Profile of an American Serial Killer: Pee Wee Gaskins

Donald Henry Gaskins, Jr, born March 13, 1933

Florence County, South Carolina, United States

a.k.a. “Pee Wee Gaskins,” “Junior Parrott”

Pee Wee Mugshot

“I have walked the same path as God.” – Gaskins

Pee Wee Gaskins was born Donald Henry Gaskins, Jr., to an unwed mother in rural South Carolina.  He earned the name Pee Wee due to his small stature, and was frequently physically abused by many of his mother’s boyfriends throughout his young life.  When his mother finally did marry, Pee Wee’s life didn’t improve due to the rigid discipline and violent consequences he and his half-siblings were subjected to by his new step-father.  The cards were stacked against Pee Wee from the moment he was born.

When Pee Wee was a young boy, he started to display violent behavior and never did well in school.  Pee Wee spent much of his young life committing petty thefts, burglarizing homes and getting in school yard fights. By the time Pee Wee was eleven-years-old, he dropped out of school and started working part time as a mechanic in a local garage where he met two boys, Danny and Marsh, who were close in age and also dropouts.  The three coined themselves “The Trouble Trio” and committed a variety of violent crimes together.  The trio burglarized homes, solicited prostitutes and raped young boys.  They always threatened the young boys so that they would be too afraid to tell police what happened.

Marsh had a younger sister whom they all gang raped.  They were caught, and were subjected to severe beatings by their parents as punishment.  Afterward, Danny and Marsh left town and Pee Wee continued on his own.  When Pee Wee was 13, in 1946, he was interrupted by a girl he knew while he was burglarizing a home.  Pee Wee wrestled an ax away from the girl, and hit her twice with it:  once in the head and once in the arm.  The girl survived, miraculously, and Pee Wee was sent to reform school at the South Carolina Industrial School for Boys until the age of 18 after being convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and intent to kill.

While Pee Wee was in reform school, he was gang-raped and became the sex toy of older “Boss-Boys” who would protect him in exchange for sexual favors.  Pee Wee escaped many times, once even managing to get a job with a traveling carnival and married a 13-year-old girl.  Afterward, he turned himself into police to complete his sentence.

When he was released in 1951, Pee Wee started working on a tobacco farm until he discovered insurance fraud.  Pee Wee and a friend collaborated with tobacco farmers to steal their crops and cover up the crime by burning their farms for a fee. Eventually, Pee Wee earned a reputation as “the barnburner” and was confronted by a friend who was also his boss’ daughter.  Again, Pee Wee lost his temper and split the girl’s skull using the hammer he had in his hand.  He was tried and convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder and received a five-year prison sentence.

How to describe Pee Wee in five words:  Brutal, detached, paedophile, cannibal, psychopath

During his next stint in the can, Pee Wee used his previous knowledge to earn him the title of “Prison Power Man.”  To do this, Pee Wee needed to find the biggest threat, the meanest of the mean, and take him out in cold blood.  Pee Wee decided on Hazel Brazell, the hardest, coldest known inmate in the prison.  He earned Brazell’s trust, and within a week, he sliced Brazell’s throat, earning him six months in solitary confinement.  After he was returned to population, Pee Wee was a prison hero, a “Power Man.”

In 1955, Pee Wee’s wife filed for divorce, driving him into a furious rage.  He escaped from prison, stole a car and went to Florida where he joined another carnival and married another young girl.  Two weeks later, the marriage ended and Pee Wee met Bettie Gates, a pretty, voluptuous carnival girl with whom he was instantly infatuated.

Gates convinced Pee Wee that her brother was in jail in Tennessee and needed them to come bail him out.  Pee Wee agreed to help Gates, driving her to Cookeville, TN, where they got a hotel room, and Pee Wee walked to the jail with a carton of cigarettes and bail money in his hand.  When he returned to the hotel, both Gates and Pee Wee’s car were long gone.  Gates tipped off the authorities and soon, police captured Pee Wee, and he went back to prison.  Gates had conned Pee Wee; her “brother” was actually her husband who escaped from prison using a razor blade tucked inside the carton of cigarettes Pee Wee delivered to him.

In prison for the third time, at a federal penitentiary in Atlanta, GA, Pee Wee became friends with mafia boss, Frank Costello, who named him “The Little Hatchet Man.”  Pee Wee was offered employment by Costello, should he ever need a job.

After Pee Wee was released from prison in August, 1961, he returned to Florence, SC, and started working in the tobacco fields again.  He continued his life of crime, by burglarizing and raping just like always. In 1962, he was arrested again for statutory rape of a 12-year-old girl, but escaped authorities and traveled to North Carolina, where he married a 17-year-old, who was, in his words, “old for my standards.”  Within weeks, Pee Wee’s new bride turned him into police and he was convicted of statutory rape and sent to the Columbia penitentiary for six years.  In November 1968, Pee Wee was paroled and swore he’d never go back to prison again.

It was at this time in Pee Wee’s life that he began identifying what he called, “them aggravated and bothersome feelings,” which seemed to trigger horrific fantasies Pee Wee eventually started acting on.  In September 1969, Pee Wee picked up a female hitchhiker and started flirting with her.  When she laughed at him, he beat her unconscious, raped, sodomized and tortured her then weighted her body and dumped her into a swamp, still alive.  This was his first “Coastal Kill,” as he would later call them.

The “Coastal Kills” were murders of random people.  These murders were the most terrifying because Pee Wee would subject his victims to insane methods of torture, sometimes for days.  Sometimes, he would cannibalize their severed body parts while they watched and would force them to eat their own flesh.

Pee Wee didn’t have a particular type of victim; he would kill men, women and children indiscriminately.  Whenever the “bothersome feelings” would return, Pee Wee would find another random victim, and unleash hell upon their final moments.

In November 1970, Pee Wee began his “Serious Murders,” which were the killings of close friends and family. His first “Serious Murders” were his own 15-year-old niece, Janice Kirby, and her friend, Patricia Alsobrook.  Pee Wee offered the girls a ride home and took them to an abandoned house where he raped, beat and drowned the girls in different locations.

In 1973, Pee Wee purchased an old hearse, and when questioned about it, he responded, “I kill so many people I need a vehicle to haul all the bodies to my private cemetery.”  At this time, Pee Wee lived in Prospect, SC, with his wife and child.  He had a reputation for being weird, explosive and mentally disturbed, but not dangerous.  He had friends who liked him.

In his book, “Final Truth,” co-written with Wilton Earle, Pee Wee recalls his crimes as one would recall any normal memory of their life.  Pee Wee boasts how he was able to pass lie detector tests with flying colors even though he was lying the entire time.  Pee Wee took great pride in his ability to earn the trust of his victims, and got off on controlling their lives up until the moment he ended them.  It was a way for him to exert his need to dominate and control his circumstances, the little abused boy speaking up and defending himself, but Pee Wee wasn’t a little boy anymore, and his victims had done nothing to deserve his wrath.

One of Pee Wee’s friends, 23-year-old Doreen Dempsey, an unwed mother of a 2-year-old girl, and pregnant, was planning to leave the area and asked Pee Wee for a ride to the bus station.  Instead, Gaskins took her to a wooded area, raped her and killed her, but before he killed Doreen, he started fondling her 2-year-old daughter.  Horrified by the sight, Doreen protested, and Pee Wee smashed her skull.  Then, he raped and sodomized the baby girl, later describing it as the best sex of his life.

By 1975, Pee Wee, by his own admission, had killed and disposed of over 80 people, during his “Coastal Kills.” He focused more on his “Serious Murders,” and in the same year, Gaskins was hired to kill a wealthy farmer from Florence County, Silas Yates. Yates’ ex-girlfriend, Suzanne Kipper, paid Pee Wee $1,500 to kill Yates, and one night, Pee Wee, Diane Neely, John Powel and John Owens conspired to kill Yates.  Neely, Powel and Owens were all associates of Kipper’s, and Neely lured Yates out of his home while Pee Wee kidnapped and murdered him as Owen and Powel watched, then all three buried Yates’ body.

Shortly thereafter, Neely and her boyfriend, ex-con Avery Howard, tried blackmailing Pee Wee for $5,000 in hush money.  Pee Wee tricked them into believing he would give them the money, then killed both of them and disposed of their bodies.  Pee Wee continued killing and torturing other people he knew, including 13-year-old Kim Ghelkins, who, like so many others before her, resisted his sexual advances.

Pee Wee began confiding in Walter Neely, and he soon became Pee Wee’s trusted friend after helping him kill and dispose of two heathens who tried to steal Pee Wee’s shop equipment.  Pee Wee showed Walter where he disposed of the bodies of all the other people he had killed, approximately 181 according to Pee Wee, which, if it’s true, makes him the most prolific serial killer in American history.

Neely eventually broke down and told police what he knew. Pee Wee was arrested and charged with nine counts of murder after police found the bodies of several of Pee Wee’s friends.  Pee Wee was sentenced to death.  He later confessed to seven additional murders to avoid additional death sentences.  His sentence was commuted to life with seven consecutive life terms in November, 1976, after the US Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional.  In prison, Pee Wee thrived off of the royal treatment he received due to his notoriety.  While in prison, Pee Wee was hired by Tony Cimo, son of Bill and Myrtle Moon (both victims of death row inmate, Rudolph Tyner) to kill his parents’ murderer, since they were both in prison together.  Pee Wee had certain privileges in prison which allowed him rights other inmates didn’t have.  Pee Wee was able to form a relationship with Tyner, posing as a drug dealer and lacing them with rat poison in attempts to kill him.  After none of these attempts worked, Pee Wee fashioned a home-made bomb with C4, using a military-style boot with a hole cut in the heel to smuggle it around in the prison.  Pee Wee rigged a device similar to a portable radio in Tyner’s death row cell and told Tyner this would allow them to communicate between cells.  When Tyner followed Pee Wee’s instructions to hold a speaker to his ear at an agreed time, Pee Wee detonated the explosives in his cell and killed him. “The last thing he heard was me laughing,” Pee Wee later boasted.  Pee Wee received the death penalty again after the murder of Rudolph Tyner.

While he was on death row, Pee Wee told his life story to a journalist by the name of Wilton Earle, and confessed to over 181 murders, including Margaret “Peg” Cuttino, the 12-year-old daughter of then SC senator James Cuttino, Jr.  Someone else had been sentenced and was in prison for this crime, and police dismissed most of Pee Wee’s claims because they found them impossible to verify.  Pee Wee said he had a “special mind” that gave him “permission to kill.”

Pee Wee Gaskins was executed on September 6, 1991, at 1:10AM.  He was the fourth person to die in the electric chair after the death penalty was reinstated in South Carolina.  His last words were, “I’ll let my lawyers talk for me.  I’m ready to go.”

Profile of an American Serial Killer: Richard Ramirez

Ricardo Leyva Múñoz Ramirez, born February 29, 1960

El Paso, Texas, United States

a.k.a. “Richard Ramirez,” “Night Stalker,” “El Matador”

Ramirez in Court
“Serial killers do, on a small scale, what governments do on a large one.” – Ramirez

As a young girl living in Glendale, CA, at the same time the Night Stalker terrorized Southern California, I was first introduced to the concept of a serial killer, thanks to none other than Richard Ramirez.

My late father, God rest his soul (March 31, 1944 – March 9, 1991), formerly a police officer in Maricopa County, Arizona, warned me about the Night Stalker and made sure our family was safe by securing the windows and doors at night himself.  He even went so far as installing wrought iron bars on every window and a gate made of wrought iron around the house.  I didn’t know it at the time, but found out after he died that he also had a .38 Special and a .357 Magnum hidden to protect us.

Growing up being a cop’s daughter has some interesting side effects.

Nonetheless, the subject of Richard Ramirez is a portrait of tragedy, neglect, drug abuse and epic law enforcement failure.

As a boy, Ramirez was a quiet, kind-hearted child, the youngest of five, born to working class Mexican immigrants Julián Ramírez and Mercedes Muñoz.  Ramirez is remembered as a loner by his classmates.  When he was two, he developed a contusion on his head after sustaining an injury caused by a dresser falling on him.  He had to receive over 30 stitches.  When Ramirez was six years old, he was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy and suffered from grand mal seizures.  By 10 years old, Ramirez had developed a strange fondness for the dead and began spending the night and sleeping in cemetaries near his home.

Ramirez began to grow close with his cousin Mike who was a Special Forces Vietnam War Veteran.  Mike used to talk at length with Ramirez about his escapades in Vietnam; how Mike tortured and killed several women.  He justified his torture and murder of these women by saying they were the enemy and no one cared about them anyway.  Mike took pictures of the graphic displays of violence and proudly showed them to his young cousin Ramirez.  At such a tender time in Ramirez’ adolescence, he was exposed to two forces of humanity normally kept very separate.  These forces were infused in Ramirez’ mind and he grew up thinking sex and violence were one in the same.

Mike and Ramirez would spend time together smoking cannabis and driving around town, having conversations about murder where Mike would give Ramirez advice on the proper method to shoot and cut people for “maximum effect.”

One day, during an argument with his wife about his unemployment, Mike shot his wife in the face, while Ramirez stood 2-3 feet away.  Ramirez never told anyone he witnessed the murder, and one may discern that Ramirez became the Night Stalker at this time in his life, before he had ever actually hurt anyone else.  Ramirez reportedly saw blood “squirting” from the wound in Mike’s wife’s head, and drew great pleasure from the sight.

After this turning point in Ramirez’ life, he began compartmentalizing (compartmentalizing is a known psychological behavior in sociopaths with the propensity to commit murder and live a normal life at the same time without any emotional interference) and subsequently lost his cousin/mentor Mike, who was arrested and declared insane, then placed in a mental asylum; Ramirez also started skipping school, smoking cannabis and sniffing glue by the time he was in seventh grade.  Ramirez became a thief to support his drug use.  Ramirez attended Thomas Jefferson High School in El Paso, Texas, dropping out before completing one year.  During that time, Ramirez was arrested twice for possession of illegal substances.

Once Ramirez had dropped out of high school and started getting a criminal record, he continued to spin out of control, drawing five-point pentagrams on his body and declaring his loyalty to Satan.  Ramirez began using cocaine daily, neglected his personal hygiene and survived on junk food.  His teeth slowly began rotting making his breath foul and offensive, a trait his surviving rape victims would terribly remember.

How to describe Richard Ramirez in five words?  Sloth, murderer, paedophile, chauvenist, Satanist.

Richard Ramirez’ victims of choice were mainly women; he only killed men when they were in the way of him overtaking the female.  Then he got them out of the way as quickly as possible by shooting them in the head.

Ramirez didn’t have a certain type of woman he targeted.  The ages of the women he killed ranged from 6 to 83.  Ramirez had no regard for human life and would rape and mutilate his victims without regret.

One living victim of Richard Ramirez reported having to profess her love for Satan while performing fellatio on Ramirez.

Ramirez played games with police, jumping from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, exploiting the poor communication between them.  Poor police work kept the Night Stalker in business for over a year, torturing, raping and murdering innocent Californians from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

One night in late August, 1985, a teenager who was working on his motorcycle at his parents’ house noticed a strange orange Toyota driving into the neighborhood, and noticed it again as it was leaving.  The teenager was suspicious, so he wrote the license plate number down and called the police the next morning.  Police determined that the 1976 orange Toyota had been stolen in Chinatown while the owner was dining at a restaurant.  An alert was put out for the car, and two days later it was located in the Rampart section of Los Angeles.  Having connected the vehicle to Ramirez, the police kept the car under surveillance for 24 hours hoping they would catch the Night Stalker as he came to claim his vehicle, but to their dismay, he never showed up.

Forensics revealed a good fingerprint on the car which turned out to belong to Ricardo “Richard” Leyva Múñoz Ramírez.  Further analysis revealed that this print matched a print taken from a window sill at the Pans’ home, where Ramirez killed Peter, aged 66, and raped his wife Barbara, aged 64.

Police immediately released Ramirez’ mug shot photograph to the press, naming him as the Night Stalker and dispatched units to the Greyhound bus station in Los Angeles, expecting to find Ramirez there ready to escape.  What they didn’t know is that Ramirez wasn’t even in California at the time his photo had been released.  He was in Arizona visiting a brother, but was returning that day.

Richard Ramirez Mug
Ramirez Los Angeles County Jail booking photo

On August 31, Ramirez arrived in the downtown Greyhound Los Angeles bus station, unaware of police present.  As Ramirez left the bus station, he noticed the area was flooded with cops, but managed to get past them unnoticed, still unaware that he had been identified as the Night Stalker.  He walked to the corner store to get some coffee, and the clerk immediately recognized his face and began shouting, “El Matador (“The Killer”)!”  Ramirez noticed that his face had made several front covers on the newspaper rack in front of him so he grabbed La Opinion, and ran.

Ramirez ran two miles east from downtown Los Angeles, looking for a car to steal so he could get away quickly.  He found Faustino Pinon’s red Ford Mustang, unaware that Pinon was underneath it working on the engine.  Ramirez noticed the car was unlocked and the keys were in the ignition so he jumped in and started it.  As soon as Pinon, aged 56, heard the engine start, he rolled out from under the car, angry.  Pinon grabbed Ramirez around the neck and Ramirez warned Pinon that he had a gun, but Pinon ignored him.  Ramirez put the car in gear and tried driving away, but Pinon would not let go of him.  The car crashed into a fence, then a garage.

Pinon then opened the door, dragging Ramirez out and threw him to the ground.  Ramirez struggled and got away, running across the street to the De la Torres residence as 28-year-old Angelina de la Torres was getting into her Ford Granada.  He stuck his head through the driver’s side window and demanded the keys from her, threatening, in Spanish, to kill her if she did not.  She screamed for help, and her husband Manuel, aged 32, came running from the backyard grabbing a length of metal fence post as he passed through the gate along the side of the house.  Jose Burgoin, a neighbor, heard the struggle in Pinon’s driveway, and immediately called police.  He ran outside to help Pinon and heard Angelina screaming. Burgoin called his sons (Jaime, 21, and Julio, 17) for assistance.  As the Burgoin brothers ran to help Mrs. De la Torres, they saw Ramirez scrambling across the front seat of her car.  Jaime recognized him from the pictures in the newspapers and on television and yelled that this was the killer, and all the men made a mad dash to catch him.  Ramirez ran for his life, but Manual de la Torres caught up with him and hit him across his neck with the metal post he carried with him.

Ramirez got up and continued running away, desperately trying to avoid capture, but De la Torres followed him, bashing him repeatedly from behind.  Jaime Burgoin caught up with Ramirez and punched him. Ramirez fell to the ground but quickly dusted himself off and continued to run with De la Torres and the Burgoin brothers at his heels.  Finally, De la Torres swung hard and hit Ramirez on the head.  Ramirez collapsed immediately, and the Burgoin brothers tackled him, holding him to the ground until police arrived.

Within 24 hours of naming Ramirez as the Night Stalker and releasing his picture to the public, he was behind bars where he belongs.

Ramirez was charged with 14 murders and 31 other felonies related to his 1985 crime spree.  He was also charged with a 15th murder in San Francisco and rape and attempted murder charges in Orange County.

Richard Ramirez Horns
“Big deal. Death always went with the territory. I’ll see you in Disneyland.” What Ramirez told reporters when he received the death penalty in November 1989.

At the time of this writing, it’s been almost 21 years since Ramirez has been sentenced to die in San Quentin’s gas chamber.  In that time, Ramirez has become a celebrity, developed a following, attracted groupies, married a groupie who has planned to kill herself once Ramirez has been executed and started a cult.

[[Conversation between Richard Ramirez and “Eric Gein,” a murderabilia collector.]]

Richard Ramirez, condemned on California Death Row

Ramirez was a fan of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC and, according to police, wore an AC/DC concert -shirt and left an AC/DC hat at one of the crime scenes.  Ramirez says, “Night Prowler,” by AC/DC from their album “Highway to Hell”, was a big influence for his actions.  The song helped name him while police fumbled to figure out just who this madman was.

Ramirez still lives in San Quentin, and still has a fan base.

[[“Night Prowler” – AC/DC]]

[[“Night Prowler” by AC/DC – Lyrics]]

Profile of an American Serial Killer: John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy, Jr., born March 17, 1932

Chicago, Illinois, United States

a.k.a.  John Gacy, Pogo the Clown, Killer Clown

“A clown can get away with murder.” – Gacy

Born in Chicago to John Wayne Gacy Sr., a machinist, and Marion Elaine Robinson, John Wayne Gacy, Jr. was the second of three children and the only son.  His father, John, was an alcoholic and abused John Jr. from the time he was a very small child.  John Jr. was teased relentlessly by his father, who often called the overweight, ill-at-ease boy a “sissy.”  John Jr. was close to his sisters and mother, however, who affectionately called him “Johnny.”

Most of John Gacy Jr.’s child life was tumultuous.  Gacy suffered a head injury at age 11; he was struck in the head with a swing forming a blood clot in his brain that was undetected until he was 16 and began to have blackouts.  Regular medication dissolved the clot but at 17, Gacy was diagnosed with a heart ailment that he was hospitalized for several times during his life.

Why did Gacy kill young boys?  There are several, possible, logical answers to this question.  First, it was misplaced anger toward his father that drove him to prey on young boys.  He knew from experience their vulnerabilities, and used this against them, as a way of justifying his own inability to fend off his father’s attacks.  He wanted to be like his father so that he could understand his father.  Once he did that, he steadily progressed into one of America’s most prolific and horrifying serial killers.  It was the addiction to power that fueled his desire to kill.

Second, Gacy killed young boys because he was ashamed of his homosexuality.  Even though he was nonchalant about his sexual preferences when his second wife started discovering gay porn stashes, this was a part of his façade.  Gacy didn’t allow anyone to truly know him, aside from his victims, because to truly know him meant immeasurable suffering.  Gacy kept his family separated from his monstrous acts as much as he possibly could.  He reserved his projection of self-hatred for his helpless victims.

How to describe John Wayne Gacy in five words?  Cowardly, paedophile, sadist, murderer, theatrical.

Gacy was likable.  It was a very natural quality he possessed and used to his advantage.  In 1964, Gacy graduated from Northwestern Business College and became a management trainee with the Nun-Bush Show Company.  Weeks later, he was transferred to Springfield, IL, where he met and married a well-to-do woman named Marlynn Myers in September 1964.  He became very active in local community organizations, joining the Jaycees and climbing to Vice-President of the Springfield chapter a year later.

Gacy was offered a job as a manager of a Waterloo, Iowa, KFC franchise purchased by Marlynn’s parents, and he accepted.  After the Gacys settled in Waterloo and had a son and a daughter, rumors of Gacy’s homosexuality began to spread.  Regardless, Gacy was still named “Outstanding Vice-President” of the Waterloo Jaycees in 1967.

There was a dark side to the Jaycee lifestyle Gacy was heavily involved in.  Gacy opened a club in his basement in Waterloo, and invited young boys over to participate in prostitution, pornography, drugs and alcohol.  After the young boy had a few drinks, Gacy would make sexual advances toward him.

Gacy’s life came to an abrupt halt in March 1968 when he was accused of sexually assaulting two teenage boys, aged 15 & 16.  Gacy maintained his innocence and hired another Waterloo boy to assault one of his accusers, but the plan was uncovered by police.  Gacy was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to 10 years in the Iowa State Penitentiary.

John Wayne Gacy’s first mug shot

Gacy’s wife, Marlynn, filed for divorce, and it was final in 1969.  Gacy never saw his children again.  While Gacy was incarcerated, his father died from cirrhosis on Christmas Day, 1969.  Gacy was released from prison after only serving 18 months of a 10-year sentence, due to his good behavior, in 1970.  After he was released, Gacy returned to his home in Illinois to live with his mother, hiding his criminal record from everyone he came into contact with.

Throughout the next six years, Gacy demonstrated odd, violent, abusive and dishonest behavior.  In 1971, he bought a house at 8214 West Summerdale Avenue in an unincorporated area of Norwood Park Township, Cook County, which is just northwest of the Chicago neighborhood Norwood Park.  Underneath the house was a four-foot deep crawl space under the floor.

Gacy was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct on February 12, 1971.  A teenage boy claimed Gacy picked him up and attempted to have sex with him.  The charges were dropped after the boy failed to appear in court.  Luckily for Gacy, the Iowa Board of Parole did not find out about this incident, and he was discharged from parole in October 1971.  Less than a year later, Gacy was arrested again and charged with battery after a young man accused Gacy of impersonating a police officer, and said he was forced into sex by Gacy.  Mysteriously, those charges were also dropped.

Gacy remarried in 1972, this time to a teenage acquaintance, Carole Hoff.  Hoff moved her two daughters into the Summerdale Avenue house and three years later, Gacy started his own business, PDM Contractors.  It was around this time that his marriage to Carole began to deteriorate and Gacy began killing; Gacy began staying out all night and Carole found strange things in his absence like wallets with IDs from young men and gay pornography.  Just four years after they married, the Gacys were divorced in March 1976, and Carole moved out with her two daughters.  By the time Carole left, Gacy had already killed two boys, Timothy McCoy and John Butkovich, and had buried their bodies in the crawlspace under the floor.

8214 West Summerdale Avenue

After Carole left, Gacy turned inward and focused on intertwining his perversions with his professional life, killing zealously.  Just prior to the Gacys’ divorce, Gacy had created a character he coined “Pogo the Clown.”  He took pride in his unique style of face-painting, saying he painted the sharp corners at the edges of his mouth contrary to the rounded borders that professional clowns typically have because he said he didn’t want to “frighten small children.”  Pogo the Clown performed at many parties and events and at the Good Luck Lounge, a local bar he frequented before going home.

Gacy became a fixture in Chicago’s Democratic Party, eventually earning him special clearance by the United States Secret Service.  By then, he had killed and buried around 20 young boys, burying most of them in the crawlspace at his home, and when he ran out of space there, he started dumping bodies in the Des Plaines River.

JohnGacy & RosalynnCarter
Gacy & First Lady Rosalynn Carter, 1978

On December 11, 1978, Gacy lured Robert Piest, a 15-year-old boy, away from his after school job on the pretense of discussing a construction job, one of the many ways he lured young boys into his home.  Piest happened to alert his mother prior to his disappearance, telling her in their last conversation, that “some contractor wants to talk to me about a job.”  He was never seen alive again.

Des Plaines police were convinced Gacy had something to do with Piest’s disappearance, and checked his criminal record, finding an outstanding battery charge against him in Chicago and that he had served time in Iowa for sodomy.  After obtaining a search warrant, police found several suspicious items including a high school class ring, driver’s licenses, handcuffs and various pornography.  Upon further investigation, Gacy was linked to the disappearance of three other youths.

On December 20, 1978, Gacy invited two surveillance detectives into his home. The detectives immediately noticed the smell of corpses coming from a heating duct.  In the days prior to his arrest, Gacy pompously claimed to two police officers, “You know, clowns can get away with murder!”  On December 22, police obtained a second search warrant of Gacy’s residence.  Officers arrested Gacy on a marijuana possession charge to detain him while they searched the house.  When they started digging in the crawlspace of Gacy’s Norwood Park Township home, police uncovered several human bones and charged Gacy with murder.

“I was born in a state of confusion,” Gacy’s response to arresting officers when asked where he was born. Here he is pictured, laughing at his own wit.

Gacy confessed to police that since 1972, he killed approximately 25-30 young men and boys, telling detectives that most victims’ bodies could be found in the crawlspace at his residence in the basement, or in other places around the property.  After he had filled his crawlspace with bodies, he threw approximately five bodies off of the I-55 bridge into the Des Plaines River.  Gacy drew a diagram of his placement of the bodies in the basement to aid police with their search.

On February 6, 1980, Gacy’s trial began in Chicago, Illinois.  Gacy entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, but it was rejected.  According to Gacy’s lawyer, Sam Amirante, Gacy was sane before and after the murders, only losing his mind during the commission of.  During the trial, Gacy found humor in his circumstances, saying that the only thing he was truly guilty of was “running a cemetary without a license.”  At another time during the trial, Gacy’s lawyer tried to claim that all 33 murders were accidental, caused by erotic asphyxia.  This was dismissed by the Cook County Coroner with evidence that Gacy’s assertion was impossible.  Gacy had already confessed to police and could not have this evidence suppressed.  The jury found him guilty on March 13, 1980 and sentenced him to die by lethal injection.

On May 10, 1994, Gacy was executed at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois, by lethal injection.  It was a media field day and crowds gathered in celebration outside the penitentiary, cheering when Gacy was pronounced dead after a botched execution.  (An inexperienced executioner caused an unexpected clog which delayed Gacy’s death by ten minutes.)

After his execution, Gacy’s brain was removed and it is now in the possession of Dr. Helen Morrison, a defense witness at Gacy’s trial who interviewed Gacy and other serial killers trying to isolate common personality traits of violent sociopaths.  Research and thorough examination of Gacy’s brain revealed no abnormalities.

Profile of an American Serial Killer: Theodore Robert Bundy

Theodore Robert Cowell, born November 24, 1946

Burlington, Vermont, United States


Theodore Robert Bundy, Ted Bundy, Chris Hagen, Richard Burton, Officer Roseland, Rolf Miller

Ted Bundy in Court

Ted Bundy was born Theodore Robert Cowell at the Elizabeth Lund Home For Unwed Mothers in Burlington, VT, to Eleanor Louise Cowell.  A bastard child, Ted was raised to believe that his grandparents were his birth parents, and his mother was his older sister.  Ted didn’t find out the truth about his family until he was already in college.

Speculation exists that suggests Ted was driven into his murderous frenzy due to the knowledge of his true parentage, however, Ted was known to readily dismiss any gossip about him or attempts to analyze him, no matter how logical the claim.

How to describe Ted Bundy in five words?  Narcissist, necrophiliac, paedophile, murderer, sociopath.

Why were Ted’s victims so similar (pretty, young, dark-haired girls who wore their hair parted down the middle)?  According to Ann Rule in her book, “The Stranger Beside Me,” Ted was obsessed with his former college girlfriend, Stephanie Brooks, who allegedly broke his heart because she didn’t believe Ted was good enough for her (had long dark hair which she parted down the middle).  Distraught by this revelation, Ted then discovered the truth about his childhood shortly thereafter, and his crime spree began not long following.

Ted dismissed Ann Rule’s observation about the haunting similarity of each of his victims, stating that they were all very different, and they just fit the mold of standard, good-looking girls.

Georgeann Hawkins, Bundy victim – click for info

Why didn’t Ted kill his former girlfriend Stephanie when she rejected him?  Instead, he pushed forth in his studies, and was accepted into law school.  He had even moved on romantically, and had a good job working the phones at a Seattle crisis center where he worked with then budding author Ann Rule, but his desire for revenge drove him to lead a double life.

After winning Stephanie back, even though he was already involved with another girl, Ted proposed marriage.  Upon Stephanie’s acceptance, he dumped her.

One might wonder how Stephanie Brooks feels now that she knows all this about her former college sweetheart.

Carol DaRonch testimony

Overall, it is unknown how many women Ted Bundy actually killed during his time as a predator.  Some say 36, some say over 100.  In the end, Ted Bundy earned the reputation as one of America’s most prolific serial killers.

Bite Mark Testimony at the Chi Omega Trial

The night before Ted was scheduled to be executed, in a taped interview granted to Dr. James Dobson, Ted blamed pornography for his violent urges, saying that it was his profound sexual desire that drove him to kill.

After a sit in Florida’s “Old Sparky,” Ted was pronounced dead at 7:16AM on January 24, 1989.

People gathered outside the prison for the event.  When Ted Bundy was pronounced dead, the crowd cheered.

Kimberley Leach, age 12; Bundy’s last victim

“I want to master life and death.”

“I just liked to kill, I wanted to kill.”

“What’s one less person on the face of the earth, anyway?”

“Sometimes I feel like a vampire.”

“I don’t feel guilty for anything. I feel sorry for people who feel guilt.”

“Personalized stationary is one of the small but truly necessary luxuries of life.”

“We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow.”

“There’s gonna be people turning up in canyons and there are gonna be people being shot in Salt Lake City because the police there aren’t willing to accept what I think they know, and they know that I didn’t do these things.”

“There’s no question about it. The FBI’s own study on serial homicide shows that the most common interest among serial killers is pornography. Well-meaning, decent people will condemn the behavior of a Ted Bundy, while they’re walking past a magazine rack full of the very kinds of things that send young kids down the road to be Ted Bundys. But I’ll tell you, there lots of other kids playing in streets around this country today who are going to be dead tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day and month, because other young people are reading the kinds of things and seeing the kinds of things that are available in the media today.”

“Listen, I’m no social scientist, and I haven’t done a survey. I don’t pretend that I know what John Q. Citizen thinks about this. But I’ve lived in prison for a long time now. And I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me. And without exception, without question, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography.”

“I didn’t know what made people want to be friends. I didn’t know what made people attractive to one another. I didn’t know what underlay social interactions.”

“You feel the last bit of breath leaving their body. You’re looking into their eyes. A person in that situation is God!”

“The fantasy that accompanies and generates the anticipation that precedes the crime is always more stimulating than the immediate aftermath of the crime itself.”

“I haven’t blocked out the past. I wouldn’t trade the person I am, or what I’ve done, or the people I’ve known – for anything. So I do think about it. And at times it’s a rather mellow trip to lay back and remember.”

“I’m as cold a motherfucker as you’ve ever put your fucking eyes on. I don’t give a shit about those people.”

“You don’t need these handcuffs. I’m not going anywhere.”- What he said after being convicted of aggravated kidnapping in Utah. (He later escaped custody twice.)

“But I’m the most cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch you’ll ever meet.”- Responding to a detective who was trying to obtain the whereabouts of victim Kimberly Leach’s corpse.

“No. Absolutely not. It’s important for me. It’s important for my credibility because there is so much question about my credibility.”- His response when asked if he had killed 8-year-old Anne Marie Burr, who lived near Ted Bundy when he was 15-years-old.

“I’d like you to give my love to my family and friends.”- His last words before his execution.

Items found by police in Bundy’s car
Dead Ted

10 of the Most Prolific Serial Killers in World History


Place: North Sumatra    Date: 1997    Victims: Women

Suradji was in Indonesian witch doctor who buried his victims near his house, with the help of his three wives.  He had a reputation for paranormal powers and preyed on women who secretly asked hm to cast spells on their husbands or families.  He charged each one $200 – 400, then buried them up to the waist in a nearby sugercane plantation as part of the ritual.  He’d then strangle them with cable, strip them and drink their saliva.  Arrested in 1997, he told police he needed to kill 70 women to get magical powers.  Although only 40 bodies were found, over 80 women are still missing in the area.


Place: Ukraine    Date: 1995 – 1996    Victims: Families in remote houses

When the police finally arrested Anatoly Onoprienko on 16 April, 1996, the mentally disturbed former forestry student denied he was ‘The Terminator’, slayer of over 52 people and the Ukraine’s most prolific killer, although he did confess to eight murders between 1989 and 1995.  When he was taken into custody he had a 12-bore shotgun matching the one used in over 40 of the killings, jewelry and video players belonging to some of the victims.  His modus operandi was to find families in isolated houses and shoot them at close range, torching the houses afterward and blasting anyone who was unlucky enough to witness his violent outbursts.  During a three month rampage near the Polish border he killed over 40 people in one village, but remained at large despite the mobilisation of an army division and armoured personell carriers.  His reason?   Inner voices told him to do it, apparently.


Place: Rostov, Russia    Date: 1980s – 1990s    Victims: Children

Chikatilo was a teacher and a members of the Communist Party, but as he grew older he began stalking children, disemboweling and mutilating them.  His crimes were overlooked for so long because he was a Party member and partly because the Russians weren’t keen to admitting that a child-killing sadist was stalking their utopia.   Chikatilo’s trial in 1994, full of descriptions of how he’d boil and eat testicles and nipples, was the first celebrity serial killer trial in the former USSR.  There’s a film version, Citizen X, with Donald Sutherland.  He was killed by firing squad in 1994.


Place: Germany    Date: 1928 – 1943    Victims: Women

Between 1928 and 1943, Ludke, a laundry van driver, strangled and stabbed over 80 women, with little discrimination.  Having been arrested for killing one woman, he promptly confessed to 85 other murders.  The Nazis having already sterilised him as a mental defective and suspected rapist, could not indict him because he was insane – as Ludke delighted in pointing out.  They solved the problem by sending him to a research hospital in Vienna, where he was used as a human guinea-pig.  On 8 April 1944, one of the experiments in which he was involved in proved fatal.


Place: Guanajuato, Mexico    Date: 1955 – 1964     Victims: Prostitutes and their johns.

Sisters Delfina and Maria ran the Rancho El Angel in Mexico.   They recruited working girls, got them hooked on drugs and forced them to serve the perverse and humiliating desires of their clientele.  If girls became too ill, damaged by repeated rape or lost their looks, they killed them.  They also offed visitors flashed over large wads.  The police picked up Josefina Guuierez, a procuress, on suspicion of kidnapping young girls in the Guanajuato area, and she gave up the sisters.  When police raided the bordello they uncovered the remains of 11 men, 80 women and several foetuses.  The sisters were sentenced to 40 years each.


Place: Russia    Date;1980 – 1991    Victims: Women, usually tall attractive ones

They like cannibalism in Russia – perhaps it’s the poor state of the local scoff.  NIKOLAI DZHURMONGALIEV – known as ‘Metal Fang’ because of his white metal false teeth – is the king of the Soviet cannibals, slaughtering and serving up around 100 women to his dinner guests in the Russian republic of Kazakhstan.  he believed women and prostitution were the root of all evil.  After friends discovered a head and intestines in the kitchen he was sent to an insane asylum in Tashkent, from which he bribed his way out.  he was then incarcarated after being found guilty of only seven murders, but escaped in 1989.  The Russian authorities never admitted he’d got out, and spent two years trying to recapture him, eventually tracking him to Uzbekistan.   Interior Minister Colonel Yuri Dubyagin described him as: “absolutely normal, but at one point [he] got a taste of female meat.”  An attitude which may explain why there are so many high-scoring serial killers in Russia.  He was held not responsible for his actions, he’s back in the loony bin.


Place: American South    Date: 1960s     Victims: Indiscriminate

Dubbed America’s meanest serial killer, Pee Wee traced his history of violence back to watching a cobra eat a live rat at a carnival.  He spent most of his childhood getting into trouble, and because of his small stature, was frequently abused in prison.   He snapped and killed a notorious murderer while the man was taking a dump, making him a legend.  Released in 1969, he began to carry out two varieties of killings while making money from fencing stolen cars.  His ‘coastal kills’ were people he picked up driving around the Deep South and murdered for pleasure, while his ‘serious murders’ were people he knew and disliked. He claimed to have killed over 200 people.   After killing another inmate in a maximum security jail, Pee Wee was fried on 6 Sept 1991.  His autobiography, the strangely lyrical, Final Truth, was published posthumously.


Place: Chicago    Date: 1890s    Victims: Boarding house guests

Dr Holmes’ started out stealing corpses from the University of Michigan and moved onto Chicago, where he made a fortune with a chain of drug stores.  He used his wealth to build a 100 room house full of gas chambers, trap doors, acid vats, lime pits and secret doors.  During the 1893 World Fair, he rented rooms and killed most of their occupants, moving on to attracting women to his home, forcing them to sign over their savings and then throwing them down an elevator shaft before gassing them.   When police rumbled him, he burned his torture castle down.  The remains of over 200 victims were found in the ruins.  Mudgett became the first celebrity psycho in the US after a sensational trial.  He was hanged on 7 May 1896.


Place: America    Date: 1964 – 1979    Victims: Mostly hitch-hikers of all ages and both sexes

Henry started bad – the boy’s alcoholic father was left legless after an encounter with a freight train and killed himself because of his prostitute wife’s nagging.  Henry sliced his own eye open while playing with a knife as a kid, and as his mom did nothing about it, he had to have it removed.  On another occasion she sent him to school in girls’ clothing with curled hair.  Unsurprisingly, he began his killing spree by sticking a knife in her back and raping her corpse.  He served 10 years in Ohio State Psychiatric Hospital for that.  On his release he launched into a killing spree, having already warned the authorities he was going to kill again.
Ottis was even more screwed up.  A psychotic retard with transvestite tendencies, he had a taste for human flesh.  Henry only failed to join his meals because, he said, he disliked Ottis’ choice of barbeque sauce.  The pair specialised in the randon killing of hitch-hikers, often just running them over when they weren’t in the mood for torture.  But they fell out when Henry began having sex with with Ottis’ seven year old niece
. Henry and Ottis confessed to more than 500 murders between them; but many experts doubt that figure and maintain that 200 is more reasonable.  Some believe that Henry may have only murdered a handful of people, and was simply fed information by police officers keen to clear up innumerable unsolved killings.  A fictionalised account of their rampage is at the heart of John McNaughtons 1989 cinematic classic Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.  Henry currently awaits execution in Texas.  Ottis died of liver failure in 1996 whilst serving six consecutive life sentences.


Place: Peru, Columbia and Ecuador    Date: 1970s     Victims: Young girls, mostly pre-teens

Lopez was kicked out by his prostitute mother at the age of eight, after she caught him fondling his younger sister.  He was picked up by a paedophile and raped, and was later gang-banged in prison, retaliating by killing three of his rapists.
By 1978 it’s reckoned he’d killed at least 100 girls in Peru; when attention fell on him he moved back to his native Columbia and then on to Ecuador.   There he killed three girls a week on average, preferring them because they were “more gentle and trusting, more innocent.”  In 1980, police uncovered one of his many victims’ graves and he was rapidly arrested and tricked into confession whilst being held in prison.
At first police refused to believe the numbers he mentioned but he quickly identified the sites of more than 50 burials, lending credence to his claim as the most prolific serial killer to date.  He was convicted of murder in Ecuador.  Lopez will languish in prison for the rest of his life.

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