Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper was possibly responsible for eleven separate murders, stretching from April 3, 1888 to February 13, 1891, in the Whitechapel area of London England. These murders were known as the "Whitechapel murders". Of the eleven murders, only five are widely believed to be the work of the Ripper. These murders were known as the "canonical five". The modus operandi of the Ripper was deep throat slashes, abdominal and genital-area mutilation, removal of internal organs, and progressive facial mutilations.

Jack the Ripper typically targeted female prostitutes from the slums. He would usually cut their throats prior to mutilating the abdominal area of their bodies. At least three of the victims had internal organs removed, which suggested to some that their killer had anatomical or surgical knowledge.

The victims considered the "canonical five" were Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. The body of Ann Nichols was discovered on August 31, 1888 at about 3:40am in Buck's Row (now Durward Street), Whitechapel. The throat had two very deep cuts, and the lower part of the abdomen was partially ripped open by a deep, jagged wound. There were also several other cuts to the abdomen done by the same knife.

Mary Jane Kelly's body was found in the bed of a single room on Friday, November 9, 1888 at 10:45am. Her body was gruesomely mutilated. She lived at 13 Miller's Court, off Dorset Street, Spitalfields. The throat was cut so deeply that it went all the way to the spine and the abdomen was virtually emptied of its organs. The heart was also missing.

Kelly is considered by most to be the Ripper's last victim. It was speculated that the crimes ended because of the culprit's death, imprisonment, institutionalisation, or emigration. There are however, four addition Whitechapel murders on file that happened after the canonical five. The victims were Rose Mylett, Alice McKenzie, the Pinchin Street torso and Frances Coles.

There were many suspects but not enough evidence to ever conclude who committed these murders. The Ripper was never caught and to this day is left mystery.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Night Stalker

Richard Ramirez AKA The Night Stalker, terrorized Los Angeles during 1985. The press nicknamed him "The Night Stalker" because he would stalk people in their homes at night as they slept. He would then break in, murder, rape, sodomize, and burglarize these people. He mutilated bodies, and at one crime scene he used lipstick to leave behind the drawing of a pentagram. Ramirez was a Satanist and believed that through the powers of Satan, he was protected and therefore it was impossible for him to be captured.

Ramirez was hitting one home after the next, and police were helpless without any good leads. The big break finally came. On August 24, 1985, Ramirez drove 50 miles South of Los Angeles to Mission Viejo, and broke into the apartment of Bill Carns, 29, and his fiance, Inez Erickson, 27. Ramirez shot Carns in the head and raped Erickson. He demanded she swear her love for Satan and then forced her to perform oral sex. He then tied her up and left. Erickson was able to make it to the window and saw the car Ramirez was driving. She was able to give a description of both Ramirez and the orange Toyota station wagon he was driving. After the news reported the vehicle, someone was able to identified the car and even wrote down half its license plate number. The stolen car was found by police on August 28, and they were able to lift one fingerprint left on the mirror of the vehicle. The prints belonged to Richard Ramirez, who was described as a 25 year old drifter from Texas with a long rap sheet, included many arrests for traffic and illegal drug violations.

Two days later (August 30), his mugshots were on national television and printed on the cover of every major newspaper in California. Ramirez, unaware that his picture was all over the news, got off of a Greyhound bus, and walked into a liquor store. The woman working inside recognized him and began yelling that he was the Night Stalker. Shocked, he quickly fled the store and headed toward the heavily populated Hispanic area of East Los Angeles. A small mob had formed and were following close behind him. Ramirez made a desperate attempt to steal a car, but was unaware of the fact that the owner of the vehicle was underneath it doing repairs. When Ramirez started the engine, the man pulled out from under the car and began chasing him. The mob that was in pursuit of Ramirez, were now armed with steel rods. They caught up with Ramirez and had him surround. He was subdued, while some of the mob beat him, until the police arrived. Police had to break up the mob to prevent Ramirez from being killed.

On September 20, 1989, Richard Ramirez was found guilty of 13 counts of murder, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries. On November 7, 1989, he was sentenced to die in California's gas chamber.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Green River Killer

Gary Leon Ridgway (born February 18, 1949), also known as the Green River Killer, was convicted of 48 murders but confessed to nearly twice that many. Back in the 1980's and 1990's he killed a very large number of women and girls in Washington, most of them were thought to be prostitutes. His method of murder was strangulation, usually with his arm but at times with the use of ligatures. The murders were all sexually motivated. After strangling his victims, he would dump their bodies throughout overgrown areas in King County and in the Green River, which is how he got his nickname. After dumping the bodies he would often return to them to have sexual intercourse later.

There was a point when the Task Force started getting really concerned. There was an unbelievable death toll. Bodies were found in three distinct dumping grounds, the Green River itself, the area around Raper’s Road, and the I-90 area. At this point yet another infamous serial killer, Ted Bundy offered his assistance. The Task Force decided they had nothing to lose, so they flew out to interview him. Bundy, who had also committed murders in the same areas the Green River Killer did, told them that he believed the killer was known and trusted by the prostitutes, possibly someone posing as a law enforcement official. He felt that as time went on, the bodies were being dumped closer and closer to the killer’s home. Bundy also suggested leaving a fresh kill where it was found and stake it out. He theorized that the Green River Killer was returning to these bodies to have sex with them. Some time later, after the Green River Killer was captured, it was discovered that he was in fact, doing just that.

On November 30, 2001, Ridgway was arrest as he was leaving work. He was arrested for the murders of four women whose cases were linked to him through DNA evidence. He offered a plea bargain wherein he agreed to disclose the whereabouts of women still missing, if he could be spared the death penalty. At first this offer was refused then later accepted, but only for the sake of the victims' families. Because of this plea bargain, Gary Ridgway was spared the death penalty and received a sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

Ridgway claimed that he was able to get the women in his car by talking to them a little while. He said that talking usually distracted them from any concerns they might have had. He put a picture of his son inside his wallet and made sure the women saw it. The idea was that it was supposed to set her mind at ease knowing that he was a dad. Ridgway said he would talk to them as though he cared, but all he really wanted to do was get them inside his vehicle so he could kill them.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ted Bundy

Theodore Robert "Ted" Bundy was an American serial killer. He murdered in Washington, Utah, Florida, Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, and California between 1974 and 1978 (possibly even earlier). Bundy confessed to 30 homicides but the true count could be much higher.

This killer was particularly dangerous due to the fact that he was considered handsome and very charismatic. A man able to use his looks and charm to win a woman's trust. He would typically approach women in a public place pretending to be injured by having a cast on either his arm or leg, or would impersonate an authority figure. While wearing a cast, he might for example, ask a young lady for help carrying his books to the car. Once he had them lured away to a more secluded location he was able to strike them over the head with a blunt object or overpower them. After he murdered his victim, he would sometimes revisit the body to perform sexual acts for hours at a time. Some victims were decapitated and he kept a few of the heads in his apartment. Another thing he did but only a few occasions, was break into a person's dwelling in the middle of the night and attack them as they slept.

Bundy was first charged in Utah in 1975 for aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal assault. He soon became linked to a much longer list of unsolved homicides across multiple states. After facing murder charges in Colorado, he managed two escapes and before recapture, murdered three more people. He was ultimately recaptured in Florida in 1978. Since Bundy was a law student, he decided to represent himself in court, nevertheless receiving three death sentences.

Ted Bundy received the death penalty by electric chair at Raiford Prison in Starke, Florida on January 24,1989.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ed Gein

Edward or "Ed" Theodore Gein committed his murders in Plainfield, Wisconsin, which was his home town. Ed murdered two victims, tavern owner Mary Hogan, in 1954, and a Plainfield hardware store owner, Bernice Worden, in 1957. Not a whole lot of victims if you compare him to the vast number of others, but he makes up for the difference in plenty of other ways......

At night Ed would visit local graveyards, dig up bodies and take them home to fashion trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin. He would then tan their skins to make paraphernalia. He decided at one point that he wanted to have a sex change, so he made a "woman suit" from the skin of a corpse he brought home. Also in his collection, he kept female genitalia in shoeboxes, a skin lampshade and even a mask from the skin of a human face. He would often check the newspapers for recent deaths, so he could go out and dig up a fresh body.

On November 16, 1957, Plainfield hardware store owner Bernice Worden disappeared and police suspected Ed Gein because Worden's son said that Ed had been in the store the evening before Bernice's disappearance. Ed said that he would return the following morning for a gallon of anti-freeze. A receipt for a gallon of anti-freeze was the last receipt written before Bernice disappeared. While searching Gein's property they discovered the decapitated body of Bernice Worden in a shed. She was hung upside down by ropes at her wrists, with a crossbar at her ankles. The torso was hung the way one might hang a deer. She had been shot with a .22-caliber rifle, and the mutilations were made after death. When investigators entered Ed's home, they weren't really sure what they had found. At first glance, it appeared as though he had murdered several people, but it was later discovered that most of the bodies were dug up from local graveyards.

Ed Gein's actions were so horrific that it inspired a number of books and movies. Pretty much anything Ed did, you could easily fit into a horror movie. Gein's story was turned into a number of movies, such as, Deranged (1974), In the Light of the Moon (2000), and Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield (2007). Ed Gein served as a model for several fictional serial killers, like Norman Bates (Psycho), Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and Buffalo Bill (The Silence of the Lambs).

Saturday, June 2, 2012

BTK Killer

Dennis Lynn Rader committed murders in and around Wichita Kansas, between 1974 and 1991. He was known as the BTK killer. BTK stands for bind, torture and kill. He claimed the lives of 10 victims over a span of years and was eventually captured in 2005.

There are several noteworthy things that make this killer interesting. One is his cooling off periods. He could murder someone and then go silent for several years before murdering again. Rader lived a very normal life and even attended church. In fact, he was elected president there. He had a wife and children and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Rader kept a kit of everything he needed to commit a murder. He called this his "hit kit". It was basically a bowling bag that contained guns, tape, rope and handcuffs. Before attacking his victims, he would stalk them for a period of time, so he could get to know their habits. He called these victims his projects. He planned his murders in advance and didn't like leaving anything to chance. Rader would typically climb into the victim's window, and hide inside their closet as he waited for them to come home. He made sure all the phone lines were cut so that they couldn't call the police. Rader was known for leaving taunting letters to police and newspapers. The last thing worth mention was his sense of humor. He left cereal boxes in various locations with items taken from his victims inside. He used cereal boxes as a way of being punny. A SERIAL killer with CEREAL boxes.

Typically Rader would hide inside the victim's house until they got home. He would them come out with a gun in his hand. He might explain that he's just there to rob them and won't hurt them if they do as he says. He would tie up the victim, place a bag over their head, and then strangle them.

The public became very frightened over all the killings in their neighborhood. Many decided it might be wise to get a home security system to protect their family from the BTK. Ironically, Dennis Rader at one point worked for ADT Security Services and had installed home alarms for a living! Just a side note, he also took one of his murdered victims to the church he was a member and president of, posed the body inside and took pictures!

The police eventually caught up with BTK due to evidence and several mistakes that were made. For example, Rader was corresponding with the police and they continued to go along with it, in an attempt to gain his confidence. In one of his communications with police, Rader actually asked them if it was possible to trace information from floppy disks! The police of course replied no. Rader took their word for it and then sent his message and floppy to the police department. The investigators quickly checked the metadata of the Microsoft Word document. In the metadata, they found that the document had been made by a man who went by Dennis. They also found a link to the Lutheran Church. The police then searched on the Internet for "Lutheran Church Wichita Dennis," and found his last name. The name they came up with was Dennis Rader. He was a Lutheran Deacon. The police also knew BTK owned a black Jeep Cherokee. They knew this because in the past he was captured on surveillance camera, leaving one of his cereal boxes in the back of a truck inside a Home Depot parking lot. When investigators drove by Rader's house they noticed a black Jeep Cherokee parked outside. This was strong circumstantial evidence but they needed more direct evidence. They obtained a warrant to test the DNA of a Pap smear Rader's daughter had taken at Kansas State University medical clinic while she was a student there. They compared her DNA with DNA taken from one of the victims fingernails. The DNA of the sample taken from the victim indicated that the killer was closely related to Rader's daughter. This was the evidence the police needed to make an arrest.

Rader was sentenced to 10 consecutive life terms, which requires a minimum of 175 years without a chance of parole. He was given multiple life terms because Kansas had no death penalty at the time the murders were committed. Life in prison was the maximum penalty allowed by law.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Zodiac Killer

The Zodiac Killer terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area from the late 1960's to the early 1970's. To this day, his identity is still unknown although there have been many suspects suggested over the years. The Zodiac wrote letters to the newspapers claiming the lives of 37 victims, but investigators were only able to confirm 7 victims and 2 of those 7 survived. It has been suggested that 37 killings was simply an exaggeration. In some cases, the Zodiac would give the police quite a bit of busy work. For example one time he wrote in a letter, "School children make nice targets, I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning. Just shoot out the front tire + then pick off the kiddies as they come bouncing out."

Zodiac was remembered for writing numerous letters to the newspapers, often demanding to be placed on the front page. In his letters, he would include articles take from victims to prove he was who he said he was, and he also enjoyed taunting police. Of the letters he sent, 4 were cryptograms (coded messages) and only 1 has been definitely solved. The Zodiac would often close his letters with a symbol. The symbol was a circle with a cross drawn through it.

On August 8, 1969, Donald and his wife Betty Harden of Salinas, California, cracked the 408-symbol cryptogram. Donald was a Salinas high school teacher who was an amateur cryptographer. They broke the code just 6 days after it was published in the newspapers.

Most but not all of the victims were couples located in secluded lake areas. There was also a young woman killed outside a library and another case involved a city taxi cab driver.