Monthly Archives: January 2016

50 American Serial Killers You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Volume 1

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Howard Arthur Allen

Serial killers, by their nature, prey on the weak and defenseless. Women and children are commonly targeted, but among the most heartless of killers are those who attack the frail and elderly. Howard Arthur Allen was one such creature, a heinous thug who savagely beat, stabbed and strangled at least three elderly victims to death.

Allen’s first known murder was committed in August 1974, when he was 24 years old. On that occasion, he broke into the home of 85-year-old Opal Cooper, beating her to death in the course of a petty robbery. He was soon arrested for that murder, but the charge was reduced to manslaughter, and the sentence was a mere two to twenty-one years.

Allen would serve roughly half the maximum sentence before being paroled in January 1985. He returned to Indianapolis, where he found work at a car wash. For a while, he seemed to stay out of trouble. But the rage inside Howard Arthur Allen had not been extinguished. Before long, it flared up and he was hunting again.

On May 18, 1987, a 73-year-old Indianapolis woman narrowly escaped death after being choked and beaten by a prowler who broke into her home. Two days later another senior, 87-year-old Laverne Hale, was attacked, dying from her injuries on May 29.

On June 2, a burglar ransacked the home of an elderly man, just five blocks from the scene of the Hale murder. Fortunately for the tenant, he was not home. The killer vented his rage instead on the residence, setting it on fire.

Less than two weeks later, on July 14, 73-year-old Ernestine Griffin was murdered in her home near 57th and Keystone in Indianapolis. In the most brutal attack yet, the killer repeatedly plunged a ten-inch butcher knife into the frail woman, then caved in her skull with a toaster. His take from this carnage was a paltry fifteen dollars and a cheap camera belonging to the victim.

But Allen had made a crucial mistake. Days before the attack, he had called on Mrs. Griffin to enquire about a car her neighbor had for sale. Griffin had asked him to leave a number for her to pass on to the neighbor and Allen had done so. Now, as police processed the crime scene, they found that note, sitting on a kitchen counter.

Pulled in for questioning, Allen initially denied writing the note (a handwriting expert would later verify the handwriting as his) but after several hours of questioning, he finally admitted that he had been to Griffin’s home. He even admitted punching her after (he said) she cussed him.

Finally, he all but admitted to the murder, saying, “I didn't stab the old lady, but if I did, I need help.”

Then one of Allen’s co-workers at the car wash came forward with a vital piece of evidence. He told investigators that on the day after the murder, Allen had given him a camera to stash in his locker. The camera was linked to Ernestine Griffin by its serial number and the film still in the camera belonged to Griffin.

Allen was indicted on charges of battery, burglary, and unlawful confinement. He was also charged with arson and burglary relating to the June 2 incident, as well as the murder of Ernestine Griffin.

A number of trials followed. In the spring of 1988, Allen was sentenced to 88 years for burglary and felony battery. In June of that year, he was sentenced to death for the murder of Ernestine Griffin.

Allen is currently incarcerated on death row in Indiana. He remains the prime suspect in eleven other murders of elderly victims, all of them attacked in their homes in and around Indianapolis.

50 American Serial Killers You've Probably Never Heard Of Volume One includes another 49 riveting stories of America's lesser known serial killers

American Monsters Volume 1

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David Carpenter

The Trailside Killer


“Please don't hurt me.” – David Carpenter’s first words to arresting officers.

Over a twenty-month period, beginning in the summer of 1979, a merciless killer stalked the parks and hiking trails around the bay area of San Francisco. The press dubbed this murderer, “the Trailside Killer,” and police seemed helpless in their attempts to stop him. When he was eventually caught, they’d be stunned to learn that he’d once been a suspect in another series of murders, the infamous Zodiac killings.

On August 19, 1979, Edda Kane set out to hike the trails of Mount Tamaulipas, overlooking San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. When she failed to return, her husband called the police and a team was immediately dispatched to look for her. Despite an exhaustive search with tracker dogs, they were unable to locate Edda that night.

Resuming their search the next morning, they soon discovered the missing woman. She’d been brutally slain, her body positioned on its knees in a subservient position. Cause of death was a bullet wound to the back of the head, delivered executioner style. Her purse had been ransacked and her credit cards and glasses were missing. She had not been raped, which left police baffled as to the motive for the murder. Surely the killer could have robbed Mrs. Kane without killing her?

An appeal for information brought them no closer to answering that question. Other hikers reported seeing two men in the area who they described as acting suspiciously. But witness descriptions were inconsistent, and with little physical evidence at the scene, the murder went unsolved.

For a time, hikers in the area maintained a high level of vigilance, walking in pairs. But eventually, things returned to normal. The Kane murder began to look like an isolated incident. Nature enthusiasts returned to the woods.

Then, in March of 1980, another woman was dead. Barbara Schwartz, 23, was hiking with her dog when a man stepped from the cover of the trees and without warning began slashing and stabbing at her. Another female hiker, following a short distance behind, witnessed the entire attack. She ran for help, but by the time it arrived, Barbara lay dead on the ground and her attacker had disappeared into the woods.

The eyewitness though, was able to provide the police with a description. She said that the assailant was a slim, athletic man of about 25. Unfortunately, this would prove wide of the mark and may have hampered the police in their early investigations.

But there were other clues. The initial search turned up a bloodstained pair of bi-focal glasses. A few days later, some boys found a bloodstained boning knife with a ten-inch blade, lying in brush close to the crime scene. The pathologist confirmed that this was the weapon that had inflicted twelve, deep knife-wounds on Barbara Schwartz. The glasses, meanwhile, proved to be prison issue.

Seven months passed. On October 15, 1980, 26-year-old Anne Alderson went jogging in the Tamaulipas. It was the end of the Columbus Day weekend, and the park was busy. Alderson was seen by a number of people in an area close to where Edda Kane had been killed a year earlier. A park employee recalled spotting her sitting on a ledge, enjoying the sunset. He considered warning her about staying in the park after nightfall but decided not to disturb her.

Alderson’s body was found the next day. Like Edda Kane, she’d been shot in the head and her corpse had been posed in a similar position. Unlike in the Kane murder, the victim had been raped. Several people later reported seeing a lone man of about 50 in the area. Once again, eyewitness descriptions varied wildly.

In November of that year, came the horrifying discovery of four more bodies, the result of a couple of double homicides committed in the previous six weeks.

On November 28, Shauna May went hiking at Point Reyes National Seashore Park, just a few miles north of San Francisco. May was supposed to meet friends there and when she failed to show, her friends alerted park rangers. Her body was discovered two days later. She’d been trussed with a length of wire, shot three times in the head, and hidden in a shallow trench. An autopsy would later determine that she had been raped.

The body of another young woman also occupied the trench. Diana O’Connell, 22, had gone missing while hiking with friends. She too had been raped and shot in the back of the head.

The two women had been strangers to each other. It seems one of them had chanced upon the killer attacking the other, and had then been attacked herself. This theory was given credence by a hiker who reported hearing four closely spaced gunshots.

As if that wasn’t enough, police soon discovered two more bodies less than half a mile away. The victims were Richard Stowers, 19, and his fiancée Cynthia Moreland, 18. The couple had gone missing while hiking together in mid-October. Ballistics would prove that the weapon used in these homicides was the same one that had killed Anne Alderson.

With the body count mounting and no breaks in the case, Bay area police requested help from the FBI. That request went to veteran profilers Roy Hazelwood and John Douglas.

Douglas traveled to San Francisco to examine the evidence and crime scenes. He developed a profile that described the killer as a local man with a good knowledge of the area, a recluse who may have a speech impediment. Douglas believed the perpetrator to be Caucasian, intelligent, and a blue-collar worker who had spent time in jail.

His M.O. was to approach the victim from behind, using aggression, rather than persuasion, to gain control. He would be in his thirties and, while he’d more than likely raped before, he would not have committed murder before this series.

The profile was detailed and would later prove to be mostly accurate. But it didn’t stop the Trailside Killer. In March 1981, he struck again, this time switching his attention to Redwoods State Park. Undergraduate students, Ellen Marie Hansen and Stephen Haertle, were hiking a trail when a man approached them. He produced a pistol and told Hansen that he was going to rape her. When she resisted, he fired three shots at her, hitting her twice in the head and once in the shoulder. The stranger then turned his gun on Haertle, shooting him in the neck.

Despite his injuries, Haertle ran to get help, alerting other hikers as the man fled. Later, Haertle was able to provide police with a description. The man was about 50-years-old and balding. He was five-foot-ten and weighed approximately 170 pounds. Haertle also recalled the man’s crooked yellow teeth.

Other witnesses reported a man fleeing the scene and driving off in a small, red car, possibly a Fiat.

Based on the description provided by Haertle, police drew up a composite sketch of the suspect and ran it in a number of newspapers. Four days later, a woman came forward and claimed that she recognized the man in the picture. She said his name was David Carpenter and that he had been a purser on a cruise ship she and her daughter had traveled on twenty-six years before. She said she had confronted Carpenter, who had been pestering her daughter with sexual advances.

Police followed up on the lead, but there were a number of David Carpenters living in the bay area and the information led nowhere.

The killer meanwhile, was plotting his next crime, and perhaps because of the attention the case was getting, or perhaps due to arrogance, he changed his M.O., targeting someone in his immediate circle.

Heather Roxanne Scaggs was a student working part-time at Econo Quick Print, where David Carpenter trained people to use computer-typesetting equipment. He befriended Heather, sometimes giving her a lift home. On one of these occasions, Heather mentioned that she wanted to buy a car of her own, and Carpenter told her that a friend of his had a vehicle for sale. He offered to take her to see it, and pestered her about it over the days that followed, until Heather eventually agreed.

Heather probably had misgivings about Carpenter because before leaving she gave her boyfriend, Dan Pingle, Carpenter’s name and address, as well as the time that she expected to return.

When she didn’t return, Pingle went looking for her, eventually ending up at Carpenter’s home. He confronted Carpenter about Heather’s whereabouts, but Carpenter insisted that she hadn’t shown up for their meeting and that he hadn’t seen her. Pingle then went to the police.

Having previously heard the name Carpenter mentioned in connection with the Trailside Killer case, investigators were immediately interested. And that interest was elevated when detectives met with Carpenter. He bore a strong resemblance to the Trailside Killer suspect.

But Carpenter insisted that he hadn’t met with Heather, and denied any knowledge of her whereabouts. With no evidence to prove otherwise, the police did not have cause to detain him.

Instead, they placed Carpenter under surveillance while they gathered the evidence they needed to arrest him. When officers eventually moved on Carpenter, his first words were, "Please don't hurt me."

With Carpenter in custody, police searched his car, a red Fiat. In it, they found over 60 books and maps about local hiking trails.

Next, Carpenter was put into a line-up, where Steve Haertle immediately identified him as the man who had shot Ellen Marie Hansen. A number of other eyewitnesses identified Carpenter as the man they’d seen close to the murder sites. A car line-up was arranged and witnesses picked out Carpenter’s red Fiat.

Carpenter was charged with the murders of Heather Scaggs and Ellen Hansen, and the attempted murder of Steve Haertle. He was charged separately with the Marin County killings of Anne Alderson, Diane O'Connell, Shauna May, Cynthia Moreland, and Richard Stowers. All of these murders were linked by ballistics with Carpenter’s .38-caliber revolver, which police had recovered from an acquaintance of his. No charges were brought in the Kane and Schwartz homicides, due to lack of evidence.

While Carpenter was in custody, a ninth body was found in Big Basin Redwoods Park. The M.O. in this case closely followed that of the Trailside Killer, and ballistics would link Carpenter to the crime.

Then, on June 16, 1981, a group of rock climbers in Castle Rock State Park found a jawbone, which they believed to be human. Forensic analysis proved this to be the case, and further investigation uncovered the remains of Anna Menjivaras, a 17-year-old high school student, who had been missing since December 28 the previous year.

Anna had worked part-time at the bank where Carpenter had his account. According to other bank employees, he seemed to have a strong attraction to her, often engaging her in conversation and flirting with her. But evidence against him in this case was slim.

As the other cases proceeded, a picture emerged of a twisted and dangerous man. David Carpenter was born in San Francisco on May 6, 1930. His home life was far from ideal, with an alcoholic father who regularly beat him, and an overly domineering mother. As a child, he had a severe stutter and suffered constant ridicule and harassment because of it. He was a bed-wetter and took out his frustration and anger by torturing animals (two traits often associated with fledgling serial killers).

As an adolescent he took to sexually assaulting children and at 17 he was arrested for molesting two of his cousins. He served a year in the California Youth Authority for that offence.

Upon his release, Carpenter worked at several jobs, got married and fathered three children. But his predatory ways continued. In 1960, he was arrested for the attempted rape of an acquaintance, receiving a 14-year sentence. Released in 1969, he was re-arrested in Modesto on February 3, 1970. This time he got seven years for kidnapping and robbery, plus an additional two years for parole violations. He was released in May 1979. Within three months, he had murdered Edda Kane.

Despite protesting his innocence, David Carpenter received multiple death penalties for the Trailside murders. He is currently on death row at San Quentin.

American Monsters Volume One includes 11 more riveting stories of America's worst serial killers

American Monsters Volume 2

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Patrick Kearney

The Trash Bag Killer


“Murder excited me and gave me a feeling of dominance.” – Patrick Kearney.

The Seventies were a tumultuous decade in American history. After the summer of love in 1969, a new and more tolerant era beckoned. The whole country seemed to be in motion and many young people were drawn to California, attracted by its great weather, carefree lifestyle and permissive attitudes.

Hitchhiking was a popular mode of transport for these young travelers and, in the main, those who stuck out their thumb and headed west, arrived safely. Others though, were not so lucky. During that time, a number of prolific serial killers prowled the highways and byways of southern California - men like Randy Kraft, William Bonin and Patrick Kearney.

Patrick Wayne Kearney was born in East Los Angeles in 1940, the youngest of three sons. His childhood appears to have been relatively stable, at least as far as his home life was concerned. At school, though, he was an easy target for bullies – a thin, sickly and diminutive child who was painfully shy.

Like many children set upon by their peers, Patrick retreated into his own world, although where other kids might lose themselves in books or games, Kearney (according to his later confession) began developing violent revenge fantasies. By age eight, he said, he knew that he was going to kill people; by his mid teens his fantasies had developed into keenly detailed visions of murder. By his mid-twenties, those fantasies had been transformed into reality.

Yet, nothing in Patrick Kearney’s life suggested that he might become a serial killer. He was an intelligent boy, who did well at school. After graduating, he served in the military, married and moved with his wife to Texas. Then, after his marriage failed, he met and fell in love with David Douglas Hill, a 6'2” high school dropout from Lubbock, Texas.

Like Kearney, Hill had spent time in the Army, but he’d been discharged after being diagnosed with an unspecified personality disorder. He’d returned to his hometown and married his high school sweetheart. Then he’d met Patrick Kearney and, not long after, he’d divorced his wife and moved with Kearney to California.

In 1967, the pair set up house together, Kearney finding a job as an aeronautics engineer with the Hughes Aircraft Corporation, Hill staying home and looking after domestic affairs. Their relationship, which would last ten years, was often stormy. Hill would often leave in a huff and spend the night with friends or pick up a one-night stand out of revenge. Occasionally, he even went back home to Lubbock, remaining there for days at a time.

It was on these occasions, with Hill out of the picture, that Kearney's repressed rage would simmer to the surface. That was when he’d hit the streets, cruising the interstate or trawling gay bars, picking out victims who often reminded him of those who had bullied him during his childhood.

Kearney’s M.O. was simple, efficient and consistent. He was primarily a necrophile, meaning he had no interest in keeping his victim alive for torture or any other purpose (unlike his contemporaries Kraft and Bonin). Also, he was a slight man, just 5'5” tall, unable to physically subdue victims who tended to be bigger and physically stronger than him. The method he developed compensated for both these factors

After picking up a man, Kearney would typically shoot him in the head with his Derringer .22. He’d do this while still driving the car in order to catch his victim by surprise. He became particularly adept at steering the car with his left hand while firing with his right. With the victim now under his control, Kearney would drive to a secluded spot where he’d have sex with the corpse. Then he’d dismember the body with a hacksaw, place the sections in trash bags and dispose of them in various locations along the freeways, or out in the desert, where coyotes and insects would consume the remains.

On the occasions that he killed people in his own home, he would dissect the body in the bathtub, drain it of blood and wash the body parts carefully. Then he’d pack the pieces in bags secured with duct tape. He was very careful not to leave any trace evidence, something he’d learned by studying various books on serial killers.

How many men did Kearney kill in this way? He was charged with 21 murders and confessed to 35. Investigators who worked the case believed the number could be as high as 43. And there were child victims too, among them eight-year-old Merle Chance, and Ronald Dean Smith, aged just 5.

Kearney committed his first murder in 1968, while living in Culver City, California, with David Hill. During one of Hill’s absences, Kearney picked up a man he knew only as “George”. He brought George back to his apartment, shooting him almost immediately after they entered. Then, he dragged the body to the bathroom and dismembered it with an X-Acto knife. He then extracted the bullet from the head so that it couldn’t be traced to his gun. Later, he buried the remains behind his garage and didn’t kill again for a year, fearful that he’d be caught.

He wasn’t, of course, and eventually he returning to stalking the freeways and bars of southern California in his VW Bug or truck, sometimes taking a victim a month. It was easy he said, easy to pick them up, easy to kill them and easy to get rid of the bodies.

The Trash Bag Murders first came to the attention of police on April 13, 1975, when the body of Albert Rivera, 21, was found packed in a heavy-duty trash bag, near Highway 74, east of San Juan Capistrano. Soon police were inundated with gruesome new discoveries, each of them bearing the killers unique signature, bodies neatly dismembered and packaged, none of them bearing any viable clues. The killer was elusive, the case complicated by other serial killers working the same turf at that time. It seemed that police were never going to catch a break in the case.

And then, on Sunday, March 13, 1977, seventeen-year-old, John LaMay disappeared.

LaMay had told a neighbor that he was going to Redondo Beach to see a guy by the name of Dave, who he’d met at a gym in downtown L.A. When he didn't come home that night, or the following day, his frantic mother called the police, certain that something had happened to him. The police were less concerned. John LaMay was probably out partying with friends. They dealt with calls like this all the time.

Except LaMay wasn’t out partying. He’d gone to the address that David Hill had given him, only to find that Hill wasn’t home. Hill’s roommate was though, and he told LaMay to come inside, to wait for Dave’s return. Once inside Kearney invited the young man to watch TV, then snuck up behind him and shot him in the back of the head (on a whim, he’d later tell police). Kearney then cut up the body, packaged it, and disposed of it along the highway.

John LaMay’s remains were discovered five days later, on March 18, beside a stretch of road near Corona. He had been dismembered, the body parts washed and drained of blood, and then packed neatly into five trash bags. The bags was sealed with nylon filament tape and crammed into an empty 80-gallon oil drum. The head was missing, but a distinctive birthmark clearly identified the victim.

Police returned to John LaMay’s home and questioned his neighbors, one of whom told the story of him going to visit someone named Dave in Redondo Beach. The name was familiar to police, in fact they’d recently called on the Kearney/Hill residence during routine questioning in the disappearance of Merle Chance.

When they called at the house again, Kearney and Hill welcomed them in, expressed their concern for the missing teen, and assured police that they hadn’t seen him. They seemed genuine enough, but during the questioning, one of the detectives took the opportunity to secretly pull a few fibers from the carpet. Kearney, usually so careful not to leave trace evidence, had slipped up in the LaMay murder. The tape used to bind the bags had some fibers caught up on it.

Although this evidence would be inadmissible in court, the police ran some tests on the fibers – and got a match. Kearney meanwhile, was destroying all of the cuttings he’d collected on the Trash Bag Killer Case and discarding his collection of serial killer literature. Then, when the police called again and asked him and Hill to supply samples of their pubic hair, he decided it was time to run. By the time police returned with a search warrant, he and Hill were long gone.

Police nonetheless searched the apartment, turning up a hacksaw that contained minute traces of human blood and tissue. They also found rolls of nylon filament tape and trash bags similar to those used in the Trash Bag Murders. But the most damning evidence was found in the bathroom. Here police found traces of human blood, invisible to the naked eye, but clearly visible when exposed to Luminol.

The pressure was now on to find the fugitives and their photographs were distributed to law enforcement agencies around the country. Kearney and Hill had fled to El Paso, Texas, but Kearney had already decided that he wasn’t suited to a life on the run. At the urging of relatives, he and Hill returned to California.

On July 1, 1977, they gave themselves up to the Riverside County Sheriff, reportedly marching into the precinct building, pointing to a “Wanted” poster and declaring, “We're them.” They were arraigned on two murder charges, with bail set at $500,000 each.

Kearney cooperated fully with the police, telling officers that he found hurting and killing people sexually exciting. “The murders excited me and gave me a feeling of dominance,” he confessed.

At one point in the interrogation, officers asked him about drugging and torturing his victims. Kearney seemed at first confused, and then appalled by this line of questioning. “I am not the Wooden Stake,” he said, referring to the serial killer Randy Kraft, who was still at large at the time.

Eventually, the matter came to trial, with the grand jury refusing to indict David Hill and Riverside District Attorney, Byron Morton, saying that information unearthed by investigators seemed to exonerate Hill. Kearney, too, confirmed that Hill was neither involved in, nor aware of the murders.

Acting against the advice of his attorney, who advised him to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, Patrick Kearney entered a guilty plea. He also asked to be sentenced immediately, apparently because he believed that it would rule out the possibility of the death penalty (a moot point, all of Kearney’s crimes had been committed while the death penalty was suspended in California).

Kearney was eventually charged with 21 counts of murder and received 21 life sentences. He is currently serving his prison terms at California State Prison, Mule Creek, California.

American Monsters Volume Two includes 11 more riveting stories of America's worst serial killers

American Monsters Volume 3

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12 Shocking True Stories of America’s Worst Serial Killers

True Murder Cases included in this volume;

Rodney Alcala: who would have thought that the handsome, charming winner of The Dating Game was, in fact, a depraved serial killer.

Robert Hansen: a big game hunter who turned his attention to hunting humans, turning them loose in the wilderness and telling them to run for their lives.

Angelo Buono & Kenneth Bianchi: two murderous cousins, working together to unleash a reign of unprecedented terror on the women of Los Angeles.

Henry Louis Wallace: the Charlotte Strangler murdered 9 women in a two-year spree that had even FBI profilers baffled.

H. H. Holmes: deadly doctor who built a vast torture castle in Chicago in the late 1800’s, then lured countless young women to their deaths.

Danny Rolling: a brutal bank robber who turned to murder in his spare time, literally tearing his eight victims apart.

Charles Cullen: convicted of 40 murders and suspected of as many as 400. Is he America’s most prolific serial killer?

Derrick Todd Lee: murdered at least seven Baton Rouge women. Amazingly, another serial killer was working the same turf at the time, killing to keep up with Lee’s body count.

Herb Baumeister: family man and successful businessman by day, deadly strangler of gay men by night.

Tommy Lynn Sells: for 20 years he traveled the country, killing at will, until the courage of a ten-year-old girl brought him to justice.

Wayne Williams: The Atlanta Child Killer murdered 29 black children, teenagers and young men over a bloody 23 months. Williams took the fall but doubts still persist over his guilt.

Hadden Clark : a cross-dressing cannibal who was convicted of two murders, but had a trophy stash that suggested many more.

American Monsters Volume 4

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Dayton Leroy Rogers

The Molalla Forest Killer

“Dayton Rogers is a murder looking for a place to happen.”- District Attorney Darryl L. Larson

At around 3:00 a.m. on the morning of August 7, 1987, James Dahlke was crossing the parking lot to the Denny’s Restaurant on McLoughlin Boulevard when he heard the terror-stricken screams of a woman. Dahlke looked into the shadows where he saw two people, a man and a woman, engaged in some sort of struggle. Then, as his eyes adjusted, he saw to his amazement that the woman was naked and that the man was kneeling over her.

As Dahlke stood rooted to the spot, another customer, Charles Gates, arrived beside him. Together the two approached the couple and when the man saw them drawing near, he jumped to his feet and ran.

In an apartment across the road, Michael Fielding, too, had heard the screams. In fact, they’d roused him from sleep and he quickly got out of bed and crossed to the window, parting the drapes to look into the Denny’s parking lot. As he did, he saw a man run beneath a streetlight.

Meanwhile, Dahlke and Gates had reached the woman and noticed immediately that she’d been mortally wounded, her throat slit from side to side. Gates, who knew first aid, slid to the floor and tried CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but to no avail. Besides the throat wound, the woman had been stabbed several times, she was drenched in blood, there was no sign of life.

As restaurant staff called the police, a crowd began to gather and among their number, Dahlke spotted the man he’d seen tussling with the woman earlier. The man was angling along the side of the building, working his way towards a pickup parked in the lot.

“That’s him!” someone shouted as the man made a dash for his truck. “That’s the one who cut her!”

A moment later the truck roared into life and burnt rubber on its way across of the parking lot. A couple of bystanders, Stan Conner and Richard Bergio, immediately ran for their own vehicles and tried to block the exits, but the man slipped between them. Bergio, though, was determined not to let the man escape. He raced after him in a wild pursuit through the darkened streets, at speeds approaching 100 miles an hour. When he got close enough, Bergio memorized the license plate number, then stopped and jotted it down. Then he drove back to the Denny’s and handed the information over to police officers, who had by now arrived on the scene.

After the victim’s body was removed to the morgue, police began interviewing witnesses including, Dahlke, Gates and Fielding. Then they conducted a search of the parking lot, which turned up some of the woman’s clothing - a pair of jeans, a hooded blue sweatshirt, and a single tennis shoe. They also found a pair of double-length shoelaces, tied into loops at both ends, suggesting that the woman had been hogtied.

But the most valuable piece of information was the license plate number, which turned out to belong to Dayton Leroy Rogers, a 33-year-old resident of Canby, Oregon.

Veteran Detective John Turner and a team of deputies arrived at Rogers’ home at five in the morning and were redirected to his auto repair shop in Woodburn. Rogers welcomed them in and, when they said they were homicide detectives, invited them to search the place. “Search my truck too if you want,” he said. It was obvious that he’d been drinking.

While officers carried out a search of the premises and vehicle, Turner began questioning Rogers. He insisted that he’d been at the shop all night. Dubious, Turner walked over to the truck and raised the hood. The engine was still hot.

Realizing he’d been caught in a lie, Rogers changed his story. He claimed he’d driven to Willamette Falls Hospital in Oregon City to have his hand seen to after he’d accidently cut it with a hacksaw blade. He showed the detective his bandaged right hand as proof.

Turner pondered his next move. He was certain that Rogers’ pickup was the one seen fleeing the crime scene, but the hospital visit might provide Rogers with an alibi. Then again, Rogers demeanor did appear suspicious. He decided to take the man into custody and arrested him on suspicion of murder.

While Rogers was being transferred to the Clackamas County Jail in Oregon City, police obtained an identification of the dead woman. She was 25-year-old Jennifer Lisa Smith, a mother of two, with an arrest record for prostitution.

And a background check on Dayton Rogers revealed that he was no stranger to law enforcement, either. In 1972, Rogers (then 18) had picked up a 15-year-old hitchhiker near Eugene, Oregon. He took her to a remote area and had consensual sex with her. A few days later, Rogers met the girl again and the two again made for a remote area. This time though, Rogers produced a knife and stabbed the girl in the stomach without provocation. Bleeding profusely and in severe pain, the girl pleaded with Rogers to take her to the hospital, which he did. Physicians attending to her wounds alerted the police who took Rogers into custody. He received four years probation for the attack.

Less than six months later, Rogers assaulted two 15-year-old girls with a soft-drink bottle, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to the Oregon State Hospital. He was released in December 1974.

Rogers’ release prompted Lane County District Attorney, Darryl L. Larson, to comment: “This man is an extreme danger to the community, particularly to young women. He is both sexually and physically violent and, without question, is a murder looking for a place to happen.”

In January 1976, Rogers was indicted for first-degree rape, but acquitted. Then, just a month later, he picked up two high school girls, raped one of them at knifepoint and attempted to rape the other. Rogers pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of rape and coercion. He got five years on the coercion charge but escaped a rape conviction, mainly because the girls had drunk beer and smoked marijuana with him prior to the incident.

All in all, detectives discovered, Rogers had spent 27 months in various Oregon institutions for charges involving sexual violence.

With Rogers in custody, detectives began gathering evidence to tie him to the murder of Jennifer Smith. In a wood stove at his auto shop they found the remains of a burned tennis shoe that matched the shoe left behind in the Denny’s parking lot.

There was plenty of evidence in Rogers’ truck too, including blood inside the cab, numerous knife cuts on the dashboard, upholstery, ceiling, and passenger door and a single fingerprint matching Jennifer Smith’s right ring finger. The search also turned up several miniatures of Smirnoff vodka, and a small green band that would later be determined to come from a container of ready-to-drink orange juice.

Next, officers questioned medical staff at Willamette Falls Hospital. They confirmed that Rogers had received treatment for a wound to his hand, but said the cut couldn’t have come from a hacksaw. It looked more like a knife wound.

The case against Rogers looked strong, and was strengthened further by eyewitness identification. Shown an array of six photographs, Michael Fielding had no hesitation in picking out Rogers as the man he’d seen fleeing the scene.

And Portland’s streetwalkers provided even more information to investigators.

Rogers was well known to many of them, and those who knew him, knew to avoid him. Rogers went by the street name, “Steve the Gambler,” because “Steve” was the name he usually gave and because he claimed to be a professional gambler from Vegas. He favored bondage and would usually offer $40 to $80 for a “date.” He always had the girls undress completely and then “hogtied” their wrists and ankles. Many of the prostitutes reported that he’d bitten, cut and tortured them while they were bound. The women shared other information too, information that would soon become very relevant. They said that Rogers had a foot fetish and that he liked drinking vodka and orange juice. Often he’d stop off at a convenience store to buy containers of ready-to-drink orange juice, always the same brand with green plastic caps, security-sealed with green bands.

With evidence mounting against him, Rogers was indicted on a charge of aggravated murder in the death of Jennifer Smith and was held without bond. But the case was about to take another turn, one that would mark Dayton Rogers as, arguably, the most brutal serial killer in Oregon’s history.

On Monday, August 31, Everett Banyard was hunting on a 90,000-acre timber farm southeast of Molalla, Oregon, when he stumbled upon the naked, half-buried body of a young woman. The corpse had been partially covered with brush and was in an advanced state of decomposition. Banyard immediately ran to make a call to the police.

When investigators arrived at the site, Banyard led them up an old logging road through an area of rugged forest. There, on a steep slope, lay the body. It was immediately clear that the woman had been murdered, but due to the lateness of the hour, they held back on processing the scene until the next morning.

The search for evidence was begun as soon as available light permitted, and soon yielded a shocking discovery. Two more corpses lay in close proximity to the first. Detectives had discovered the dumping ground of a serial killer.

Unsure whether there were other bodies in the area, the police shut down the crime scene and sent for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department’s tracking dog. Over the next five days, the dog discovered an additional four corpses, bringing to seven the number found at the site. All were female, all were nude, all bore clear signs of stabbing, torture and mutilation. The killer appeared to have removed some of the victims feet with a hacksaw, some sawed through, others crudely snapped off, leaving behind, shards of splintered done. Then came a shocking revelation from the medical examiner, the feet had been sawn and snapped off while the victims were still alive.

Looking down at the broken corpses Detective Turner couldn’t help noticing similarities between the Molalla forest victims and Jennifer Smith. It was speculated (and would later be proved) that the victims were prostitutes. There were signs of cutting mutilation and torture. Could these murders be the work of Dayton Leroy Rogers? Any doubts that Turner might have had were soon dispelled. As he walked the murder scene, he began to see miniature vodka bottles everywhere, and plastic orange juice bottles with their distinctive green bands.

Rogers went on trial for the murder of Jennifer Smith in February 1988 and, with the strong evidence against him, there was very little doubt that he’d be found guilty. However, prosecutors were in for a surprise when Rogers’ attorneys unveiled their rather bizarre defense strategy. Yes, Rogers had killed Smith, they admitted, but he’d done it in self-defense after Smith had tried to rob him at knifepoint.

The idea was preposterous and the jury wasn’t buying it. They found Rogers guilty of first-degree murder, but stopped short of recommending the death penalty. Judge Gilroy sentenced Rogers to life in prison.

John Turner and his colleagues at the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department were extremely disappointed with the sentence, which left Rogers eligible for parole. Still, they had another crack at securing the death penalty for the killer. Rogers still had to stand trial for the Molalla forest murders.

Over the next two months, detectives worked closely with the District Attorney’s office in building an airtight case. On May 4, 1988, Rogers was indicted on seven charges of aggravated murder in the deaths of Reatha Gyles, Lisa Mock, Noni Cervantes, Cynthia DeVore, Christine Adams, and Maureen Hodges.

The trial began on March 30, 1989, before an all-female jury, with Judge Raymond R. Bagley Jr. presiding. The state presented strong forensic evidence, some of it extremely graphic. Jurors heard how the women were tortured by having their feet sawn off and how one, Noni Cervantes, had been eviscerated by having a machete inserted in her vagina and then ripped upward towards the sternum.

They also presented testimony from several women who had fallen into Dayton Leroy Rogers’ clutches and somehow survived to tell the tale. One former prostitute described how Rogers had picked her up in Portland and driven her to the Molalla forest where he’d bound her and then spent the next six hours torturing her. She said that Rogers started biting her breasts, becoming ever more violent until he was ripping and tearing at her like a wild beast. The more she screamed, the more frenzied he became, she said. When he became concerned that someone may hear her cries he put a knife to her throat and told her to be quiet or he’d give her something to, “really cry about.”

Strong forensic evidence, much of it retrieved from the woodstove in Rogers’ auto workshop, linked him to each of the victims and, as in the Jenny Smith case, there was little doubt as to his guilt.

On May 4, the jury deliberated for six hours before returning a verdict of guilty on all counts. Rogers responded by burying his face in his hands and shaking his head while saying, “No,” several times.

The penalty took longer to deliver, but on Wednesday, June 7, 1989, seventeen hours of deliberation delivered the sentence Detective John Turner and his colleagues wanted to hear - Judge Bagley sentenced Rogers to death by lethal injection.

Many question remain regarding the case of Dayton Leroy Rogers. John Turner remains convinced that there are many more mutilated corpses buried in the Molalla forest. If Rogers knows their whereabouts, he isn’t saying.

American Monsters Volume Four includes 11 more riveting stories of America's worst serial killers

American Monsters Volume 5

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Coral Eugene Watts

The Sunday Morning Slasher

“She had evil eyes. I was trying to release her spirit.”- Coral Watts

In May 1982, Lori Lister, 21, arrived at her apartment in Houston, after visiting her boyfriend. As she parked her car and walked towards the front door of her building, she was probably unaware that she was being followed. But a man was tracking her, and as she slotted her key into the front door, he came up quickly behind her and put his hands on her neck. Lori’s screams were quickly cut off as the man increased pressure on her throat. She felt the light fading, she was sure that she was going to die.

Fortunately for Lori, her muffled cries had been heard by a neighbor, who was on the phone to the police ever as the attacker dragged Lori inside. As the man eased Lori to the floor, he encountered her roommate, 18-year-old Melinda Aguilar. He threatened to slash Melinda’s throat if she screamed, then choked her into submission. Fearing for her life, Melinda decided to play dead. It worked. The attacker lowered her to the carpet then began binding the girls’ hands with coat hangers. That completed, he did a peculiar thing. He was so excited to have control over the two women that he jumped up and down clapping his hands like some fairy tale ogre. He then walked to the bathroom and began filling the tub.

Melinda waited until he was out of sight, then staggered to her feet and crossed the room onto the second floor balcony. She clambered over the railing and dropped to the ground, screaming for all she was worth, hoping it wasn't too late to save her friend’s life. Moments later, a police car screeched to a halt outside the building. Hearing the sirens, the intruder tried to flee but the police officers cut off his escape and apprehended him in the courtyard. Meanwhile, the neighbor who had called the police rushed to Lori and Melissa’s apartment. He was just in time to pull Lori from the tub, where the intruder had been trying to drown her.

Investigators soon identified the attacker as Coral Eugene Watts. Asked why he had tried to kill the women, Watts said they had “evil eyes” and he was trying to “release their spirits.” He also told officers that he had done it before – at least 80 times.

Carl Eugene Watts was born on November 7, 1953 in Killeen, Texas. His father, Richard, was a soldier, based at Fort Hood at the time of Carl’s birth. His mother, Dorothy Mae, was a teacher. Just days after Carl was born, the couple moved back to their hometown of Coalwood, West Virginia and a year later their second child, Sharon, was born.

Richard and Dorothy Mae had been childhood sweethearts, but their marriage was an unhappy one that eventually ended in divorce in 1955. Following the breakup, Dorothy Mae moved with her two children to Inkster, Michigan, where she found work as a high school art teacher. But the family would regularly return to Coalwood to visit family, and Carl loved the southern town so much that he later changed his name to Coral - a southern pronunciation of his name.

In 1962, Coral's mother re-married, a situation that greatly distressed the boy, partly because he didn’t like his new stepfather and partly because he hated having a competitor for his mother’s affections.

Around this time another life-changing event occurred in his life. He developed meningitis, his temperature running so high that doctor’s feared it might have caused brain damage. Coral recovered, though, but it seemed that the doctor’s assessment had been right. There were changes to his behavior, subtle at first, but plain to see for all who knew him.

The first sign was in his academic performance. Coral had missed a year of school due to his illness, and was held back a grade when he returned. But the formerly bright child had difficulty concentrating and his grades began to slip, leaving his mother to wonder how badly his illness had affected him.

Then there were the dreams, violent dramas in while he tussled with the evil spirits of women and killed them. More worrying was his assessment of these nightmares. They didn’t frighten him, the young boy declared - in fact, he enjoyed them.

If his parents took this as a warning sign as to the state of his mental health they appear to have taken no action until, inevitably, his fantasies manifested in reality. In 1968, when Coral was 15, he knocked on the door of a 26-year-old woman named Joan Gave. When Mrs. Gave answered the door, Coral forced her back into her apartment, pushed her to the floor and started beating her. When he was done, he continued his newspaper delivery route as if nothing had happened.

Gave immediately called the police, and they were waiting for Coral when he returned home. Brought before a judge, he was ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment at the Lafayette Clinic in Detroit. Here, psychiatrists diagnosed him with strong homicidal tendencies and flagged him as a danger to others. Nonetheless, the boy was released just a few months later, on his 16th birthday. He was ordered to undergo outpatient treatment, which amounted to 9 subsequent consultations.

Coral returned to school, where his academic performance remained poor. He excelled though, at sports, particularly football and boxing, which allowed him to release his pent-up aggression.

With extensive tutoring by his mother, he graduated high school at age 19, and despite his low grade point average, he won a football scholarship to Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. However, he remained at school only a few months before returning home. He said it was due to a leg injury that prevented him from playing football. More likely, he just couldn’t bear to be away from his mother.

He found work as an apprentice mechanic in Detroit, remaining at that trade for a year before enrolling at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Soon after, there were a rash of attacks in the area around the campus - one of them fatal.

On October 25, 1974, Lenore Knizacky, 23, heard a knock at her front door. When she answered it, there was a young black man standing there. He said he was looking for someone named Charles, but before she could answer he grabbed her by the throat and forced her into the apartment. He began strangling her, but she managed to fight him off, forcing him to flee.

Five days later, on October 30, 19-year old, Gloria Steele opened her door to a man who said he was looking for Charles. The man forced his way in and attacked Gloria with a knife, stabbing her 33 times.

The man tried the same ruse with another student on November 12. Fortunately, she was able to escape and as the man fled the scene and jumped into his vehicle, she noted down his license plate number. Police followed up. The car belonged to Coral Eugene Watts. Watts was soon in custody on two charges of battery and he readily admitted the charges, even adding that he’d attacked at least a dozen more women. He baulked though when confronted with the murder of Gloria Steele, insisting that he hadn’t killed anyone.

He was ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation at Kalamazoo State Hospital as a precursor to his court hearing. Psychiatrists there found that Watts was emotionally detached and lacked remorse for his actions. They diagnosed him with an antisocial personality disorder, but insisted that he was well aware of the difference between right and wrong and therefore competent to stand trial.

Watts would spend six months under observation during which time he suffered from depression and made a half-hearted attempt at suicide. When his case eventually came to trial in the summer of 1975, he was sentenced to a year in jail on the battery charges. Unfortunately, he was never charged with the murder of Gloria Steele because prosecutors lacked the evidence to convict him. If they had, an awful lot of lives might have been saved.

After Watts was released in 1976, he found work as a mechanic and returned to live with his mother. Those who knew him described him as a “mama’s boy” because he didn't like being away from her. The other women in his life just didn’t measure up. Shortly after his release from prison, Watts began seeing a woman named Delores. The couple had a child together, but split soon after. Watts then started dating another woman who he married in 1979. The marriage lasted just six months before Valeria walked out, mainly due to Coral’s bizarre behavior.

Years later, Valeria would describe some of these behaviors to investigators. She said he suffered violent nightmares, would throw garbage on the floor, would slash at houseplants with a knife and melt candles into the furniture. She also said that, immediately after they had sex, Watts would leave the house for several hours.

He never explained where he went, but it is likely that he was out stalking victims. Several women were attacked and murdered during this period, in attacks bearing Watts’ signature.

One of them was Detroit News reporter Jeanne Clyne, 44, who was attacked as she walked home from a doctor's appointment on Halloween Day, 1979. She died from 11 stab wounds, inflicted on a busy suburban road, in broad daylight.

Then, on April 20, high school student Shirley Small was killed by two knife wounds to the heart, outside her home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Another Ann Arbor woman perished in a similar attack. Glenda Richmond, 26, was stabbed 28 times, outside the diner that she managed. And an even more frenzied attack occurred on September 14. University of Michigan graduate student Rebecca Huff, 20, suffered at least 50 knife wounds.

In the wake of the Rebecca Huff murder, a task force was formed to investigate the recent spate of homicides in the area. Under the leadership of Detective Paul Bunten, the task force soon identified Watts as a suspect and brought him in on a warrant to provide a blood sample. Bunten had hoped that he might coax a confession out of Watts, but Watts wasn’t talking. Neither did the blood sample connect him to any crime.

Annoyed by the police attention, Watts decided to leave town, relocating to Columbus, Texas, where he found work at an oil company. Columbus is just 70 miles from Houston. Soon Coral Watts took to cruising that city, looking for new victims.

But Paul Bunten wasn’t about to let Watts’ off the hook that easily. As soon as he heard about the move he contacted Houston PD, then sent them copies of his files on Watts, in the hope of preventing more murders. Yet, Houston police were unable to locate Watts, and didn’t connect him to any criminal activity until his arrest for the attack on Lori Lister and Melinda Aguilar in May 1982.

Under interrogation, Watts refused to talk until Harris County Assistant District Attorney Ira Jones made him an incredible deal. He offered Watts immunity on all murder charges, in exchange for a confession to his murders.

One of America’s most horrendous serial killers had just been given the equivalent of a get-out-of-jail-free card, and unsurprisingly, Watts took the deal. On August 9, 1982, he confessed to 13 murders. He admitted the 1979 Detroit murder of Jeanne Clyne, but said he didn’t kill Glenda Richard, Shirley Small or Rebecca Huff (even though Huff’s address book was found in his car). As to the Houston victims, he confessed to drowning University of Texas student Linda Tilley, 22, in her apartment complex swimming pool in September 1981. He also admitted to stabbing 25-year-old Elizabeth Montgomery to death, one week later.

The same day he killed Susan Wolf, 21, stabbing her to death as she returned from the grocery store. In January 1982, he strangled 27-year-old Phyllis Tamm, while she was out jogging. Two days later, he murdered architecture student Margaret Fossi, 25. Her body was found in the trunk of her car at Rice University.

During that month, he attacked three other Houston women, slashing one across the throat, stabbing one with a knife and another with an ice pick. Miraculously, all three survived.

His next victims were not as lucky. Between February and May 1982, Watts confessed to killing Elena Semander, 20; Emily LaQua, 14; Anna Ledet, 34; Yolanda Gracia, 21; Carrie Jefferson, 32; Suzanne Searles, 25, and Michele Maday, 20.

He admitted to at least 80 more murders in Michigan and Canada, but refused to give any details, because his immunity deal only applied to the murders committed in Texas.

Eventually brought to trial for the attack on Lori Lister and Melinda Aguilar, Watts pled guilty to one count of burglary with intent to kill, the plea bargain he’d agreed. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison, parting with these chilling words, “You know, if they ever let me out, I'll kill again.”

And Watts may well have had the opportunity to make good on his threat. In 1989, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the judge had failed to inform Watts that, “the bathtub he attempted to drown Lori Lister in was construed as a lethal weapon.” Consequently, he was now considered a “nonviolent” inmate and would not be required to serve his full term. The man who had sworn that he would kill again if he ever got out, was due for mandatory parole on May 9, 2006.

As that date grew closer, authorities in Michigan and Texas were working hard to find old cases where evidence might have been overlooked, cases that would keep Coral Watts behind bars for life. They found one in the 1979 murder of Helen Mae Dutcher.

Dutcher had been attacked in an alleyway outside a Ferndale dry cleaners and had been stabbed 12 times in the neck and back. An eyewitness, Joseph Foy, had reported the murder, but the police hadn’t been able to catch the attacker, even though the composite drawn up from Foy’s description strongly resembled Watts.

In 2004, Foy saw a television program regarding the Watts case, and again contacted police. It was the break investigators had been waiting for, with an eyewitness to the murder, they brought charges against Watts.

Coral Watts was extradited to Michigan in April 2004. His trial began in November 2004 and ended on November 19 with a guilty verdict for first-degree murder. Because Michigan doesn’t have the death penalty Watts was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He died in prison on Friday September 21, 2007, of prostate cancer. He was 53 years old.

American Monsters Volume Five includes 11 more riveting stories of America's worst serial killers

American Monsters Volume 6

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12 Shocking True Stories of America’s Worst Serial Killers

True Murder Cases included in this volume;

William Bonin : one of the most vicious serial killers in US history. The "Freeway Killer" worked with various accomplices to abduct, rape and torture over 20 teenaged boys.

Joseph Edward Duncan III: a sickening pedophile who wiped out an entire family to get to the object of his desire, an 8-year-old girl.

Albert Fish: this frail, grandfatherly old man carried a deadly secret. He was a cannibal and torturer of young children.

Arohn Kee: child rapist and murderer who turned the projects of East Harlem into his personal killing ground.

Gerard Schaefer: a killer cop who used his position to abduct young women and torture them to death.

Kendall Francois: known as "Stinky," and with good reason, too, he had the bodies of eight murdered prostitutes decomposing in his attic.

Robert Lee Yates: Spokane serial killer who, for a time, rivaled the Green River Killer in his body count.

Andrew Urdailes: a lethal Marine who left a trail of death across both California and Illinois.

Donald "Pee Wee" Gaskins: dubbed the "Meanest Man in America," Gaskins may have claimed as many as 100 victims.

John Norman Collins: a Ted Bundy prototype, Collins kidnapped, tortured, raped and mutilated his young female victims.

David Spanbauer: career burglar and rapist who practiced serial murder as a deadly sideline.

Leonard Lake & Charles Ng: the tag team from hell. These depraved ex-marines kidnapped and imprisoned several women, using them as sex slaves before torturing and murdering them.

American Monsters Volume 7

  • OVERVIEW
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12 Shocking True Stories of America’s Worst Serial Killers

True Murder Cases included in this volume;

Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris: a pair of deadly psychopaths who kidnapped, raped and tortured teenaged girls, recording their dreadful deeds on tape.

Joe Ball: murdered and dismembered at least three women, but did he feed their remains to his pet alligators?

John Wayne Gacy: one of America's most notorious serial killers. Gacy killed at least 33 young men, burying the bodies in the crawlspace of his house.

Keith Jesperson: the Happy Face Killer used his job as a long-haul truck driver to dispense death from coast to coast.

Velma Barfield: born-again Christian, model parent, serial murderer of six people, including her own mother.

Gerald Stano: went to the chair for over 40 brutal murders, but was he a serial killer or just a serial confessor?

Micajah & Wiley Harpe: arguably America's first serial killers, the Harpes rampaged through Mississippi and Kentucky, killing, robbing, and raping as they went.

Lorenzo Gilyard: a rare serial killer who stopped killing of his own accord. And he might have gotten away with murder had DNA evidence not nailed him as the deadly Kansas City strangler.

Jerry Brudos: a cross-dressing foot fetishist and necrophile, Brudos kept some of his victims' body parts as bizarre keepsakes.

Lemuel Smith: already serving life for a series of brutal murders, Smith claimed one last victim, a female prison guard who he savagely choked and mutilated.

William W. Rogers: a surgical nurse who took his work home with him, leaving a trail of dismembered corpses throughout New York and New Jersey.

Joseph Kallinger: enlisted his 13-year-old son as his accomplice in a series of horrific home invasions.

American Monsters Volume 8

  • OVERVIEW
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12 Shocking True Stories of America’s Worst Serial Killers

True Murder Cases included in this volume;

Aileen Wournos: female serial killer who gunned down seven men and was mythologized in the Academy Award-winning movie, "Monster."

Arthur Gary Bishop: A sickening pedophile who murdered five young boys, snatching them from the streets before bludgeoning and strangling them to death.

Ted Bundy: charming, articulate and deadly. Bundy cut a swathe of destruction across the country, raping, killing and committing necrophilia on his young victims.

Juan Corona: a California labor broker with a penchant for hacking his workers to death with a machete.

Richard Trenton Chase: the notorious 'Vampire of Sacramento,' Chase literally tore his victims apart, before consuming their flesh and blood.

The Briley Brothers: a trio of deadly siblings who carried out one of the most bloody killing sprees in Virginia history.

William Suff: serial killer and keen chef. But did Suff feed the flesh of his victims to unwitting work colleagues?

Belle Gunness: a deadly female serial killer who sent as many as 42 suitors to their graves, before disappearing with a fortune.

George Russell:Russell had a problem with rejection, as three unfortunate women discovered to their cost.

Michael Ross:serial rapist and strangler of young women, Ross was the first man executed in Connecticut in almost half a century.

Randall Woodfield: known as the I-5 Killer, Woodfield was once a draftee to the Green Bay Packers before turning his attention to a far more deadly pursuit.

Charles Starkweather: James Dean wannabe who, together with his 13-year-old girlfriend, murdered 11 people during a bloody spree.

Rampage Killers

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James Huberty

Those who knew him called him weird, odd, short-tempered, a man on the edge, a fuse ready to blow. Few however could have imagined the carnage James Huberty would unleash at a McDonald’s restaurant on a muggy San Ysidro afternoon in July 1984.

James Huberty was born on October 11, 1942 in Canton, Ohio. As a boy, he contracted polio, a disease that caused him to suffer spastic paralysis and numbness throughout his body. Neither was that the only childhood setback he endured. When James was just seven, his mother Isel, abandoned the family to become a “street missionary,” something that affected him deeply and caused him to act out aggressively on numerous occasions. His father, Earle, did his best to hold the Huberty clan together, but James became increasingly withdrawn. The only thing that seemed to interest him was the .22 rifle gifted to him by his father. He was frequently in trouble for shooting up cabbages in a neighbor’s field.

Whatever demons plagued James Huberty’s formative years, he appeared to have outrun them by the time he reached adulthood. After graduating high school, he enrolled at Malone College, a small humanities school in Ohio, where he obtained a degree in sociology. Afterwards, he studied to become a licensed embalmer at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science in Pennsylvania. It was in Pittsburgh that he met his future wife, Etna.

Huberty did not last long in the funeral business, mainly because he lacked the interpersonal skills required to succeed in the profession. He was a skilled embalmer but was not very good at interacting with bereaved families. Moving back to Canton, he found a job as a welder at the Babcock and Wilcox utility plant, something that was more suited to his personality. Co-workers from that time recalled that he never spoke much, unless the discussion turned to guns. Then Huberty would hog the conversation, trotting out all kinds of ballistic information, including what various calibers could do to the human body.

In 1965, James Huberty married his sweetheart Etna at the Trinity Gospel Temple in Canton. Over the next few years, he’d father two daughters, Zelia and Cassandra. In 1971, the family moved to a large, redbrick house in Massillon, Ohio, about ten miles west of Canton. They also bought an investment property, a six-unit apartment building. Things were most definitely looking up.

But the picture of Huberty as the devoted husband and family man contrasted starkly with how his neighbors saw him. Intensely private, he constructed a high fence around his property and posted several “No Trespassing” signs. He also kept a number of large dogs, described by neighbors as “attack dogs.” He barely passed the time of day with his neighbors but was ever vigilant for transgressions on their part and always ready to confront anyone who overstepped his bounds. There were a number of heated exchanges over pets. On one occasion Huberty even tried to shoot a stray dog that had defecated on the sidewalk outside his house. Only the intervention of a neighbor saved the animal’s life.

Aside from the constant bickering with the neighbors, Huberty and his family enjoyed a relatively happy decade in Massillon. But all of that was to change when hard times hit the region in the early eighties. Eventually, the Babcock and Wilcox plant was forced into closure and Huberty lost his job. Five months later, he found new employment and lost that too. Then he tried to sell his apartment building to raise money and was defrauded by the real estate agent. All of this left him bitter and angry and disillusioned. On one occasion he threatened to shoot himself and Etna had to wrestle the gun from his hand.

At around this time, Huberty's aggression towards other people started to escalate. He began talking openly about shooting people and was drawn into a number of altercations, one of which resulted in his arrest for disorderly conduct. Then he was involved in an auto wreck, which left him in constant pain and with a tremor in one hand. Soon his wife and children began to suffer the brunt of his ill-tempered wrath as well. One witness recalled seeing Huberty threaten Etna with a gun.

In the autumn of 1983, Huberty suddenly uprooted his family and moved to California. The move was ill prepared. Huberty had still not resolved the outstanding issues surrounding his properties and had not arranged accommodation out west. As a result, the family lived a shiftless life for the next ten months, staying in several small towns along the Mexican border. Eventually, they settled in San Ysidro.

But if Huberty thought that the cross-country move would somehow resolve all his problems, he was wrong. He grew ever more frustrated, ever more angry. He began talking endlessly about the coming apocalypse. He became obsessed with survivalist ideals. The only thing that seemed to give him pleasure was to unpack the extensive weapons cache he had assembled over the years and spend the hours cleaning his guns. His bizarre actions manifested in other ways too. One day he walked up to a parked police car in San Ysidro, insisted that he was a war criminal and demanded to be arrested. The police questioned him and then let him go.

In June 1984, Huberty found work as a security guard and was able to move his family to a better neighborhood in San Ysidro. But the move proved ill advised. Within days of starting his new job, Huberty was fired due to his bad attitude. It was the last straw. James Huberty, who had spoken so often about the apocalypse to come, had finally reached the end of his tether. He was about to unleash an apocalypse of his own.

On Tuesday July 17, Huberty told his wife that he had tried to make an appointment at a local mental health clinic. He said that the clinic had promised to call him back but had failed to do so. When Etna suggested that he phone again, Huberty became angry and left on his motorcycle.

The following day, Wednesday July 18, the Hubertys drove up to San Diego, where James was due to appear in traffic court over a disputed ticket. Afterwards, Huberty treated his family to lunch at McDonald’s and then he and Etna took the kids to the San Diego Zoo. As they were driving home, he made a cryptic comment to Etna, one that appears chilling in retrospect. “Society had their chance,” he said.

At around 3:45 on the afternoon of July 18, James Huberty left his apartment in San Ysidro. He was wearing camouflage pants and a black T-shirt and lugging a tote bag. When Etna asked where he was going, he said that he was “Going hunting humans.” It was just the sort of oddball comment she was used to hearing from her husband and Etna thought nothing of it.

Outside, Huberty dropped his bag on the passenger seat of his battered old Mercury Marquis and started the car. His destination, just a block away on San Ysidro Boulevard, was the local McDonald’s outlet. He pulled into the restaurant parking lot just before four.

By the time Huberty flipped open the door of the Mercury and stepped onto the blacktop, he looked more like a Special Forces soldier than an out-of-work, middle-aged security guard. An Uzi semi-automatic was slung over one shoulder; a canvas tote bag full of ammunition adorned the other. Into his belt was shoved a 9-mm Browning pistol with a fourteen-shot clip; a twelve-gauge Winchester pump-action shotgun was held loosely in his hands.

Sixteen-year-old McDonalds’ employee John Arnold was standing at the service counter, when he found himself looking straight down the barrel of a shotgun, held by a balding man. Arnold barely had time to respond when the man pulled the trigger. It clicked down on an empty chamber. Thinking it was some kind of a sick joke, Arnold walked away, shaking his head in disgust.

Meanwhile, some of the customers in the restaurant had noticed Huberty, standing by the counter, tinkering with the shotgun. Some wisely chose to leave immediately, but others ignored him, taking him for a harmless crank, or perhaps someone on their way to a fancy dress party dressed as Rambo. They were soon disabused of that notion when Huberty shouted out, “I’m going to kill you all,” and then started firing.

John Arnold, who had earlier had such a narrow escape, was nicked by shotgun pellets from the first blast. Then people started screaming, throwing themselves to the floor, rushing for the exit. A plate glass window shattered, as Arnold dived for cover under a seat. Griselda Diaz, a customer, did the same thing, then dragged her young son across the floor to a side exit. They managed to escape, but others were not so lucky.

As Huberty kept firing, emptying one weapon, switching to another, reloading, the first emergency call reached the police. That call came from within the restaurant, but others soon followed, made by people in the vicinity who had heard the shots.

Meanwhile, several of the kitchen staff had managed to run to a downstairs cloakroom to hide. They were joined shortly by other employees and a few customers. This small group huddled together, listening to the ceaseless cacophony of shots from upstairs and praying that the assassin would not find their hiding place.

Upstairs, Huberty continued his deadly spree. Manager Neva Caine was executed by a shot to the head. Then Huberty rooted out four other employees from their hiding place. He opened fire, killing two girls instantly. A third tried to crawl away but was cut down by a shotgun blast to the back of the head. The fourth member of the group, Albert Leos, was shot four times but miraculously survived.

Huberty now turned his attention to other targets. Three youngsters - Joshua Coleman, David Flores and Omar Hernandez - were pushing their bicycles along the pavement in front of the building, when he opened fire. Flores and Hernandez were killed instantly. Coleman only survived because he had the presence of mind to play dead.

By the time the first police car arrived on the scene at 4:07, 18-year-old Jackie Wright Reyes, and her 8-month-old son, Carlos, were dead, as were elderly couple, Aida Velazquez Victoria, 69, and Miguel Victoria-Ulloa, 74. Huberty turned his attention on the police cruiser, shattering its windscreen and emergency lights with a barrage of gunfire. Cowering behind their vehicle, the officers placed a call and requested a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team.

Inside, the McDonald’s now resembled a slaughterhouse. Blood-spattered bodies lay everywhere, while the wounded writhed and moaned in agony. Some people played dead. Others cowered under tables and prayed that the gunman wouldn’t find them. Many were beyond prayers. Victor Rivera, a maintenance man, had brought his wife and 4-year-old daughter to McDonald’s for a treat. Now Victor was dead, his wife and daughter seriously injured. Ron and Blythe Herrera had stopped off with their 11-year-old son for a quick bite. Only Ron would survive the excursion, albeit with seven gunshot wounds. Lawrence Versluis, a 62-year-old truck driver, was taking his coffee break when he was shot dead. He had been due to retire at the end of the week.

With the toll now at twenty-one dead and nineteen injured, the police finally managed to establish a perimeter, shutting down blocks of San Ysidro Boulevard and a stretch of Interstate 5. By 4:55 p.m. the SWAT team was in position, with snipers on the roof of a post office to the south of the restaurant. However, the restaurants tinted windows, many of them now marred by dense spider webs of cracks, made it impossible for the sniper to get eyes on the assassin. With no way to assess the situation inside the restaurant, the SWAT team was ordered to wait. No shots were to be fired unless the gunman tried to escape.

Huberty had by now redirected his fire. He was no longer shooting at customers inside the restaurant, he was targeting the police officers outside. Inadvertently, though, he was exposing his position. As he continued firing, pieces of glass began falling away from the windows, giving the sharpshooters a target to aim at. At 5:13 p.m. SWAT commander Jay Sanders gave the order, any sniper with a clear shot was to take it.

SWAT sniper Charles Foster was positioned on the roof of the post office with his Remington .308-caliber sniper rifle. At 5:17, four minutes after receiving the green light, Foster got a clear visual on Huberty. He drew in a breath, held it, and then gently applied pressure on the trigger. A single shot was fired, crashing into Huberty’s chest and ripping through his body before shattering his spine. He was probably dead even before he realized he’d been shot.

The McDonalds massacre was at the time the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. In its aftermath, McDonalds tore down the restaurant and donated the land to the city of San Ysidro. They in turn built an education center on the site. A memorial consisting of 21 hexagonal granite pillars commemorates the casualties of James Huberty’s deadly spree. Nineteen more victims survived their wounds, but must forever endure the physical and mental scars of that terrible day.

Rampage Killers contains 11 more horrific spree killing cases.

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