Archive for the ‘American Serial Killers’ Category

Zodiac Killer

The Zodiac Killer was never caught because the law enforcement people in power at the time had used secondary means of catching a first rate criminal. The systems then in place were thought by many to be acceptable to the norms of the time, but criminal minds get away with crimes because their etymology of hate and lust for blood evades the thoughts and behavioral experience of the average policeman from that area in that era. Such law enforcement personnel cannot be expected to grapple with the serial killer type of threat.

The Zodiac Killer is the type of crime that specialized law enforcement agencies were formed to solve. Yet even after decades of forensic evidence and new theoretical modeling systems the Zodiac Killer has never been identified. Yet the improvement of data systems and the records access enjoyed by federal law enforcement today is unparalleled. By changing the approach used to evaluate the Zodiac Killer, a solution may present itself. [Here is an analysis that can clear up why that is].

The Zodiac Killer is thought to have a problem with water. The water comments in the notes indicate there may have been a problem with the killer living in an area that became flooded with water or the ground rose somehow preventing the killer from committing crimes. The Zodiac Killer was operating in a somewhat rural area during an era when options for personal transportation were limited. This could have been an important clue to follow up. Was the water clue a hidden one because in fact the serial killer was not ready to be caught yet?

This may also have meant that the transportation that the killer used was affected by the ground water rising or the conditions of the roads they had to use for access to the killing area was blocked by wet weather conditions.

Isolation of the areas where the killer might have come from might have yielded further information about his home or work. The hours of travel (the killings were always conducted at night) and the roadways open (to single non-freight drivers traveling alone) might have narrowed the search. With the physical description that came later, geographic limitation would have pinpointed more precise data sets to clear using 1960’s and 1970’s methods.

Zodiac Fascinates Public

While many people have thought their relatives or parents might have been the Zodiac Killer, the case remains unsolved. A woman came forward in 2008 claiming her father (adopted) was the Zodiac Killer, but many alleged this was a publicity stunt. The 47-year-old woman claimed to have participated in some way and assisted in writing the infamous Zodiac Killer notes. Zodiac experts are skeptical and continue to scan the data and case histories for a possible solution.

Some members of the public suspect the Zodiac Killer was Ted Kaczynski the Unabomber. Others believe he was simply an insane person deteriorating mentally whose killing spree ended with degeneration in physical abilities or freedom to roam unsupervised. If the Zodiac is still alive, there must be a compelling reason for him to keep his identity a secret, in contrast to the time in the 1970’s when his notes indicated he was on threshold of revealing it.
The killer may have been using an alternate method of transportation not available to him at times when he was not killing or committing murders. The killer may have been intentionally using a car or vehicle that was not his or that he did not have supervised use of in the rain or wet. The killer may have been using the car of someone else, a handy way to avoid people associating the motor vehicle with the person of the description. Access to this transportation (effecting use of cabs or a new car) seems a logical conclusion.

The Car as an Identifier

Cars were generally a good means of identifying and tracking criminals in the 1960’s and 1970’s, due to the fact that roadside stops by police officers tracked the license numbers. The Zodiac may have been aware of this, or even known the policemen local to him. There might be any number of reddish brown haired stocky men in the state, but very few automobiles of a certain color, condition, make and model.

The identification of one man as the probable Zodiac was evidently spurned when it was remarked the man had bought a new car. But why did the Zodiac need to buy a new car? What happened to the suspect’s old car? Was it tainted with evidence or bodies, or had it been part of a botched crime to the extent that the perpetrator had to dispose of it altogether. It may be the case that someone in the Zodiac suspect’s world noticed the use of the car and a change was necessary. Investigation of these cars and where they ended up would be a useful thread to pursue.

The criminology methods should have isolated the times the murders were occurring contrasted against the times the murders were committed and identified what bridgeworks or traffic patterns changed during those times. This might have established some good observation zones for the police to see which types of vehicles the killer might have used to “dogleg” to the murder scenes. While the notes may have implied the Zodiac Killer’s wish to be identified, he actually maintained methods preventing this from happening.

The Zodiac Killer plausibly killed three couples and one cab driver, and the one cab driver that was attributed as a kill by the Zodiac could have been part of his dogleg routine and if the driver made a comment about having recognized him as the killer, or made a remark about his pattern of behavior, or even mentioned seeing him drive a car, the Zodiac Killer would have taken his life to prevent the recognition from being shared or communicated to anybody else.

The San Francisco Connection

In 1968 and 1969 a vicious killer struck down two “lover’s lane” couples, attempting a third. The Zodiac Killer is thought to have murdered a woman, Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside, California in 1966. Why the divergence from the San Francisco area and why the need to isolate the “lust” crimes to the San Francisco environs? What conflicts were present in the killer’s world to make the geography changes seen in the progressively scripted killing modus operandi?

Note the chronological displacement between the crimes. If Cheri Jo was a “warmup” crime, the Zodiac may have expected the killing of one woman to slake his lust for killing. He may have realized after the killing that a man and a woman killed was his preferred scenario. Was the Zodiac Killer the man in the “scenario” himself? Was his own conception or the birth of a child (from a lover’s lane tryst) cementing unacceptable changes in his life he couldn’t deal with?

The couple killings were location specific to the Bay Area, occurring in Vallejo, San Francisco, and Lake Berryessa. Why only three killings? The Zodiac (despite his bluster in the notes) might have feared he was unable to control the killings, as his third couple survived long enough to give details concrete enough to matter in a court of law. The risks the Zodiac Killer may have taken possibly were becoming too great for his limited ability to contain.

The script for the Zodiac killings is a challenging one to solve. There were couples and necking teenagers everywhere, why did these rural spots attract the Zodiac’s rage? Why did a man have to die first with the woman’s molestation and assault coming after? Was there a woman figure of power protected by a male figure within the Zodiac Killer’s immediate world that the murdered couples represented? Why not make the man watch as his wife or girlfriend was raped? There is an element of substitution present in the death order that point to the Zodiac’s motivation and murder/kill reward/release.

Sexual Motives in Zodiac Psychopathology

The identification of San Francisco as a homosexual hotbed directs the analyst’s thoughts to motivation. The social intercourse with homosexuals, the temptation or frustration directed at the self or at a certain individual may have factored into the Zodiac’s killing episodes. The limited number of successful murdered pairs indicates a trigger episode unlocked the fatal combination of Zodiac motivation and action while at large.

The first killing in Riverside in 1966 might have been an experiment with heterosexual longings a man in the homosexual community could not have engaged in or pursued. Was the Zodiac an accepted homosexual? Did he envy the couples engaging in their private snuggling sessions, while his own unassuaged desires went suppressed? Was he in fact a bisexual, dealing with unknown thoughts and desires confusing to him but required to be hidden?

Was the Zodiac Killer sexually confused, thus “proving” himself with the sexual assaults? Was there a man in his life he aspired to get rid of, that the men in the couples killings were supposed to represent? If the Cheri Jo killing was meant to assuage feelings of sexual confusion, perhaps an atmosphere of heterosexual complacency or even attraction was fostered while the Zodiac was in the car with her that he feared enough to Killer to blot out.
Was there a touching off incidence in the Zodiac’s life that secured an immediate blood lust, noticed by the Berryessa victims and reported before they died? The trance the Zodiac went into was a fugue state of emotional and realistic escape from his actual life. Why did the Zodiac Killer need to escape from his life at just these times? Other killings are alleged to have been done by the Zodiac Killer, but without the infamous notes for corroboration, police cannot be sure.

The Notes as Double Blind

The notes formed the basis of chiefly all of the Zodiac information law enforcement officials worked from. Yet this “evidence” was manufactured at the behest of a dangerous criminal! There was no reason to trust any communication that was delivered. The notes may contain various true facts sprinkled with falsehoods, intended to consume police resources and continue the media attention the Zodiac craved. With the cessation of notes being received by media outlets, one might assume the Zodiac Killer was no longer at large or had a medical or physiological limitation preventing him from communicating in this manner.

In all the Zodiac is suspected of killing 5 people and he injured 2 more. The Zodiac in his letters claims to have killed up to 37 people in total.

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

Jerome Henry Brudos

The quiet Pacific Northwest in the 1960’s was home to one of the most murderous serial killers in American history. One ordinary boy, a generation earlier, who preferred to play with women’s shoes had become a native. Jerome Henry Brudos, known as the Lust Killer or the Shoe Fetish Murderer, who laid waste to a series of young lives as young women from the Portland, Oregon area, may be one of the most distastefully macabre of a notably violent and insane group of American serial killer criminals.

In 1969, local women in Portland and surrounding areas started to disappear never to return. Strangled corpses started to surface although in circumstances that meant their location was meant to be a secret. A young boy whose mother has emotionally abused him and psychologically rejected him had formed the beginnings of a vicious killer in the making. Assault grew to rape, coercion grew to abduction, cruising escalated to impersonation of a police officer. The fixated footwear fetish of Brudos had trodden into forbidden fields.

Serial killers like Jerome Brudos are truly a menace to society, both for their sophisticated attempts to mask their killing thirst and their flagrant exhibitionism of their aberrant tendencies. Jerry Brudos made no secret of the fact he had a visible gender dysfunction, which only subsided during male stereotypical experiences like (heterosexual) marriage and fatherhood. But as evidenced by earlier sexual experiences, Jerry Brudos seemed to become enabled and sexually aroused by the wearing of young women’s shoes and underwear, possibly in a trans-formative state toward a gender his mother might have found more pleasing.

Linda Slawson, 19, was a door to door encyclopedia saleswoman in January of 1968, whose chopped-off foot became a “model” for the Brudos shoe collection. Jan Whitney’s car broke down in November of 1968, and after killing the 23-year-old by strangulation Jerry Brudos violated her corpse sexually and repeated this process during the next few days in his private home workshop. Karen Sprinkler, 19, became a fatal model for Brudos in March of 1969 after being picked up in a department store parking garage. Linda Salee, 22, was coerced by Brudos from a local shopping mall.

If there is one signal mark of serial killer, it is a submerged identity trying to get out. The lack of self, the blurred border between another personality (such as a mother) and the isolation from general society and the self-identification as a “reject” or weirdo can designate many types of people into a subcategory vulnerable to criminal behavior. Jerry Brudos was a man who kept his wife under “lock and key”, had two children, made her perform household chores nude in high heels, yet viciously exercised the power of life or death over his many victims. The killings were adorned with objects like women’s underwear and shoes. In these episodes, the girl his mother had always wanted began to emerge.

The likelihood of an individual to follow the rules when they see themselves as separate and apart from society is a common thread among serial killers. Anther common denominator among serial killers is the choice by parents to ignore strong signals that important erosions in a child’s development are occurring. In the case of Jeremy Brudos, multiple alarms should have been ringing long before Brudos’ adolescence. Known as the “Lust Killer” or the “Shoe Killer”, Brudos fulfilled every dread the storied slayings of a serial killer could ever create. His psychopathy was so bizarre he would hang victims to die while watching cartoons and crank up a strangling women while idling in predatory dispassion.

Jerry Brudos was identified early as a son who had a predilection for his mother’s and then other women’s accessories shoes and clothing. Feminine behavior, playing with women’s clothing and dressing women’s shoes strongly aligns the self of a male potential killer with another life, another destiny. The committal of the serial murders is a product of the rage, anger, humiliation and suffering the individual experiences when distanced from this idea of themselves. Jerry Brudos and his killings stamped the Willamette Valley with fear, trepidation, and sadistic violence.

Maternal tirades channeled Brudos’ mixed sexual aggression and sadistic tendencies into violence. Society demands that the killer conform to outward ideals and archetypes. Like John Wayne Gacy and the Green River Killer, societal participation bred a cycle of internal pressure that was bound to break sooner or later. The disturbed tendencies of an adolescent Brudos were dismissed as psychological, not psychiatric. Underground prisons with sexual victims on tap were a theme in his fantasies. These ideas would grow to mirror reality in his workshop and garage prison of murder.

As early as age five, Brudos was instituting the wearing of women’s shoes and women’s underwear. By seventeen, his sexual tendencies veered toward the abnormal, triggered by altitudes of secrecy, fear, and aberration. Born in South Dakota in 1939, Jerry Brudos was the youngest child whose mother would have preferred a daughter. The oldest of four brothers, Larry, was the favorite. Growing into an ordinary boy, with a doughy, pale countenance, Jerry Brudos nevertheless was to electrify the Portland area with ugly murders and astonishingly sadistic sexual violence.

The following arrest of his threatening and assaulting a young girl delivered Brudos into the care of the Oregon State Psychiatric Hospital. Brudos’ nine month incarceration identified in-depth fantasies containing range and anger against his mother. Brudos was known to take women’s shoes and flee from them. The assignment of Brudos’ sexual fantasies and obsession with feminine objects was categorized into schizophrenia, yet Jerry Brudos graduated with his high school class in 1957 and went on to become an electronics technician.

His attitude toward his behavior was compulsive and psychologically satisfying but the triggers grew more serious. After high school, his behaviors continued. Joining the armed services, his dreams were of a Korean girl entering his bed and untold other secrets. His attitudes and thoughts had him cashiered out of Fort Ord. His mother Eileen ordered him to live in the shed in the back of the family house. The third-class mode of living was to have long term consequences form those who ended up his Jerry’s crosshairs. A date with a girl named Ralphene ended up pregnant and a wedding occurred.

But life was hardly linear and focused with young Jerry Brudos. He would prowl the neighborhood looking for underwear and shoes to steal, this behavior progressed to murder with follow-up segues of masturbation and more shoe wearing. For these reasons Jerry Brudos was also called the Shoe Fetish Slayer. Brudos was so inwardly focused on his sexual fantasies his marriage and children were merely secondary afterthoughts to his main program of lust killing and shoe fetish enjoyment. Stalking a woman to her apartment, her discovery of him ended up in her murder.

Serial killer experts theorize that Brudos felt more in control of women when possessing himself of their underwear and shoes, but also that he was able to participate in a feminine side of himself (as his mother had always wanted). The mutilation of the corpses exhibited both his hatred of his mother’s rejection and possibly an antipathy toward the women’s sexual characteristics he could never fully assume. Brudos took photographs and kept them as trophies of his gender based supremacy. This corresponds to the rejection of his mother towards his gender from childhood.

Brudos tried a plea of criminal insanity in court. Like many serial killers, Brudos considered himself smarter than the police. He even gave police a section of the rope he had used to hang and strangle his victims when Oregon State Police visited him for questioning. Brudo’s cruising for women locally had given police description of a “Vietnam Vet” and one woman who had narrowly avoided being killed also reported a matching description. Jerome Brudos preferred to believe himself falsely infallible to those of superior intellect and claimed an advanced IQ in later interviews.

This error was exploited at his trial as prosecutors massaged Jerry Brudos’ ego on the stand with “hypothetical” questions. His remorseless trophy taking of cut off breasts and photographs, underwear and shoes of his victims proved convenient for local police. Brudos began to confess. His sloppy attempt to evade capture were almost laughable. Brudos was arrested 250 miles from the Canadian border, as police followed with an arrest warrant. Brudos was found wearing women’s underwear, hiding under a blanket in the back seat of the car. His career of escalating torture and violence with sexual overtones and necrophilic assault of the victims dubbed him the “Lust Killer”.

Brudos was given three consecutive life sentences. Authorities probed the culpability of Jerry’s wife Ralphene who might have led police to her husband earlier in the series of killings. Psychologists have estimated that fear and denial caused Ralphene to block out the photographs of nude women she came across and the discovery of a “molded” breast, one of Brudos’ grisly murder trophies. Filing appeals while in prison, he collected women’s clothing and shoe catalogues while forming his own prison library. Convicted of three of the four murders he is believed to have perpetrated, Jerry Brudos died in prison of liver cancer in 2006.

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

Dennis Rader

The BTK Killer conformed to the classic serial killer profile, showing that any combination or social profiling will always yield an adaptation to the serial killer profile. The BTK killer was a man named Dennis Rader, outwardly a pillar of his community. But the mask of a law-abiding family man with children and ties to community leadership hid a deviant sadist whose lust for sexual release via strangulation and killing struck again and again. Childhood zoosadism and sexual handling of women’s underwear also flagged Rader as a serious deviant. But these signs were concealed.

Dennis Rader BTK Killer

Between 1974 and 1991, residents of Wichita, Kansas kept one eye out at all times. The BTK killer fascinated the public after his arrest because his “subterranean” lusts were so skillfully hidden beneath the appearance of normality. On that basis anyone might be a serial killer, a concept that both threatens society and challenges it. Rader acknowledged after arrest and sentencing that the victims were an ends to a means, and that he did not expect victims’ families to forgive him. The BTK killer is the record holder for waste of human life for the most trite and misguided of purposes.

The BTK killer tortured his victims and created a universe of pain he controlled. But nothing could stop his cyclic sexual urges that required sadistic episodes of induced terror in others to furnish the BTK killer with sexual pleasure. The first murders, as many serial killers experience, were experiments based on projected fantasies. He grew more crafty over time, changing his method of targeting likely episodes, victims, and environments of his prey to maximize pleasure and enjoyment without risking exposure unduly.

That one man could hold Wichita, Kansas, in fear for over thirty years is a testimony to the law enforcement gaps and social complacency of American culture. Women of that era made a habit of checking their phone cords for a dial tone, since the first Otero murders were signaled by a clipped phone wire. The Otero murders were heinous because they involved a family, two young children, and and the mother and father killed in their own home. The young girl Josephine Otero had been repeatedly resuscitated after strangling threshold has been reached so the BTK killer could maximize his pleasure and maintain a high level of erotic thrill.

The BTK killer selected victims for opportunity and convenience, acquiring a skill at concealing his identity and an expertise in isolating likely victims where the episodes of assault would not be discovered. BTK operated in a manner that concluded in a sexual episode that also happened to be a murder scene. A gratification event for Dennis Rader left a corpse or damaged human body at the very least. The Otero three children that survived did so only because they were at school during the “project”.

The childhood fantasies and high school dreams of sexual gratification became realities when BTK was an adult. Rader himself expressed surprise (after being incarcerated) that these early signs of deviancy were not caught or observed. Rader’s sentencing allocations are almost surreal in their brisk and matter-of-fact statements of killing, torturing and murdering innocent victims. Could Rader have benefited from counseling and other types of treatment? The world will never know.

BTK used positions as a compliance officer and security guard employee as he patrolled streets and boulevards looking for potential “projects”. His sizing up of a potential victim included their habits and likelihood to be alone and isolated. Masturbation and sexual release, interleaved with the binding torturing and killing of one or multiple victims was his modus operandi. The aftermath crime scenes of BTK sickened police officers and detectives for the manner of death they suggested.

Victims were not sexually assaulted themselves, but this was threatened to gain control of the victims. The BTK killer was enacting his fantasy, and attendant sexual release was the goal. But the heightening of the sexual experience came not from intercourse but from the repeated strangulation and “control” over the life or death of the victim.Thus, any person, old or young, man or woman could be the next victim.

With practice Rader collected items in a bag he called a “hit kit” with the supplies he needed to subdue and torture his victims. Things like tape, cleaning supplies, rope, handcuffs, pantyhose, or anything the killer might need to bind and torture his victims was assembled there. Certain murders changed in their methodology slightly because BTK forgot to bring the right supplies.

Men, women and children comprised the BTK killer’s victims. His long killing spree displays the strategy of serial killer intent on satisfying his need to kill with the social requirement of avoiding capture or arrest. The BTK’s ability to remain at large benefited from rural law enforcement, disturbed crime scenes, and overall shock and what the murders suggested. Even hardened law enforcement types were appalled and sickened by the themes and evidence, crime scene photos and concepts of the case.

Unlike other serials killers like Ted Bundy or The I-5 killer, The BTK killer had a life to lose. His marriage, children and job were on the line with every kill. His need to keep that life intact competed with his need to slake his desires in a confined atmosphere of controlled killing. His program of binding, torturing, and killing competed with the need to maintain a status quo. Upon his arrest for the murders a judge granted his wife an immediate divorce.

Dennis Rader’s childhood showed signs of the same isolation and zoosadism of other killers like the Son of Sam and Ed Gein. As the oldest of four sons, Dennis had no abuse and received no religious scolding from an overbearing mother, nor was emotionally taunted by a distant father. But the background he did have taught him how accepting people could be of behavioural aberration accompanied by an authority figure. Like many opportunistic killers, Rader lived his BTK persona within roles like security guard and patroller; he was able to combine cruising for victims and other purposes.

Rader evinced no qualities of the serial killers noted elsewhere, for one very good reason. He kept these behaviors hidden and masked, his aberrations kept hidden under a complex set of accepted labels. Proud father, good husband, Boy Scout leader, church elder, community fence mender, all these disguised the opportunistic cruising and unexplained absences the BTK used to satisfy his needs.

Poems enhancing the grandeur of his exploits began to appear form the BTK killer. A phone call in his own voice announcing a homicide also showed boldness. The BTK killer confided that he had wanted to divorce his wife to free up his time for “trolling” for victims. His fantasies could take shape and if possible he might isolate or stalk the victims until a killing episode came together. The cruising for victims and stalking particular “projects” have the BTK a sense of security to control the victim when the time came.

The BTK killer evolved into a persona that notes delivered to police and authorities seeking attention for his “achievements”. The BTK killer even termed his kills as intended victims as “projects” he could mull over and plan for. Dennis Rader had a past with national service and collected a lot of hardware yet did not distinguish himself in school or with other pursuits. Unlike the “Son of Sam” Rader needed no complex system of demonic threats to galvanize his killings. Fantasies from childhood and arousal thresholds triggered by spankings or wounded animals grew into deranged killing manias.

The ability to blend in and become one of the group kept the BTK killer in a secure social network that helped him function longer than isolated social “islands” like the Son of Sam and Ed Gein. Even Ted Bundy augured for more publicity as an acknowledged serial killer, but then Bundy didn’t have as intact a real life as Dennis Rader did. So completely did Rader fit the “bill” of social normality than when women complained about him they were rebuffed. The latent period between the 1960’s and the 1980’s defined an innocence in American social culture which did not allow women to as boldly assert boundaries or recognize predatory behavior with as much zeal as is common today.

Where Ted Bundy was a showoff, Rader contained his ego. Where Gein almost flouted his eccentricity, Rader worked hard to project the image of a “square”. Without flamboyant visible tendencies to cement the suspicions of others, The BTK killer remained at large longer than most serial killers ever will. Yet his mocking letter and taunting notes were his undoing. After “verifying” form police that a floppy disk could not be traced, Rader sent one anyway. His church information and name were in the file metadata, and police closed in.

Rader had sent numerous packages and letters to enhance the BTK legend, including crime scene bits and murder victim paraphernalia that only the murderer could have produced. On of these drop-offs included a Home Depot where a surveillance camera revealed a black jeep being driven away. When the floppy disk data pinned down Rader’s identity, the black jeep in the driveway convinced police. Police then matched DNA from Rader’s daughter’s pap smear and acknowledged the near match to evidence from the crime scenes.

The BTK killer killed people for the purpose of deriving sexual pleasure from the process of strangling them, from controlling the speed and manner in which they died or clung to life. Unlike many another serial killers, The BTK killer did not want to harm or kill the actual people involved for any reason. The incidence of his sexual desire in an aberrant mode simply could not be contained and the episodes unfolded as they happened. But the setup from the vantage point of a stalker improved BTK’s chances of success. Despite more than one stalking charge BTK was not identified as the killer.

The BTK killer operated within a framework of isolated opportunities to kill other people in a limited manner, yet the cold arm’s length perspective the BTK killer had for his victims did not invalidate the value of their lives. The marathon sentence duration the BTK received ensured no parole, but as Kansas didn’t reinstate the death penalty until 1994, the BTK did not meet his own most favored end,

The BTK remains in prison in a special area, in solitary due to threatening attitudes and practices for his crimes form other inmates. Allowed mail, TV and radio, the victims of the BTK killer cry that even this is too much luxury for the deviant serial killer. Considering that boredom made him kill in later years, the isolation and sole living habits of his incarceration may be the most abusive legal punishment his psyche could stand.

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