news reported that Ridgway had been moved from a maximum security cell at King County Jail to an undisclosed location. Other news reports stated that his lawyers, led by Brian Hochstetter, were closing a plea bargain that would spare him the death penalty in return for his confession to a number of the Green River murders.
On November 5, 2003, Ridgway entered a guilty plea to 48 charges of aggravated first degree murder as part of a plea bargain, agreed to in June, that would spare him execution in exchange for his cooperation in locating the remains of his victims and providing other details. In his statement accompanying his guilty plea, Ridgway explained that all of his victims had been killed inside King County, Washington, and that he had transported and dumped the remains of the two women near Portland to confuse the police.
Public opinion remains divided on whether a confessed murderer of 48 people should be spared execution in a state that has the death penalty and imposes it on people who have killed far fewer victims. Deputy prosecutor Jeffrey Baird noted in court that the deal contained "the names of 41 victims who would not be the subject of State v. Ridgway if it were not for the plea agreement." King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng explained his decision to make the deal:
"We could have gone forward with seven counts, but that is all we could have ever hoped to solve. At the end of that trial, whatever the outcome, there would have been lingering doubts about the rest of these crimes. This agreement was the avenue to the truth. And in the end, the search for the truth is still why we have a criminal justice system ... Gary Ridgway does not deserve our mercy. He does not deserve to live. The mercy provided by today's resolution is directed not at Ridgway, but toward the families who have suffered so much ..."
On December 18, 2003, King County Superior Court Judge Richard Jones sentenced Ridgway to 48 life sentences with no possibility of parole, to be served consecutively. He was also sentenced to an additional 10 years for tampering with evidence for each of the 48 victims, adding 480 years to his 48 life sentences.
Ridgway led prosecutors to three bodies in 2003. On August 16 of that year, remains of a 16-year-old female found near Enumclaw, Washington, 40 feet from State Route 410, were pronounced as belonging to Pammy Annette Avent, who had been believed to be a victim of the Green River Killer. The remains of Marie Malvar and April Buttram were found in September. On November 23, 2005, The Associated Press reported that a weekend hiker found the skull of one of the 48 women Ridgway admitted murdering in his 2003 plea bargain with King County prosecutors. The skull of Tracy Winston, who was 19 when she disappeared from Northgate Mall on September 12, 1983, was found by a man hiking in a wooded area near Highway 18 near Issaquah, southeast of Seattle.
Ridgway confessed to more confirmed murders than any other American serial killer. Over a period of five months of police and prosecutor interviews, he confessed to 48 murders, 42 of which were on the police's list of probable Green River Killer victims, plus 6 more murders. On February 9, 2004, county prosecutors began to release the videotape records of Ridgway's confessions. In one taped interview, he told investigators initially that he was responsible for the deaths of 65 women, but in another taped interview with Reichert on December 31, 2003, Ridgway claimed to have murdered 71 victims and confessed to have had sex with them prior to killing them, a detail which he did not reveal until after his sentencing. He also confessed that he had sex with his victims' bodies after he murdered them, but claimed he began burying the later victims so that he would resist the urge to revisit them.
Ridgway talked to and tried to make his victims comfortable before he committed the murders. He carried his son's photo in his wallet to show to victims to put them at ease. He also carried some of his son's toys in his pickup truck for the same reason. He took some victims to his house and often showed them his son's room to demonstrate they had nothing to fear. In his own words, "I would talk to her... and get her mind off of the sex, anything she was nervous about. And think, you know, she thinks, 'Oh, this guy cares,' and which I, I didn't. I just want to, uh, get her in the vehicle and eventually kill her." Later in a statement Ridgway said that murdering young women was his "career". Ridgway is incarcerated at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington.
In a statement to the Court on Nov 5, 2003, Gary Ridgway said:
"I killed the forty-eight women listed in the State's second amended information.
In most cases, when I murdered these women, I did not know their names. Most of the time, I killed them the first time I met them and I do not have a good memory for their faces. I killed so many women I have a hard time keeping them straight.
I killed them all in King County. I killed most of them in my house near Military Road, and I killed a lot of them in my truck, not far from where I picked them up. I killed some of them outside. I remember leaving each woman's body in the place where she was found.
I agree that each of the murders I committed was part of a "common scheme or plan." The plan was: I wanted to kill as many women I thought were prostitutes as I possibly could.
I picked prostitutes as my victims because I hate most prostitutes and I did not want to pay them for sex. I also picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.
Another part of my plan was where I put the bodies of these women. Most of the time I took the women's jewelry and their clothes to get rid of any evidence and make them harder to identify. I placed most of the bodies in groups which I call "clusters." I did this because I wanted to keep track of all the women I killed. I liked to drive by the "clusters" around the county and think about the women I placed there. I usually used a landmark to remember a "cluster" and the women I placed there. Sometimes I killed and dumped a woman, intending to start a new "cluster," and never returned because I thought I might get caught putting more women there."
A more-than-80-page court document related to the case describes how Ridgway met, killed, had sex with, and disposed of the bodies of his victims.
The portion of the prepared statement that dealt with the specific killings began, "I strangled Wendy Lee Coffield to death." It went on to the death of Debra Lynn Bonner, Marcia Faye Chapman, Cynthia Jean Hinds and through the four dozen names -- some still unidentified and listed as "Jane Doe, B-10" or "Jane Doe, B-16."
After Baird read the description of each death - most including the phrase, "I picked her up planning to kill her" - he asked Ridgway whether it was his true statement. Ridgway answered, "Yes, it is."
When all was said and done, he had been convicted of more murders than any serial killer in the nation's history.
Name Age Disappeared~Found
Wendy Lee Coffield 16 07/08/82 07/15/82
Gisele Ann Lovvorn 19 07/17/82 09/25/82
Debra Lynn Bonner 23 07/25/82 08/12/82
Marcia Fay Chapman 31 08/01/82 08/15/82
Opal Charmaine Mills 16 08/12/82 08/15/82
Terry Rene Milligan 16 08/29/82 04/01/84
Mary Bridget Meehan 19 09/15/82 11/13/83
Debra Lorraine Estes 15 09/20/82 05/30/88
Linda Jane Rule 16 09/26/82 01/31/83
Denise Darcel Bush 23 10/08/82 06/85
Shawnda Leea Summers 17 10/09/82 08/11/83
Shirley Marie Sherrill 18 10/20/82 06/85
Colleen Renee Brockman 15 12/24/82 05/26/84
Alma Ann Smith 18 03/03/83 04/02/84
Delores LaVerne Williams 17 03/17/83 03/31/84
Gail Lynn Mathews 23 04/10/83 09/19/83
Andrea M. Childers 19 04/14/83 10/11/89
Sandra Kay Gabbert 17 04/17/83 04/01/84
Kimi-Kai Pitsor 16 04/18/83 12/14/85
Marie M. Malvar 18 04/30/83 09/23/03
Carol Ann Christensen 21 05/03/83 05/08/83
Martina Theresa Authorlee 18 05/22/83 11/14/84
Cheryl Lee Wims 18 05/26/83 03/22/84
Yvonne Shelly Antosh 19 05/31/83 10/15/83
Carrie A. Rois 15 06/05/83 03/10/85
Constance Elizabeth Naon 20 06/08/83 10/27/83
Kelly Marie Ware 22 07/18/83 10/29/83
Tina Marie Thompson 22 07/25/83 04/20/84
April Dawn Buttram 17 09/01/83 08/30/03
Debbie May Abernathy 26 09/05/83 03/31/84
Tracy Ann Winston 19 09/12/83 03/27/86
Maureen Sue Feeney 19 09/28/83 05/02/86
Mary Sue Bello 25 10/11/83 10/12/84
Pammy Avent 16 10/26/83 08/16/03
Delise Louise Plager 22 10/30/83 02/14/84
Kimberly L. Nelson 21 11/01/83 06/14/86
Lisa Yates 19 12/23/83 03/13/84
Mary Exzetta West 16 04/06/84 09/08/85
Cindy Anne Smith 17 03/21/84 06/27/87
Patricia Michelle Barczak 19 10/17/86 02/93
Roberta Joseph Hayes 21 02/07/87 09/11/91
Marta Reeves 36 04/13/90 09/20/90
Patricia Yellowrobe 38 1998 08/06/98
Unidentified White Female 12-18 unknown 03/21/84
Unidentified White Female 17-19 Unknown 04/22/85
Unidentified Black Female 18-28 unknown 12/30/85
Unidentified White Female 14-19 unknown 01/02/86
Ridgway has also been considered a suspect in the following disappearances, although no bodies have been recovered and no charges have been filed, he has confessed to 2 of the 6 murders in question.
Name Age Disappeared
Patricia Osborn 19 10/20/83
Keli Kay McGinness 18 06/28/83
Kristi Lynn Vorak 13 10/31/82
Patricia Ann Leblanc 15 08/12/83
Kase Ann Lee 16 08/28/82
Rebecca Marrero 20 12/03/82
"I did this not as a sex act...but out of hate for her. I don't mean out of hate for her in particular, really I mean out of hate for a woman." - Albert DeSalvo
The Boston Strangler is a name attributed to the murderer of several women in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, in the early 1960s. Though the crimes were attributed to Albert DeSalvo, investigators of the case have since suggested the murders, sometimes referred to as The Silk Stocking Murders, were not committed by one person.
Albert DeSalvo was a criminal in Boston, Massachusetts who confessed to being the "Boston Strangler", the murderer of 13 women in the Boston area. His confession has been disputed, and debate continues regarding which crimes DeSalvo actually committed.
Number of victims: 13 confirmed. Span of killings: June 14, 1962–January 4, 1964
Albert Henry DeSalvo was born on September 3, 1931 in Chelsea, Massachusetts to Frank and Charlotte DeSalvo. His father was a violent alcoholic who at one point beat all of his wife's teeth out and bent her fingers back until they broke. He also forced his children to watch him have sex with prostitutes he brought home. DeSalvo tortured animals as a child and began shoplifting and stealing in early adolescence, frequently crossing paths with the law.
When he was young, he was sold into slavery with his sister to a Maine farmer for about nine dollars. The children broke out and returned home, where Frank DeSalvo began to teach and encourage Albert to steal. In November 1943, the 12-year-old DeSalvo was first arrested for battery and robbery. In December of the same year he was sent to the Lyman School for Boys. In October 1944, he was paroled and started working as a delivery boy. In August 1946, he returned to the Lyman School for stealing an automobile. After completing his second sentence, DeSalvo joined the Army. He was honorably discharged after his first tour of duty. He re-enlisted and, in spite of being tried in a Court-martial, DeSalvo was again honorably discharged.
The Strangler Murders
Between June 14, 1962 and January 4, 1964, 13 single women between the ages of 19 and 85 were murdered in the Boston area; they were eventually tied to the Boston Strangler. Most of the women were sexually assaulted in their apartments, and then strangled with articles of their clothing, usually their stockings. The eldest victim died of a heart attack. Two others were stabbed to death, one of whom was also badly beaten. Without any sign of forced entry into their dwellings, the women were assumed to have either known their killer or voluntarily allowed him into their homes.
First Stage (1962)
• Anna E. Slesers, 55, sexually molested with unknown object and strangled with the cord on her bathrobe; found on June 14, 1962
• Mary Mullen, 85, died from a heart attack but in the confession was said to have collapsed as the strangler grabbed her; found on June 28, 1962
• Nina Nicols, 68, sexually molested and strangled with her nylon stockings; found on June 30, 1962
• Helen Blake, 65, sexually molested and strangled with her nylon stockings; found on June 30, 1962
• Ida Irga, 75, sexually molested and strangled; found on August 21, 1962
• Jane Sullivan, 67, sexually assaulted and strangled with her nylon stockings; found on August 30, 1962
Second Stage (1962-1964)
• Sophie Clark, 19, sexually assaulted and strangled with her nylon stockings; found on December 5, 1962
• Patricia Bissette, 23, sexually assaulted and strangled with her nylon stockings; found on December 31, 1962
• Mary Brown, 69, stabbed and beaten, found on March 9, 1963
• Beverly Samans, 23, stabbed to death on May 8, 1963
• Evelyn Corbin, 58, sexually assaulted and strangled with her nylon stockings; found on September 6, 1963
• Joann Graff, 23, sexually assaulted and strangled on November 25, 1963
• Mary Sullivan, 19, sexually assaulted and strangled with dark stockings; found on January 4, 1964
On October 27, 1964, a stranger entered a young woman's home posing as a detective. He tied his victim to her bed, proceeded to sexually assault her, and suddenly left, saying "I'm sorry" as he went. The woman's description led police to identify the assailant as Albert DeSalvo and when his photo was published, many women identified him as the man who had assaulted them. Earlier on October 27, DeSalvo had posed as a motorist with car trouble and attempted to enter a home in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The homeowner, future Brockton police chief Richard Sproles, became suspicious and eventually fired a shotgun at DeSalvo.
DeSalvo was not initially suspected of being involved with the stranglings. It was only after he was charged with rape that he gave a detailed confession of his activities as the Boston Strangler. He initially confessed to a fellow inmate George Nassar who reported to his attorney F. Lee Bailey who took on DeSalvo's case. The police were impressed at the accuracy of DeSalvo's descriptions of the crime scenes. Though there were some inconsistencies, DeSalvo was able to cite details which had not been made public. However, there was no physical evidence to substantiate his confession. As such, he stood trial for earlier, unrelated crimes of robbery and sexual offenses in which he was known as The Green Man and The Measuring Man respectively. Bailey brought up the confession to the stranglings as part of his client's history at the trial in order to assist in gaining a 'not guilty by reason of insanity' verdict to the sexual offenses but it was ruled as inadmissible by the judge.
"It wasn't as dark and scary as it sounds. I had a lot of fun...killing somebody's a funny experience." - Albert DeSalvo
Trial & Imprisonment
DeSalvo was sentenced to life in prison in 1967. In February of that year, he escaped with two fellow inmates from Bridgewater State Hospital triggering a full scale manhunt. A note was found on his bunk addressed to the superintendent. In it DeSalvo stated that he had escaped to focus attention on the conditions in the hospital and his own situation. The next day he gave himself up. Following the escape he was transferred to the maximum security Walpole State Prison where he was found murdered six years later in the infirmary. He had been stabbed. The killer or killers were never identified.
DeSalvo was never charged with the "Strangler's" crimes, put on trial for them, or convicted of them.
Doubts remain as to whether DeSalvo was indeed the Boston Strangler. At the time he confessed, people who knew him personally did not believe him capable of the vicious crimes. It was also noted that the women killed by "The Strangler" came from different age and ethnic groups, and that there were different modi operandi.
Susan Kelly, author of the 1996 book The Boston Stranglers, accessed the files of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts "Strangler Bureau". She argues that the stranglings were the work of several killers rather than a single individual. Another author, former FBI profiler Robert Ressler, said that "You're putting together so many different patterns [regarding the Boston Strangler murders] that it's inconceivable behaviorally that all these could fit one individual."
In 2000, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, an attorney specializing in forensic cases who is based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, took up the cause of the DeSalvo family and that of the family of Mary A. Sullivan. Sullivan was publicized as being the final victim in 1964, although other stranglings occurred after that date. A former print journalist, Whitfield Sharp assisted the families in their media campaign to clear DeSalvo's name, to assist in organizing and arranging the exhumations of Mary A. Sullivan and Albert H. DeSalvo, in filing various lawsuits in attempts to obtain information and trace evidence (e.g. DNA) from the government, and to work with various producers to create documentaries to explain the facts to the public. Whitfield Sharp pointed out various inconsistencies between DeSalvo's confessions and the crime scene information (which she obtained). For example, Whitfield Sharp observed that, contrary to DeSalvo's confession to Sullivan's murder, there was no semen in her vagina and that she was not strangled manually, but by ligature. Forensic pathologist Michael Baden observed that DeSalvo also got the time of death wrong — a common inconsistency with several of the murders pointed out by Susan Kelly. Whitfield Sharp continues to work on the case for the DeSalvo family.
In the case of Mary Sullivan, murdered January 4, 1964 at age 19, DNA and other forensic evidence were used by Casey Sherman to try to track down her real killer. Sherman wrote about this in his book A Rose for Mary (2003), and stated that DeSalvo was not responsible for her death. For example, DeSalvo confessed to sexually penetrating Sullivan, yet the forensic investigation revealed no evidence of sexual activity. There are also suggestions from DeSalvo himself that he was covering up for another man, the real killer.
”My frustration. My inability to communicate socially, sexually. I wasn’t impotent. I was scared to death of failing in male-female relationships.” – Edmund Kemper
Edmund Kemper is best known as "The Co-ed Killer" or “The Co-ed Butcher”. He was active in California in the early 1970s
Number of victims: 10 confirmed. Span of killings: August 27, 1964–April 20, 1973
Creating a Killer
Born in Burbank California on December 18, 1948, Edmund E. Kemper III was the second child for E. E. (Edmund Jr.) and Clarnell Kemper. As a child he was extremely bright, but displayed sociopathic behavior from a young age: he tortured and killed animals, acted out bizarre sexual rituals with his sisters' dolls, was a pyromaniac, and showed signs of necrophilia.. Starting his criminal life by shooting both his grandparents when he was 15 years old.
He had a sister six years older and a sister two and a half years younger. Kemper had a close relationship with his father, and was devastated when his parents divorced in 1957, and he had to be raised by his mother in Helena, Montana. He had a horrible relationship with his mother Clarnell, a violent woman who would constantly belittle and humiliate him. Clarnell often made her son sleep in a locked basement, because she feared that he would rape his younger sister. It is alleged that she had borderline personality disorder. In many different interviews, he described his fear and anger growing up, along with the things he envisioned doing. He said that when he killed the family cat, placing its head on an altar, he had felt empowered after persuasively lying about it. He honed this ability to present a public façade that people trusted while his private world contained much darker ideas. Everitt indicates that by the time he was ten, he was already thinking about females in sexual terms. He was also developing a violent inner world. When I was in school, Kemper said in a taped interview, I was called a chronic daydreamer and I saw a counselor twice during junior high and high school, and that was very routine. They didn’t ask me a lot of questions about myself and that was probably the most violent fantasy time I was off into. Stories from his sisters involved disconcerting memories. One goaded him to kiss a teacher, says Frazier, and he apparently said that if he did, he’d then have to kill her. His younger sister recalled that he often cut the heads off her dolls. His mother apparently relegated him to the basement to keep him away from the girls because she did not trust him. Her instincts were apparently right; Kemper has said, I lived as an ordinary person most of my life, even though I was living a parallel and increasingly violent other life.
When he was thirteen, Kemper slaughtered his own pet cat with a machete and stuffed the remains in his closet (which his mother found). Cheney offers gruesome details of this episode from Kemper’s descriptions. Kemper also ran away from home that year to go live with his father. He was certain it would be a better life for him, but after he arrived, he eventually learned that his father, who had remarried and had another son, was not quite as happy to see him as he’d hoped. E. E. welcomed him for a while, but then sent him back to Montana. But Clarnell, too, was unwilling to have him, because she was planning to marry her third husband, and this overgrown adolescent was a handful. Her solution was to pack Ed up and send him to his father’s parents’ ranch in California. Kemper said “I went to live with Dad, he sends me back to my mother who sends me up to Grandma. Now she’s going to undo all the terrible things that my mother did to me. I’m going to be a showpiece. She’s going to show the world that my mother was a lousy parent. I’m going to be a pawn in this little game”.
On August 27, 1964, 15-year-old Edmund Emil Kemper III wasn’t happy about being with his paternal grandparents on their 17-acre ranch in North Fork, California, again. Already six-foot-four and socially awkward, he was an intimidating figure, and people tended to shunt him from one place to another. He’d grown frustrated and angry, and later described himself as a walking time bomb. If only someone had known then how to defuse his rage. Instead, the people around him seemed to ensure that it would grow worse.
That August afternoon, he argued in the kitchen with his sixty-six-year-old grandmother, Maude, while she sat at the kitchen table writing the finishing pages of her latest children's book. Kemper had displaced his anger at his mother onto Maude, so it did not take much to make him react. Enraged, he grabbed a rifle, and when she warned him not to shoot the birds, he turned and shot her instead. He hit her in the head, killing her, and then shot her twice in the back and stabbed her repeatedly with a kitchen knife. So his first killing, was impulsive, more a thoughtless act than a planned predatory incident. But then he had to do something to hide it from his grandfather. He was a big kid for his age, the product of a six-foot mother and a father who was six-foot-eight. So he did not have much difficulty dragging his grandmother’s corpse into the bedroom. Then his grandfather, also named Edmund, drove up. The man was 72, and it was he who had given the boy the .22 caliber rifle the previous Christmas. Young Edmund heard his car outside. He went to the window and made the decision to finish the job he’d begun. As the elderly man got out of the car, Kemper raised the rifle and shot him as well. He then hid the body in the garage. In his way, he had avenged the rejection of both his father and his mother.
Not knowing what else to do, he called his mother in Montana and told her what he had done. Clarnell urged him to call the police, and no doubt she was thinking of the dire warning that she had given Edmund’s biological father, whose parents were now dead. She had told him not to be surprised if the boy killed them one day.
Kemper called the police and they came to the ranch to take him into custody. He was waiting calmly on the porch for them. They placed him with the California Youth Authority, and in an interview, the police later reported; he said he had shot Grandma to see what it felt like. That comment would become the quote most often associated with him, used to show how cold-blooded he was at such a young age. Yet another reading of it indicates that he was merely stating the end result of his frustration with the woman. He explained that he’d killed his grandfather to spare him having to find Maude dead, murdered by her grandson.
At the time, it seemed inconceivable to the California system that a child could do such a thing. He was sent for psychiatric testing and diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia. He was also found to have a near-genius IQ. Instead of staying at a facility operated by the Youth Authority, he ended up at the secure Atascadero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he befriended his psychologist and even became his assistant. Because he was so intelligent and astute he was allowed access to some of the assessment devices - even to administer them at times. Kemper actually memorized the responses to 28 different assessment instruments, providing himself with the proper tools to convince those doctors who evaluated him that he would be safe to release upon his 21st birthday. With the knowledge he gained from his "apprenticeship" he eventually was able to impress his doctor at the hospital enough to let him go. Kemper was released from prison in 1969, after serving less than five years. Against the wishes of several doctors at the hospital, he was released into his mother's care. Kemper later demonstrated further to the psychologists that he was well — and to have his juvenile records expunged.
Just after he came out of Atascadero, he worked a series of menial jobs before securing work with the State of California's Department of Public Works/Division of Highways in District 4 (now known as Department of Transportation or Caltrans). By that time, his height had reached 6 feet 9 inches and he weighed about 300 pounds. The town that would become his new home was making national headlines.
The beach town of Santa Cruz lies south of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast. Surrounded by mountains, ocean, and towering redwood trees, it’s a tourist Mecca and an upscale place to own a home or rent an apartment. During the early 1970s, when the murders began, townspeople were already torn over the hippies moving in, thanks in part to the University of California opening a new campus there. Young people flooded in, and not all of them were what residents called desirable.
At the time, 95 percent of murders that occurred in America were primarily situational - inspired by tense domestic incidents or the result of some kind of altercation among acquaintances. But the murders during the 1970s in Santa Cruz defied this pattern. By 1973, people were purchasing guns to protect themselves, because clearly these offenders were boldly entering the homes of ordinary citizens.
Near the end of 1970, John Linley Frazier murdered five people - the Ohta family and Dr. Ohta’s secretary - to stop what he viewed as the spread of progress that was ruining the natural environment. An extremist in the hippie lifestyle, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia but nevertheless was found sane and convicted. His trial became a circus, in part because he wanted to appear to be pretending to be insane so the jury would believe he was idle. But there was also an air of suspicion against hippies, because over the span of two nights during the previous year Charles Manson and his gang had massacred seven people down in Los Angeles. Like Manson, Frazier had invaded a home and brutally killed the occupants, including two children, for some bizarre drug-inspired vision.
Then in late 1972 and early 73, across a terrifying period of four months, another series of murders occurred around Santa Cruz. Among the victims were four campers, a priest, a man digging in his garden, a young girl, and a mother and her two children. The police finally stopped the killer, Herbert Mullin, 25. Although he had been institutionalized and evaluated as a danger to others, he’d nevertheless become an outpatient, which allowed him to roam freely. He’d stopped taking his antipsychotic medication and heard a voice that urged him to kill. It was his mission, Mullin believed, to save the people of California from a super-earthquake that would send it into the ocean. Thus, he decided that he had to sing the “die song”, which he believed would persuade thirteen people to either kill themselves or allow themselves to become human sacrifices, which he said they conveyed to him telepathically. Using a knife, gun, or baseball bat to slay those he selected, he killed until police picked him up. Also diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, he was nevertheless considered legally sane and was convicted on ten counts of murder.
But even before that, in May 1972, female hitchhikers began to disappear. To subdue public panic, the authorities tried linking these disappearances to Mullin so they could assure the community that the epidemic of murders was at an end, but it soon turned out to be another person altogether - someone who surprised them, Edmund Kemper.
Eventually the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the local newspaper, would put together a magazine that reviewed important events in the area across the decades and featured these three killers. It felt like the actions of a world gone crazy, recalled reporter Tom Honig. The 1970s was an age of violence, and along with Frazier and Mullin, they would add Edmund Kemper, now a young man. Altogether the three killed 28 people, and represented the three basic types of multiple murderers: Frazier killed all his victims at once, Mullin in a spree, and Kemper as a serial killer.
Kemper’s crimes began before Mullin’s and stopped after him. What precipitated it, according to his account, was his mothers constant needling and humiliation. When released by the parole board from Atascadero in 1969, the psychiatrists had advised that Kemper not be returned to Clarnell, because it could trigger more violence. But it appeared that no one was keeping watch. Having no means of support and no assistance from the Youth Authority, Kemper did move in with Clarnell and, according to him, she began abusing him once again.
Having left her third husband, she had taken a job at the new university in Santa Cruz as an administrative assistant and moved into a duplex on Ord Drive in Aptos. They had frequent arguments that the neighbors overheard. Whether or not Clarnell was a primary influence in his subsequent actions, there is no doubt that they had an unrelentingly toxic relationship. As part of his parole requirements, Kemper went to a community college and did well, but he hoped to get into the police academy one day. When he learned that he was too tall, his consolation was to hang out in the jury room where the police gathered and listen to their stories. They knew him as Big Ed and generally thought of him as a polite young man. His voice was soft, his manner polite, and his speech intelligent and articulate. He idolized John Wayne and everyone knew it. Little did they know that they would eventually be telling one of their most bizarre tales about him.
When he had saved enough money to move out of his mother’s home, he went north to Alameda, near San Francisco, and shared an apartment with a friend. But he often had no money and sometimes ended up back with Clarnell. He purchased a motorcycle, but got into two separate accidents, one of which paid out in a settlement of $15,000. With this he bought a yellow Ford Galaxy and began to cruise the area. He noticed young females out hitchhiking - the popular mode of travel for college students in those days along the West Coast. And when he looked them over, as he described in later interviews, he thought about things he could do to them. Quietly, he prepared his car for what he had in mind, placing plastic bags, knives, a blanket, and handcuffs into the trunk. He only had to wait for an opportunity. For a period of time, he picked up girls and let them go. By his estimation, he picked up around 150 hitchhikers, any of whom might have been chosen for his plan. Finally, he felt the urgent inner drive of what he called his “little zapples”, and he acted.
“…this craving, this awful raging eating feeling inside, this fantastic passion. It was overwhelming me. It was like drugs. It was like alcohol. A little isn’t enough.” – Edmund Kemper
Between May 1972 and February 1973, Kemper embarked on a series of murders, picking up female students hitchhiking, taking them to isolated rural areas and killing them. He would stab, shoot or smother the victims and afterwards take the bodies back to his apartment where he would have sex with their bodies and then dissect them. He killed five college girls. He would often go hunting for victims after arguing with his mother.
As Clarnell had done with her three ex-husbands, she attacked Edmund on many occasions, aiming at his manhood and sense of worth. She even used her job at the University against him. Although he wanted to socialize, she refused to introduce him to women on campus. She’s holding up these girls who she said were too good for me to get to know, he recalled. She would say, “You’re just like your father. You don’t deserve to get to know them.” This kind of talk infuriated him, and he went out to cruise for the girls that he couldn’t have. He knew a way to get them on his terms.
Clarnell had acquired a university sticker for Kemper’s Ford, which made it easy for him to go in and out of the campus without raising suspicion. It should be noted that coworkers at the university found Clarnell charming and easy to get along with, which differed from Edmund’s version. She did give him assistance and allowed him to live with her.
The experience changed for him in early May 1972. Even before Mullin began his reign of terror in the area, Kemper decided to make his move. “It was stupid for anyone to hitchhike”, he said, “but to these people who thought it was fun and exciting and maybe even a little bit daring -- it is as if they’re dead.” He got insights and tidbits from reading police novels. For example, he learned how to keep the car door locked once the girls were inside. He also knew how to give them the impression that they were safe with him.
On May 7, 1972, as people were still troubled by the conclusion of the Frazier trial less than six months before, Kemper was driving around UC Santa Cruz campus, where he picked up two 18-year-old college students named Mary Anne Pesce and Anita Luchessa, who were hitch-hiking from Fresno State College to meet friends at Stanford University. It was the first time I went looking for someone to kill. And its two people, not one. And they’re dead. Very naïve, too. Painfully naïve in that they thought they were streetwise. In fact, they were quite grateful for the ride. It wasn’t far to Stanford, perhaps an hour, so Kemper said he was willing to take them all the way. They couldn’t believe their luck, but their glee soon turned to terror.
After driving for about one hour, he drove to a rural area, off the highway and onto a dirt road, near Alameda, California, where he stopped the car. The girls realized that something was amiss. As if to intensify his own game, he told them that he intended to rape them and that he was going to take them to his apartment, although he had learned from listening to the stories of rapists in Atascadero that it was better to leave no witnesses. He Handcuffed Pesce in the back seat, and forced Luchessa into the trunk of the car. He then tried unsuccessfully to smother Pesce and to stab her. The knife blade hit her backbone and would not enter, but she felt the pain and put up a tremendous struggle. She also bit through the bag that he had placed over her head. Finally, he slit her throat and killed her. He then turned his attention to Luchessa and killed her as well, though it was an ordeal he hadn’t expected. Now he had two corpses all to himself. Wrapping them in blankets, he placed them in the trunk of his car.
As Kemper drove the bodies to his mother's house, he was nearly caught, when he was stopped for a broken taillight. He maintained a calm, polite attitude and got off with a mere warning. During the entire encounter, Kemper later said, he was excited. Had the officer decided to do a routine check and look into the trunk, Kemper would have killed him on the spot.
He brought the bodies to his room, laid them on the floor and took photographs of them for sexual pleasure. As he removed parts from them, he took more photographs and paused from time to time to savor the erotic moments of possessing them so completely. That night, Kemper dismembered the bodies and placed Pesce's dismemberments in a duffel bag, which was discarded on a mountain side road. He said that he also engaged in sexual acts with the severed parts. He used Luchessa's severed head for oral sex, before he dumped her remains in a shallow grave in the mountains, making sure to remember the place for later visits. . When the girls failed to arrive at their destination, their families contacted the police. But runaways were all too frequent during those days and the girls had left behind no clues as to where they had gone, so there was little the authorities could do. Then, on August 15, the remains of a female head were recovered from an area in the mountains and identified as that of Pesce. No other remains were found, but it was assumed that both girls had met with foul play and were dead.
He then fell back into his habit of picking up girls and taking them safely to their destinations. He would even talk to his riders about the man who was killing female hitchhikers, all the while evaluating each as a potential victim. “When someone put their hand on my car-door handle, they were giving me their life.” He continued with this activity until September 14, 1972.
That’s the day Kemper had picked up 15 year old dance student Aiko Koo, who had decided to hitchhike home from Berkley, instead of waiting for a bus. He’d been feeling the energy that inspired his fantasies of murder. This girl seemed perfect for his next grim venture. He was surprised that she was only fifteen, but determined to carry out his plan. About that encounter, Kemper said, “I pulled the gun out to show her I had it. She was freaking out. Then I put the gun away and that had more effect on her than pulling it out. I got out of the car, accidentally locking myself out, which gave her an advantage, but she was too scared to pick up the gun. She could have reached over and grabbed the gun”, he said, “but I think she never gave it a thought. Instead, she unlocked the door and let me back in”. While keeping her at gun point, he drove a short distance and stopped his car at the side of a road and pinched her nostrils to force her to black out. He then raped her. Afterward, he strangled her until he was sure she was dead and rode around with her body in the trunk of his car. He had a few drinks before taking her home to dismember and dissect her in the same manner he had done with his first two victims. He also conducted several experiments on her corpse. He buried her severed head in his mother's garden as a joke, later remarking that his mother "always wanted people to look up to her." He buried the rest of her remains in the backyard of his mother's house. Once he had tasted this power over women, he knew, it was only a matter of time before he’d want it again. But first he had to prepare to convince the psychiatrists who were monitoring his case that he was cured.
The day after he killed Aiko Koo, Kemper went before a panel of psychiatrists as a follow-up requirement for parole. He’d done well in school, had tried finding a job, and as far as anyone knew, he had stayed out of trouble. He knew what they wanted to hear and he put on his best act. The first doctor talked with him for a while and indicated that he saw no reason to consider Kemper a danger to anyone. The second one actually used the words normal and safe. It was recommended that his juvenile records be sealed as a way to help him to become a better citizen. Yet even as the two psychiatrists congratulated themselves on being part of a system that had rehabilitated a child killer, Kemper delighted in his secret. Not only had he killed a girl the day before the analysis, but he had her head in the trunk of his car parked right outside.
Once again, he was in the game. He had succeeded at convincing the learned professionals that he was something other than he really was, and they had wrongly inferred that he was no longer a danger. The judge did not agree, but had no grounds to deny the request to seal the records. Thus, eight years after he had killed his grandparents, Kemper gained his freedom. As he drove away with a clean bill of mental health, he felt pleased. Now he was free to continue with his experiments. He found a place to bury Koo’s head and hands above Boulder Creek, and there they remained undiscovered until the following May. And he was not finished. While he laid low for a while, he kept fantasizing about taking the lives of those young women. He kept trophies and photographs of his grisly work to help renew the experience, and as he clashed with his mother time and again, the urge to kill built up within him.
In late December 1972 Kemper purchased a .22-caliber pistol and then looked for a pretty hitchhiker. On January 7, 1973, The one he found was named Cindy Schall. Kemper was driving around the Cabrillo Community College campus, where he picked up the 19-year-old student. An eyewitness stated that she was hitchhiking, and had stopped off at a friend’s house. She got a ride and then she was just gone. Once Kemper had her in the car he drove for a while and then stopped his car in a secluded area by woods, where he fatally shot her with the .22 caliber pistol. He wasn’t interested in torture. He placed her body in the trunk of his car and drove back to his mother's house, where he dissected her in a bathtub. He kept the body in his room overnight until he removed the bullet from her head and beheaded her, burying her severed head in his mother's garden. He later proceeded to dismember the rest of her body and discarded the rest of her remains in a ravine. Less than two days later, dismembered arms and legs were found on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Then an upper torso washed ashore, which was identified via lung X-rays as Schall’s. Eventually a lower torso came in. A surfer also found her left hand, which offered fingerprints, but her head and right hand remained missing. The papers began talking about the Chopper and the Butcher. But no one suspected him.
On February 5, after a dreadful argument with his mother, Kemper left the house in search of possible victims. He later encountered 24-year-old Rosalind Thorpe and 23-year-old Allison Liu, who were on the UC Santa Cruz campus. According to Kemper, He picked up Rosalind first, and her presence in the car apparently reassured Allison, who willingly got in. “Miss Liu was sitting in back right behind Miss Thorpe”, Kemper recalled. “I went on down a ways and slowed down. I remarked on the beautiful view. I hesitated for several seconds. I had been moving my pistol from down below my leg to up in my lap. I picked it up and pulled the trigger. As I fired, she fell against the window. Miss Liu panicked. I had to fire through her hands. She was moving around and I missed twice.”
He finally hit her in the temple. He stopped and wrapped the two girls in blankets. Two young men were at the security gate, but when they saw Kemper’s university sticker, they waved him through. He explained to the guard that these girls were drunk and he was trying to get them back to their dorms. The guard apparently accepted the story, and Kemper decided that he was as good as invisible: “It was getting easier to do. I was getting better at it.”
He took the girls bodies to his mothers home and dismembered, performed sexual activities with their bodies. and beheaded them with his mother nearby and neighbors around. He was aware that a neighbor only had to walk by and look in the window and see what he was doing in order to catch him. But no one did. The next morning, he deposited the limbs in the ocean and around the hills, tossing the heads away separately. His fourth episode of killing had been successfully completed. It would not be long before he vented his rage closer to home.
There were no leads whatsoever in their disappearances. The media coverage of the local violence inspired an atmosphere of terror. One local reporter, consistently exaggerated rumors and offered uncorroborated information as fact, angering the police and alarming the citizens. Daily reports of satanic rituals were given and links were formed between a number of murders over the course of a year. The butcher murders are unique, the reporter was quoted as saying. The decapitation and dismemberment is done with the skill of what police say borders on perhaps professional knowledge. The bodies were placed in a slant position, the heads lower than the feet, so the blood would drain out, making such dismemberment easier. It was also mentioned that one or more of the victims appeared to have been held captive for a period of time prior to being killed, and noted that the Achilles tendon was sliced on Cynthia Schall. It was suggested that the killer was a lesbian or transvestite and the police were scolded for their mistakes during the investigation. The Authorities were warned that the butcher murders probably occurred on Mondays after dark and during the full moon - which was patently untrue. Yet for this reporter, it seemed like evidence of cult activity.
On March 4, a couple of hikers came across a human skull and jawbone not far from Highway 1 in San Mateo County. They were not from the same person. The police searched the area and found another skull that went with the jawbone, so they knew they had a pair of victims killed close together. They had reports of several missing female hitchhikers, so they compared what they had to the descriptions, and identified the remains of Rosalind Thorpe and Alice Liu. Liu had been shot twice in the head, Thorpe once. It was not long thereafter that the university decided to institute a bus system that would assist off-campus students to get safely to their classes.
The authorities were stymied. The area had become a hotbed of murder and missing persons, mostly young women. They had few leads and no methods for ending the killing. The university experienced a sudden drop in enrollment, but then the unexpected occurred.
After killing six young women, the six-foot-nine giant turned his anger against his ultimate target: his mother. While most experts later claim that his killing was really about symbolic rehearsal for killing his mother, and once he’d finally fulfilled his ultimate fantasy, he would no longer need to kill, Kemper’s explanation is quite different. He indicated in an interview that he had sensed the cops closing in after Sergeant Aluffi had paid him a call about his gun and he wanted to spare his mother the embarrassment of learning that he was the Coed Butcher. However, his treatment of her corpse tells an entirely story.
Kemper also said that he feared that his mother had found the items he had taken from the women he’d killed. He wondered if he should flee or kill her. “I cant get away from her...She knows all my buttons and I dance like a puppet.” He knew that he would now have to kill her, but he waited for the opportune moment. She went out with friends one evening and came home tipsy from alcohol.
Kemper went into her room, and according to him, she said, “I suppose you want to talk now”. He told her no. In his 1978 interview, he said he then started to cry and put his hand to his mouth. It was the first time he had broken his composure. He’d spoken about the other murders with no show of guilt, compassion or remorse, but his mother’s death was another matter.
“I waited for her to go to bed”, he said, “and then I went into her room with a claw hammer. It was so hard.” Kemper had battered his sleeping mother to death with the hammer. He then beheaded her, and used her decapitated head for oral sex before using it as a dartboard. He also cut out her vocal cords and put them in the garbage disposal, but the machine could not break the tough tissue down and regurgitated it back into the sink. "That seemed appropriate," he said after his arrest, "as much as she'd bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years". Then he’d gone drinking with his cop buddies. He admitted that to remember it hurt him. “I cut off her head, and I humiliated her, of course. She was dead, because of the way she raised me”. But later he said he’d wished she’d stayed up and talked to him. He put her head on the mantel and said what he wanted to say. For the first time, she did not argue with him. That felt satisfying, but he also knew it was over for him. He would undoubtedly be linked to this crime. His murderous urges not yet satiated, and believing having two victims would deflect attention from him, he’d returned and invited his mother’s friend, 59 year old Sally Hallett, over for dinner and a movie. She was delighted. When she arrived, he punched and strangled her to death. He then laid her naked body on his bed and removed her head. He spent the night with the two corpses in the house, with blood everywhere and had sex with Hallett’s corpse. Both bodies were stuffed into closets in his mother’s duplex on Ord Drive. On Easter morning, he fled in Sally’s car.
The Call & Arrest
On, April 23, 1973, the Santa Cruz police received a call that they could not quite believe. It was from a phone booth in Pueblo, Colorado, from a twenty-four-year-old man who had eaten with them, drank with them, and talked with them for hours: Big Ed, or Edmund Kemper. And now he was telling them that he had committed murder -- in fact, a double homicide four days earlier, and then some. But the officer who took the first call believed it was a prank. He suggested the young man call again later. Kemper did so, but once again had a difficult time convincing the person at the other end of the line to take him seriously. Those who knew him believed it was all some practical joke. He continued to place calls until he was able to persuade an officer to go check out his mother’s house. He said that an officer, Sergeant Aluffi, had been there not long before to confiscate the .44 caliber revolver he had purchased. Aluffi would know.
Sergeant Aluffi did indeed know, and went to the home himself. As he entered, he smelled the putrid odor of decomposition. When he opened a closet and saw blood and hair, he secured the scene and called in the coroner and detectives. To their amazement, they found the two bodies, just as Kemper had described. Local police were dispatched immediately.
Kemper explained that after leaving the house, he had driven for several days, had dropped off one car and rented a green Chevy Impala, but when word of his crimes hit the radio airwaves he became discouraged, stopped the car, and finally decided to turn himself in and call the police to confess to murdering his mother. He told them he’d been taking No-Doz for three days and felt half crazy. He listed half a dozen other murders that they had yet to solve, referring over and over to the coeds. He wanted someone to come and pick him up. He had 200 rounds of ammo and three guns in the car and it scared him. He was turning himself in. Kemper waited patiently inside his car until he was arrested.
DA Peter Chang and a party of detectives traveled across three states to pick Kemper up from detention, where local police had placed him, and they found him waiting calmly for them. He seemed to know that he was dangerous and unable to control himself, and understood that he needed to be locked up. He was willing to talk and twice waived his right to an attorney, though he would later say that he’d asked for a lawyer.
Kemper made it easy for the cops. He showed them where he had buried the head of Cynthia Schall in his mothers backyard, saying he had placed it there so he could take satisfaction in knowing, according to one detective, she was on his property looking toward the sky. As they drove, he described each murder in minute detail and showed them where he had deposited each victims remains.
The story that unfolded was as bizarre as any they had yet heard. He went on for hours, confessing everything that he had done to the six coeds, his mother and her friend. Adding these to the murders of his grandparents years earlier, he had committed ten murders in all. To prove his tale, he took detectives to areas where he had buried or tossed parts of his victims that had not yet been found. He described having sex with the heads of his victims and said that he’d loved the feeling of totally possessing them and their property. The stories would grow worse during the trial, thanks to psychiatric probing, and both sides adamant about finding out what they could do about this disturbing young man.
Investigators now realized why the Coed Butcher had eluded them for so long. As John Douglas put it upon hearing how Kemper had been privy at the jury room and the investigation details, He was analyzing what he was doing and learning to perfect his technique. He had discovered their strategies and plans for trapping him, and he was able to out-think and elude them. But he also had not come across as a killer. He had learned how to make people feel safe around him, and that was probably how he had found ways to get girls into his cars, despite warnings issued to students throughout the area.
Trial & Imprisonment
Edmund Kemper was indicted on eight counts of first-degree murder on May 7, 1973. The Chief Public Defender of Santa Cruz County, attorney Jim Jackson, had defended Frazier and was assigned to the Mullin case as well. He now also took on Kemper’s defense, which he offered as an insanity plea. He had his hands full, especially because Kemper’s detailed confessions sans attorney had robbed him of any strategy except an insanity defense. But it would not be easy, since Kemper was so articulate and clear in the way he had planned and prepared for his fatal encounters. Nevertheless, he had once been diagnosed as psychotic, and despite the psychiatric records that pronounced him safe, he clearly had not been cured. For Jackson, there was hope that this defense could work. While awaiting trial, Kemper tried twice to commit suicide by slashing his wrists. He failed both times. The trial began on October 23, 1973.
Psychiatrists found him to be sane. Dr. Joel Fort had looked at Kemper’s juvenile records to examine the diagnosis that he was then psychotic. He interviewed Kemper at length, including under truth serum, and told the court that Kemper had probably engaged in acts of cannibalism. He apparently cooked and ate parts of the girls flesh after dismembering them. Nevertheless, Fort decided that he had known what he was doing in each incident, was thrilled by the notoriety of being a mass murderer, and had been entirely aware that it was wrong. That was good enough to find him sane. California relied on the M Naghten standard for sanity that was used throughout most of the country. According to the wording, this standard held that a defendant might be found insane if, by reason of a disease or defect, he did not know that what he was doing was wrong. Kemper clearly did know that his acts of murder were wrong. He had also shown clear evidence of premeditation and planning.
One defense psychiatrist was willing to testify to insanity based on the product standard, which allows someone to say that the crime is the product of a diseased mind - a subtle difference -- but that was not within the states definition. Kemper’s younger sister described the strange acts she had seen her brother do, trying hard to show that he was abnormal, while Jackson fought valiantly through cross-examination to get the prosecution’s experts to admit that many of the things Kemper had done with the victims were clearly abnormal. They did, but generally stuck with their original evaluation. They also questioned the Atascadero staffs diagnosis of Kemper when he was fifteen. Having a lively fantasy world was not necessarily psychotic.
Kemper himself took the stand on November 1. What the jury thought of this man who had so easily killed is not on record. They had heard large portions of his detailed confession and already knew what he had to say for himself. He discussed what he knew about his mental state and tried to convince the jury that his need to possess a woman and his acts of necrophilia were clear indications of an unstable state of mind. He had already told his interrogators that he’d felt remorse and that he’d taken to drinking more and more to relieve the pressure. But he had also described the sexual thrill he achieved from removing someone’s head and had said that killing was a narcotic to him. He also described the feeling he had that two beings inhabited his body, and when his killer personality took over, it was kind of like blacking out. He indicated that the same thing had happened when he had shot his grandmother.
The trial lasted less than three weeks. How many of his outrageous admissions were actually true is anyone’s guess. While Kemper had admitted to cannibalism during Dr. Forts analysis, he recanted that later, claiming it was meant for an insanity defense.
On November 8, the six-man, six-woman jury deliberated for five hours, says Frazier, before finding Kemper sane and guilty of eight counts of first-degree murder. Although Kemper hoped to receive the death penalty, he was convicted during a time when the Supreme Court had placed a moratorium on capital punishment and all death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. The death penalty became applicable only to crimes committed after January 1, 1974. The judge asked him what he thought his punishment should be. It wasn’t difficult for him to come up with something, as he’d been thinking about this moment since childhood. He told the judge that he believed he ought to be tortured to death. No such luck. Instead, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Sent first to the California Medical Facility State Prison at Vacaville, north of San Francisco, for observation, and ending up at the maximum security prison at Folsom.
At one point, he requested psychosurgery, which involved inserting a probe into his brain to kill brain tissue and potentially cure him of his compulsive sexual aggression. His request was denied, possibly because authorities feared that he might then petition for release. He became a model inmate, helping to read books on tape for the blind, but when he went before the parole board, he told them he was not fit to go back into society. In prison, he is reported to be cooperative and kind, and would like to forget his past. While he readily participated in requests for interviews and self-examination, hoping he would help others to learn about offenders like himself, he often disliked what some of his interviewers later said about him.
Edmund Kemper remains among the general prison population and is incarcerated at California State Prison, Solano, in Vacaville, California.
"Killing a broad don't make any difference to me. Killing any-fucking-body doesn't make any difference to me." - Kenneth Bianchi
"You can't let a cunt get the upper hand... put them in their place." –
The Hillside Strangler is the media epithet for two men, Kenneth Alessio Bianchi and Angelo Buono, cousins who were convicted of kidnapping, raping, torturing, and killing females from twelve to twenty-eight years old, in the hills above Los Angeles, California over a four month period from late 1977 to early 1978.
Number of victims: 12 confirmed. Span of killings: 1977–1978
Kenneth Alessio Bianchi
Born May 22, 1951 in Rochester, New York, Bianchi’s his birth mother was a seventeen year old alcoholic prostitute who gave him up for adoption to the Bianchi couple. He was their only child. His father worked for American Brake-Shoe Factory. His mother and Angelo Buono’s mother are sisters. Beginning in early childhood he was a compulsive liar. He idolized Prince Valiant. When he was three, his mother took him to a hospital because he couldn't sleep and wet the bed 5 times every night. A quote from the doctor afterwards was, “The mother needs help.”
When Kenneth was five years old his mother consulted a doctor because he lapsed into trances of daydreaming with his eyes rolling back and displayed bouts of inattentiveness. He was quick to anger and threw temper tantrums. He was diagnosed with Petit Mal Syndrome and the physician felt there was no reason for concern. He told Kenneth’s mother that he would grow out of these episodes. He was treated again the following year for the same symptoms. At age eight he was treated at a psychiatric center briefly for mental problems. Due to problems of involuntary urination at age nine, his mother had him wear sanitary napkins. He was treated at DePaul Psychiatric Clinic for “involuntary urination, tics, absenteeism, and behavior problems.” He underwent minor procedures for urination problems. At age 11, he was moved from two schools because of an inability to get along with his teachers. Teachers said he was working below his capacity, was lazy, inattentive, and angry. His IQ was 116. His mother felt the teachers just made him nervous.
Kenneth pulled down a six year old girl girl's panties when he was 12 years old and he showed no emotion over his father’s death when he was 13. Attending the Gates-Chili high school outside of Rochester he was a clean-cut boy, respectful of elder and dates. After he joined a motorcycle club and he got a tattoo that said “Satan’s Own M.C.” He proposed to a girl named Susan when he was 18 but she turned him down. He wrote to a girlfriend claiming he was a suspect in the Alphabet murders and that he had killed a man. Believing this is a sick joke she doesn't take him seriously. He then married Brenda Beck, but the marriage only lasted for a few months as she failed to meet his standards. He dated other women throughout the marriage.
In 1970 at age 19, Kenneth enrolled at Monroe Community College to be trained to work as a police officer. The following year he remarried, but his wife left him after eight months. In 1972 his job application with the sheriff’s office was turned down, and over the next four years he worked as a security guard where he was frequently charged with theft by his employers. He again proposed to Susan and she again turned him down because he did not have a stable job
Bianchi hooks up with Buono
In the summer of 1977 he moved from Rochester, New York, to California, to join his cousin. Angelo Buono was seventeen years older than Kenneth. Buono was a car upholsterer, and a pimp with very brutal tendencies. Buono, a sadist, introduced Bianchi to perverse sex. Kenneth even had sex with one of Angelo’s son’s girlfriends. Things seemed to be looking up for Bianchi after he took a job with the California Land Title Company and his mother sent him enough money to buy a 1972 Cadillac, 4 years old. He moved out of Angelo’s home into his own apartment for a short time before he moved in with Kelli Boyd a girlfriend he met at work, but Bianchi had a brutal temper, and the relationship was violent.
In 1977, he was rejected for jobs with the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Police Reserves and the nearby Glendale police departments. After he bought a fake psychology degree and credentials, Kenneth rented an office space from a legitimate psychologist but he didn’t get much business. He faked that he had cancer as an excuse for not working. He was fired from a job after marijuana was found in his desk. When Kelli became pregnant, she turned down Kenneth's proposal for marriage but they continued to live together.
The Killing Begins
Angelo and Kenneth decided to pimp out young girls as prostitutes to make money for them. They purchased a list of Pimps from Deborah Noble, but Deborah and her friend Yolanda Washington delivered a fake list. Yolanda, 19, a part-time waitress and prostitute had told Angelo where she worked on Sunset Boulevard, so when Angelo and Kenneth found out they paid for a fake list; they sought revenge in the back seat of Kenneth’s car. Yolanda disappeared On October 17, 1977. Her nude body was found near the Forest Lawn Cemetery on October 18, 1977. The corpse had been cleaned and faint marks were visible around the neck, wrists, and ankles where a rope had been used. She had been viciously raped and a piece of cloth was still tied around her neck. She died of strangulation. An autopsy showed she had sex with two men before she died, but because she was a prostitute this was not considered significant evidence.
On October 31, 1977, police were called to an Eagle Rock neighborhood, north of downtown Los Angeles, where the body of a teenage girl, wrapped in a tarp, had been found on a curb in a residential area. The 90lb teenager, was found, bare, raped and strangled, with ligature marks on her ankles, wrists, and neck. Bruises on her neck indicated strangulation. The body had been dumped, indicating she was killed elsewhere. The girl was eventually identified as Judith Miller, a part time prostitute who was barely 15 years old.
On November 6, 1977, the unclothed, strangled, raped, and sodomized body of another woman was found near the Glendale Country Club. Similar to Judy Miller, she had been strangled and had ligature marks similar to Miller’s.. The woman was identified as 21 year old Lissa Teresa Kastin, a waitress, and was last seen leaving work the night before she was discovered. While some of the other victims were prostitutes, Lissa Kastin was a "good girl" who had also worked part time for her father's real estate and construction business. A ballet student, she was saving money to continue her training and hoped to become a professional dancer.
The police didn't take serious notice of these crimes because they figured the victims had high risk lifestyles, until a couple of young girls were murdered. On November 13, 1977, after schoolgirls Dolores Capeda, 12 and Sonja Johnson, 14, turned up missing. They were last seen getting off their school bus and approaching a car. Inside the car reportedly were two men. Their raped, naked bodies with ligature marks were found November 20, by a nine year old boy cleaning up a trash-strewn hillside near Dodger Stadium.
Later that same day, November 20, 1977, 20 year old Kristina Weckler's exposed, sexually assaulted body with ligature marks on the inner arm and neck was found by hikers on a hill near Glendale, California. Unlike previous victims, there were signs of torture, indicated by oozing injection marks. Kristina's murder was eventually recounted by Bianchi, "She was brought into the kitchen and put on the floor and her head was covered with a bag and the pipe from the gas stove was disconnected, put into the bag and then turned on. There may have been marks on her neck because there was a cord put around her neck to make a more complete sealing." They kept her in that position for 90 minutes before she died of asphyxiation.
On November 23, 1977, the badly decomposed body of Jane King, 28, an actress, was found near an off ramp of the Golden State freeway. She had gone missing around November 9. With the continued discovery of bodies in hilly areas, a task force was formed to catch the predator, dubbed the "Hillside Strangler."
On November 29, 1977, police found the stripped, strangled body of Lauren Wagner, 18. She also had been strangled and showed ligature marks. There were also burn marks on her hands indicating she was tortured.
The killings stopped for 2 weeks, but then a ninth killing took place.
On December 13, 1977, police found the body of 17-year-old prostitute Kimberly Martin on a hillside.
The final victim in Los Angeles was discovered on February 16, 1978, when a helicopter spotted an orange Datsun abandoned off a cliff in the Angeles Crest area. Police responded to the scene and found the nude, raped, and ligature marked body of the car's owner, 20-year-old Cindy Hudspeth, in the trunk. This would be Angelo's last murder.
The Stranglers had stopped Catherine Lorre with the intent of abducting her, but after learning that she was the daughter of actor Peter Lorre, who was famous for portraying a serial killer in Fritz Lang´s movie M, they let her go. It was only after the two men were arrested that Catherine Lorre realized whom she had met.
Investigation, Arrest, Trial &Imprisonment
A 30 member law enforcement task force, made up of officers from The Los Angeles Police Department, The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and The Glendale Police Department, began to assume that more than one person was responsible for the murders, even though the media continued to use the singular, Hillside Strangler. The task force began investigating any murders which shared common traits with the “Strangler” murders.
After intensive investigation, police charged cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, Jr. with the crimes. Bianchi had fled to Washington, to be with his girlfriend Kelli Boyd, and newborn son, Ryan, in May 1978. He accepted a position with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Reserve. He was a security guard responsible for a house whose owners were in Europe. He told Karen Mandic and Diane Wilder that a burglar alarm needed repair, and gave them $100 to housesit for a few hours. While showing them the house, Bianchi attacked Karen on the stairs to the basement and strangled her. Then he killed Diane the same way. He placed both bodies in their car, and took them to a heavily wooded area, leaving a trail of evidence that led back to him when police found the bodies in January 1979. On October 22, 1979, Bianchi was arrested in Washington State for raping and murdering Mandic & Wilder. When police searched Bianchi's home they found jewelry worn by Kimberly Martin and Yolanda Washington. He had just watched the movie "Sybil," about a schizophrenic suffering from multiple personalities, triggered by childhood abuse. He claimed one of his multiple personalities committed the crimes. When talking with his lawyer, Dean Brett, Bianchi left large gaps in his memory. Brett asked a memory expert, Dr. John Watkins to look at him. The interview was videotaped. Under hypnosis, Bianchi's evil personality introduced himself as Steve Walker. Steve Walker admitted killing in Bellingham and the Hillside Strangler murders, implicating Buono. He convinced Dr Watkins that he suffered from multiple personality disorder.
LA detective Frank Salerno, watched the hypnosis on tape and noticed that "Steve" referred to himself as "he", instead of "I". He convinced the court to seek a second expert, Dr Ralph Allison. Dr Allison was more convinced than Dr Watkins, and seemed afraid of Steve. Eventually a third psychologist, Dr Martin Orne, tricked Bianchi. Dr. Orne explained to Bianchi that multiple personalities usually involve more than just two personas. In the next hypnosis session Bianchi produced a third persona, Billy, and two others emerged as well. After being exposed as a fake, Bianchi agreed to testify against Buono his cousin to be spared the death penalty in Washington State.
He explained how the prostitutes were easy prey; with fake badges they posed as police officers persuading prostitutes to get in their car, to be taken downtown to be booked for soliciting. With other victims they asked for directions, or pretended to be working on their car, before stuffing them into the vehicle. The victims were raped, strangled and dumped, and some like Kristina Weckler, were tortured.
At the conclusion of Buono's trial in 1983, presiding judge Ronald M. George, who would later become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California, said he would impose the death penalty without a second thought if the jury had allowed it. Bianchi is serving a life sentence in Washington.
In June 1980 Bianchi received a letter from pen-pal Veronica Lynn Compton, 23, asking his advice on a play about a female serial killer. Compton and Bianchi continued to correspond through September 1980. Compton suggested that she would go to Bellingham to kill a woman and place his semen at the scene, since he is a non-secretor, to “show” the strangler was still on the loose. September 16, 1980 Compton visited Bianchi in prison. She received his semen in a rubber glove hidden in a book. She picked out a female victim, but fails at the murder attempt. Compton is arrested in California on October 3, 1980 and convicted in Washington in 1981.
On October 4, 1980, Bianchi wrote a “letter to the world”, stating that he is innocent and Angelo Buono is the true killer. Buono went on trial in 1981, but Bianchi was a terrible witness. He admitted faking multiple personality disorder, but did not know if he was telling the truth about his cousin and was not even sure he himself was guilty.
Judge Ronald George refused Prosecutor Roger Kelly's request to have the case dismissed. The Attorney General produced a new prosecution team and, after his new trial in 1982 Buono was convicted of nine murders, but was spared the death penalty, which clearly upset Judge George. Bianchi is serving a life sentence in Washington State. Angelo Buono, Jr. born October 5, 1934 died in prison of a heart atack September 21, 2002, at age 67.
• Oct 1977 - Yolanda Washington, 19
• Oct 1977 - Judy Miller, 16
• Nov 1977 - Lissa Kastin, 21
• Nov 1977 - Dolores Cepeda, 12
• Nov 1977 - Sonja Johnson, 14
• Nov 1977 - Kristina Weckler, 20
• Nov 1977 - Jane King, 28
• Nov 1977 - Lauren Wagner, 18
• Nov 1977 - Jill Barcomb, 18
• Nov 1977 - Kathleen Robinson, 17
• Dec 1977 - Kimberly Martin, 22
• Feb 1978 - Cindy Hudspeth, 20
• Jan 1979 - Karen Mandic, 22
• Jan 1979 - Diane Wilder, 27
"Serial killers do, on a small scale, what governments do on a large one. They are products of our times and these are bloodthirsty times." -Richard Ramirez
Richard Ramírez is an American serial killer, sex offender and burglar awaiting execution on California's death row at San Quentin State Prison. Prior to his arrest, the media dubbed the unknown serial killer "Night Stalker", due to his apparent interest in the occult and Satanism.
Number of victims: 15 killings & 31 attacks; found guilty of 13 counts of murder,
5 attempted murders, and 11 sexual assaults
Span of killings: June 28, 1984–August 24, 1985
The Night Stalker’s Life
Richard Ramírez was born on February 29, 1960 in El Paso, Texas, the youngest of five children to working class Mexican immigrants Julián Ramírez and Mercedes Muñoz. As a child, he was remembered as being quiet and a loner by those who knew him. When Ramírez was two, he developed a contusion on his head after a dresser fell on him, and he had to receive over 30 stitches. He also suffered from grand mal seizures and was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy when he was six. By the age of 10, Ramírez reportedly began to spend nights in cemeteries.
When Ramírez was 13 years old, he began to spend a great deal of time with his cousin Mike, a Special Forces Vietnam War veteran. Mike fascinated Ramírez with Polaroid photographs of Vietnamese women whom he boasted of killing and torturing. The two spent time smoking marijuana and driving around. According to Ramírez, during that time Mike taught him how to shoot and cut people for "maximum effect".
At a subsequent point, Mike murdered his wife while Ramírez was standing 2-3 feet away. After that, Ramírez started skipping school, and he continued smoking weed and began sniffing glue by the seventh grade. He soon took to stealing, in part to support his drug use. He attended Thomas Jefferson High School in El Paso, Texas, dropping out before completing even one year. During this time period, Ramírez was arrested twice for possession of illegal substances.
He thereafter lived the life of a slacker, smoking pot and living on junk food. Because of his poor hygiene and sugar-rich diet, Ramírez' teeth eventually started to rot. His habitual drug abuse, which had by this time progressed to daily use of cocaine, led to several arrests for possession as well as a charge for misdemeanor theft. Ramírez was arrested twice for auto theft in California; once in Pasadena in 1981 and once in Los Angeles in 1984.
Years later Ramírez' father would maintain that Richard was a "good boy" whose drug use "put him out of control". Richard often drew the five-point pentagram, a symbol sometimes associated with Satanism, on his own body. At his trial, he would shout "Hail Satan!" in open court. Ramírez was a big fan of hard rock and heavy metal bands that sang about hell and the devil. He was said to be a fan of AC/DC and, in particular, their song "Night Prowler".
The Night Stalker’s Victims
On June 28, 1984, following a night of shooting cocaine, Ramírez removed a screen and entered the window of 79 year old Jennie Vincow, of Glassell Park, Los Angeles. Vincow's son, Jack, discovered her body the next afternoon. She was sprawled out on the bed, stabbed repeatedly, her throat slashed so deeply she was nearly decapitated. Ramírez also ransacked her apartment. Fingerprints were recovered from the window screen. The autopsy later revealed signs of sexual assault.
Maria Hernandez and Dayle Okazaki
On March 17, 1985, 22 year old Maria Hernandez was accosted as she left her car in the garage of the condominium that she shared with a roommate, Dayle Okazaki, age 34, in Rosemead. Hernandez described Ramírez as tall and dressed entirely in black, with a baseball cap pulled low over his brow. He was holding a gun. Ramírez shot at her face as she raised her hands in self-defense. The bullet hit Hernandez in the hand, having been deflected by her keys. She fell to the ground and Ramírez pushed Hernandez aside and entered the condominium. Hernandez lay still for some time until she heard the door closing, whereupon she went outside. As she approached the front door of the condominium, Ramírez was leaving. She ducked down behind a car as Ramírez raised the gun at her. Hernandez asked him not to shoot her again and he lowered the gun and ran away.
Hernandez entered the condominium through the front door, and found Okazaki lying dead on the kitchen floor. She had been shot through the forehead from a short distance. Her blouse had been pulled up. Hernandez then called the police. Later an autopsy retrieved a .22-caliber bullet from Okazaki's skull.
Outside police found a blue baseball-style cap with the name AC/DC on the front. At trial, a witness later testified that the cap looked like one Ramírez wore. Hernandez also identified Ramírez as her attacker at a police lineup and later at trial.
That same night after the assault of Maria Sophia Hernandez and the murder of Dayle Okazaki, a car driven by Tsia-Lian Yu was forced to a stop by a car driven by a man later identified as Ramírez, near Monterey Park. Ramírez approached Yu's car and pulled her out.
Joseph Duenas stepped out onto the balcony of his second-floor apartment after hearing a woman screaming for help. Duenas went inside and called the police, then stepped back onto the balcony. Duenas observed the scene as the man pushed Yu away, got into her car and drove away. As Ramírez drove, he passed a car containing Jorge Gallegos and his girlfriend. Gallegos saw the driver’s profile and noted the number of the license plate of the car. Both men later testified at trial.
Yu crawled a short distance away and lay still. Police found Yu breathing but unconscious. Yu stopped breathing and CPR was administered until the ambulance arrived. She was pronounced dead at the Lake House Inn. The autopsy revealed that she had been shot twice in the chest at close range, and the bullet recovered was found to be fired from the same gun used to kill Dayle Okazaki.
Vincent and Maxine Zazzara
On the morning of March 27, 1985, two more victims were discovered. Vincent Zazzara, age 64, was a retired investment counselor who operated his own pizzeria. He was found by his son Peter, who had come to visit. After ringing the bell several times he let himself in. Vincent was on the sofa in the den, shot through the left temple. He appeared to have died instantly. His wife, Maxine Zazzara, age 44, was found stretched out in her bed, face up and naked. Her eyes had been gouged out and she had been stabbed repeatedly around the face, neck, abdomen, and groin areas. There was a large T-shaped knife wound in her left breast. An autopsy later revealed that, like her husband, she had first been shot in the head and most likely died instantly, and the stabbing and mutilation occurred after death. The house had been ransacked and burglarized.
William and Lillian Doi
On April 15, two weeks after the murders of Vincent and Maxine Zazzara, Richard Ramírez returned to Monterey Park and broke into the home of William and Lillian Doi, ages 66 and 63 respectively, waking them from their sleep. Ramírez first shot Mr. Doi right above the upper lip, causing the bullet to go through his tongue and become lodged in his throat. Then Ramírez beat him into unconsciousness. After doing this he went into Mrs. Doi's room, slapped her, and warned her not to scream, saying "Shut up or I'll kill you, bitch". He bound her hands behind her back with thumb cuffs to keep her still as he searched the house. After he found what he wanted, he returned to the bedroom and raped Mrs. Doi.
Mr. Doi, however, was not dead. Despite his severe head wound, he managed to crawl to Mrs. Doi's room where he dialed 911. He was unable to tell the dispatcher what the problem was, but the call was traced and an ambulance and patrol car were dispatched to the Doi's address. William Doi was rushed to the hospital but died in the ambulance. Lillian Doi was treated for her injuries and was able to give the police a description of the couple's attacker.
Malvia Keller and Blanche Wolfe
The attacks continued, throwing the city of Los Angeles into a state of panic. One police officer referred to the killer-rapist as the "Valley Intruder". Several area newspapers dubbed him the "Midnight Stalker". In the spring of 1985, the frequency of his killing escalated, and by that summer reached its peak.
On May 29, Malvia Keller, 83, and her invalid sister, Blanche Wolfe, 80, were found in Keller's Monrovia home. Both women had been beaten severely with a hammer. When the police found the hammer later, the handle was discovered split. Wolfe had a puncture wound above one ear. An inverted pentagram with the tip pointing down had been drawn in lipstick on Keller's inner thigh. A second pentagram was found on the bedroom wall over Wolfe's body. Ramírez had raped Keller, the older sister. Police experts estimated that the sisters had been there about two days after the attack before being discovered. Doctors were able to revive Wolfe, but Keller died soon afterwards.
On May 30, 1985, Ruth Wilson, 41, was awakened in the middle of the night by a flashlight shining in her face. Ramírez had silently broken into her Burbank home and was holding a gun to her head. He ordered her to get out of bed and go to her 12-year-old son's room. Ramírez put the gun to the child's head, warning Wilson not to make a sound. He then handcuffed the boy and locked him in a closet.
Assuming that he was only a burglar, she offered to give Ramírez her most valuable possession, a gold and diamond necklace. She led him to the dresser in her bedroom where she kept it, hoping it would placate him. After rummaging through the house, he ordered Wilson to put her hands together behind her back, tying them with pantyhose. He then pushed her onto the bed and raped her. She told Ramírez that he must have had a "very unhappy life" to have done this to her. He reportedly told her that she looked "pretty good" for her age and said he was going to let her live although he had killed many others. When she complained that the pantyhose around her wrists were cutting off her circulation, he loosened them and brought her a robe before releasing her son from the closet and handcuffing them side by side. He then left the scene.
Afterward, the boy was able to get to a phone and call 911. When the police asked Wilson to describe her attacker, she told them that he was a tall Hispanic man with long dark hair.
Mary Louise Cannon
On July 2, 1985 the body of 75-year-old Mary Louise Cannon was found in her home in Arcadia. She had been beaten, her throat slit, and her home had been ransacked.
On July 5, 1985 Ramírez returned to Arcadia and savagely beat 16-year-old Whitney Bennett, a junior at La Cañada High School, with a tire iron. Identified in some later accounts under the pseudonym "Deidre Palmer", she needed 478 stitches but survived her injuries. According to Philip Carlo's 1996 biography, Bennett later married Mike Salerno, the son of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Sergeant Frank Salerno, the lead detective in both the Night Stalker case as well as the case of the Hillside Stranglers, after meeting the younger Salerno while waiting to testify at trial.
Joyce Lucille Nelson
Two days later, on July 7, 1985, the body of Joyce Lucille Nelson, age 61, was found beaten to death by a blunt object in her home in Monterey Park. Nelson was employed at Coast Envelope in Los Angeles, California.
Later that same night (July 7, 1985) in Monterey Park, Sophie Dickman, a 63-year-old registered nurse, was awakened at around 3:30 a.m. by a "tall, skinny man dressed in black". The man, who fit the description of the "Night Stalker", was pointing a gun at her. He ordered her out of bed and into the bathroom, warning her to be quiet. After ransacking the house, he returned to her, forcing her back onto her bed. He attempted to rape and sodomize her but could not maintain an erection. He was frustrated and humiliated, and she was sure he would kill her. He screamed at her furiously, but then gathered the valuables he wanted and left. She was astounded that he had spared her life.
Lela and Max Kneiding
Less than two weeks later, on July 20, 1985, Ramírez went to a new location in the Los Angeles area, Glendale, to the home of Lela and Max Kneiding, both 66. He also brought along a new weapon, a machete. Although all the windows and doors were locked, the killer cut a screen on the French doors, reached in and unlocked them. The machete was used on Max's neck and then the killer attempted to slash Lela, but missed. Ramírez pulled out his .22 pistol and attempted to shoot but the gun jammed. As the victims begged for their lives, Ramírez cleared the gun and shot them to death. Then, he mutilated them after death with the machete. The house was ransacked. Ramírez had a police scanner with him and fled the scene when a "shots fired" call came over the radio.
Christopher and Virginia Petersen
On August 6, 1985, Ramírez targeted another couple, Christopher and Virginia Petersen, ages 38 and 27. Ramírez broke into the couple's Northridge home through a sliding glass door, which led to the living room. Before he entered their bedroom, he cocked his .22 automatic pistol. Virginia was a light sleeper and awoke to a metallic "click". Ramírez advanced towards her with both hands on the gun. She yelled at him and he told her to shut up as he shot Virginia under the left eye. The bullet went through the roof of her mouth and down her throat; exiting out the back of her neck. Chris awoke and in the initial confusion thought it was some kind of game. He looked at his wife's face and was shot by Ramírez in the right temple but the bullet did not pierce Chris's skull. He jumped up and attacked Ramírez only to be shot at two more times. Both shots missed. As they wrestled, Chris was flung over the killer's back and onto the floor. Ramírez fled out of the house the same way he gained entry. Chris and Virginia both survived the brutal attack.
Elyas and Sakina Abowath
Two nights after the attack on the Petersens, Ramírez lashed out again, this time in Diamond Bar. Elyas Abowath, 35, was shot in the head and killed while he slept. With Elyas dead, Ramírez molested Elyas Abowath's wife, Sakina, 29. He raped her, sodomized her, and forced her to perform oral sex on him. Experts who profiled him believe that this was the way he preferred to attack, by killing any men and raping the women.
New Hunting Grounds
Los Angeles County was in a state of disarray; the Night Stalker's crimes were becoming more frequent. The off-periods between his crimes were shortening, and his severity was escalating. There was little doubt that he would strike again. But as it turned out, Ramírez decided to abandon his familiar territory. After the attack on the Abowaths, he headed north.
Peter and Barbara Pan
On August 18, 1985, Peter and Barbara Pan were found in their blood-soaked bed in Lake Merced, a housing development in San Francisco. Both had been shot in the head. Peter Pan, a 66-year-old accountant, was pronounced dead at the scene. Mrs. Pan, 64, survived but would be an invalid for the rest of her life. Scrawled on the wall in lipstick were an inverted pentagram and the words "Jack the Knife". Local police determined that the killer had come in through an open window. Fearing that Los Angeles's Night Stalker had moved to their precinct, homicide investigators sent a bullet removed from Mr. Pan to a forensic team in Los Angeles. The bullet matched others recovered from two of the Los Angeles County crime scenes.
The Terror Spreads
Panic ran rampant through the city of San Francisco. To quell fears, Mayor Dianne Feinstein talked publicly about the hunt for the Night Stalker, but in so doing angered detectives by giving away too many details of his crimes which, they felt, impeded their investigation. Specifically, Ms. Feinstein announced that the authorities now knew what type of firearm the Night Stalker used, and had copies of his footprints. The next morning, after reading the newspaper, Ramírez tossed his gun and shoes off the Golden Gate Bridge.
But the San Francisco police caught a break when the manager of the Bristol Hotel in the Tenderloin district came forward and claimed that a young man who fit the Night Stalker's description had stayed at his establishment from time to time over the past year and a half. The manager remembered that the man had rotten teeth and smelled bad. The police checked the room in which he had last stayed. On the bathroom door they found a drawn pentagram. The man had checked out during the day on August 17. Mr. and Mrs. Pan had been attacked that night.
Investigators then located a man from El Sobrante (east of San Francisco) who said he had purchased some jewelry—a diamond ring and a pair of cufflinks—from a young man who fit the Night Stalker's description. Further investigation revealed that these items had belonged to Mr. Pan.
William Carns and his fiancée
On August 24, while the police in San Francisco were scrambling to find the mysterious young man with rotten teeth, the Night Stalker had found another couple whom he planned to make his victims. However, this couple was not in the Bay Area but in Mission Viejo, 50 miles south of Los Angeles.
Bill Carns and his 29-year-old fiancée had just drifted off to sleep when they were suddenly awakened by loud gunshots in the room. Instinctively, she reached out to her fiancé, but he had already been seriously wounded. Before she realized what was happening, the intruder grabbed her by the hair and pulled her into another bedroom where he tied her ankles and wrists with neckties. The man then asked her if she knew who he was, admitting that he was the killer who was getting all the coverage in the press and on television. He rummaged through the house, looking for valuables, but there was nothing small enough to steal easily. Angry that the couple had so little, he returned to her and raped her twice.
Afraid of what he might do next, she told him to look in a drawer where she knew her fiancé kept some money. "Swear to Satan", he told her. She did what he wanted and swore to Satan that she was telling the truth. Ramírez found the money, and as he counted it, he allegedly mocked her, telling her that this was what she was worth. She hoped that this was the end of it, that he would leave now that he had the money. But he was not through with her. "Swear your love for Satan", he demanded. Afraid of what he might do next, she did as he asked. "I love Satan", she mumbled. He ordered her to say it again and again. He yanked her by the hair and made her kneel, then forced her to perform oral sex on him. When he was finished, he stepped back and stared at her. Still bound by the neckties, she was certain that he was going to shoot her just as he had shot her fiancé. However, Ramírez suddenly laughed at her and fled. She quickly worked herself free of the neckties and called 911.
On October 22, 2009, San Francisco Police announced that Ramirez had been linked to the 1984 death of 9-year-old Mei Leung. A San Francisco Homicide Detective submitted DNA evidence from the crime which yielded a cold hit to Ramirez's DNA profile.
"You maggots make me sick. I will be avenged. Lucifer dwells within all of us!"-Richard "The Night Stalker" Ramirez
Pursuit and capture
Earlier on the night of August 24, a teenager who had been working on his motorcycle in his parents' garage had noticed an orange Toyota driving into the neighborhood, and he noticed it again as it was leaving. It struck him as suspicious, so he wrote down the license plate number. The next morning, he called the police about the car. With the plate number, the police were able to determine that the 1976 orange Toyota had been stolen in Los Angeles's Chinatown while the owner was dining at a restaurant. An alert was put out for the car, and two days later it was located in the Rampart section of Los Angeles. Having connected the vehicle to Ramirez, the police kept the car under surveillance for nearly 24 hours in the hope that the Night Stalker would return for it, but he did not. A forensics team scoured the car for evidence and came up with one good fingerprint which they sent to Sacramento for analysis. Hours later the computer had found a match. The print belonged to Ricardo "Richard" Leyva Múñoz Ramírez. Further analysis revealed that this print matched a print taken from a window sill at the Pans' house near San Francisco.
On August 31, Ramírez arrived in the downtown Greyhound bus station in Los Angeles, after coming back from his brother's home in Tucson, Arizona. As Ramírez was leaving the bus station, he noticed that the area was flooded with cops, but managed to slip away unnoticed, unaware that he was just recently identified as the Night Stalker. As he walked into a corner store, the owners noticed his face from the mugshots, and one of them shouted out "El Matador" ("The Killer"). Ramírez turned to the side, saw the newspaper rack with his face on several front covers, grabbed a copy of La Opinión, and ran.
Ramírez ran two miles in 12 minutes, heading east from downtown Los Angeles. Ramírez then tried to steal Faustino Pinon's red Ford Mustang. Ramírez, who was wearing a black Jack Daniel's t-shirt, had been hopping fences between yards, searching for a car he could steal easily. He had been chased off the property next door to Pinon's home and wound up in Pinon's yard. Ramírez saw that the Ford Mustang parked in the driveway was unlocked and the keys were in the ignition. He jumped in and started the engine, but had not noticed that the car's owner was underneath it, working on the transmission. As soon as Pinon, 56, heard the engine starting, he rolled out from under the car. Angry that someone was touching his prized possession, Pinon reached through the window and grabbed Ramírez around the neck. Ramírez warned Pinon that he had a gun, but Pinon ignored him. Ramírez put the car into gear and tried to drive away, but Pinon would not let go of him. The car crashed into a fence, then into the garage.
Pinon got the door open, pulled Ramírez out, and threw him to the ground. Ramírez scrambled to his feet and ran across the street just as 28-year-old Angelina de la Torres was getting into her Ford Granada. He ran up to her car and stuck his head through the driver's window, demanding that she give him the keys, threatening in Spanish to kill her if she did not. She screamed for help, and her husband Manuel, 32, came running from the backyard. According to Nancy Skelton in the Los Angeles Times, he grabbed a length of metal fence post as he passed through the gate along the side of the house. In the meantime, Jose Burgoin, who had heard the struggle in Faustino Pinon's driveway, had called the police. He ran outside to help Pinon, and when he heard Angelina scream, he called to his sons (Jaime, 21, and Julio, 17) for assistance. As the brothers ran to help Mrs. De la Torres, they saw the stranger scrambling across the front seat of her car. Jaime recognized him from photographs in the newspapers and on television and yelled that Ramirez was the killer. Ramírez ran, with the Burgoin brothers and Mr. de la Torres in pursuit; de la Torres caught up with him and hit him across the neck with the metal post he was still carrying.
Ramírez kept running, but the three men followed with de la Torres hitting him repeatedly from behind. Jaime Burgoin then caught up with Ramírez and punched him. Ramírez stumbled and fell but quickly got up and continued running with de la Torres and the Burgoin brothers again pursuing. Finally, de la Torres swung hard and hit Ramírez on the head. Ramirez collapsed to the ground. Jaime and Jose Burgoin closed in again and the three held him down until the police arrived.
One day after Ramírez's face was made public he was in custody and behind bars. Upon his arrest, Ramírez, 25, was charged with 14 murders and 31 other felonies related to his 1985 spree. He was also charged with a 15th murder in San Francisco and rape and attempted murder charges in Orange County.
Trial and conviction
Jury selection for the case started on July 22, 1988.
The Los Angeles Times reported that some jail employees overheard Ramírez planning to shoot the prosecutor with a gun, which Ramírez intended to have smuggled into the courtroom. Consequently, a metal detector was installed outside of the courtroom and intensive searches were conducted on people entering. On August 14, the trial was interrupted because one of the jurors, Phyllis Singletary, did not arrive to the courtroom. Later that day she was found shot dead in her apartment. The jury was terrified, wondering if Ramírez had directed this event from inside his prison cell, and if he could reach other jury members. However, Ramírez was not responsible for Singletary's death; she had been shot and killed by her boyfriend, who later killed himself with the same weapon in a hotel. The alternative juror who replaced Singletary was too frightened to return to her home.
On September 20, 1989, Ramírez was found guilty of 13 counts of murder, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults, and 14 burglaries.
During the penalty phase of the trial on November 7, 1989, he was sentenced to death in California's gas chamber. The trial of Richard Ramírez was one of the most difficult and longest criminal trials in American history. Nearly 1,600 prospective jurors were interviewed. More than one hundred witnesses testified, and while a number of witnesses had a difficult time recalling certain facts four years after the crimes, others were quite certain of the identity of Ramírez.
By the time of the trial, Ramírez had fans that were writing him letters and paying him visits. Freelance magazine editor Doreen Lioy wrote him nearly 75 letters after his capture. He proposed to her, and on October 3, 1996, they were married in California's San Quentin State Prison.
On August 7, 2006, his first round of state appeals ended unsuccessfully when the California Supreme Court upheld his convictions and death sentence.
On September 7, 2006, the California Supreme Court denied his request for a rehearing.
Ramírez was a fan of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC and, according to police, wore an AC/DC shirt and left an AC/DC hat at a crime scene. The song "Night Prowler", from the Highway to Hell album, which describes sneaking into a girl's room at night, was allegedly Ramírez's favorite song of the group and helped develop his nickname, "Night Stalker".
Years later, the incident was described on the AC/DC edition of VH1's Behind the Music. The band explained that while the song "Night Prowler" had been taken into a dark, murderous connotation by Ramírez, it was actually about a boy sneaking into his girlfriend's bedroom at night without her parents knowing.
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