Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Lasting Legacy of Jim Jones

By: Menschenleer

“Nobody Joins a Cult, Nobody Joins Something They Think Is Going to Hurt Them.”

Survivors tell the story; the lucky bunch, so to speak. It rained all morning and afternoon, and restless members of this tyrannical cult felt the unease in the air as if their beating hearts mimiced the falling rain outside the huts. Something was going to happen today- something spectacularly evil and vile- something nobody would soon forget. A People's Temple member himself said of that day, “Evil itself had blown into Jonestown.”

November 18, 1978 could have been one of the many days that dragged on like any other. There was food that needed to be harvested in the vast gardens surrounding the little town, children to be changed and fed, work to be done, and of course, the endless droning on the loudspeaker like the voice of God. And there wasn't any other God to turn to that frightening and impossibly hot summer. Any memories of real safety and true sanity were blocked out by a sweating and paranoid morphine addict known as Jim Jones.

The heavy foreboding rain was not the only sign of discomfort in Jonestown that ominous day in history. Congressman Leo Ryan was visiting for the first time, eager to see the amazing and beautiful little town Jim Jones had placed in the middle of Guyana. Stories of unrest and fear by former members of Jonestown had sent Ryan to the lush “heavenly place”. Someone had to make sure Guyana was indeed safe. A majestic place in which hundreds of people might collect and praise the Lord in any way they chose.

It seemed harmless enough. The People's Temple members kept to themselves, brought up whole families in the cozy little huts encompassing the land all over Guyana, held fast the idea of socialism, and fell at Jim Jones feet each night a sermon was given.

A jubilant devotee of Jonestown could not stop himself from exclaiming brightly, “I've never been so totally happy or fulfilled in my life. I can't begin to describe it. You could sit and talk all day long and no words could describe the peace, the beauty, the sense of accomplishment and responsibility; the commraderie that's here. It's overwhelming, it really is. You can't describe it!”

Congressman Leo Ryan was certain Jonestown was a pleasant and beautiful community rich with love and life from the beginning of the town to the very end of it. But there had been rumors surfacing in San Francisco that Jim Jones, the man so loved by his congregation he was virtually worshiped without a doubt; something was wrong. Like looking through a dirty pair of goggles, things seemed just a little off- messy and disturbing to those members of the People's Temple who wanted out and could not get away from the ruling hand of Jim Jones. Ryan and a film crew decided to fly from California to Guyana to make sure Jonestown was exactly as it seemed- exuberant and lovely, a cornucopia of joyful followers of the People's Temple.

Jim Jones, believer in the pentecostal church and many other ideals, was charismatic, almost magical, and truly arresting to his many followers. He knew how to win hearts, cleanse souls, identify evil, and purify those bound to wheelchairs- those blind and those battling inner demons. Jim Jones was the savior to all he met with. He conquered all and did so with quiet decency and unaffected normalcy. It was as if he were the true God, and that's how many of his followers came to see him. Jim Jones famously said, “If you see me as your friend, I'll be your friend. If you see me as your father, I'll be your father. If you see me as your God, I'll be your God.” And that's the beginning of the legacy of Jim Jones. He was everything anybody wanted him to be, and he wanted to be Somebody.

There was a lot of Jim Jones that many of his followers did not know when they joined the People's Temple. They did not know that their new savior was a molester of young girls, a greedy man with no sense to stop what he had begun, a sodomite, a liar, and a psychotic man on the verge of ending his life with the rest of his congregation. Jim Jones looked the part of the savior anybody could identify with in the late 1970's. With darkened sunglasses, a half grin and his spiritual demeanor, people ran to become a part of his flock, believing that the new way to pray was with this new awesome deity. Jim Jones, the deity that understood all and never discriminated against any skin color or disability.

Guyana was gorgeous, full of rich soil and the promise of a new life. Everybody wanted to go there, and many did. Emptying their whole bank accounts and saying a quick goodbye to puzzled family members, hundreds boarded a one way ticket to Guyana without looking back. There, they would lay their roots down on a fresh speck of land which was soon known as Jonestown.

Though Jim Jones could always be found on the pulpit of his church, Jim found another way to reach his People's Temple members..... via loudspeaker. On this cruedly made contraption placed all over the town, Jim would speak loudly in his morphine assisted slurs, “ I make my stand clear. Give us our liberty, or give us death.” While many ignored this strange sounding new Pastor, others became concerned at the constant rambling messages Jones passed to his followers day by day. Something was wrong with this man and it was becoming apparent.

When his members in 1978 began to openly cry out to be taken back to their homes all over the United States, Jim was adamant that his flock stay with him. He told stories- stories about how the world outside of Jonestown was falling apart. How could his members leave if the world was crumbling all around Guyana? There was nowhere else they would be able to flee to. When a pleading member would speak up of leaving Jonestown, Jim told them quite curtly, “You can't know how much of a conspiracy there is in the US these days. Maybe it's economics? Who knows what it is? I'm not able to say..... But I do know it's real.”
Jim also took these prayers of leaving Guyana as a personal attack against himself.

Conversation recorded between a People's Temple member and Jim Jones:

Jim Jones: “It's blasphemy! It's blasphemy to talk about going back when you're not given approval! Do you want to go home?”

Unknown member: “No.”

Jim Jones: “Well then be seated and shut your mouth and don't be in my face anymore!”

The loving and charming pastor his members had always known had begun to change. Maybe it was the morphine he took for his supposedly diseased kidneys, or maybe it was sheer madness at all the power he had begun to accumulate over the years. Maybe Jim knew and understood that his flock could be scared so easily with a wicked comment. Or perhaps, the most reasonable explanation can be stated as Jim's paranoia rose deeply and thickly like the kudzu growing wildly just outside of Guyana.

The day Leo Ryan and his film crew arrived at Jonestown was a hot and smothering muggy day. Warned explicitly by Jim Jones, members of the church were told not to say anything to the press coming into their little town. They were warned again and again not to say anything to the reporters, “They're all liars,” Jim said the day before Ryan was greeted at Guyana with much joy and happiness.

But the agitation from Jim Jones did not scare everyone away. Several members of the church came forward begging to go home. They couldn't stand the tyrannical rule of Jim Jones and felt something was certainly wrong. The messiah would not scare its members, hurt them, or threaten them. Jim Jones as the messiah wasn't right anymore. He was frightening and mean- sufferer of some mental disease. The power had gotten Jim Jones in a euphoric imaginary state. The morphine in Jim Jones veins was unhealthy with insane plots and strange ideas. It is unknown how many people understood this, but the ones that picked up on it firmly wanted to go home- to their real homes in the states.

“I WANT TO GO HOME”
“TAKE ME WITH YOU”
“HELP US”
“ I WANT TO GO HOME”
“I WANT TO LEAVE HERE”

These were just a few of the notes Leo Ryan received the afternoon of his departure, all delivered by children or non-nonchalant adults walking by the reporters. The fact that nobody would admit to writing the notes perplexed the senator and made him think twice before leaving. Had he seen a congregation of people praising Jim Jones or the members of a cult begging to be let go? Jonestown had seemed like a virtual paradise, with a kindly young man articulating love for his members. Now it was revealed that perhaps people were being held against their will.

Leo Ryan, realizing what was truly going on, rushed to his private plane only to be followed by vigilante members of the People's Temple. Ryan, only able to approach the outside of the plane, was shot by the vigilantes, killing him at only age 53.

By this time, Jim Jones had accumulated over 900 of his members of his church and made them all meet at the pavilion in the middle of Jonestown. More and more of his members began to voice their wish to leave Guyana to go home. With more of his congregation voting to leave, Jones became desperate. He couldn't let his flock go – wouldn't let his flock go at all.

“You can't leave,” Jim Jones cried out in horror and anger, ”You're my people. Why do you want to leave?” This was Jim Jones wail for infinite comfort. He wanted all of his people, all of them.

The only choice was burdened onto Jim Jones, and that was one of treachery and desperate yearning. “If we can't live in peace, let us die in peace,” Jim said, nearly a whisper; but this whisper resonated louder than he had ever said over a loudspeaker.

If Jim couldn't get his followers into the idea of coming to the Divine Light of God, he would make sure they got there any way possible, “Is there any way for it to taste less bitter?” Jim asked his aid. Stocked in the enormous cabinets of the kitchen were Kool-Aid canisters- enough for hundreds of people. Kool-Aid just might work to drown out the taste of the cyanide.

On the afternoon of the terrible storm on November 18, 1978, the only remnants were muddy pathways and damp huts. Everybody stood at the pavilion waiting for Jim Jones to tell them what to do now that the congressman was dead, dead at their own hands. There was only one choice at this moment, and that was to drink Jim's special concoction, a sleeping pill that would last for eternity.

What did these people have to live for? Their government had fallen, their lives were over according to Jim. And who had been at their side from the beginning? Jim Jones. He took care of them, their paychecks, their entire lives. Jim Jones was certainly a savior in these trying times. He knew all and took good care of his flock. They were safe in his arms. They had to be.

It was heard over the loudspeaker Jim's slurring voice,
“DIE WITH A DEGREE OF DIGNITY
DON'T LIE DOWN WITH TEARS AND AGONY!
IT'S NOTHING TO DEATH. IT'S NOTHING TO DEATH. IT'S JUST STEPPING OVER ONTO ANOTHER PLANE.
DON'T, DON'T BE THIS WAY.”


And so it was. 909 members of The People's Temple all committed suicide that fateful day, expecting to visit the Lord or perhaps Jim Jones as they passed in grotesque rows of people all along the pavilion. All of them laid down for Jones that afternoon, promised exquisite eternity in the end. All believing that they were meant for a better world, a world Jim Jones had dedicated to them as the cyanide riddled their bodies with poison.

“I looked to my right and I saw my wife with our son in her arms and poison being injected into his mouth. And my son was dead and he was frothing at the mouth. You know Cyanide makes people froth at the mouth?” - Tim Carter (Survivor)

No other cult has taken so many lives.

“Never heard a man speak like this man before
never hear a man speak like this man before
All the days of my life, ever since I been born
I never heard a man speak like this man before.”
- People's Temple church song.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Peter Lorre: The Silver Screen's Ultimate Villain


A Man With a Good Criminal Heart

By: Menschenleer

Peter Lorre was the first villain of the silver screen in which people saw a truly remorseful yet horrible monster. Misunderstood and seeming to have much regret about his misdeeds, Lorre was portrayed in most of his films as a treacherous and evil character- with a disarming mixture of decency and desperation. Once called a “sad-eyed innocent villain,” Peter Lorre was perhaps remembered as a foe, but never forgotten as an entrancing and magnificent actor.

At 5’5”, with unbelievably large eyes and a fetching devilish smile, Peter Lorre could have been seen as non-threatening, but the scripts for most of his films read him as a plotting rogue and criminal. As a result, Lorre wasn’t usually a leading man, but captured the silver screen as the dominant personality in almost all of his work. In most of his early films Lorre was a chubby but handsome fellow, wearing dapper suits and constantly chain smoking. The world found themselves arrested by this man with broken English and a rare but captivating smile.

Studying theatre for the better part of his 20’s, Peter Lorre was given the lead role in Fritz Lang’s German film “M” as a pedophile and child murderer named Hans Beckert. At the tender age of 27, Lorre began his vocation as a messy-haired sinister mentally ill man searching out children to mutilate in the streets of Berlin. With virtually no speaking lines until the last twenty minutes of the film, Lorre gave an incredibly thoughtful and frenzied speech in which he plead for clemency for his crimes.

Not only did Peter Lorre’s cries for understanding and help invoke tears to the eyes of avid watchers, but Lorre changes some of the minds of people who staunchly believe in the death penalty. But, like any villainous character, Lorre is eventually nearly mobbed by an angered crowd screaming for an inhuman demise. This would mark the beginning of Peter Lorre’s career as a scoundrel. Lorre could not escape the Hans Beckert character in the 1931 film, earning him an extremely unpleasant name in the future of his movie career.

Following several German films, Peter Lorre tried his hand at English movies. In 1934 at age 30, Lorre was cast in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much as Abbott, a kidnapper of a young girl. With an evil looking thick scar over his left eye and forehead, a constant cigarette jutting from his lips, Lorre excellently acted as a typical criminal with no remorse. Just learning English, with his unmistakable rolling R’s, Lorre had to learn much of his part phonetically, stumbling over simple sentences and words. The beauty of his work was not only shown in his speaking (his dialogue a mystery to him until coached properly), but the guilt and sorrow he privately lets the camera witness when talking of the little girl he has abducted. No other actor since Lorre has convincingly and beautifully showed this kind of acting ability.

In 1935, Lorre filled his usual role- that of a mad scientist by the name of Dr. Gogol in Mad Love. Obsessed with leading lady Yvonne Orlac, a famous stage star, Dr. Gogol devotes his entire life to pleasing this woman who finds him repulsive and disgusting. In order to make her love him, Dr. Gogol, a pudgy bald young man, decides to perform a bizarre surgery on Yvonne’s husband, one in which perhaps the classy and beautiful stage actress will finally succumb to Dr. Gogol’s advances. This plan is sacked when police find Dr. Gogol attempting to murder his great love, believing “Every man kills the thing he loves.” Dr. Gogol is knifed in the back and killed by Yvonne’s dedicated husband.

In 1936, Secret Agent, another Hitchcock film was released featuring another version of Lorre. Not only was Lorre again an odd criminal with a vested interest in damaging others lives, but he was a severe eccentric and philanderer of women. The very first time we meet Lorre’s character, The General, he is chasing a young woman from a bomb shelter shouting, “Sweetie! Darling! A moment! I love you!” With a tiny pencil-thin mustache and a noticeable gold earring, The General is described as “The Hairless Mexican.” His accomplice and fellow spy, leading man, Ashenden, asks the leader why The General is called such a strange name. The leader simply laughs and says, “Because he has lots of curly hair is not a Mexican.”

The General, in his infinite search for a lady, also has a keen crush on the leading woman, Elsa, who is flattered, but uninterested in his advances. When told by his accomplice, Ashenden, that The General will not have a wife like Elsa, Lorre loses his composure completely, tearing at the walls and breaking knick-knacks all over the place. “I should have a wife as well!” The General cries out,” Why can’t I have a beautiful wife too? Why? Why? It’s not fair!”

Robert Young, playing Marvin in the film, was written in the script as a dashing and charismatic man who was supposed to have conquered the screen with his good looks and clever remarks… but was horribly jealous when Lorre’s character, The General, topped Robert Young’s wit immeasurably. Lorre stole the screen from everyone without meaning to. The General was just an accomplice in the film, but happened to capture every viewer of the movie with his hilarious attempts at flirtation with women and his every move. Lorre might have been a supporting actor in the credits, but proved himself to be main character by merely his presence in a room.

Peter Lorre continued his career successfully without a break in films and television in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Starring with such famous stars as his close friend and co-star Humphrey Bogart, Lorre was given semi-lucrative parts in Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon. Playing a flamboyant homosexual in 1941’s The Maltese Falcon as Joel Cairo, Lorre perfectly depicted an untrusting and suspicious proper gentleman. The hero in the film, Humphrey Bogart, is weary of Joel Cairo’s motive throughout the film eventually knocking Cairo out with a swift crack of his fist. Needless to say, the only menacing thing about Joel Cairo in the film is his little pistol, which is taken away from him over and over by Humphrey Bogart.

Following Mad Love, Peter Lorre quickly filled the main role as Roderick Raskolnikov in the film adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. For all of Dostoyevsky’s so called genius and mental acuity, he certainly never imagined a gallant and famously incredible character like Peter Lorre to portray Raskolnikov. In fact, Dostoyevsky’s vision of Raskolvikov was a hilarious joke compared to Peter Lorre’s version. After murdering a poor pawnbroker, Lorre’s character becomes entangled with guilt and shame at what he has done. As the title portrays, Raskolvikov admits his crime and is therefore punished. This is a perfect and beautifully made film for any Peter Lorre fan.

One of Peter Lorre’s more interesting parts was Dr. Einstein in the dark comedy Arsenic and Old Lace released in 1944, starring Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane. Peter Lorre played the murderous doctor and accomplice of Jonathon, Cary Grant’s brother who bore a startling resemblance to Boris Karloff. Raymond Massey, playing Jonathon, is constantly followed by the bumbling and soft spoken Dr. Einstein who would rather end their killing spree instead of continuing the murders they have already committed. Peter Lorre is given the opportunity in this film to escape, while in his earlier works, he was often annihilated or jailed.

Although known as a desperate and inhuman criminal in many of his films, Peter Lorre in his personal life was a kind and gentle man, a passionate lover of life and deeply devoted to his acting career. Strangely, decades after his death, Lorre also saved the life of his daughter, Catharine. Hillside Strangler’s Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono attempted to abduct Catharine, that is, until they found a photograph of her father in her wallet. The duo, afraid to murder a well known actor’s daughter, quickly abandoned Catharine Lorre, deciding to focus their murderous search for victims elsewhere.

A guarded secret unseen by most film goers was Peter Lorre’s wide smile, an unusual look for the actor. Deep dented dimples appear on Lorre’s customary serious face, showing the innocence and playfulness in his personal character. Perhaps the reason directors hid this trait was because they did not want Lorre to seem anything but the criminal and immoral man he was often depicted as. Not only were Peter Lorre’s characters considered to be a regular criminals, he was close friends with classically evil characters Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price.

The World Inferno Friendship Society, an anachronistic ensemble of violinists, pianists, trumpeters, saxophones, accordion players and a myriad of other instruments musically immortalized the life and times of Peter Lorre. Addicted to Bad Ideas, released in 2007, is a beautiful and amazingly accurate musical portrayal devoted to Peter Lorre. Among the many songs featured on the album are With a Good Criminal Heart, I Just Make Faces, Cathy Catharine, Heart Attack ’64, Peter Lorre Overture, and “M” is for Morphine. Although many books about Peter Lorre have been written and dedicated artists have painted his picture, The World Inferno Friendship Society has trumped them all incalculably. With indelible heart, incredibly thoughtful lyrics, and enchantingly haunting music, Addicted to Bad Ideas is the perfectly ideal album for the Peter Lorre devotee.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Serial Killer Fascination : The Search For Acceptance



By: Menschenleer

Carrying a bright yellow bag featuring Jeffrey Dahmer, donning a pin showing a picture of Leopold and Loeb, and wearing a tee shirt baring the evil face of Andrei Chikatilo, the very first thing I hear from people who recognize one if not all of these killers is “Why the hell are you supporting those fuckers?”

And how to answer that question? It’s easy to sit down and calmly explain that I’m not supporting them, I am raising awareness towards what everyone else is trying to hide under the rug. I am simply promoting prevention, a little bit of understanding that these killers are human beings with mental instabilities that should be studied, not executed. It’s not so easy to make my point when others are throwing rocks and beer bottles at me. Without a sign that announces my personal opinion, I am stuck in a world that cannot and will not listen to me.

Why serial killers? My father's wife asks me. Why not? They haunt us, terrify us, and always leave us wondering why they did what they did, and of course, if they are innocent. When you have serial killers on the brain every day, it doesn’t change the way you think. I have no homicidal issues, no deep-seeded plans to destroy a building full of people, and I certainly don’t believe myself capable of hurting or killing another human being. However, I do understand how someone could be driven to serial killing. After studying serial killers for the better part of my life, I have found that there are distinct and legitimate reasons each person commits a murder.

Just like a snowflake, every single serial killer is absolutely different. They have all led lives that somehow bring them to murder. Most of them have had unbelievably horrific childhoods, leaving them scarred and sometimes vengeful. When hearing about a brutal attack or abuse imposed on a child in the news, we might be meeting a new serial killer, years before he or she commits any crime. After knowing what has happened to this child, we are shocked, saddened, and blame the abuser for what they have done. When years later, this child becomes an adult and begins their own crime spree, we are somehow surprised. Why are we surprised? We ought not to be. This adult has been given the recipe and taste of true pain and now must inflict their own torture on others. Can this be understood by society?

When it was discovered that I was writing serial killer biographies, I was actually asked if I had been molested as a child. The connection between interest in the macabre or crime does not necessarily make me or anyone else a disturbed individual, a victim of molestation, or a possible serial killer. What draws me to serial killers is the psychology of why and how they could commit murder without conscious. Or even if they do have a guilty conscious, what compels them to continue murdering? I subscribe to the idea that most serial killers have very little ability to end what they have started. The compulsion to kill is never ending for a serial killer. This is shown over and over as more killers emerge from the underbelly of society.

And why can’t I focus on a cheerier subject like home d├ęcor or popular fashion? The answer is simple. I have a passion for an often taboo and forbidden topic. But luckily, I can stomach the horrors of heinous crimes, deriving pleasure in finding the human being in each serial killer. I see no monster in Aileen Wuornos or Jeffrey Dahmer, rather lonely and discarded individuals pleading to be loved and cherished in any way. I do not condone nor do I believe their crimes were warranted, but I do hold fast to the idea that they should be seen as human beings that deserved more in life than what was given to them.

It’s a hard job to convince people that I am not a weirdo or privy to criminal behavior myself, but I cannot apologize for my work. After completing a biography of a serial killer, I cannot get even my own family or friends to read what I’ve worked so hard on. After advertising my work endlessly, I have found that literally no one has interest in how I make my living. But someone, somewhere, might possibly read my work someday, and that is my only comfort and the only reason I continue to write.

By learning about hundreds of serial killers, I have given myself a gift. I am vigilant and cautious in my day to day life, locking my doors, keeping a weapon nearby, and never answering to a man in a cast introducing himself, “Hi, I’m Ted.” Call it paranoia or excessive suspicion; I can claim that I will hopefully never become a victim myself. This I cannot say for others, but I look forward to the day when the world is a little more careful around strangers they don’t know. Prevention is the key to survival, and though we will certainly never fully be rid of serial killers, we might someday finally learn how to avoid them.

Serial Killer : The Human Being



By: Menschenleer

For centuries, maniacal and clinically disturbed people have been committing murders. Finding peace and solace in drowning a young child, enjoying dining on the tender meat of a human thigh, or simply falling asleep next to a rotting corpse; these are all things that satisfy and complete a murderer, if only for several moments. These delightful feelings produced through the death of another human being calm and deeply enrich a killer’s psychosis. A killer will go to great lengths to find this cherished sensation, travelling great distances, stalking a victim for weeks, or indulging in sadomasochistic pleasures. Murdering becomes a romanticized thought, arousing the killer’s insatiable appetite as he or she imagines their fantasies coming to reality. The longer the wait for the next victim, the greater the appeal for killing slowly rises. The killer reaches his or her fanatical climax much like an orgasm when finally they end the life of their selected prey.

What the killer feels next is not ecstasy, but rather immediate disappointment. The killing could have been executed better, could have lasted longer, and could have solved the loneliness the killer might be suffering from. Trivial and small insignificant details rack the brain of the killer, leaving them with the belief that the next killing might be perfect. With each murder, the intricate standards are set higher and higher, the killer becoming madly obsessed by obtaining that indescribable ideal emotion of agile strength, fantastic glory, and terrific splendor attained from the very first murder they committed. People who must kill in multitudes are called serial killers. They often kill more than three people in a short span of time, have what is called a “cooling off” period, and then continue their search for more victims. A sexual element, though not always the case, is usually included in the killings.

America has had a remarkable number of serial killers, eighty-five percent of them currently dominating the nation according to the FBI. What seems to interest the innocent public is primarily why these killers do what they do. This is not an easy question to tackle, by far. Early childhood abuse usually plays a large part in the killer’s actions and deeds. Edmund Kemper was locked in a basement by his mother when he reached puberty, while Charles Manson was sent to school in girl’s clothing courtesy of his mother’s constant belittling. John Wayne Gacy was violently attacked regularly by his father, attempting to show his young son what a real man should be.

When a serial killer emerges from his shell, it is sometimes seen as a rebellion against what they have lived through. Not only are they scarred and badly traumatized by the events of their childhood, but they have the need to inflict the same or more pain that they once endured. This is where the argument begins: does childhood abuse always turn a person into a serial killer? No, for we see victims of this kind of cruelty every day, leading “normal” and civilized lives. A product of environment does not always affect a serial killer. What distinguishes a serial killer from the average person is simply the compulsion to murder. But the whys of this are infinitely impossible to pin down depending on each killer.

Serial killers begin their killings at a very young age, their victim’s notoriously small animals such as domestic cats, dogs, or birds. Reasons vary from killer to killer, but some want to torture these defenseless creatures as an act of dominance. After a brutal beating from a parent or relative, the killer might want to inflict the pain they feel on another living thing. Some killers dissect the animals because they are simply curious of what the vital organs and intestines look like. Finding a rat or a squirrel, other killers merely take pleasure in suffering and death, finding that blood on their hands interests them more than any childhood game on the playgrounds. Cannibals, in their early years might find satisfaction in eating the raw flesh of a mouse or cat. Furthermore, fledgling child serial killers often keep souvenirs of the animals, keeping parts of the carcasses in shallow graves they might later dig up later to relive their crimes. Skeletons of these animals are sometimes hidden in backyards or private sheds. Although hard to attain, some killers are even able to keep their animals in jars filled with formaldehyde.

The next stage for an adolescent serial killer is sometimes petty crime, including theft, arson, and rape. Before they are able to ultimately commit murder, they must test the waters, so to speak, to see what they can get away with. Many of these killers are not able to conceal their crimes as easily as they had hoped, and end up in juvenile detention centers or reform schools. Edmund Kemper, an exception in the “law” of serial killing, murdered his grandparents at age 15, earning him five years in a state hospital. Albert DeSalvo was taught by his own father at an early age how to burglarize homes and shops, which came in handy when he finally did begin his full crime spree at age 31. For teenage future serial killers, this is a time for them to learn skills for social manipulation and to successfully gain the trust of people they might later take advantage of.

By the time the killer reaches college age, he is beginning to understand that his fantasies of murder can become a reality if given the proper opportunity. The organized killer begins to plan elaborate schemes, dreaming in precise detail what he will do to his victim. The killer will attain all of his implements in advance; guns, knives, rope, or poison. He treasures his weapons lovingly, delighted that these will be his trophies once he is able to search out the perfect victim.

The “perfect victim” is sought by the killer in an exact manner, for the victim must fit the superlative image of whomever the killer has desired since first deciding to kill. Once the victim has been chosen, the killer usually stalks the home looking for dates and times that the victim will be alone for long spans of time. Dennis Rader was an avid stalker and spent weeks surveying the homes of young single women he would eventually “bind, torture, and kill.”The longer the killer stalks, the more ravenous he becomes for blood, suffering, and agony. Much like a rollercoaster, the killer slowly and gradually climbs to the top, believing the excitement he will feel as he descends will be the thrill of his life.

The unorganized killer, sometimes known as a mentally insane person, does not search out a “perfect victim,” nor does the killer plan out exactly how he will devise the murder. An example might be that of Jack the Ripper, who found prostitutes on the streets of London and tore them to shreds in plain sight. At the same time, though, Jack was reportedly incredibly accurate when slitting open his victim’s chest cavities. Another spontaneous serial killer was Andrei Chikatilo, a Russian citizen with a keen interest in young children. After meeting them at a train station, he lured them to a secluded area in the woods where he tortured, killed, and ate them. David Berkowitz, suffering from severe schizophrenia, mercilessly murdered six young people in the mid 1970’s simply by walking by their parked cars in Brooklyn, NY.

The sexual deviant is well known among America’s roster of serial killers. Many killers demand sex to prove their dominance, raping and sodomizing the victim in a tremendously violent fashion. Some killers who are normally impotent in their marriages find that they can maintain an erection when they are face to face with their chosen victim. The forbidden act of raping someone gives the killer enormous gratification, fulfilling their sexual urgency in colossal measures.

Ed Gein, reportedly impotent, realized that he could have sex with corpses without a laughable comment from his dead lovers. Other killers are over-enthusiastic about sex, commanding their spouse to perform intercourse six or seven times a day. When their spouses refuse, the killers simply turn to their victims, who are unable to reject the killers while bound and gagged. Albert DeSalvo, so tortured by his sex addiction, sought out the elderly, the least likely to fight back. Raping and then strangling them with their own stockings, he left the police to find a cheerfully loopy bow around the necks of his thirteen victims.

Simple violence without sex is another form of serial killing. Bashing in the heads of their victims, beating them to death, and torturing them to the point of unrecognizable human features, serial killers are enamored with certain sadism and bloodshed. At first, this general operation is a vision of beauty to the common serial killer, but some later find it revolting, becoming sick and terrified of what they have done. This is the remorseful serial killer; one who can distinguish right from wrong and understands what he has done is not normal and absolutely horrendous. However, once the serial killers have begun killing, the addiction of slaying innocent people devours their conscious and they are unable and unwilling to end their vicious cycle. Jeffrey Dahmer admitted to his family and the court how enthusiastically sorry he was about the deaths of 17 young boys. Dahmer was genuinely sickened and vociferously disgusted about his crimes, volunteering for the death penalty. He sincerely believed that he should die for what he had done to so many innocent adolescent boys.

The remorseless serial killer does not see his crimes as erroneous, somehow believing that taking lives is his calling in life. Often, the remorseless killer has some kind of mental defect, perhaps brought on by a severe head trauma or hereditary traits that warrant him able to commit violence without guilt. Henry Lee Lucas, among many others, was brilliantly pleased with his murders, boasting nearly five hundred victims had died at his hands. Nannie Doss immediately admitted every detail of her murders, claiming she had killed simply because she was bored with her many husbands. Another female serial killer, Aileen Wuornos, originally maintained that she was assaulted by her victims and had no choice but to kill them. She later confessed that in cold blood, she had murdered willfully and happily seven innocent men. America’s Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez reportedly had his skull crushed as a child by a dresser and later had a history of brain damage. His methods of killing varied, but were all impossibly and indisputably atrocious. By slitting their throats, beating them to death with a hammer, or shooting them in the face, all can be seen as the work of an extremely mentally ill person.

Some serial killers find that they possess enough charm and appeal to lure anyone they chose to their victim’s ultimate demise. Theodore Bundy was a perfect example of this kind of trickery, using only one line to attract his victims, “Hi. I’m Ted.” The monstrosities he committed are almost nauseating, but spoke volumes about the way he was able to operate so easily with women. Bundy had never been a victim of childhood abuse, nor had he been molested as a youngster, but he had a sexual addiction that was unprecedented.

A sex addict feels the same way as someone who finds that food tastes good. Once the euphoria of sex is discovered, the addict cannot stop. Although Bundy suffered from a severe case of sex addiction, he was indelibly violent about it. Perhaps the most astonishing case was that of the Chi Omega murders. In one night, Bundy broke into the sorority house of several co-eds, raped and beat two young women and bludgeoned three others to death. Bundy has been famously known as a psychopath, portraying himself as a well-meaning and charismatic man, while still holding the opinion that women were merely people to be raped and murdered.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing was the name given to the practically ancient man named Albert Fish. Seen as a kind and grandfatherly type, nobody could guess that Fish was actually a child molester and cannibal. Bringing ten-year-old Grace Budd to an abandoned house, Fish stripped the young girl nude and strangled her. He dined on her body for the next several days until she began to decompose. Fish sent a letter to the Budd home shortly thereafter explaining in great detail what he had done to Grace. The one assurance he gave the appalled Budd family was that Grace had died a virgin. When Fish was apprehended, it was found that he was afflicted with an acute addiction to sadism. Whether beating himself with a nail-embedded paddle or exacting “punishment” on another, Fish could not control his overwhelming desire for pain. It is said that he even looked forward to his own execution, believing it to be the definitive aching pain he had been longing for his entire life.

Without sophistication and wit, other killers spend their time in the shadows, realizing that they are not part of normal society. By creeping shyly through the streets, they are all virtually unknown killers, keeping their lives private and waiting for the correct victim to find them. After all, some killers are just indiscriminate about who to abduct, torture, and murder. Cousins Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi victimized prostitutes in the late 1970’s, leaving dead bodies in open areas, earning them the title of The Hillside Stranglers. Not only did they strangle their victims, but they bizarrely found pleasure in injecting the women with various window cleaners, and even used electric shock as a torture method.

Other socially awkward serial killers haunt the streets. Jeffrey Dahmer was one of those killers, a lonely and disillusioned young man with a mean penchant for hard alcohol. Dahmer had a decent upbringing, never abused and never molested. He had also never had any history of early head trauma, suggesting he was a sane person who was aware of right and wrong. Alcohol seemed to have not only dominated his life, but had an unusual effect on him when it came to committing crimes. Frequenting local gay bars, Dahmer understood that the only way to get someone to come home with him was to drug their drinks. In the privacy of his home, he mercifully drugged them to the point of passing out. He then strangled them while they slept, finding his ultimate fulfillment at his disposal.

Believing that he was repulsive to any living person, Dahmer strangely attached himself to his corpses, sleeping next to them and lovingly stroking their cold bodies. When the stench of death permeated his home, he decided to keep some of his corpses with him forever- by eating them. Though Dahmer is one of America’s top known cannibals, it is a little known fact that Dahmer did not only and primarily eat every one of his victims. Eating some of them served two functions; one, he could dispose of them by eating them, and two, Dahmer wanted to keep his visitors with him as long as possible, in his own stomach.

The truth about Jeffrey Dahmer is not that he murdered innocent victims without a thought in his mind. Dahmer was truly repentant about his crimes, and admitted that he knew what he had done was wrong. His belief, during his trial, was that he should die for his crimes, for there was no use for his damnable actions in life. His wish came true, in the form of a mop handle and a jealous fist in prison. Dahmer was beaten to death by another inmate after serving two years in prison.

It is indeed repulsive what these serial killers have done. By raping, strangling, bludgeoning to death, or eating the contents of one’s vital organs, we see the distinction between each killer. We find that they are sinful and wicked killers devoid of “normal” emotions or thought processes. It is not fair what they have done, the pain they have inflicted on others, the undeserved violence imposed on innocent citizens. By showing us the awful nature and rule of true evil, we learn that everyone can be a victim if not guarded by reason and a degree of caution. This is not to say that any person is at fault for their own peril. Serial killers are discrete and usually trustful individuals, and that is why they are so often able to capture people quite literally.

Serial killers are startlingly frightening in any capacity, leaving society haunted by the killer’s absolute lack of concern and accountability. But the fact that killers lack this kind of sincere apologetic responsibility has to show America- the entire world- that something is deeply wrong with these killers. A sick person is sent to a doctor, not an executioner. To stop these terrible things from happening, we have to realize that these killers are not another species. They are human beings with damaged mental disorders.

Humanizing a serial killer is difficult, but it must be done to prevent another future Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz, or Jeffrey Dahmer. With profound and relentless psychological testing, a myriad of reasoning and understanding can come from these human beings we tend to call “monsters.” If every man in America is to be judged fairly, then the same should be done for serial killers. If compassion and truth must be shown to every man in court, the same respect should be shown to serial killers. Instead of the typical response to serial killing being that of great horror and repulsion, a shred of general empathy could be regarded, for isn’t a serial killer also a victim of their own tragically diseased mind?

Shedding Tears for a Killer



“The simple truth is that we cherish even when we don’t emulate.” - Nathan Leopold

By: Menschenleer

It’s the middle of July 2010 in Britain, and the sun is shining down on beautiful bouquets of flowers, trinkets, little notes, and gifts for a recent killer who committed suicide at a riverbank in Rothbury. Raoul Moat shot his ex-girlfriend, her new lover, and an unarmed policeman in one day and evaded police for over a week. After a six hour standoff with police, Moat, 37, shot himself in the head. Where his body was finally captured, now is littered with mourners holding candles and flowers for the man who murdered two men seemingly without remorse.

Raoul Moat, a severe abuser of steroids, found his ex-girlfriend with a new boyfriend and shot them both, injuring his ex-girlfriend and killing her lover. Raoul then shot a policeman who had come to see what the trouble was. The policeman was shot directly in the face, killing him instantly. Moat’s actions are now immortalized by grieving people in the streets of Rothbury, a north English town. Over 50 bouquets of flowers and notes have been left for Moat, and more seem to be coming. What possesses the people of this town and neighboring cities to devote themselves so deeply to a murderer?

Mourning the passing of a killer, or serial killer, is nothing new. Criminals on their way to the gallows or the electric chair have had devoted “fans” wishing them well and sobbing at their deaths. And why shouldn’t they? Death by the electric chair, hangings, and lethal injections are often painful and sorrowful occasions, not just by the criminal and his family, but by people who believe that purposeful death is wrong. Of course, a person that has murdered someone purposefully has committed a crime himself and should therefore be punished, but death is not the answer.

First, there must be understanding by humanizing the criminal, making him a person just like everyone else. Then there must be extensive psychiatric testing, assuring that the criminal is mentally fit to stand trial. At the end, there must be punishment, not necessarily fitting the crime. Death by death is not always the only way to discipline a criminal. Life without parole might be more fitting, allowing psychiatrists the opportunity to study the mind of a killer, preventing future killers to spawn after them.

By humanizing a criminal, some find it easy to shed a tear, even protesting their death sentence and standing outside a prison gate proudly proclaiming their opinion of what should happen to said criminal. In the case of Aileen Wuornos, thousands gathered at Florida State Prison to see her off. Hundreds bared signs begging for the governor’s mercy, believing Aileen to be framed ultimately by police and later the media. Although most wanted Ted Bundy to meet “Ole Sparky”, some stood their ground and believed he should have been imprisoned for life instead of going to the electric chair.

The truth of why some cry and mourn the death of a killer is very simple. When any person dies, especially when it is a terrifically awful death, there is bound to be an outpour of sadness from people, whether it is from the family of the killer or just innocent bystanders. As humans, we cannot deny the fact that there is some connection between us and the criminal. Perhaps we shared the same interests, followed the same principals, or merely took pleasure in the little things in life. Every person, despite their faults, has a right to die with some kind of dignity. If they are not given that opportunity, society has surely failed itself immeasurably.

Shunning the people who grieve the death of a killer is unnecessary. We are all given the right to cry about anything we wish, whether it be the end of the motion picture Titanic, or the loss of a beloved pet. Our emotions are not set in any specific way. We do not apply formally for our feelings at the DMV or Social Security office. To place a bouquet of flowers for a killer is not wrong, nor is it wrong to clap at the end of a Vin Diesel movie. As humans, we are allowed to freely hate and love as we please. If we happen to understand the actions of a killer, it does not necessarily make us sympathizers.

As quoted eloquently by accused child killer, Nathan Leopold, “The simple truth is that we cherish even when we don’t emulate.” He mourned the loss of his fellow accomplice Richard Loeb, seeing the human in Richard when the rest of the world delighted at his murder in prison in 1936. Also celebrated was the murder of Albert DeSalvo, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the execution of Andrei Chikatilo. Humans lives were taken away, brutally, and people raised their glasses in a grand toast.

We cherish even when we don’t emulate. That is all that needs to be said to the disgusted people that pass by the dozens of flowers laid down for Raoul Moat. It doesn’t matter who he was or what he did. He was a human being who died tragically.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Jesse Pomeroy - "The Inhuman Scamp"



“Lunatics can have their own sense of morality.” – Dr. John Tyler

(*Disclosure: Contains graphic content. Please be advised before reading.*)

By: Menschenleer

Typical teenagers in society learn normality by watching their peers, studying what to wear, how to speak, how to attain friendships, and which pop stars to idolize. It’s easy, right? Not for everyone, of course. For those of us wearing hand-me-down clothing, riding a public bus to school, and drawn to the dark side of life, becoming popular and adored is not an option for us. The society we are suppose to thrive in is cruel, demeaning, and often pushes us to a life of crime or worse. The taunting and nastiness from other peers can drive a well meaning child to the brink of suicide or even homicide. For teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the laughing and teasing of others at their high school ended in the shooting and death of thirteen classmates. The final straw had been drawn, and those two boys found they had nothing to live for before they committed suicide in the halls of their high school.

At twelve years old, not many students have mastered the art of popularity and good looks. Most of them are beginning to fight off the unpleasant rages of acne, thick glasses, and body odor. When even these kids are seen as glamorous and wildly attractive, one has to wonder who is looking at them from the other side of the glass.

With smudged fingerprints and the shadow of breath steaming the glass of a school doorway, stood Jesse Pomeroy. Taller than most students, gawky actually, Jesse could not escape easily from the rude comments and horribly vulgar opinions other students shouted at him. “Ole Marble Eye,” they often called him regarding the one white cataract eye he possessed. Jesse was too young to grow a mustache over his harelip, affording the other children to insult him every day he attended school. With an abnormally large head but with low intelligence, Jesse was seen not only as a reject, but a retarded person as well. Behind the glass he always seemed to be. Jesse was never on the other side where the kids with normal faces and correct stature were.

Born in 1859 in the lower class area of Chelsea in Boston, MA, Jesse Harding Pomeroy began his life with the chance to become a great man. Instead he was a sickly child, fussy and clutching his mother tight in his arms whenever her hands were free. Ruth Pomeroy was deeply in love with Jesse the moment she cast her eyes on him. Despite his unusual facial features and rapidly growing body, Jesse was Ruth’s favorite child and she showed her affection unabashedly. Jesse believed his mother was an angel, a beautiful queen, and treated her as such. Ruth was not revolted by her son’s face, rather fond of his differences and made sure to tell him how handsome and good looking she thought he was. Jesse knew this was a lie at a very young age when the other children threw rocks at him and made him cry. In his heart, he knew the ugliness he couldn’t escape from, and the other children on the schoolyard were always willing to remind him.

Ruth Pomeroy might have been the queen in Jesse’s life, but his father was no doubt the master of the household. Charles Pomeroy was a heavy drinker and a terrific tyrant when he was in a bad mood, which was usually every day. Evil in every sense of the word, Charles came down on Jesse and his brother Charles Jr. every chance he got, Jesse seeming to get the worst of it. Behind the outhouse in the backyard, Charles stripped his children nude and beat them senseless with a switch until they bled. Jesse’s later fascination with torture and sexuality might have begun here, it appears. After these vicious beatings, Jesse found that he liked making other things hurt like he did. And so, like others before and after his time, Jesse sought out animals in the streets to exact the same kind of injuries his father seemed to enjoy. As a result, Ruth Pomeroy never allowed any pet into the family, worried her beloved Jesse was doing something wrong to the local cats and dogs in the neighborhood.

Ostracized and belittled by other children, Jesse was quiet and spent most of his time alone. The world for Jesse at 12 years was a bleak one indeed. No one ever wanted to play with him, and he found himself feeling vengeful. Vengeful for the things he could never have, like girlfriends, or parties, or a happy home to go to after school. The only thing that interested Jesse was suffering, whether his father was beating him, or Jesse was beating something else. The only thing to do, it seemed, was to find another person he could hurt like he was hurt.

On Christmas day in 1871 Jesse Pomeroy decided to give himself a gift that he knew no one else would get him. Finding 4-year-old Billy Paine playing by himself near the Pomeroy home, Jesse offered the boy a prize if Billy would follow him to Powder Horn Hill. Without consulting his parents, Billy took Jesse’s warm hand and the two walked the short distance to a little shack on a hill. Inside was not a prize, candy, or precious toy. Though the shack was no bigger than an outhouse, Jesse was able to push Billy in. Jesse emulated his father, stripping Billy half nude and binding his wrists so he couldn’t struggle. Jesse hung him from the top beam of the shack with a bit of rope, smiling at the thought of Billy looking like an upside down Christmas tree. Stolen from his own father, Jesse had hidden a switch in the shack a day ago. Jesse then gave Billy the beating of his life.

Later that day, two men out hunting heard the cries and whimpering of something coming from the shack at the top of the hill. As they drew nearer, they were sure the sound was a frightened animal trapped inside the door. What they found was a frightened little boy, hanging upside down by his legs to the center poll of the shack. After cutting the boy down, they examined him for signs of hypothermia. He was blue all over, the rope had cut his wrists and ankles, and he seemed to be in some kind of shock. The two men attempted to pick up the little boy, but he suddenly began screaming and shaking. The men looked at the boys back which was horrifically red with welts and bruises; blood had been seeping through the wounds but froze in the cold. The men carefully picked up the boy and brought him to the police station. The boy was so traumatized; he could only shiver and offered no description of the person who had harmed him. The police put the incident on record, but did not look for the offender.

It had been wonderful. That power, it had been wonderful, Jesse thought two months later. He had been able to take someone away from the world for a short period of time, torture them, and then get away with it scot-free. Jesse lay awake at night, reliving the whole experience over and over again. Billy had cried so loudly, but then, so had Jesse at his father’s hands. But now, now Jesse could become a part of the pain by damaging someone else. It felt good. It was beyond good, it was amazing. Something had changed in Jesse that Christmas. He was taking back power.

It was still cold in February, 1872 and not many people were out that afternoon. Only the children were still playing, throwing snowballs with reddened and numb hands. The children were joyful in the post-Christmas days, laughing and leaving mittens behind as they ran through the streets. But this was Jesse Pomeroy’s stomping grounds. Hulking about in his father’s old winter jacket, Jesse appeared almost normal from a distance in the snowy weather.

As he came closer to his prey, his victim could see the irregular dent in the older boy’s lip. He also had one eye that was milky white. When the older boy smiled, the dent in his lip went deeper, but the boy couldn’t look away. Jesse introduced himself and leaned down to shake the little boy’s hand. 7-year-old Tracy Hayden was not used to such formalities and decided he’d made a new friend. Jesse asked if Tracy would like to see the soldiers just over Powder Horn Hill. Tracy had lots of toy soldiers, but had never seen a real one in the flesh. He readily agreed and took Jesse’s hand.

In the shack, Tracy realized there were no soldiers, only Jesse and his bad breath coming out in smoky billows. Tracy was cold, his jacket, trousers, and shirt taken away from him. Tracy’s hands were bound with rope and he was told to turn around. Jesse gave Tracy a similar beating to that of Billy, only this time, Jesse went further. Not only was Tracy brutally tortured in the cold, Jesse also knocked out his front teeth, broke his nose, and blackened both of his eyes. Tracy, with his eyes swollen almost shut and crying in hiccups, was warned not to tell anyone what had happened to him. Jesse knelt down, brushing the blood from Tracy’s cheek. “I’ll cut off your penis,” he said in a low tone,”If you tell anyone, I’ll come find you and cut it off. Got it?” Jesse stood up and left Tracy alone in the darkness. When questioned by police later that night, Tracy thought of the warning. “I don’t know his name. He’s a bigger kid with brown hair. That’s all I remember.”

The early spring of 1872 was beautiful. There were flowers growing just about everywhere and Jesse caught fireflies in a jar his mother had given him. In the backyard with his brother Charles Jr., everything was fine and good those golden days and warm nights. Jesse was threatened and teased at school, but nobody knew what he was capable of. The mean words and undeserved hatred towards Jesse had now become merely a voice in his head that he could keep quiet by hurting others.

That spring, Jesse found new children to torture. He especially enjoyed hurting the children with jubilant and perfect faces. They had the face Jesse should have had instead of the dent in his lip and his broken eye. The handsomest boys got the worst of Jesse’s wrath those early afternoons on Powder Horn Hill. Jesse also learned how to pleasure himself by fondling his genitals while beating the young boys. Promising to kill them if they ever told anyone what he was doing, Jesse was in ultimate power. No longer the inflicted, he was now the inflector.

The police began searching for the older boy who was assaulting the city’s youth. Calling him the “Inhuman Scamp,” the only evidence police had was that the boy had brown hair. Ironically, the distinctions that followed Jesse everywhere he went did not identify him whatsoever. Perhaps the children were too afraid to admit what the “Inhuman Scamp” really looked like. A $500 reward was offered for his capture, and parents were beginning to get worried about letting their children walk the streets.

Jesse struck again in July of 1872, taking a 7-year-old boy to his usual spot on Powder Horn Hill, beating the child while touching himself for sexual gratification. He assured the child he would kill him if he ever told a soul what had gone on in the shack. Luckily, the boy was not frightened by the empty threat and went directly to police.

At this time, Ruth Pomeroy moved from Chelsea to South Boston, taking her two sons with her. It is unknown if Charles Pomeroy left the home or died, but he never put another hand on Jesse again. This gave enormous thrill to Jesse, knowing that he could destroy anyone he wanted and his father was now gone. Ruth, on the other hand was starting to worry about Jesse. He had changed in the last six months, becoming confident, seemingly stronger, and less needy for his mother to help when the children at school taunted him.

Jesse, in high spirits, lured 7-year-old Joe Kennedy into the marshes near the bay in South Boston. Beating Joe mercilessly, Jesse turned to his knife, slashing the boy’s face. Jesse then dragged Joe to the water, where he washed his wounds with burning salt water. Robert Gould, abducted six days later, was slashed in the face with Jesse’s knife and beaten to the ground. Robert was the only child to admit that the young man who had taken him had “an eye like a white marble.”

It seems that Jesse was not only beating these children because he derived enjoyment from it, but by slashing their faces and attempting to cut off their genitals; he was making them abnormal like he was. Jesse didn’t want to be the only weird looking kid on the playground anymore. He was making friends. A strange and mean way to do so, but he appeared to be maiming these kids to solve his loneliness. Although he was doing horrible things to children, it must be remembered that this was a sexually deviant 12-year-old boy aching to be a part of something. By not getting anyone to come to him because of his looks, he was taking the children to him. A little like the monster character in Frankenstein.

On September 21, 1872, Jesse walked from school to the police department. It is unclear what he was planning to do or say, but Jesse had inflicted enough pain, it might have started to get to him. As Jesse walked into the police station, Joe Kennedy happened to be there with police. Jesse saw Joe and immediately left the station. It seems he had cold feet after all. But just as Jesse had seen Joe, Joe had seen Jesse and pointed him out to police. Jesse got half a block before he was apprehended. Police questioned Jesse for hours but he maintained his innocence. Police left Jesse in a cell while they called his mother. After midnight, police woke Jesse up and tried to get a confession. After falsely telling him he would receive a 100 year sentence if he didn’t confess, Jesse finally broke down.

The following day, Jesse Pomeroy faced each of his victims, all of them confirming that he was the young man who had assaulted them. Each boy recounted the event that happened to them before a magistrate. Ruth Pomeroy took the stand sobbing that Jesse was a good boy, that he couldn’t have hurt anyone. He was earnest and hardworking. Jesse was not a monster, she said. He couldn’t be. Jesse himself testified at the same hearing. He hung his head and said that he couldn’t help himself. The juvenile justice magistrate ordered that Jesse go to the House of Reformation in Westborough until his 18th birthday.

Westborough was tough on Jesse. He worked most of the day and only had four hours of schooling. To avoid trouble, Jesse kept to himself, even when the older boys made fun of him. The younger boys knew what Jesse was there for and left him alone unquestionably. The school was mostly for youngsters who were non-violent and were stubborn with their parents. The enormous distinction between Jesse and the rest of the boys was Jesse’s fascination with pain. Whenever one of the boys was in trouble, Jesse purposefully sought them out to find out how badly they had been punished and what exactly had happened.

Ruth Pomeroy pleaded for her son’s freedom, claiming Jesse had been coerced into confessing at such a late hour of night while he was under incredible stress. After finding the Pomeroy household to be fit and nurturing, the overseers of Jesse’s case came to the conclusion that Jesse had been reformed. Ruth also promised to keep a close eye on her son by having him work at her dress shop. After less than a year and a half in the reform school, Jesse Pomeroy was released.

Six months after Jesse’s release, on March 18, 1874, Jesse was opening up his mother’s shop and his brother’s newspaper stand. 10-year-old Katie Curran, in a green and black plaid skirt and crisp white collared top, came into Ruth’s store asking Jesse if he had any notebooks she needed for school. Rudolf Kohr, an employee at the store offered to help, but Jesse couldn’t take his eyes off of Katie. Asking Rudolf to run to the butcher shop for something or other, Jesse told Katie that he had some notebooks left in the basement of the store. “Just follow me,” Jesse said with a wink and put his arm around her as they descended the stairs. Katie looked around the dark basement, seeing nothing but dust and boxes all around her.
Wondering where Jesse would be able to find anything in such a mess, Katie walked further into the basement with Jesse following. “I need to go to school,” Katie urged, looking for Jesse who she had lost somehow in the dark.

Jesse stood behind Katie, at her blonde locks and fair skin. Such a beautiful girl, he thought. Jesse put his hand over her mouth and slit her throat, the blood flooding out of her surprising both Katie and Jesse. He’d never seen such blood in his life. Katie fell forward quickly onto the floor with little pink fingers grasping at anything she could. She tried to speak, but gurgled blood instead. Jesse stood over her body in mute horror. He’d been keying up for something like this for an awfully long time, waiting for the right moment, the right child, the right emotion. Now he felt as if he’d wasted it. Katie twitched a little on the ground, but made no other movements as the blood gathered around her little body. Jesse leaned down to make sure she was gone before picking her up. She was very light in his lanky arms. He cradled her for a moment before taking her to the very back of the basement behind the water closet.

Before disposing of the body completely, Jesse pulled up her skirt and stabbed at her abdomen and genitals until he could no longer hold the knife in his hands. Dropping the knife to the floor, Jesse pushed Katie’s body all the way to the back of the closet, putting stones and ashes on her to cover what he had done. When her body was sufficiently hidden, Jesse cleaned the bloody floor and went back up to the shop to help customers.

Within the hour, Mary Curran, Katie’s mother, was wandering the streets calling out for her daughter. Katie was never late, never tardy from school, and it disturbed Mary very much that Katie was not at school where she should have been. Visiting Tobin’s Store, Mary was told by the owner that Katie had gone to the Pomeroy’s for a notebook. Mary went straight to the police station, worried that Jesse Pomeroy had hurt Katie. The police captain assured Mary that Jesse was no longer a threat in any way. Besides, the captain said smiling; Jesse’s never attacked a girl before.

An entire day went by, and Katie was still missing. Rudolf Kohr told Mary that Katie had in fact been in the store. Mary went back to the police telling them that Rudolf had confirmed Katie’s appearance at the store the previous morning. The police almost laughed, telling Mary that Rudolf was a famed liar. They sent Mary and a policeman to the Pomeroy store, meeting a very unhappy Ruth Pomeroy. Ruth was certain Jesse had done nothing wrong and further went on to say that Jesse was rehabilitated now. Nothing was wrong in the store, and police soon lost interest in Katie’s case. When someone came forward saying Katie was seen entering a wagon, police decided she had been kidnapped and closed the case.

Jesse continued searching for new victims anywhere he could, trying to lure them with candy and other treats. The perfect victim was 4-year-old Horace Millen, who lived just across the street from the Pomeroy’s. Horace, with curly blonde hair and cupid lips, made Jesse almost lose control of himself when he spotted Horace on his way to a bakery. Horace was dressed special for the day, wearing a black and white jacket and black trousers and a fine velvet hat. Catching up to Horace at the bakery, Jesse introduced himself to the little boy, stretching out his large hand for Horace to take. Horace smiled and took Jesse’s hand. Jesse was going to take him to the beach to see the seagulls, and Horace was absolutely elated. With a little cupcake in one hand and Jesse’s hand in the other, the two ventured to the beach together. Several people saw Jesse and Horace that afternoon, but nobody stopped them.

Settling into a swale facing the early morning sun, Jesse and Horace shared the cupcake and laughed when the frosting stuck on Jesse’s nose. Wiping the tip of his nose with his sleeve, Jesse gazed over at Horace who was looking for the seagulls. “See?” Horace said excitedly when a seagull passed over the water. Jesse nodded and put his arm around Horace, slashing his throat with his finely sharpened knife. Horace, blood spattering his good clothes, coughed and began crying. Jesse tried to quiet the child by stabbing him everywhere he could, but Horace’s tiny little forearms and hands were getting much of the damage.

Finally slicing through Horace’s windpipe, the boy slowly went limp in the swale. Unsatisfied, Jesse hacked Horace’s body over and over with his knife, becoming angrier with every stab. He plunged his knife into Horace’s right eye, almost removing the eyeball completely. He was especially cruel to the genital area, nearly castrating Horace. When Jesse was finished, he cleaned his knife and looked for the seagulls. Jesse thought back to the moment he saw Horace, the happiness he felt knowing that he was going to kill him.

Five hours after Horace’s death, two brothers on the beach found his horribly mutilated body. The Millen family had been searching for Horace that afternoon, going to the police and describing their son. Unbeknownst to the Millen family, an unidentified boy was being brought to the coroner. Horace was soon identified by local police who had the unfortunate task of telling the Millen family what had happened to Horace. Jesse was apprehended by police because of his former misdeeds, police believing that perhaps Jesse wasn’t fully rehabilitated. Jesse kissed his mother goodbye and told her he would be home soon. Jesse was a lead suspect in Horace Millen’s death.

Jesse was brought in for questioning by police. Jesse claimed to have an alibi for the afternoon and told police he had no knowledge of Horace Millen or what had happened that morning. Explaining to the police that he had cut himself shaving, Jesse pointed to the fresh scratches on his face. Jesse’s knife was taken to the coroner’s office to see if it fit the stab wounds on Horace. Jesse went to sleep in his cell. Later, police brought Jesse to see the undertaker, to see the body of Horace Millen. He immediately broke down, apologizing and asking the police not to tell his mother.

When taken to the court’s inquest, Jesse denied his story completely, admitting no fault. Jesse was indicted for first degree murder. Ruth, losing her business, and living across the street from the grieving Millen family maintained her son’s innocence. After Ruth left her business, the new owner had decided to renovate the cellar. It was then that the body of Katie Curran was uncovered, nearly unrecognizable. Katie’s head had been severed, and her upper torso was so decomposed, doctor’s could not find what kind of torture Jesse had inflicted. Katie’s slip and undergarments had been split with a knife up the middle. Jesse also mutilated Katie’s abdomen and genitals severely, to the point where Katie was almost completely missing her vagina.

Ruth and Charles Jr. Pomeroy were sent into questioning about whether or not they knew about Katie’s remains in the cellar. Both had no information about Katie’s death. The main reason to apprehend Ruth and Charles Jr. was to keep them away from the constant media attention. After Jesse was told that his brother and mother were being interrogated about Katie, he was told he had to make a statement. Two days later, Jesse admitted in great detail how he killed Katie, wanting his mother and brother to remain out of the headlines. Jesse told police they had absolutely no knowledge of Katie until worker’s discovered her body. When asked why he killed Katie, Jesse looked up and said, “I don’t know… I wanted to see how she would act.”

It was suggested that Jesse Pomeroy had not left the reform school a changed boy at all, and was under the delusion that killing and hurting was something he had no control over. Explaining to an alienist, Jesse described sharp pains in his head that went from left to right over and over, enabling him to commit violence against others, especially young boys. Every time he felt a pain coming, he had to hurt or kill a child, he said. “I just could not help doing it,” Jesse said shaking his head.

Jesse was later given a letter from his mother. He read the note, folded it into his pocket and claimed again he was innocent of all the crimes. Admitting he had done nothing wrong, alienists found that Jesse possessed no feeling or remorse towards any of his crimes he protested not to have committed. Furthermore, alienist Dr. John Tyler said, Jesse understood right from wrong and would always be a threat to society. Jesse would need to be locked up forever, for he was insane and could never be truly rehabilitated.

On December 8, 1874, the trial began to a packed courtroom full of people demanding the death sentence for the lanky and somewhat dazed 14-year-old boy. Only charged with the murder of Horace Millen, Jesse sat next to his attorney staring blankly at his feet, seeming uninterested and bored. Katie Curran’s murder was brought up in the trial, but Jesse didn’t move or look up at all. The prosecution had the coroner testify against Jesse stating that the report showed that Horace had been clinching his fists so hard from the torture; his fingernails were embedded on his palms. This was an obvious plea to the court showing Jesse Pomeroy to be an absolute monster.

Charles Robinson, Jesse’s lawyer, in a desperate attempt to save Jesse from the death penalty, said, "When a person indicted for murder or manslaughter is acquitted by a jury by reason of insanity, the court shall order such person to be committed to one of the State Lunatic Hospitals during his natural life."

The first to testify in the defense was Dr. Tyler, telling the court that Jesse was undoubtedly insane. Jesse’s lack of motive, and indifference to what he had done showed this point surely. Jesse also didn’t seem to understand the consequences of anything he had done. It didn’t matter whether Jesse thought he knew right from wrong, “Lunatics can have their own sense of morality,” Dr. Tyler concluded.

Trying to deem Jesse as insane, his own mother testified. Ruth spoke of the many childhood illnesses Jesse had including a brain fever before his first birthday that must have had something to do with his madness. She also recalled the other mental issues Jesse had suffered in all of his 14 years; insomnia, dizziness and frequent violent headaches. Ruth went on to say that Jesse was addicted to extraordinary fantasies that dominated reality.

The jury deliberated for five hours, eventually finding Jesse guilty of first degree-premeditated-murder. Death by hanging was the mandatory sentence for this crime, but the jury asked for clemency for Jesse’s young age. The judge Horace Gray turned to Jesse and simply said, “Turn your thoughts to an appeal to the Eternal Judge of all hearts, and a preparation to the doom which awaits you." He then had Jesse taken from the court to jail to await execution. Ruth burst out in tears, crying out for Jesse. He could only wipe his own eyes, averting his eyes from his mother.

Massachusetts had never executed a 14-year-old before. Even people who were disgusted with Jesse Pomeroy were vocally adamant that Jesse serve a life sentence in prison instead of execution. However, Katie and Horace’s family wanted Jesse’s death in exchange for the bloodshed from their children. The ultimate decision was up to Governor William Gaston, who had an appointed committee to come up with an answer. The committee could come to no decision, so the Governor asked the public what should happen to Jesse. Two years later, in August 1876, Jesse’s crimes were not forgotten, but were further removed from the public’s eye. The new Governor Alexander Rice came to a decision for Jesse. Life in prison was the final verdict, but Jesse would not serve his time among others. He was to serve out his sentence in solitary confinement.

Now residing at Charlestown prison, Jesse was allowed one visitor a month- his mother. Ruth, and only Ruth, visited him. Jesse attempted escape several times, once even getting out of his cell, but never actually got out of Charlestown prison. Jesse spent 41 years in solitary confinement. While in his tiny cell, Jesse composed an autobiography about his life entitled, “The Autobiography of Jesse H. Pomeroy Written by Himself.”

In 1917, Jesse, now 58, was allowed to join the rest of prison society. He apparently took great pleasure in all the notoriety he received from other convicts. Most likely, Jesse was just glad to finally have some company. In 1929, Jesse was moved from Charlestown Prison to Bridgewater prison farm where he could receive better medical care. He rode in the first car he had ever seen but showed no signs of amazement at all. Prison had broken him down. If he wasn’t insane in 1876, solitary confinement had done the job. On September 29, 1932, Jesse died at 73 after serving 58 years in prison. He was cremated and asked for his remains to be thrown to the four winds.

Wayne Boden - The Vampire Rapist



By: Menschenleer

Sadomasochism, the act of inflicting pain on another willing partner, has been well documented since the late 1800’s. Sigmund Freud himself studied the psychology of both sadism and masochism in 1905, stating that these acts were rooted in the psyche from early childhood. A popular belief regarding sadism in particular might possibly begin with an infant biting and gnawing on the nipples of his mother. Though the child does not consciously remember this particular act in adulthood, he may have a subconscious memory of the enjoyment he felt when innocently biting at the nipples and areolas of his mother.

The act of breastfeeding has a lasting effect on some infants, especially when being weaned from his mother’s natural milk. The child might find himself angry with his mother, believing that the act of withholding the breast from her child is a direct punishment or reprimand for doing something wrong. Some children are not weaned so easily from their mother’s breast, becoming literally attached to his mother’s chest. Mothers who are particularly close to their child find it difficult to give a bottle of formula, instead breastfeeding well after the usual six to nine months. Some mother’s continue breastfeeding until the child is four or six years old.

Although it is unknown why serial killer Wayne Boden had such a bizarre fascination with the female breast, he might have had a possible traumatizing weaning incident as an infant. Not only was Boden intensely attracted to the breast, he was very much interested in sadism. By biting the breasts of his victims, he was fulfilling his need to wreak damage on the breasts he so richly wanted. Nipping at the breasts of his victims was not enough for Boden. Finding that he could reach powerful sexual gratification by ripping at the flesh, he also became massively interested in drawing blood. Essentially indulging himself in vampirism, Boden liked the taste of blood, especially when it came directly from the breast.

Wayne Boden, an attractive young man in his early 20’s with thick sideburns and an easy smile targeted his victims at random chiefly in Montreal, Canada in the late 1960’s to the early 1970’s. It is unconfirmed whether Boden sought out his victims who also found pleasure in sadomasochism, but surely he found his prey without difficulty by conning his way into their homes presumably for consensual sex. The sounds that came from the women’s apartments sounded very much like sexual enjoyment, but they were actually screams of pain. This is possibly why Boden was able to avoid police capture for three years.

The first victim, Norma Vaillancourt, a smart and attractive 21-year-old teacher from Montreal met her death one warm night in late July of 1968. When she didn’t come to work one morning, police were called and they eventually forced their way into her apartment. Her body had been sexually assaulted, her neck almost broken by strangulation and teeth marks covered her breasts. Traces of blood were found from the blunt and vicious ripping at her dark and fleshy areolas. In the apartment, police found that there were no signs of struggle, suggesting she had known her assailant and had willingly allowed him to visit with her the night she died. What police and the medical pathologist found odd was that Norma had died with a submissive and soft smile on her face. Perhaps a sign of rigor mortis had fixed a smile upon her face, but it wasn’t likely. When people engage in sadomasochistic sex, they sometimes specifically want to be superficially strangled to reach a “perfect orgasm.” It might have been likely Norma could have been so enthralled with the violent sexual encounter, she might have attained that “perfect orgasm,” and her last emotion was that of joy before she died.

A year passed before another body was found. Shirley Audette, a young pretty woman who was wandering around downtown Montreal perhaps looking for a man or bar, was found dead behind an apartment complex. Her cause of death and wounds were almost exactly fitting that of Norma Vaillancourt a year previous. Shirley’s boyfriend told police that he believed Shirley had wanted to indulge in the darker side of sexuality- rough sex.

Again, to the surprise of police, Shirley had showed no signs of resisting. She was wearing all of her clothes, intact, without a tear or button missing from her blouse. Police thought it was possible that Shirley had been forced at gunpoint to have sexual intercourse, but, the pathologist suggested Shirley had consented to “rough sex” with her killer before he became violent and killed her.

Because of the violent nature and odd manner in which the killings were done, police realized they were officially dealing with a serial killer. Canada now called this mystery breast mutilator “The Vampire Rapist.”

Only months later, Marielle Archambault, a jewelry store worker, was found dead in her apartment with the usual bite marks littering her breasts in a seemingly frenzied attempt to draw a large amount of blood. Marielle was fully clothed, her apartment neat and showing no signs of forced entry. She had been raped and strangled to death, but it appeared that she had not fought back. Police again believed that either Marielle had been specifically raped or had obliged to sadomasochistic sex. After all, there was a whole underground world of people who enjoyed the pain and satisfaction of hardcore sex.

What police did not understand was that Marielle had been wearing all of her clothes on her body, signifying her killer had respected her just enough not to leave her body lying nude for all to see when she was finally discovered. Many killer rapists often leave their victims naked and posed obscenely, their stockings ripped or panties still clinging to one leg. With this killer, there was a probable idea that he had some sort of compassion towards his victims, even though he ultimately killed them.

In 1969, Jean Wray, 24, was killed in her apartment. She had been strangled and had been raped. This crime was different however. Unlike the other killings, Jean was nude and had not had any bite marks on her breasts. According to police, Jean’s boyfriend had come to pick her up for a date, but she hadn’t answered the door. He waited around for a while before deciding to come back an hour later. When he arrived back at her apartment, he found her door unlocked and her naked body laying half on the floor and half on the couch.

Although the motus operandi was different from the other killings, the police were certain they were dealing with the Vampire Rapist again. A pathologist examined Jean’s body finding flecks of skin under her fingernails, revealing that Jean had fought back with her attacker. Jean was devoted to her boyfriend, as it turned out, and her assailant had not been welcome in her home. Police believed that the killer had been in Jean’s apartment when her boyfriend had knocked on the door the first time. Needing to flee the scene, the killer abandoned the strangled nude body on the couch and left before he could damage her breasts.

By 1971, in Calgary, Canada, 2,500 miles away from Montreal, The Vampire Rapist struck again. This attack was also unwanted, it appeared. 33-year-old schoolteacher Elizabeth Porteous was found dead in her apartment by her employer. She had put up a severe fight before being strangled, raped, and her breasts sexually mutilated. In her terror and attempt to fight her attacker off, she tore off his cufflink, which was found underneath her nude body. Questioning Elizabeth’s friends for any kind of information, police discovered that Elizabeth had been seen in a blue Mercedes with a showy attractive young male, calling himself “Bill.”

One day later, a police officer saw the Mercedes parked near the murder scene. The man who owned the car was indeed a handsome and ostentatious male with a flashy smile and a charming demeanor. The police officer brought the man, still calling himself “Bill”, to the police station. The police brought out the broken cufflink and presented it to the man, who looked at it for a long time before slowly nodding. He admitted that it had belonged to him, but claimed he had nothing to do with Elizabeth’s murder.

Under interrogation for several hours, “Bill” revealed his real identity, Wayne Boden. He then went on to confess to four of the murders, but claimed the first murder, that of Norma Vaillancourt, had not belonged to him. To assure they had the right man, Boden’s teeth were examined by local orthodontist Gordon Swann. He found 29 points in Boden’s teeth that matched exactly to Elizabeth Porteous’ injuries.
Brought to court in Calgary, Boden was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Elizabeth Porteous. Boden was then taken to Montreal to be found guilty of the three other murders of Shirley Audette, Marielle Archambault, and Jean Wray. Wayne Boden then received a further three life sentences. Boden never admitted and protested that he had not been the killer of Norma Vaillancourt.

Boden began his sentences at Kingston Penitentiary on February 16, 1972. Five years later, Boden was somehow given an American Express card which he used while on a day pass from prison. He was apprehended 36 hours after he was supposed to return to the prison. Nobody knows how or why he was granted a credit card while incarcerated.
In 1994, a man named Raymond Sauve was convicted of Norma Vaillancourt’s murder and sentenced to ten years in prison. After serving 25 years in prison, Wayne Boden died of skin cancer in 2006 at the age of 58.

Belle Gunness - "The Female Bluebeard"



By: Menshchenleer

When a seriously mentally defected serial killer is arrested and put in jail for their crimes, the public can breathe a sigh of relief. With a bit of evil taken away from the world and placed behind very thick bars, people can thank God or a judge or whomever they choose that the nastiness and wickedness of another human is no longer part of society. When Dennis Rader was apprehended after thirty-one years in hiding, people rejoiced that he would never be threatening young women again. The Zodiac Killer, however, has terrorized the nation since the late 1960’s. The media has hinted that this man died many years ago. But if he hasn’t, he continues to frighten the public. Whether The Zodiac Killer is a passing thought while someone is on their way to their car, or obsessing the mind of a forensic scientist, The Zodiac Killer has had a never ending effect on everyone who has had the displeasure of hearing of his awful crimes.

In the early 1900’s, another horrendous killer was discovered, but never apprehended. Belle Gunness’ story and the fact that she was never found made every available bachelor shiver merely by hearing her name. Belle Gunness, callous and undoubtedly without conscious, murdered approximately forty-two men in nearly five years, leaving little evidence of her crimes and disappearing as soon as she believed her greed had been unearthed by concerned individuals. Greed was Belle’s greatest need in life, and her greatest folly, for eventually, she had to escape from her deadly desires.

Born in Trondheim Norway on November 11, 1859, Brynhilde Paulsdatter decided to seek her fortune in America, immigrating to Chicago at age 24. She moved in with her sister and brother-in-law and changed her name to something more fitting, something dainty and girly. Belle Paulsdatter, sometimes called Bella, emerged from Norway in high spirits, enjoying the freedoms of America and the handsome and generous men that fell at her feet to date her. It didn’t take long for one of these fine-looking men to capture Belle’s heart. By 25, she wed another Norwegian immigrant, Mads Sorenson.

Belle and Mads were a happy couple, beginning a family and opening up a small bakery shop. Unfortunately, the bakery shop burned down shortly after it was erected, as did the two homes Belle and Mads owned. To the delight of Belle, all of them were heavily insured, which meant she and her husband could move to a more affluent home on Alma Street in Chicago. Bringing up her five children, Belle had what most would call a very agreeable lifestyle. She was young, married to a man who loved her completely, and was blessed with beautiful children.

What would bring down Belle and Mads’ happy little household was the death of two of their children within two years. Caroline and Axel, suffering from acute colitis, both had sudden and painful deaths, which might have had a tremendously negative effect on Belle’s psyche afterwards. In 1900, Mads died of something very much like food poisoning, but doctors were unable to find a clear reason for his death. Some believed that arsenic was the culprit, and Belle was the one to have poisoned Mads food, but there was never any evidence of foul play when Mads Sorenson was later exhumed. Belle left the marriage with a hefty amount of insurance money.

Immediately following Mads death, Belle moved to Indiana with her three surviving daughters and married widower Peter Gunness. Settling on a farm near La Porte, Belle and Peter joyfully began moving into their new home, taking great care to assure that this would be the home the family would reside in forever. After guaranteeing that Peter had a good life insurance policy, Belle taught her little daughters how to take care of the farm in the event that something might happen to Peter. Something did happen to Peter, in the form of a heavy sausage grinder that fell from a shelf and split open his skull, killing him.

One of Belle’s daughters, her foster daughter in fact, went to the police with a wild story that Belle had been the one to kill Peter. The girl frantically told them that Belle had smashed Peter’s skull with the sausage grinder; that it had not fallen from a shelf, as Belle had said. The police did not believe the girl and she was sent home. The girl met her own death with the sausage grinder when she arrived back at the farm. Belle told neighbors and the police that the girl had gone to a finishing school for girls.

Perusing the local advertisements for a new man, Belle felt she needed a husband to take care of her; a man willing to get a life insurance policy. Belle looked in particular for Norwegian immigrants, someone she could not only talk freely with, but weren’t quite as smart with English as she was. Advertising herself as a young and beautiful thin woman with a bit of money, Belle only sought men who were willing to come directly to the farm with cash in hand. When the men did arrive, from all over the country, they met a serious looking and heavy woman with large wrinkle lines on her face and two children seemingly frightened of her. Belle showed the men the farm and fed them a large dinner, smiling and telling them all about the new life they would be sharing together. As the men went to sleep, Belle crept into their bedroom and chloroformed them. Perhaps that was her only mercy, for being such a large woman, Belle was able to carry them to the basement where she chopped them to pieces with a meat cleaver.

Belle’s occasional lover and handyman on the farm, Ray Lamphere, helped Belle dispose of the dismembered bodies all over the farm. Some pieces they buried, and some they fed to the hogs. Committing her murders on a farm and not in a big city gave Belle an excellent opportunity to get rid of bodies, putting them in the shed or hiding them in shallow graves. Without close neighbors, Belle was able to do almost anything she wanted. Belle wanted money, and lots of it. Almost every one of her beau’s brought with them enough cash to pay off her mortgage on the farm or enough spending money to buy much needed supplies for the farm.

Reading about a lovely woman in search of a man to take care of her, Andrew Helgelein of South Dakota was immediately taken by the woman he read about in an advertisement. After sending her a short letter, Andrew was surprised when he received a long and beautifully written love letter filled with promises and fairytale-like descriptions of happiness. Belle even compared their love to that of a king and a queen, telling him that the farm they would live on together would be the envy of the entire world, for no one had ever lived so wonderfully and happily as Andrew and she. Included at the bottom of the letter, without the composure of loveliness as the rest of the letter, was a reminder that Andrew bring $3,000 with him. Promptly, and possibly half in love with Belle already, Andrew travelled to Indiana to meet his beautiful young bride. Andrew arrived, and was never seen again.

Belle ran into a world of trouble when Andrew’s brother Asle Helgelein wrote to her, begging to find out where Andrew was. He had been missing for months, and Asle was sick with worry when Andrew answered not one of his posts. Belle told Asle that Andrew had come to the farm, stayed one night, and had left before she could say goodbye. She further told Asle that if he brought her some money, she would make a state-wide effort to find Andrew. Asle smartly declined and contacted his local authorities.

On April 28, 1908, the farmhouse was burned to the ground, Ray Lamphere seen fleeing from the scene. After being arrested, Ray was charged with arson. Before the crime, Ray had famously announced to locals that Belle and he had had a falling out and that Belle had unjustly fired him. It was clear to everyone, including the police, that Ray was the cause of the fire. Ray was also charged with murder after the remains of three of Belle’s children were found in the basement. Next to the bodies was that of a headless adult woman, her false teeth found near her outstretched arm. The charge of murder was dropped, for police had evidence that the woman next to the children did not belong to Belle Gunness.

Forensic experts found that the body of the woman was thin, short, and had traces of poison in her body. Belle was anything but short and thin, and the head of the burned woman was never recovered. Police believed that Belle had lured an innocent woman to the farm, cut off her head and laid her next to the bodies of her children. Leaving the farm, Belle had left evidence of another woman she believed would be thought of as hers. Now that Asle and the authorities were after her, Belle had to escape, leaving everything and everyone behind. With suspicion from the police, the entire farm was searched for more evidence. In the hog pen, police found fourteen male bodies. Uneasy and worried about what else would be found, the police uncovered an additional forty bodies in and around the farm, including the body of Andrew Helgelein. All of the people found had been killed various ways, mostly by a meat cleaver, some with their head’s smashed in, and others chloroformed to death.

On May 22, 1908, Ray Lamphere was tried for arson and murder. Ray confessed readily to burning down the farm but adamantly claimed he had nothing to do with Belle or her children’s death. Ray received twenty years for the crime of arson, but only served one year before dying of natural causes. His deathbed confession exposed the truth behind Belle Gunness. Ray admitted that he had helped Belle dispose of many bodies, but had committed no crime himself. He claimed Belle had killed more than 42 people in the span of four years, taking more than $100,000 from her victims. Ray also confessed that Belle had told him she was planning her own death just before the fire. She was supposed to meet Ray with her 3 children after he burned down the farm. Instead, she killed her own children and fled the farm without Ray. Ray claimed to have seen her leaving the farm wheeling a cart down a dirt road in the darkness of night, her shadow from the flames bobbing down the lane as she walked.