Archive for the ‘American Serial Killers’ Category

Edmund Kemper

One of the astonishing serial killer stories to come out of the 1960’s and 1970’s of American Criminal History was Edmund Kemper. One of the earliest serial killers, Kemper suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and murdered his own mother as the culmination of a string of intensive and fatal attacks. Often posing as a police officer, Kemper picked up women looking for a ride who were too young and inexperienced to turn him down.

Kemper’s story was a strange one, with traditional serial killer colorations of maternal domination and later serial murders. But the first killings of Edmund Kemper were his own grandparents when he was just 15. This hardly matches the later modus operandi of young female students he murdered later. The initial married couple and the intermittent coeds, then his mother and her friend, then a group of eight random victims represent the body of Kemper’s victim list.

Why did Edmund Kemper want to kill young women? Because it was the only way he felt he could connect to them and “own” them. But Kemper also had been marginalized from normal society early by his institutionalization. Possibly these were unconscious rehearsals for the killing of his mother that was his real aim all along. Once Kemper’s head cleared, perhaps he was done and was ready to meet with the consequences.

What association could he possibly have for the college age women? Unable to get into college himself, was Kemper killing genders “others” who had outpaced him academically? Kemper’s turbulent relationship with his mother underscores the link between her in his mind as a college employee and the co-ed girls he killed.

The Co-Ed killer was even more of a serial killer than his official record reflects. Kemper murdered his grandparents when he was fourteen, and as soon as he could get his slate wiped clean and the record expunged he went out and got a gun. The immediate killing spree to follow took eight lives. Kemper even murdered his own mother and then a family friend.

But it was the classic serial killer mentality that drove Edmund Kemper. Mental disease, psychological instability, early (albeit self-caused) bereavement and unsteady emotional influences formed a character seriously deficient in basic humanity. His eagerness to kill and rob other humans of life resulted in multiple innocent, violent, senseless deaths.

Kemper did not begin with co-eds or young women. He killed his grandmother and grandfather when he was 14 because it occurred to him to do so. His record was sealed but attempted more murders when he was released from his asylum commitment. Kemper promptly began killing again once the fantasy had taken hold. Kemper was assessed at almost a genius I.Q.

Serial killers usually groom an idea or concept of their killings in the mind before performing them. Possibly Kemper had fantasies while spending his adolescence in the psychiatric facility at Atascadero, but if so why did the focus remain both maternally based and targeting young women? Kemper formed no relationship or affiliation and did menial jobs.

Was Kemper projecting his murderous feelings onto young women who might have been sexual partners if his upbringing had been less scarring, or was he trying to remotely activate murderous feelings upon a substitute for his mother? Kemper’s mother worked at a local college.

Born in California in 1948, Kemper came of age in an era when neither drugs nor medical knowledge to deal with his disorder except with commitment. Kemper was dissatisfied with his childhood and early life and had few skills or resources to eradicate years of emotional abuse. Once his mother was out of the way, a few more murders happened and the smoke cleared. Kemper’s teleological journey was complete and he called police to pick him up.

Kemper’s childhood was spent in feelings of inadequacy fueled by isolation and paranoia. Kemper’s two sisters used him as a doll like playthings which reinforced his feelings of early powerlessness, coupled with domination by his mother, this crystallized into a forceful emotional antipathy toward women. Kemper may have exercised a suppressed aggression against young women or women in general. Kemper may have viewed women as power figures which his killings served to transfer control of to him.

Kemper’s adolescent early disturbed behavior landed him in Atascadero, and when he was released he was 21 years old. Against the wishes of his doctors Kemper was released into the custody of his mother, a historical trigger to his psychological unease. Kemper was almost seven feet tall by this time, but his mother’s attitude dwarfed him into a doll sized ego. Kemper had little to no professional skills and no visible means of support.

Kemper had killed a family cat and beheaded it, and eviscerated his sister’s dolls in childhood. But his graduation to real human killing would happen in young adulthood. Hanging around a bar where policemen hung out, Kemper learned to imitate their mien and adopt their lingo. Kemper claimed in testimony to be compelled to kill the coeds, but may not have understood his own reasoning for doing so.

Rejected (ironically) for law enforcement for his size, Kemper was marginalized to near-freak status by looks alone. But Edmund Kemper would have been screened out by the psychological tests before attaining active patrol duty, a fact nobody pointed out to him. Dubbed the “Gentle Giant” by the media, Kemper’s string of murders fizzled out almost as if after killing his mother the rage slowly cycled out of him with the few subsequent killings.

By 1972, Kemper had moved out of his mother’s house into an apartment in Alameda. Kemper used a car to cruise the streets and pick up young female college students from the nearby campuses. His killing spree resulted from a desire to become a police officer and Kemper utilized his car and a fake police badge to intimidate and secure coed passengers on their last dark ride. Kemper was able to purchase a gun in his own name and use it against about eight women before he turned his attention to his real target.

By 1973, Kemper had moved back in with his mother. The pattern of removing coeds form their daily rounds and giving the “rides home” continued. This toxic resumption of a corrosive relationship had a predictable result: Kemper finalized his killing machine on his mother but didn’t stop there. Years of resentment festering without an escape valve left Kemper a senseless repetition of killing mania waiting to happen.

Kemper’s final murders flowed with a strange sense of emotional remove and black comedy. He trailed into another state and then had to convince local police regarding his identity. But Kemper had toyed with hiding bodies and even buried a woman victim facing his mother’s bedroom so she could “look up” to her.

Nothing illustrates Kemper’s necrophilia and mania for killing like his matricide. Kemper’s hatred of his mother and antisocial behavior was almost iconic. He decapitated his mother with a clawhammer and beheaded the corpse, then performed a sexual act upon the head. Kemper then killed one of her friends as well. Kemper’s ugly streak and postkilling practices were at their worst with his mother’s corpse.

Kemper then tried to dispose of her vocal cords in the garbage disposal. “That seemed appropriate,” Kemper noted after his arrest, “as much as she’d bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years”. Many of the co-ed sexual assaults and murders could be viewed as rehearsals for his matricidal act. The sexual activity with the corpses almost encapsulated a romantic love for death fused with the death of the female “other”. Since Kemper would associate all women with the most dominant one in his life, perhaps all of his murders were vicarious experiences of the murder of his mother he dreamed about.

Kemper flirted with various drop off spots for his pickup victims and left notes for police when he had killed his mother. But when he was finally brought into custody there was no redemption or rehabilitation possible. The childhood pyromaniac who tortured animals and killed his grandparents was incarcerated despite his insanity plea at Vacaville, California. In all Kemper – The Co-ed Killer – killed 10 people between 1964 and 1973.

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

John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo

Washington D.C. is the American nation’s capital, a paradise of security and armed forces presence and command. Yet in 2002, two men held the city captive while arresting pedestrian traffic with random sniper shots killing random victims with no warning. Indiscriminate selection of victims on the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. area roads. The random activities of the victims made for serious concern along all social strata.

John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo

Local and Interstate 95 kept beltway commuters looking over their shoulder and scattering at the slightest sound. A manhunt failed to catch the killers for several days when the nation watched as gunplay entered into the public domain. The arrest and sentencing of two African American men would once again polarize racial tensions in the area. These would be later classified by some criminologist as hate crimes.

There was no religious affiliation, no gender bias in the killings. People sitting outside the post office or mowing their lawn are equally vulnerable to the sniper. The sniper’s rampage of death was happening in the city, not isolated riverbeds or backwoods roads. “Stealth” poses at the gas pumps become normal to see in the forty mile area centralized in Montgomery County.

John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo kept the people in the nation’s capital watching their rear view mirrors and indoors for three weeks even in an age of media and satellite radar. Amazed Americans watched their news reports every night and marveled that a sniper existed in this day and age without being caught. Authorities desperately sought a way to end this beltway rampage holding so many in fear.

The killers were a pair of men who had determine to kill six people a day until their $100 million “ransom” was paid. Disorganized as to a goal but efficient at killing, the snipers had a custom rack mount on their vehicle to make shooting easier. The victims had no association with the killers, they were as disparate as a crafts store employee to a pizza maker.

The Beltway Snipers were so named because their target “hit” areas were gas stations and stores and parking lots connected around Washington D. C. by the Virginia Beltway. Random targets meant nobody was safe, and investigators and the public puzzled over why Washington D.C. environs were receiving the attacks. Ultimately the killers hoped the white demographic base of Montgomery County would suffer.

Was the killing politically motivated? Virginia residents and Washington D. C. beltway drivers began to weigh their drive in to work, wondering if they were taking their lives in their hands by that act alone. A trip to the gas station or being parked anywhere suddenly carried a death sentence for an unlucky few. The GPS and maps inside the serial killer vehicle indicated specialized focus for killing trips. Unseen targeting of unsuspecting victims was allowed from the interior plan of the attack car.

John Allen Mohammed, a black man of Muslim beliefs, had begun a spree of murder and robbery in Louisiana the month before the killings started in 2002. Shooting at John Gaeta in August, Mohammed injured him. The second shooting occurred in Maryland in September, where the shot man’s laptop was later found in Malvo’s car. Paul LaRuffa survived six shots. A few weeks later an Alabama woman was shot and killed while her co-worker was injured.

Serial killers have had problems getting the sentences they deserve due to inaccurate testimony, incomplete evidence, and other forensic foul-ups. Evidence from this early Alabama attack in particular helped convict the Beltway Snipers after they were arrested. Mohammed may also be responsible for a Baton Rouge killing of a man in this time period. Born in Antigua, John Allen Williams changed his name to Mohammed in an Islamic conversion.

Before making his way to sniper shots along the Capitol Beltway, John Allen Mohammed intentionally devised a scheme of programmed killing designed to take multiple lives on a schedule. After the first killing on October 2, 2002, five more victims were shot at on October 3, 2002. Local residents watched the news and looked aghast. Was nobody safe?

October was a dark month in the Washington D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area in 2002. Headlines and news report communicated that death was outside the front door no matter where residents might go. No ethnic group, race, age or gender victim was safe from being a target. October 4, 2002 saw a woman wounded in a parking lot near Fredericksburg. This was the start of a vicious spree of killings.

Then October 7th saw another shooting outside a school, followed by another on October 9, 2002 near a Manassas gas station, and then another at a gas station in the Fredericksburg area on October 11th, 2002. Capitol area residents couldn’t go to the gas station, grocery store, or shop without wondering if they were taking their life in their hands. The lack of connection between the victims puzzled police and stymied investigators.

Then on October 14th, a woman was shot in Falls Church, Virginia. News reports had local residents scared to death, carpooling and watching in their rear view mirror on the roadways. On October 19th, 2002, a man was shot in a parking lot in Ashland, Virginia. A thirteen year old boy was killed after media reports stated that children were safe in schools.

Authorities attempted to open a dialogue using media channels with the sniper. Limited details are released to the press, claiming that the sniper has eradicated child safety anywhere in Montgomery County. The Tarot cards and the Deist messages built a controversy regarding the use of these details while the serial killings were occurring.

On October 19th authorities found a missive asking for a ransom. threatening the lives of children in the area, it asked for a hundred million dollars. the letter did not impress authorities as professional. Telephone calls, tarot cards, and erroneous reports of a white van were involved. Finally, on October 22, Conrad Johnson was shot at his bus in Maryland. Washington, D.C, press corps monitor the radio frequencies for police alerts on the case. Authorities were tipped off about the Alabama shooting.

Montgomery County and other agencies fell over themselves setting up roadblocks and cruising for likely vehicles. By this time a dark blue Chevrolet was targeted as the suspect vehicle. Roadblocks and witness interviews after the killings were filled with numerous red herrings. Nightly news reports in the Washington D.C. were tense body-count affairs. Yet the FBI traced ballistics and verified the involvement of John Allen Mohammed.

By October 24th, the Beltway Sniper had been identified as John Allen Mohammed traveling with a minor. Alerts about a Chevy Caprice notified an alert driver who spotted the car. two sleeping in the car were arrested as Beltway suspects. Post 9/11 laws were used to frame prosecutor charges in multiple counties. Mohammed had a U.S. Army past as well as a marriage with four children. The military weapon training honed Williams/Mohammed’s aim and abilities.

Thought to be a single shooter by authorities, it was discovered that Mohammed had recruited a younger cohort to assist in the killings. Lee Boyd Malvo was a minor employed to help drive the car and look out for police or witnesses following their getaway. The vehicle seventeen year old Malvo drove was one local residents had grown to fear the sight of. Any van on the highway filled drivers with fear.

John Allen Mohammed was an ex-army sergeant who had attained sniper skills in the armed forces. Honorably discharged from the Army, he was born John Allen Williams in New Orleans in 1960. The forceful propaganda of the nation of Louis Farrakhan solidified the hatred bred in alleged abusive conditions while being disciplined in Saudi Arabia for bombing a tent full of soldiers.

Mohammed was able to execute successful killing sprees because the media had grasped the device of a “white van” that confused the public and media. Astonished investigators learned after Mohammed’s arrest that he had been stopped by police and authorities yet released from scrutiny. The brief timetable of the serial killings and the waterfall of killings stymied the profiling model used by criminologists for serial killers.

The authorities reviewing the state of the case after the arrests of the killers observed that the public convinced of the “white van” motif had been led to disregard African-American men in a blue Chevy because the media has publicized a white van with a white driver doing the killings. Speculation about the D. C. sniper that was not factual may have cost lives.

Williams/Mohammed had come together after Mohammed had taken his family to Antigua. Malvo’s mother had deserted him, and the warrior mentality and qualified pose of the Islamic messenger suited Mohammed’s purposes. By visiting the United States, Mohammed planned to target wealthy, complacent white people enjoying civil freedoms and racial privileges hostile to the black community.

Malvo had attempted to contact police with information and proceeded to inform the authorities about other murders. Mohammed’s fingerprint was found at the Alabama crime scene, and a witness came forward to the FBI hotline relating how an old Army buddy with a young Jamaican friend had used the term “sniper” during a visit. They had shot using a Bushmaster rifle during their visit. Media news reports had featured the Bushmaster gun in its coverage of the Beltway Sniper.

Absurdly, Lee Malvo had been trying to contact authorities at the same time, persevering through phone contacts. Yet antipathy between law enforcement agencies and public and press was loaded with disinformation designed to lure the killers forward. Journalistic distribution of the Chevy Caprice data assisted in the arrest of the killers. But many suspect that events might easily have caused the suspects to flee.

The analysis of the Beltway Sniper evolved to an identification of the two man team. While the over-forty Mohammed had the technical skills and weapons training, Malvo was suspected of being the more wily planner. The serial killings had intensely accomplished a spree of murders due to ambitious planning, instead of following the spiraling fantasies of a demented sexual-motivated serial killer murderer.

Mohammed was suspected of training Malvo in sharpshooting, and the intent to ransom funds form the government through a campaign of terror form the killings was identified form police investigations. Authorities observed that press notice and media reports fed the snipers’ sense of power and intent. As in many cases of serial killers, confusion of the investigative techniques and coordination between the press and police affected the arrest date of the serial killers.

Mohammed’s inability to obtain revenge against his ex-wife is thought to have impacted his decision to “adopt” Malvo and strike “back” at the general populace. Mohammed’s ex-wife had moved to the D. C. area after a confrontation over child custody in the Pacific Northwest. In interviews she claimed that her husband had returned form Army service a changed person she did not recognize.

Analysts mused on the relationship between this man cut off from his children and the hero worship Malvo afforded Mohammed for participation in the killing/extortion plan. Malvos’ use of a laptop to track the killings indicates a premeditation and planning not common to the average Jamaican teenager. The monetary aspect of the serial killing sprees was not as highly organized as the killing themselves.

Critics of the investigation pointed to charges of Lee Malvo as a juvenile as an error, as Malvo was capable of taking life as well as John Allen Mohammed. Mohammed was executed and Malvo was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Malvo exercised his right of appeal and rescinded all previous interviews and testimony for the 2002 murders. Mohammed appealed his verdict and sentencing and a debate over his fitness to represent himself legally arose after allegation of brain damage were raised.

In all they were convicted for killing at least 10 people on their rampage. Muhammad was executed by lethal injection, which took place November 10, 2009. Malvo continues to leak some information and that includes the notion that there may be more victims and other people involved in the killings.

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

Donald Harvey

The so-called “Angel of Death” killer was an inside man, a hospital employee and orderly whose access to unattended hospital patients and means to extinguish their lives proved fatal in double digits for American patients in the Midwest and Southeast. Donald Harvey started his criminal career simply by strangling patients too weak to struggle or using drugs to subdue them when nobody else was near. True to the nature of every serial killer, Harvey continued killing for little or no material gain, and even falsified job information for employment where he could kill again.

Born in Ohio in 1952, Harvey was part of a normal family. Growing up a ‘nice boy”, Donald Harvey won the praise and notice of teachers but not friends. Harvey was not happy to be a factory worker and when nuns noticed his adeptness around the building they suggested instead he train to be a medical orderly. At this time, many religious orders governed medical care in hospitals and medical wards. Harvey enjoyed an advantage to be trained without earning his vocation or showing moral turpitude before being considered for medical training. Soon Harvey would be charged with full care of patients on an unsupervised basis.

A homosexual man, this serial killer came by his moniker of murder because he always seemed to be around when death struck a patient. Yet to the inside atmosphere and world of the nurse or orderly, death was a constant enough attendant to the work life that few made connections until it was much too late for the victims. By using alternate methods in varying deaths converging with patient illnesses and symptoms, much of the initial activity of Donald Harvey passed relatively unnoticed. As medical equipment changed, Harvey disconnected ventilators and poisoned food. Despite discharges from hospitals, Harvey utilized a common trait among serial killers and obtained employment in the same field he would otherwise have been disqualified from.

Donald Harvey effected the deaths of many patients simply by reason of access and opportunity. Harvey may have claimed that his early victims were killed for “empathetic” reasons, but he would hardly have hidden his methods so carefully if such were the case. Like many serial killers, when the method of killing is carefully masked by conditions of reality and circumstance, they can continue to keep killing. Harvey cannot have planned such “empathy” in advance for all his patients without being a serial killer. Almost two decades of murders took place while Harvey quietly fulfilled his ghastly duties.

The young man traveling the corridors of the hospital, smiling at staff and greeting patients by name had another life. His stash of weapons, poisons, drugs, drug delivery equipment, and more accessories of death lay at home. The Angel of Death might come to work with a bag of “supplies” and a gun, and by the end of the day another death had been reported. Harvey fancied himself an occultist, vacillating around Death like a prizefighter. From about 1970 through 1987, Harvey delivered his patients to their greater reward on an ad-hoc basis. No program, stars or lust drove his schedule.

Harvey slept soundly and was not troubled by shame or guilt, he did not need to drink or get stoned to kill. Donald Harvey was termed the Angel of Death because the mortality rate of his patients swung higher every day he worked at the place. But Harvey did not limit his experiments with death to patients. His lover Carl Hoeweler got homemade poisons, and his parents died of mysterious poisonings. Harvey was caught one time leaving a hospital with a bag full of syringes, a gun, and other medical equipment.

Unlike some serial killers, Donald Harvey had a pleasant disposition that put people at ease. Yet Harvey was committed twice, with over 20 electroshock treatments. Donald Harvey might have kept on killing except for his gruesome insistence on an occult leaning and the untoward murder of Hoeweler’s parents. The locales of Cincinnati, California, and Kentucky in the 1970’s and 1980’s were well known for a while as the hunting grounds of the “Angel of Death”. Locals would never take their medical staff on face value again.

In all Donald Harvey claims to have murdered 87 people in all. Legal authorities believe his serial killing resulted in the deaths of between 36 and 57 people. He is currently incarcerated in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility serving four consecutive life sentences for his actions.

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