Posts Tagged ‘death penalty’

Gary Ray Bowles – The I-95 Serial Killer

You can kill somebody pretty easy if you have the mindset for it.” Gary Ray Bowles

Gary Ray Bowles I-95 serial killerGary Ray Bowles fits the outward ideal of – “He doesn’t look like a serial killer.” With his rather unassuming ways and almost demure manner, his mild outside appearance doesn’t accurately portray the vicious serial killer lurking within.

The year was 1994 and over the course of that calendar year, Bowles would murder a known total of six men. Bowles’ modus operandi was to prostitute himself to his victims who he would later beat, strangle to death and rob. His use of their stolen credit cards helped the police and FBI track him down. Throughout his period of committing murders, Bowles didn’t exactly work hard to conceal his activities or identity. Unlike some serial killers who take great pains to hide and remain concealed, Bowles for example would carelessly use his victim’s credit cards in full view of store security cameras.

Bowles has stated he had a very abusive childhood that included beatings and later abandonment. His mother married consecutive abusive men who routinely beat Gary, his brother and mother. When the abuse didn’t stop, Gary and his brother severely beat their second stepfather. When their mother chose to stay with the abuser, Gary and his brother decided to leave home for a life on the streets. His upbringing no doubt helped create the rage that would later manifest itself in a series of killings along the I-95 highway corridor from Florida to Maryland.

The sheer brutality of the murders and smart police work early on in the investigation combined to lead investigators towards the idea of a serial killer on the loose. They were so sure that Bowles would kill again he landed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list and appeared on the television show America’s Most Wanted.

“I just wanted to kill as many people as possible before they caught me.”

While Bowles never admitted to being gay, he did engage in sexual activities with men for financial gain. This was to be Bowles’ main source of income for many years. Though during the height of killings he was working through a staffing agency in Jacksonville Beach, Florida via an assumed name – Timothy Whitfield.

Bowles did have relationships with women, including one relationship that ended with Bowles going to prison for six years for beating and sexually assaulting her. He would also serve another prison sentence for unarmed robbery of an elderly lady.

Gary Ray Bowles was sentenced to death after having his first case reversed by the Florida Supreme Court. He was convicted for the murders of three people and is now awaiting his fate on death row.

If you have any information about this serial killer or any other, please contact us and let us know. You can remain anonymous.

Article by Roy Whyte. Visit his Google+ page for more.

Henry Lee Lucas

How could one man conceive of committing three hundred killings? Henry Lee Lucas was probably the only serial killer whose killings had an unmistakably rational basis in his psychological upbringing. Born in 1936, this man would challenge law enforcement to prove, disprove, and prove again just which killings he was culpable for. Was Lucas making the whole thing up, or was his legal representation managing a master stroke of defense?

The childhood of Henry Lee Lucas set the stage for a violently unbalanced life and an irrational attitude towards socialization, sexuality, and crime. Yet the mind of Henry Lee Lucas would prove sharp as a tack, prompting cynical law enforcement personnel to doubt the viability of the unsolved cases. The boy who was stabbed by a brother in the eye and dressed like a girl by his mother would make the front page of American newspapers and on news bellwether “60 Minutes”.

Found guilty of the second degree murder of his mother, Lucas had been let out of prison in 1970 due to overcrowding. The visual image of Henry Lee Lucas, his face distorted by a destroyed eye, frightened a generation of awestruck Americans tantalized by his tales of triple digit killing. In an era when such killings were just beginning to make the news, the deeds of Henry Lee Lucas astonished a rapt public. Law enforcement tripped over each other trying to close cases. The television and newspaper coverage detailed double digit confessions of killings allegedly performed for no other reason than a random taste for blood.

Lucas never denied being raised in want and claimed “I hated everybody.” Despite a tendency to brag, Henry Lee Lucas was believed culpable for several dozen filed murder cases. Yet if Henry Lee Lucas was to be believed, there were hundreds more waiting to be discovered. Could the uneducated son of poor mountain people with little to no resources really kill that many people without witnesses or evidence?

People across the United States were shocked. Born August 23, 1936, and raised during the prewar depression, Henry Lee Lucas represented the gap between decent childhoods and those endured in a poverty stricken upbringing. Education and books, music and hobbies were nonexistent. The accusations that came later that Henry Lee Lucas manufactured his confessions of serial murder out of his imagination asks the question: where did he get the inspiration?

Any forensic psychological analysis begins with the childhood of the killer. Henry Lee Lucas exhibited the logical gestalt of a serial killer in young adulthood, with projected tales of strangling or sexual assault. While Henry Lee Lucas committed later murders, it is not clear how many of his confessed murders were actually performed by him. At some point his mother pursued him, and he killed her in alleged self-defense. The psychological stamp of emotional liberation with the physical act of killing was cemented.

Analysts suggest the heightened standard of living enjoyed by Henry Lee Lucas after arrest encouraged his performance as a “star” serial murder confessor. Observers of the Henry Lee Lucas phenomenon point to perks and privileges afforded this dirt-poor drifter, who became escalated to the level of a celebrity during his confessional era. Was the temptation to keep the gravy train of attention and privileges too much to shut down?

The Texas Rangers formed a Henry Lee Lucas task force to contend with the media demands and details of case files in coordination with law enforcement. One such case was the ‘Orange Socks ” killing, so named because the victim was never identified. The Investigators observed that Henry Lee Lucas had access to case files and pictures which may have led to spurious confessions.

Sexual assault and serial killing murder are not always constant companions. But Henry grew up the child of alcoholics, a silent observer of an extremely depraved family household. Confusion of ideas and perceptions as well as budding sexual emotions and physical desires took a predictable route towards sadistic pleasures. Episodic abuse piled high with imagery of violence, almost no security, and no escape fortified Henry Lee Lucas into a killer in the making.

Lucas indicated in interviews he was treated like “the dog of the family.” Little to no higher education paired with a juvenile record meant a series of road trips seasoned with episodic killings. Henry Lee Lucas would survive a brutal childhood to become possibly the most prolific serial killer America has known. But there is a cryptic matter of his verity in his confessions that blurs the legal record of his murders.

Viola and Andersen Lucas created little or no security for the child. Andrew Lucas, Henry’s brother, ended up cutting out the boy’s eye while they were playing in the yard. Henry Lee Lucas distinguished himself at school with deeds and acts that frightened other children. Lucas himself ran away at fourteen years of age. It’s possible that the signatures of serial killer incubation, arson, zoosadism, and fledgling killing were occurring at this point.

Starting with an very bad upbringing, the serial killer “recipe” was contributed to by almost every factor. Henry Lee Lucas started life growing up dirt poor in Blacksburg, West Virginia. Beaten regularly by his mother, Henry experienced brain damage. Henry lived with eight half brothers and his mother was over fifty years of age when he was born. No exaggeration of his childhood privation can be made.

By the time Lucas was of age, his messages regarding sexuality, acceptable behavior, and volition were embroidered with decades of depraved firsthand images and experiences. He may have strangled the first woman he tried to sleep with, and later experienced homosexual and bisexual periods of his life. Crime was a natural choice and by 1954, Henry Lee Lucas was committed to a psychiatric hospital after murdering a young woman.

But critics challenge that Lucas disliked his first institutional commitment. His experience outside the walls of a secure place like a hospital would make a modern dwelling and regular meals manna from heaven. Was the confession pattern merely to warrant imprisonment? One sheriff later commented that in jail, Henry Lee Lucas had “indoor plumbing and three squares a day.” The motivation to stay in prison was tangible.

Henry’s mother was a mountain woman prostitute, his paternal image a legless man who lived drunk. Henry’s father was known as “No Legs Lucas”, and his mother would entertain customers in front of the children. In contrast to this kind of life, a jailhouse existence showered with honors, attention limelight, jet trips, and media attention may have convinced Henry Lee Lucas that a serial killer’s resume could work out well for him.

Lucas fought being discharged and claimed a kill once out of the sanitarium gates. Lucas would then marry, cohabit, and stay with relatives, leaving a trail of abductions, kidnappings, molestations and assaults along the way. The Lucas lifestyle augured little work, no fixed schedule and practically no colleagues or mentors. Very few people knew of the whereabouts of this man throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s except in passing. Robbery and assault were his modus operandi.

Lucas met a man name Ottis Toole, who was even more committed to killing than he was. Ottis Toole achieved a dubious distinction in a murder career of his own. Toole and Lucas even captured a bride for Lucas after their domestic menage with Becky’s mother soured. Michigan, Texas, Pennsylvania, and more states were visited by the random violence. if Lucas is to be believed, he and Toole left the rural areas they traveled strewn with abandoned bodies and corpses.

Eventually Lucas went too far. His child bride got religion and threatened to confess one too many of his sins with her own. Staging an exit, he then faked his way back into town with a tale that Becky had left him. Becky was missed, and when her relative asked too many questions Lucas killed her as well. Observers converged around Lucas until after his arrest his interview turned up a surprise. Lucas claimed to be responsible for many, many more deaths.

The long trail of claimed murders and decades going without capture rendered Henry Lee Lucas a media celebrity. But did the prison life appeal to Lucas so much he invented the fish story of more murders, or did drugs play a role in his miraculous killing spree? Lucas was undoubtedly culpable of his mother’s death as well as Becky, who he said was, “the only girl he ever loved.”

Henry Lee Lucas had to have sex with something that was dead, and the motif for the killings as a mere “thrill” activity can be discounted. But when questions were asked of the broke drifter after the arrest, bodies started piling up. The alleged killings were random, opportunistic crimes. Lucas did not single out rich victims to rob, like the Internet Killer, or save trophies for resale, like the Green River Killer.

Found guilty of the Orange Socks killing in 1984, almost nobody could tell if Henry Lee Lucas had actually achieved a serial killer record on the basis of an extended pattern of falsification. Were there 600 killings or just over a few dozen? How many were the deeds of Lucas and not related tales from Ottis Toole? But still, Henry Lee Lucas had an undeniable history of killing people.

Questions arose out of the Lucas confessions. Did Lucas really have sexual coitus with his mother’s corpse? How much a role did the celebrity status of Henry Lee Lucas and the involvement with the media by law enforcement tainted the Lucas confessions? Just what fueled the need for a triple digit killing record of Lucas’ confessions? Over 214 killings had their case files closed. Was the recantation a legal ploy to avoid the death penalty?

June 30th 1998 was the scheduled date of the death for Henry Lee Lucas. Former U.S. President George W. Bush was Governor of Texas then. Governor Bush commuted no other sentence but the Death Row sentence of Lucas.

In 2001 in jail, Henry Lee Lucas died of heart failure. While the evidence clearly points to him murdering at least 3 people, Lucas was to take credit for and confess to more than 3000 total victims. He later recanted to a researcher stating that he wasn’t a serial killer after all. We will never know for sure.

Article by Roy Whyte. Visit his Google+ page for more.

David Berkowitz

The lives of five young women and one man, their families’ grief, and the tension of a city under siege are the heritage of the Son of Sam killer, one of the most notorious serial killers ever. North and South of La Guardia airport, inside New York City for about a year residents never knew when a pair of hands would reach for them, or when a gunshot would herald their last breath. Killing some but leaving seven others wounded, the “Son of Sam” haunted the Bronx and Brooklyn streets in the dawn hours, leaving a grisly aftermath.

The city of New York was undeniably held in the grip of terror in the mid-1970’s by a Brooklyn born killer known as the “Son of Sam”. The Son of Sam was also known by his weapon of choice as the “44-caliber killer”. But the pathology of this killer was so twisted that it was not the anonymous city life or face-in-the-crowd anomaly, or even sexual lust, that drove him wild, but a hybrid chain of attempts of one man’s mind to make sense of it all.

Born in 1953, David Berkowitz might have been any child in the northernmost precincts of NYC. The child of kosher Orthodox Jews, Pearl and Nathan Berkowitz enjoyed their family life with their adopted son. But the concept of being an adopted child and the unwelcome peer mockery for this in a time of little tolerance subdued Berkowitz’ spirit. An only child, Berkowitz would have few confidantes and no peers to know of his internal torments.

The motivation of a serial killer has been in many cases a psychotic aberration, a sexual lust for gratification in deviant methods, even displaced rage at a woman or persons unidentified. But the “Son of Sam” followed a different path. Berkowitz’ feelings of guilt, shame, and lack of genuine connection to others energized an apathy toward authority and even his father. The cryptic notes the killer sent to newspapers later would reveal an isolated, weirdly erratic psychological entity mismatched with typical communication manners and cultural norms.

David Berkowitz had a Southeast Bronx childhood. He would paint the atmosphere of his childhood in New York in later life with a layer of anxiety and mortal fear. The cultural phenomenon of anxiety, fear, trepidation, and public attitudes toward crime and serial killer rampages was in a nutshell best encapsulated by the sensation of “Son of Sam” killings. The source of this murderous rage was all too human. Feelings of total psychological anger and rage had bred an angry man with no outlet but total assault left to his mind.

The perspective of the contextual environment must be considered in any discussion of the “Son of Sam” killings. Unknown at that time were hateful notes and cryptic threats published in newspapers alongside reports of the latest grisly killings. The “Son of Sam” would later be an armed forces sharpshooter. Dealing with life’s tribulations was too much for him. But the serial killer personality eventuating the murders was looking for revenge for past crimes perpetrated upon him and release for an isolated and unhappy life.

Later identified as David Berkowitz, this serial killer raised a public terror palpable in the memories of New Yorkers even today. But the allegations of mental instability and self-identified satanic pursuits don’t quite mesh with the lack of remorse shown and the irrational behaviour observed in the courtroom. The conflicts driving the Son of Sam were deeply inside his interior landscape, not evident to the naked eye.

Even as the interior psyche of David Berkowitz sought a bulwark against the random chance and unhappy tragedy of his life, no thread of stability remained. Berkowitz in young adulthood was a wounded, paranoid, delusional psyche looking for a rebalancing that would never happen.

The roots of the Son of Sam killings were based on perceived familial rejections, discovery of his birth mother and his conception circumstances, and paranoid stress and frustration. Richard David Falco was his birth name, and he discovered a birth history unappetizing to his fantasies and delusions. But his suppressed anger and rage at being “tricked”, forced a psychotic break. The first killing occurred after this period, exacerbated by barking dogs near his apartment.

Experts note that serial killers often take a long time to develop the active form of their nascent fantasies. When the Son of Sam was caught, many people were surprised to find the killer such a young man, instead of a bitter oldster. But inside, David Berkowitz was in truth a bitter old man. The anger and fruitless anxiety of his entire life found an outlet in fantasies of murder acted out against hapless strangers who could “share” his unhappy role of being tossed about by the winds of fate.

The murders were in fact angry statements against his birth mother, anger at being emotionally abandoned by his adoptive mother, and envious “connection” to pretty women out of his orbit and beyond his reach. Berkowitz’ social skills occupied a dark world he’d known for childhood, traveling in a downward spiral to total psychological isolation. Killings began with female victims, but sometimes men “interfered” with the opportunities. Appalled at his messy and harmful debut effort at a knifing, Berkowitz/Falco reverted to the firearms he was more comfortable with and chose a 44-caliber weapon.

Where did the bitterness come from? A complex backdrop must be considered. David Berkowitz was raised as an only child in a somewhat dangerous area of New York, and then after his mother died (1966) the father moved them to a better part of New York. Remarried in 1971, the father established a new life for himself in Florida but did not discern the dangerous instability and depression of his young son left behind in NYC. Berkowitz would be attached, yet emotionally removed from his father and resented the family life his father enjoyed via the new stepmother and her daughter. But the rage was suppressed internally.

By this time a sense of isolation had set in. Berkowitz has described his childhood as a fugue of aimlessness and pointless alienation of social patterns. The Berkowitzes were not part of a small tight knit community but the largest city on earth. His psychological “land lines” disappeared one by one. His guilt over his mother’s death giving birth to him and fear of a murderous (natural) father developed a psychological burden he bore alone except for confiding in friends. He had no skills, motivations, or hobbies. His army experience trained him in firearms but the rigorous structure of service life palled.

Berkowitz was then set adrift in a life with no connection and little purpose. A brief flirtation with religion yielded further disappointment. His loner status realized itself when a dangerous set of new influences entered his life. Berkowitz acquired Satanic worship rituals and witchcraft influences from acquaintances and older peers. At this time Berkowitz started pursuing information about his birth mother. His sense of alienation from his adopted father grew when it was confessed his mother was actually still alive, he had suffered all those fears and so much guilt for nothing. Berkowitz realized he had lived in fear and anxiety under a false flag. The internal volcano was ready to erupt.

Berkowitz’s capture was anticlimactic after the dramatic terror mentality the public had lived in. This polite smiling man who paid his parking tickets was not the hydra-headed monster envisioned by the public. The families of victims and the assault survivors watched as the “monster” serial killer showed up in court and evinced no fear or remorse. The pathology of Berkowitz as a serial killer allowed feelings of sympathy for bereaved victims’ families without acknowledgment of guilt and shame for the violence.

The pathology of the “Son of Sam” was one of many 1970’s murders cases where social anomie would be ignored and a serial killer could continue killing with no alteration to the status quo. Except in the case of the Son of Sam, the frequency and violence of the killings and assaults sparked fear in everyday city occupants. Nobody knew when he would strike, or where. Sentencing for the murders excluded parole and many watching the trial were angry the death penalty was not involved.

The moniker the Son of Sam was born of a landlord whose name was Sam. Berkowitz’s many notes and abusive letters allowed police to catch him, in an uneventful arrest where overprepared police converged on the killer, who had the 44 caliber gun on him. Berkowitz had calmly been led into custody, leaving little or no friends, life, social identity or relationships behind. Law enforcement personnel operating on double shifts under tremendous pressure to capture the killer remember the event as a sonic wave of relief dissipating throughout the city.

The glib responses and the inevitably smiling face of the “Son of Sam” would register everywhere as the news media transmitted the image of the “monster” to living rooms and televisions around the globe. The face of a serial killer ended up looking like someone you knew from the neighbourhood, whose crimes hardly showed on his countenance. Finally, outraged families and friends of the victims had an individual they could hold responsible. Berkowitz never denied the killings.

The new David Berkowitz has influenced the Christian Evangelism movement significantly. As cynical prison guards and fellow inmates watched, in 1987 Berkowitz “got religion”, and has become a symbol of rebirth and religious totemism as the “Son of Hope”. The faith profiled from Berkowitz’ testimony and opinions from ministers and friends support a genuine introspection and changed heart. Media coverage of Berkowitz’ spiritual life visits a somewhat revisionist perspective to the serial killer crime profiling.

If people can forgive an individual the crimes of a serial killer, and a notoriously violent evil one at that, and respect that individual for providing spiritual support and benediction to others, the otherwise sickening fatality-count algebra of the typical serial killer is somewhat overturned. Many former guards and law enforcement personnel have challenged and accepted the legitimacy of Berkowitz’ religious beliefs and spiritual change. Uniquely among serial killers, David Berkowitz illustrates that the curious personal impact of his serial killings is a bitter yet wondrous fruit indeed.

Yet against this wondrous overturning of harsh fate, the names of the victims must be held in perspective. The expense of police patrols, 200 extra detectives forming the ‘Omega Force” and After his Jewish upbringing, during his satanic worship phase, and even within his Christian evangelism, the lives the “Son of Sam” killer ended cannot be forgotten.

December 25, 1975 Unknown woman and Michelle Forman, knifed.
July 29, 1976 – Jody Valenti and Donna Lauria were shot. Valenti survived the attack.
October 23, 1976 – Carl Denaro and Rosemary Keenan were shot. Traumatized, both survived.
November 26, 1976 – Donna DeMasi and 18-year-old Joanne Lomino were shot walking home.Donna survived and Joanne was paralyzed for life.
January 30, 1977 – 26-year-old Christine Freund and her fiance John Diel were shot as they sat in a parked car. Christine died and John Diel survived the attack.
March 8, 1977 – Virginia Voskerichian, a Barnard College honor student, was shot and killed while walking home from class.
April 17, 1977 – 18-year-old Valentina Suriani and her 20-year-old boyfriend Alexander Esau, were shot and both died. Berkowitz left his “Son of Sam” letter at the scene.
June 26, 1977 – Judy Placido and Sal Lupu were shot yet both survived.

Article by Roy Whyte. Visit his Google+ page for more.