Sorry, it’s been so long between posts. As a matter of fact, this wasn’t even meant to be a post but it just disturbed me so much. As a youth I witnessed the birth of video games, Atari was the main home game console of the era. The first game that I recall was tennis or “Pong” as it was called way back then. Two small lines parallel to each other at opposite ends of the tv screen. The object was to bounce the ball across the screen using the two lines. The rave of the day were game rooms or arcades as they were often called. As a child, I would gather all the quarters I could, join up with friends then hit the arcade. Occasionally one of us would run short or get too involved in one game and need to borrow some change from one another. Centipede, Pacman, and Asteroids were my absolute addictions at the time. At no point during my childhood gamer career do I recall anybody being killed for their inability to return borrowed quarters; and I’m talking about real money.
Recently I read about an incident that disturbed me to the core. Why you ask; well for one, the heinousness of the crime. For two, the fact that the circumstances surrounded a particular video game; Tibia. When I first heard about this incident, I thought to myself; “Isn’t a Tibia a part of the body?” As I read, I was in utter disbelief. I just knew that this was a creepypasta or a Reddit submission. For anybody that is like me and knew nothing of the game, Tibia is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The gameplay of Tibia involves advancing levels while training to improve skill levels, hunting monsters using weapons and magical spells, gathering treasures, doing quests and exploring the Tibia world. Players interact with each other in character so they can have conversations, trades, and group battles and partake in guilds for more role-playing opportunities. No that’s not me, I stole the last two sentences from Wikipedia.
Evidently, within the confines of this game, there is the usage of some type of game currency. Money that I assume can be used to buy …… game shit, (I don’t know). Well anyway, down in sunny Blumenau, Santa Catarina, Brazil back in 2007 there lived 16-year-old Daniel Petry. As a child, Petry was a rebellious, aggressive boy who seemed to
deal with everyday situations with extreme violence. He was under psychiatric treatment, but regularly missed appointments or left his ordered therapy sessions early. Video games seemed to be one of the few things that kept him calm. In the same town lived Gabriel Kuhn. The 12-year-old Kuhn was by all accounts a decent kid that enjoyed playing the game. The two were friends that did the video game thing together. Gabriel wanted to progress in his game but he was short on game money, (not real currency) so he asked Petry if he could borrow 20,000 Tibia money from his account. Daniel agreed and transferred the funds to Gabriel’s account.
When it was time for Gabriel to return the borrowed funds, Gabriel
was unable to pay his friend back. Petry was beyond livid. Daniel stormed Gabriel’s house, finding no one home but Gabriel; Petry beat the living daylights out of the younger and smaller Kuhn. If this was the end of the story it would be fucked up; unfortunately, there’s more. He then raped/sodomized Gabriel and proceeded to strangle his friend to death. In an effort to conceal his crime; Petry attempted to hoist Kuhn’s lifeless body to the attic before anyone came home. Finding the body too heavy, Petry found a hacksaw and began cutting Gabriel’s legs off. Gabriel regained consciousness due to the pain of the amputation and screamed aloud i agony but soon passed out again from the pain; this time for good. Still unable to hide the body, Petry simply ran home. It is unclear which family member came home first and found the dismembered remains of this child.NOTE The crime scene photos are not for the faint of heart. If you click on the link, please do so knowing that what you are about to see is quite disturbing.
Some accounts have his mother coming home first, others have his brother coming home to this horror. In either case I could never begin to understand the horror and hurt that was felt when they hit the door that evening.
Daniel Petry was tried in court and after his conviction was sent to a young/juvenile offenders facility. Due to laws in Brazil regarding youths and murder he was only sentenced to three years in prison for this heinous murder.
I will save my comments and personal opinions for the next post which will be. “5 Murders Over Video Gameplay” or some shit similar to that but yal know what I’m trying to say.
In The Darker Side of Evil we took a look at 10 of the most deadly Black serial killers in history. We also examined the media’s role in facilitating their crime spree. Several months of research has gone into this list. I’m basing inclusion on several factors such as body count, level of depravity, manner of murder, contrast between public and private life and post mortem victim interaction, (necrophilia, cannibalism etc.) I’ve put together a list of 10 of the most prolific serial killers of all time. Some of the names mentioned you will recognize from past posts, others are brand new to you and me. The list is not in any particular order but through my findings these are indeed 10 of the most depraved serial killers ever.
Edmund began his murderous career on August 27, 1964 at the tender age of 15. Kemper’s paternal grandmother, Maude Matilda Hughey Kemper, was sitting at her kitchen table working on her latest children’s book when she and Edmund had an argument. Enraged bythe argument, Kemper stormed off and grabbed the .22 caliber rifle which his grandfather had given him for hunting. He then fatally shot her in the head before firing twice more into her back. From that point Kemper dragged her body out of the kitchen and into her bedroom. Edmund returned from inside the house just as Ed Kemper Sr. returned home from buying groceries. Edmund took aim and shot him in the back of the head as he began to unload the truck. Confused, dazed and worried about the heinous acts he had just committed, he called his mother Clarnell in Montana. After a half an hour of pleading she finally convinced Kemper to call the sheriff. After confessing to both murders. Edmund Kemper, at 15 years old, was diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic as well as being psychotic and sentenced to Atascadero State Hospital, criminally insane unit.
Released on his 21st birthday and held his murderous urges in check until May of 1972. From that point he went on an 11 month killing spree that included five college co-eds, one high school student, his mother and his mother’s best friend. It was not only his victims that got Kemper included to this list. Unlike most serial killers Kemper did not have a specific manner of murdering his victims, he would shoot, stab, smother or strangle them. He would then take their lifeless bodies back to his home where he would perform irrumatio on their severed heads, have sex with their corpses and then dissect and dismember them. Edmund Kemper was indicted on eight counts of first-degree murder. On November 8, 1973, a jury convened for five hours before declaring Kemper sane and guilty on all counts. Judge Harry F. Brauer, ignoring Kemper’s request for the death penalty; sentenced Kemper to seven years to life for each count, with these terms to be served concurrently, and was sentenced to the California Medical Facility for incarceration and medical observation.
Evil personified is the only way to truly describe Carl Panzram with any level of accuracy. The only time this man smiled is when he caused pain, degradation and death to his many victims. Born June 28, 1891, Panzram was a serial killer, rapist, arsonist and burglar. Based on his autobiography, Panzram suffered a myriad of abuses during his youth. Caught for shoplifting at the age of 12 Panzram was sent to the Minnesota State Training School. According to his journals and personal testimony it was here that he was repeatedly beaten and tortured by staff members. Released from the school in 1905, Carl was a teenage alcoholic and constantly in trouble with the authorities. He ran away from home at the age of 14 and traveled via train cars. It was during this period in his life that Panzram claimed that on one train he was gang raped by a group of hobos.
As a young adult Panzram became a thief to survive. On June 1, 1915, Panzram burglarized a house in Astoria, Oregon and was arrested soon after while attempting to sell some of the stolen items. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. The ever defiant Panzram waged a war against the staff of the Oregon State Penitentiary and escaped from custody on at least two occasions; once for good.
In 1920 Panzram began his murderous rampage. While living in New York he would lure sailors on leave away from the local taverns. Panzram would then rape and murder the intoxicated sailors, shoot them and dump their bodies in the river. Upon his final capture in 1929 Panzram summed up his life in this statement, “In my lifetime I have murdered 21 human beings, I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arsons and, last but not least, I have committed sodomy on more than 1,000 male human beings. For all these things I am not in the least bit sorry.”
Carl Panzram’s victims ranged from 10 year old boys on up. Panzram didn’t care about race of his victim, he didn’t care if the victim was alive or dead, just as long as he could destroy and *. His reign of destruction and degradation came to an end on September 5, 1930 when he was executed
Ahmad Suradji was a well-respected 48 year-old witch doctor in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra. Born on January 10, 1949 and raised as a cattle-breeder; many in Indonesia trusted the man for guidance on matters such as love and money and health. Suradji, using aliases such as “Nasib Kelewang” and “Datuk Maringgi”, billed himself as a shaman, able to heal any and all of his people’s ailments. Innocent women would come to see this sorcerer who had promised them financial gains or potions to making themselves beautiful or more attractive to male suitors. Many women brought their daughters seeking remedies. Suradji took his female clients to a sugarcane field near his home in western Indonesia. As a part of their “healing” process he buried them up to the waist. Once immobilized into the ground, Suradji would strangle them. Immediately after death Suradji would drink the saliva emitted from the corpse’ mouth, a ritual that he believed enhanced his powers. He would then dig the victims up and rebury them with their heads facing his house, which he believed would give him extra power as a sorcerer.
The serial killer was arrested in May 1997 following the discovery of a body in the field in Lubukpakan, a village in North Sumatra province. Upon searching his property the bodies of women ranging from 11 years old to 30 years old were found buried. During interrogation he admitted to murdering 42 female victims. When asked why Suradji told police that in 1988 his father’s ghost came to him in a dream and told him to kill 70 women and carry out the ritual so that he could become a “dukan”, or mystic healer. On Monday, 27 April, 1998 a Sumatra court sentenced Ahmad Suradji to death. Originally indicted with Suradji were his three wives, (all sisters) however the only one found guilty was his senior wife, Tumini. Tumini was sentenced to life imprisonment. Ahmad Suradji was executed by firing squad on July 10, 2008.
After much deliberation it is the decision of the author that both of these Russian nightmares be included in our list. The atrocities committed by Andrei Chikatilo and Alexander Pichushkin embody the essence of depravity. Chikatilo, known by names such as The Butcher of Rostov or The Red Ripper or The Forest Strip Killer or The Rostov Ripper committed the sexual assault, murder, and mutilation of at least 52 victims between 1978 and 1990 in the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and the Uzbek SSR.
Oddly enough, Chikatilo began his life of perversion as a teacher. During a swimming session in 1973, he molested a 15 year old girl. While groping her breasts and genitals he ejaculated as she attempted to escape his grasp. In the same school, months later he sexually assaulted a female student he had locked in his classroom. Chikatilo was seen on several instances fondling himself in the presence of his students. Remarkably, Chikatilo was never once disciplined for any of his actions.
In December of 1978 Chikatilo attempted to rape a 9 year old girl. Unable to attain sexual gratification in the rape itself, Chikatilo ejaculated as he repeatedly stabbed the child in the abdomen. He then proceeded to strangle the rest of the life out of the little girl and simply tossed her body into the nearby Grushevka River. Andrei then went off the murder grid until 1981. In September of that year he met 17 year old Larisa Tkachenko standing at a bus stop. As he assaulted her he forced mud into her mouth and strangled her. Chikatilo the mutilated her by continuously biting her body, even going as far as to biting off one of the girl’s nipples. Nine months later he murdered 13 year old Lyubov Biryuk. Chikatilo inflicted 22 stab and slash wounds on the child’s head, neck, chest, and pelvic regions. From July to September 5 more women, ranging in age from nine to 18, were murdered in Chikatilo’s signature style of stabbing and strangulation.
Under constant observation authorities were sure that Chikatilo was the unknown murderer. In September 1984 Chikatilo was observed by an undercover detective attempting to lure young women away from a nearby bus stop. At that time Chikatilo was under investigation for theft; this gave authorities legal right to hold him for a prolonged period of time. While in custody, a sample of Chikatilo’s blood was taken and screened against semen samples found on the six victims allegedly murdered by Chikatilo throughout the spring and summer of 1984. The results of the blood type analysis largely discounted him as being the unknown killer. Chikatilo was found guilty of theft however, and served three months in prison. Authorities never quit investigating the murders, at times in a rush to judgment, innocents were incarcerated. Such was the case in 1984. Russian police had charged several mentally handicapped youths for more using coerced confessions. In October of 1984 evidence linked Chikatilo to 23 murders as a result of this the head of the Russian Public Prosecutors Office formally dropped charges against the previously charged youths.
In December of 1984 Chikatilo was released after serving his time for the theft conviction. He soon acquired employment with a locomotive factory in Novocherkassk. Andrei was able to keep his murderous impulses in check until the summer of 1985. In August of 1985 he met and murdered an 18-year-old woman, named Natalia Pokhlistova. Four weeks later, on 27 August, Chikatilo killed another young woman, Irina Gulyaeva, in Shakhty.
Chikatilo seemed to drop off of the map until early 1988. From that point the bodies of 19 more female victims would be found. Andrei had been under surveillance during this time however evidence against him was non existent until it was discovered that, unbeknownst to them at the time the blood test was taken, Chikatilo’s type A blood was a member of a minority group known as “non-secretors”, whose blood type cannot be inferred by anything other than a blood sample. As police only had a sample of semen, and not blood, from the crime scenes, Chikatilo was able to escape suspicion of murder. A frustrated police department enlisted the assistance of psychiatrist, Alexandr Bukhanovsky, who refined the profile of the killer, describing him as a “necro-sadist”, or someone who achieves sexual gratification from the suffering and death of others. Bukhanovsky also placed the killer’s age as between 45 and 50, significantly older than had been believed up to that point. Desperate to catch the killer, Burakov even interviewed a serial killer, Anatoly Slivko, shortly before his execution, in an attempt to gain some insight into his elusive serial killer.
Andrei Chikatilo was finally arrested on November 20th, 1990 after officers assigned to his surveillance witnessed Chikatilo exhibiting extremely suspicious behavior. He initially denied involvement in any murder until Dr. Bukhanovsky spoke with him. Believing that Bukhanovsky was interviewing him to understand the mind of a killer from a scientific context, Chikatilo revealed to Bukhanovsky that he indeed was the murderer. He not only revealed full details of each murder, he took authorities to previously undiscovered sites where he had hidden remains. By the end of the interrogation he had admitted to murdering 56 victims.
Chikatilo was arrested on November 20th, 1990. Charged with the murder of 53 victims, his trial began on April 14th, 1992 and ended in August. The verdict however, was not handed down until October 15th. On that date Andrei Chikatilo was found guilty of 52 counts of murder. On February 14th, 1994 Chikatilo was taken from his death row cell to a soundproofed room in Novocherkassk prison and executed with a single gunshot behind the right ear.
On April 9th 1974, while Chikatilo was carrying out his murderous existence, somewhere else in Russia an equally evil entity was being born. Despite Alexander Pichushkin’s normal childhood was he born to be the sadistic killer that he became? According to research, a childhood accident with a swing set created monster that some called The Chessboard Killer or The Bitsa Park Maniac.
Pichushkin began his murderous rampage in 1992. From that point he had admitted to murdering 61 victims. Pichushkin has said his aim was to kill 64 people, the number of squares on a chessboard. He recanted this at a later time admitting that even if he had gotten to 64 victims he would’ve continued to kill until he was caught. Targeting elderly men mainly, he killed without reservation and had no problem with murdering women and children as well. Pichushkin met many of his victims while playing chess in the park. In most cases he would invite his victims to drink vodka with him, catch them from behind and bash them about the head with a hammer. He then stuck vodka bottles in their skulls to ensure that they did not survive. Authorities in Russia speculate that Pichushkin felt a need to kill motivated not only by socio-psychotic impulses but as a direct desire to outdo the body count of Andrei Chikatilo.
On June 16th, 2006 Pichushkin was arrested. During the filming of his arrest and interrogation investigators were amazed at how easily he recalled exactly how he killed many of his victims as well as the locations where he buried their remains. During his interviews many times his ego would take over as he spoke of his crimes in a boastful tone. When investigators asked Pichushkin why he committed these murders he claimed that while killing people he felt like God as he decided whether his victims should live or die. “In all cases I killed for only one reason. I killed in order to live, because when you kill, you want to live,” he once said. “For me, life without murder is like life without food for you. I felt like the father of all these people, since it was me who opened the door for them to another world.”
On October 27th 2007 Judge Vladimir Usov convicted Alexander Pichushkin of 49 murders and 3 attempted murders. He was sentenced to life in prison with the first 15 years to be spent in solitary confinement.
Next up is La Bestia, (The Beast) Luis Garavito. Garavito was convicted of the rape, torture and murder of 147 boys, though actual counts have his victim list at somewhere near 300. Described by local media as “the world’s worst serial killer”, the worst thing about this case is that he may be RELEASED IN 2021.
Luis Garavito was born in January 25th, 1957 in Génova, Quindío, Colombia. The eldest of 7, Garavito was allegedly the victim of physical, emotional and sexual abuse as a child. Spending most of his days drunk, Garavito wandered from town to town in Colombia finding work where he could. The impulses to kill overcame him in 1992 and Garavito began passing himself off as a street vendor, monk, indigent, disabled person or a representative of fictitious foundations for the elderly and children’s education, to gain entrance to schools as a speaker. Garavito lured children into hidden areas that were over- grown with high plants. He promised either payment for easy work, or drugs, or made other offers. The children were tied up, tortured, raped and killed by at least one cut in the lateral part of the neck, or by decapitation. During the killings, Garavito was drunk.
Unfortunately, disappearing children is commonplace in Colombia as well as other poverty stricken cities. The majority of his victims seem to have been “street children,” children that look to the streets as a way of sheer survival. Many times they will work odd jobs, beg, sell newspapers, chewing gum, shine shoes, basically anything they could think of to turn a buck. Political violence as well as poverty would separate these children from their families. In “The Darker Side of Evil,” we use the term, “throwaway people” to classify the people most often targeted by serial killers.
Due to the sheer ghastly nature of the children’s remains, authorities initially believed that a satanic cult was at work. Several discoveries alerted police that this was more than the usual missing children of day today Colombian life. One such discovery was a mass grave of 25 boys, found on November 1997, in a ravine in the western coffee-growing city of Pereira. Another was In February 1998, 2 naked corpses of children were discovered lying next to each other outside of the town of Genua, Colombia. A third corpse was found the next day, only feet away. As a matter of fact, a great many corpses were being discovered throughout various towns. Several corpses; that fitting various modus operandi; which meant several different serial killers operating simultaneously in the same geographical area. One of these killers; Pedro Alonso Lopez, (strangler of the Andes) was suggested but after further review it was noted that Lopez’ 70 known victims were women and girls only.
Due to governmental financial restraints, profiling as we know it was not an option. A four man task force was put together to cross reference similarities in murders as well as other likenesses. As investigations heated up Garavito began to make mistakes in discretion. Bodies of boys being found were traced directly back to him being the last individual the child was seen with alive. Garavito, being an alcoholic, began leaving liquor bottles at crime scenes; more evidence that would assist in his eventual capture.
Garavito was captured on April 22nd, 1999. He confessed to murdering 140 children. However, he is still under investigation for the murder of 172 more children in more than 59 towns in Colombia. The court found Garavito guilty of 138 counts of murder, however he is still under investigation for the murder of over 200 other children. Garavito’s sentence of 1,853 years and 9 days is symbolic. Colombian law prohibits anyone to serve any longer than 30 years in prison. To add insult to injury; because he helped police find some bodies, as well as to his confessions, his sentence was further reduced to 22 years. In actuality he may possibly qualify for even earlier release for further cooperation and good behavior.
Dr. Henry Howard Holmes/Herman Webster Mudgett
As I leave the post office I turn around to take one last look before I go. Not that there is anything amazing about the architecture of this particular building, I look back and marvel at the fact that approximately 125 years ago, in this very location stood the murder castle.
Dr. H.H. Holmes was born Herman Webster Mudgett on May 16th, 1861 in Gilmanton, New Hampshire. A bright child, Holmes excelled at scholastics, which made him a target for bullies. On one occasion his classmates forced young Herman to stand face to face with science skeleton, even placing the bony hand upon Holmes’ shoulder and head. Initially frightening him, Holmes began a lifelong fascination with death. As he got older Holmes took up the hobby of dissecting animals.
In 1884 Mudgett graduated from University of Michigan’s Department of Medicine & Surgery and immediately began pulling insurance scams with laboratory cadavers. He also traveled extensively during this time. Holmes was known for meeting a woman in one location, marrying her; then moving across the country and do the same thing but never bothering to get divorced; all the while taking advantage of his new wife as well as her money.
Holmes arrived in Chicago in 1886 and soon met Elizabeth S. Holton. Elizabeth and her husband owned a drug store and hired Holmes. After the passing of her husband Holmes made Elizabeth an offer for the store. Using the store’s inventory and fixtures as collateral Holmes obtained the funds necessary to purchase the store. Oddly enough, Mrs. Holton came up missing soon after the transaction. When asked about her whereabouts and well-being, Holmes would tell concerned inquirers that she had moved to California to be close to relatives. Finally, having obtained necessary finances, Holmes constructed a three story hotel across the street from the drug store.
“The World’s Fair Hotel,” located at 601-603 West 63rd Street, was enormous for its time leading neighborhood residents to dub the building, “the castle.” Measuring 162 feet long and 50 feet wide; the castle was constructed to house visitors to the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. The hotel’s ground floor consisted of commercial space as well as Holmes’ relocated drug store. From the exterior the hotel was a grand creation and a blessing to the city; within the walls of the hotel a different and horrific story was told. To the untrained, unsuspecting eye, visitors saw basic everyday hotel rooms. Unbeknownst to everyone, the hotel contained a labyrinth of rooms with doorways opening to brick walls, oddly-angled hallways, stairways leading to nowhere, doors that could only be opened from the outside and a host of other strange and deceptive constructions. Some rooms were soundproofed, others were gas chamber type. The sinister purposes of these odd assemblies were about to unfold.
The atrocities that took place within this hotel were mind boggling. Hundreds of guests were killed for the sheer delight and comeuppance of Holmes. He didn’t limit his murderous tendencies to guests; many hotel employees became victims of their demented employer. As a condition of employment they were required to take out life insurance policies, for which Holmes would pay the premiums, but was also the beneficiary. The consummate ladies’ man and hustler, Holmes dated a number of women; some married, some single; all disappeared. The bottom line was that many people came to Chicago to see the World’s Fair but, for one reason or another, never returned home. Some victims were killed with rooms filling with poisonous gas. Others were submerged in acid pits. Guests were hung up by chains as their skin was methodically removed. Skeletal remains were sold to nearby colleges and universities, remains that couldn’t be salvaged were disposed of inside two giant furnaces.
According to missing persons report from that time as many as 200 victims may have met their end due to Holmes. However, when Holmes was finally apprehended in Philadelphia, he was charged with insurance fraud. Chicago police had begun investigations into the goings on within the hotel. Attempting to come up with an actual victim count was near impossible because bodies in the basement were so badly dismembered and decomposed that it was difficult to tell how many bodies there actually were. As Philadelphia police investigated Holmes, they too found that he had committed at least one murder in their jurisdiction.
In October 1895, Holmes was put on trial for insurance fraud and murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. Once Holmes had been found guilty has confessed to 30 murders he has committed. During his stay in prison he wrote an unabridged confession of his diabolical activities at the murder castle. On May 7, 1896, Holmes was hanged at Moyamensing Prison, also known as the Philadelphia County Prison.
Viktor Sayenko and Igor Suprunyuck
(Warning Graphic Video Enclosed)
Known as the the Dnepropetrovsk maniacs; Viktor Sayenko and Igor Suprunyuk, are two 19 year olds convicted of 21 murders in the Ukraine. These demented youths had the audacity to videotape some of their crimes in an attempt to become famous. A third accomplice Alexander Hanzha was charged only with two armed robberies that took place before the murder spree.
Suprunyuk and Sayenko began their murder spree on June 25, 2007. Ekaterina Ilchenko was walking home from her friend’s apartment. According to Sayenko’s confession, he and Suprunyuck were out for a walk Suprunyuck brandished a hammer and as Ilchenko walked past, Suprunyuck spun around and struck her in the side of the head. Later that same night they murdered Roman Tatarevich. Tatarevich was asleep on a bench. Suprunyuk and Sayenko smashed his head in with blunt objects rendering him unrecognizable.
Murders such as these carried on throughout July of that year. They seemed to select their victims at random or by opportunity. Most of their targets were vulnerable to attack, including women, children, elderly, vagrants, or people under the influence of alcohol. Not particular in how they killed, Suprunyuk and Sayenko tended to use whatever was available to them. Most of the victims were killed using blunt objects, including hammers and steel construction bars. They directed their attacks at the victims’ faces, leaving them unrecognizable. If time permitted, some victims were mutilated and tortured; some had their eyes gouged out while they were still alive. One of the victims was a pregnant woman, whose fetus was cut out of her womb.
Due to the manner in which victims were killed, investigators initially made no connection in the killings. The crimes began to be linked when Vadim Lyakhov survived an attack from the two. Lyakhov was originally thought of as a suspect and was even charged until it became clear that he couldn’t have committed these crimes. He then cooperated with the investigators to create sketches of the attackers. On July 14, residents of the village of Diyovka reported seeing 45‑year-old Natalia Mamarchuk riding her scooter. Witnesses then told authorities that two men knocked her down then took out a hammer or a pipe and bludgeoned her to death as she lay on the ground. The men then jumped on her scooter and drove off. Onlookers gave chase, but quickly lost sight of the attackers. Ironically, two children hiding in a tent nearby, saw the crime and gave descriptions of the men that matched descriptions given by Lyakhov.
A manhunt of over 2000 investigators ensued. Suprunyuk and Sayenko were arrested on July 23, 2007 when Suprunyuck attempted to sell a mobile phone stolen from one of the victims in a local pawn shop. When the phone was turned on to show that it worked, its location was traced by law enforcement agents. Hanzha was arrested later that day at home. The three suspects attended school together and had been life long friends. During interviews, investigators were made aware of the existence of video tapes of murders. The suspects’ mobile phones and personal computers contained multiple video recordings of the murders. Early videos captured Suprunyuk and Sayenko torturing and killing animals in the neighborhood. Latter videos showed the suspects torturing, murdering and mutilating humans. A video was leaked to the Internet, showing the murder of 48‑year-old Sergei Yatzenko.
On February 11, 2009, the court in Dnepropetrovsk found Igor Suprunyuk and Viktor Sayenko guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced both to life imprisonment. Suprunyuk was found guilty of 21 murders, Sayenko of 18. They also received fifteen-year sentences after being found guilty on the robbery charges. Alexander Hanzha, who was not involved in the killings, was found guilty of robbery and sentenced to nine years in prison.
Moses Sithole, aka “The ABC Murderer” is South Africa’s worst serial killer to date. The media gave him the nickname because his murders began in Atteridgeville, continued in Boksburg and finished in Cleveland, a suburb of Johannesburg. Sithole was born November 17th, 1964 in Vosloorus, a poor neighborhood of Boksburg, Gauteng in apartheid-era South Africa. His father died when Sithole was young. Unable to handle the parenting responsibilities alone, Sithole’s mother left him and his siblings in the care of local police causing them to spend the next three years in an orphanage. Citing mistreatment as the reason, Sithole ran away from the orphanage and back to his mother. He would eventually take up residence with an older brother.
Sithole began his criminal life in his twenties as a rapist. It would be his third victim that stepped up and testified against him. For his crimes Moses spent 7 years in prison. During his time in prison Sithole claimed that he had been sexually assaulted by other inmates. Released in 1994, Sithole began a murder spree that South Africa had not ever seen before.
Pretending to be a businessman, Sithole would gain the confidence of young ladies. Employment was scarce in the impoverished town of Atteridgeville so it was not difficult for Sithole to fool his victims using potential job opportunities as a lure. Gaining their trust, he would walk them out to the field then overpower, rape and strangle them.
By the summer of 1995, Sithole had claimed over 30 victims and the public was in an uproar for answers. At that time South Africa had more than their share of serial killers so authorities reached out to former FBI profiler Robert Ressler for assistance. Bodies fitting the same modus operandi had been found in Atteridgeville, Boksburg and Cleveland so the media gave the unknown perpetrator the title “The ABC Murderer”. In October 1995 witnesses reported to authorities that Sithole had been seen with a victim. Investigators pulled his file and retrieved information concerning his prior rape conviction. Police began keeping an eye on Sithole, but he soon vanished. While in hiding Sithole contacted South African journalist Tamsen de Beer and identified himself as the wanted murderer. Sithole told the reporter that the murders were in retaliation for being sent to prison though he was innocent. He also claimed that he had murder 78 women, twice as many as police had previously thought. To prove his claim, Sithole told the reporter of the whereabouts of the remains of one of his victims. Authorities found Sithole in Johannesburg. Sithole was shot as he attacked an officer with a hatchet during the arrest. As he was being treated Sithole was found to be HIV positive.
On December 5th 1997, Justice David Carstairs sentenced Sithole to 50 years’ imprisonment for each of the 38 murders, 12 years’ imprisonment for each of the 40 rapes, and five years’ imprisonment for each of the six robberies, all sentences to run consecutively; the total effective sentence is 2,410 years. Judge Carstairs went on to say that had it not been abolished, he would have sentenced Sithole to death.
We’ve all had relationship break-ups. People handle this situation in various manners. Often times it’s a mutual agreement between the couple. Other times it comes out of the blue and leaves one of the involved parties hurt and devastated. Regardless of the reason behind the split, for most of us the end result is the same. We hurt for a while then we get over it.
In the late 1990’s it was a breakup that led to a 5 year reign of one of the most prolific serial killers in Chinese history, Yang Xinhai; the Monster Killer. Yang Xinhai confessed to committing 65 murders and 23 rapes between 1999 and 2003. The murders ended 2003 when he was apprehended by authorities. Yang Xinhai was found guilty and executed in February of 2004.
Yang Xinhai was born in Zhengyang County, Zhumadian, Henan Province, China on July 29, 1968; the youngest of four children. In 1985, the 17 year old high school drop-out traveled around China working as a laborer. When work was not available Yang became a burglar. In 1988 and 1991, Yang was sentenced to labor camps for theft in Xi’an, Shaanxi and Shijiazhuang, Hebei. In 1996, he was sentenced to five years in prison for attempted rape in Zhumadian, Henan and released in 1999.
After his release in 1999, Yang met and began a brief relationship with a young female student. After learning of his criminal past the young lady broke all ties with Yang. Based upon his interrogation, this break-up is what Yang cites as the motive of his 5 year, 67 victim, killing spree. His rampage was so extensive that it would take hours to chronicle each murder separately; however I will enlighten you on just how he would operate.
Calling upon his experience as a burglar he would gain entry to a home. Always wearing new clothes and oversized shoes he noiselessly roamed through the home, not to steal; simply to murder. Using axes, hammers and shovels, he would violently slaughter his victims. Many times he would quietly take out whole families, primarily farmers. From 1999 through 2003 Yang Xinhai terrorized the provinces of Anhui, Hebei, Henan and Shandong, murdering anyone unfortunate enough to be at home that night. During these home invasions he would rape the women before murdering them in cold blood. The beginning of the end of his bloody rampage occurred in October 2002. Yang killed a father and a six-year-old girl with a shovel and raped a pregnant woman. The woman survived the attack and despite enduring serious head injuries; described the assailant to authorities.
During a police “shakedown,” of nightclubs in Cangzhou, Hebei; Yang was brought in for questioning. Authorities noticed that he appeared excessively nervous and soon found out why. A person fitting his exact description was wanted for murder in four provinces. As the interrogation intensified, Yang eventually confessed to 65 murders, 23 rapes and five attacks causing serious injury: 49 murders, 17 rapes and five attacks in Henan; eight murders and three rapes in Hebei; six murders and two rapes in Anhui; and two murders and one rape in Shandong. DNA matches in several crime scenes sealed the cases against Yang. Ironically, unbeknownst to Yang, he had contracted HIV from one of his rape victims. When asked about the reasons for the murders, Yang told authorities that he lashed out against society due to this girlfriend breaking up with him. From that breakup he developed a hatred of people. When asked about his crimes he was quoted as saying: “When I killed people I had a desire. This inspired me to kill more. I don’t care whether they deserve to live or not. It is none of my concern…I have no desire to be part of society. Society is not my concern.”
On February 1st, 2004 Yang Xinhai was found guilty of 67 murders and 23 rapes, and sentenced to death in Luohe City Intermediate People’s Court, Henan. In an instance of swift justice Yang was executed only 13 days later. On St. Valentine’s Day 2004, Yang Xinhai was executed by firing squad. Thus was the end of The Monster Killer, Yang Xinhai.
Growing up, my summers were spent in rural Georgia. Some of my earliest memories are those of my cousins and me being told to go out and, “slop the hogs.” Yes this chore was just as fun as it sounds. Slopping the hogs can be best defined as taking buckets of leftover food from the prior day’s meals and pouring them into the feeding trough out in the pig pen.
My grandparents made what can be called a “modest,” living at best, from farming. I could never imagine the term multi-millionaire being used to describe someone in this line of work. To my surprise I came across Robert Pickton. Robert Pickton was actually a multi-millionaire pig farmer in Port Coquitlam, a city in British Columbia, Canada. He and his brother David owned a family run operation in the area. The multi-millions came not so much from pig farming operations; they actually neglected that end of the business. It was the land itself that netted the Pickton’s millions. The farmland, purchased for $18,000 by Leonard Pickton and his wife, Helen Louise, in 1963, was worth $300,000 in 1993. By 1994 it was valued at $7.2 million. In the fall of 1994, they sold a part of their farm for $1.7 million to Eternal Holdings, a townhouse development company. That same year the city of Port Coquitlam also bought a chunk of their land, for $1.2 million, and turned it into a park. In 1995, Port Coquitlam’s school district bought a piece of the pig farm for $2.3 million, and built Blakeburn Elementary School on the site.
In 1995, soon after the Pickton’s financial windfall, area residents noticed that women began to come up missing. David Pickton took his earnings and moved up the road and begun a non-profit organization, the Piggy Palace Good Times Society. The organization would sponsor parties and social gatherings for other organizations throughout the area. The regular clientele were those that partook in the seedier side of life. Bikers, drug dealers and users and prostitutes comprised the palace’s day to day crowd. David Pickton’s organization became so popular that attendance would regularly top 2000 guests. At times the guests would stop by Richard’s converted slaughterhouse to visit, buy meat etc. Farm employee, Bill Hiscox began to notice that some guests of the farm, particularly women; had begun to come up missing. Hiscox reported his suspicions to the authorities and on February 6, 2002, police executed a search warrant for illegal firearms at the property. While in custody authorities issued a second search warrant as part of the ongoing investigation of the missing women. The following day Robert Pickton was charged with various charges included possessing and storing firearms without a license. He was later released and was kept under police surveillance.
Unbeknownst to Pickton, the police had discovered key clues concerning the disappearance of area women during the search of his property. Vancouver police had uncovered several personal items belonging to missing women such as identification cards, prescription medicine etc. On February 22, Pickton was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson. On April 2, three more charges were added for the murders of Jacqueline McDonell, Diane Rock and Heather Bottomley. A sixth charge for the murder of Andrea Joesbury was laid on April 9, followed shortly by a seventh for Brenda Wolfe. On September 20, four more charges were added for the slayings of Georgina Papin, Patricia Johnson, Helen Hallmark and Jennifer Furminger. Four more charges for the murders of Heather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving and Inga Hall were laid on October 3, bringing the total to fifteen, making the investigation the largest of any serial killer in Canadian history. On May 26, 2005, 12 more charges were laid against him for the killings of Cara Ellis, Andrea Borhaven, Debra Lynne Jones, Marnie Frey, Tiffany Drew, Kerry Koski, Sarah de Vries, Cynthia Feliks, Angela Jardine, Wendy Crawford, Diana Melnick, and Jane Doe (unidentified woman) bringing the total number of first-degree murder charges to 27.
During a preliminary inquiry held in 2003, investigators found that long before the murders began, Robert Pickton was involved in an attempted murder of a sex worker in 1997. Prostitute, Wendy Lynn Eistetter testified at the inquiry that after he had driven her to the Port Coquitlam farm and had sex with her, Pickton slapped a handcuff on her left hand and stabbed her in the abdomen. During the melee that ensued, Eistetter stabbed Pickton in self-defense. Later, both she and Pickton were treated at the same hospital, where staff used a key they found in Pickton’s pocket to remove the handcuffs from the woman’s wrist. Ironically, the attempted murder charge was stayed by the Canadian courts citing the Wendy Lynn was a known drug addict. Prosecution deemed her testimony was too unstable to hinge their case upon. Also during the inquiry it was discovered that the police had received several tips concerning the disappearance of women. Vancouver police detective constable Lori Shenher received a tip in 1998 stating that Pickton should be investigated in the case of the disappearances. Another call in 1999 informed Canadian police that Pickton had a freezer filled with human flesh on his farm. Investigators interviewed Pickton, even received permission to search his property; however police never actually made the search.
Pickton’s trial began on January 30, 2006 in New Westminster presided by Justice James Williams. Pickton pled not guilty to 27 charges of first-degree murder in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The voir dire phase of the trial took most of the year to determine what evidence might be admitted before the jury. On March 2, one of the 27 counts was rejected by Justice James Williams for lack of evidence.
On August 9, Justice Williams severed the charges, splitting them into one group of six counts and another group of twenty counts. The trial proceeded on the group of six counts. The remaining 20 counts could have been heard in a separate trial, but ultimately were stayed on August 4, 2010.Because of the publication ban, full details of the decision are not publicly available; but the judge has explained that trying all 26 charges at once would put an unreasonable burden on the jury, as the trial could last up to two years, and have an increased chance for a mistrial. The judge also added that the six counts he chose had “materially different” evidence from the other 20.
Though initially set to start January 8, 2007, Pickton faced first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Frey, Abotsway, Papin, Joesbury, Wolfe and Wilson on January 22. On that date, the media ban that was put in place at the beginning of the trial was lifted and for the first time Canadians as well as the rest of the world would hear the gruesome details of what was found during the search of the Pickton property.
The jury and court would hear testimony from investigators that found skulls cut in half with hands and feet stuffed inside. The remains of another victim were stuffed in a garbage bag in the bottom of a trash can and her blood-stained clothing was found in the trailer in which Pickton lived. Part of one victim’s jawbone and teeth were found in the ground beside the slaughterhouse, and a .22 caliber revolver with an attached dildo containing both his and a victim’s DNA was in his laundry room. In a videotaped recording played for the jury, Pickton claimed to have attached the dildo to his weapon as a makeshift silencer. A loaded .22 revolver with a big, spiky black, Hindu made dildo over the barrel and one round fired, boxes of .357 Magnum handgun ammunition, night-vision goggles, two pairs of faux fur-lined handcuffs, a syringe with three milliliters of blue liquid inside, and “Spanish fly” aphrodisiac.
More incriminating videotapes were found, a tape of Pickton’s friend Scott Chubb saying Pickton had told him a good way to kill a female heroin addict was to inject her with windshield-washer fluid. A second tape was played for Pickton, in which an associate named Andrew Bellwood said Pickton mentioned killing prostitutes by handcuffing and strangling them, then bleeding and gutting them before feeding them to pigs. Yes feeding them to the pigs!
The horror of what was found on the farms; the dismembered corpses, the feet, teeth, bones, the wood chipper, and the freezers paled in comparison to the thoughts of the area residents. I will explain. Robert Pickton supplied meat to a great many in the immediate and not so immediate area. Piggy’s Palace sported a reputation of serving a very raunchy crowd. Biker’s, prostitutes and drug addicts comprised the primary customer base. However, most of the residents of the area had patronized Piggy’s Palace at one point or another. Two mayors, several city council members, local business and civic leaders, ice hockey moms, high school and elementary school students–they all came for functions, dances, concerts and other recreations at Piggy’s Palace. To be brief, he bought the pigs, fattened them, and sold the meat to friends, or roasted them for the bikers, prostitutes, mayors, and Little Leaguers who partied at Piggy’s Palace. The entire city of Port Coquitlam (pop. 53,000), it seemed, was feeding on pigs that had been fed by the suspected serial killer Robert Pickton. Thousands of people had been to the palace and had enjoyed some roasted pork, pork from Robert Pickton’s farm. Let me help you here; Pickton kills victims, Pickton feeds victims to pigs, people eat pigs; therefore people eat victims.
The unusable remains of the pigs Robert slaughtered and served to his friends and neighbors–pig entrails, brains, bones, nerve tissue, and gore–were taken by truck to a rendering plant. Many are certain that the partial remains of the murdered sex workers were also hauled in those trucks. The plant turns animal bones, guts, fish, blood, pig entrails, used restaurant grease, and, now many believe, the remains of sex workers into a number of consumer products, like lipstick base, soaps, shampoos, and perfumes. These commodities that improve human appearance are shipped all over the world. The fact is that we may all have bathed in the remains of victims.
Women began disappearing from Vancouver in the 1980’s. At approximately the same time women began disappearing from the streets of Seattle and Sea Tac, WA. In both cases the women were known to be sex workers, drug addicted and or homeless; the type of people described in my book, The Darker Side of Evil, as throw away people. One difference in the two cases is that the women that were vanishing from the streets of Seattle and surrounding areas were being found; at least the remains of the victims were turning up. The remains of many of the missing Seattle women resurfaced in the wild areas around the airport, beside the freeways, and, most infamously, along the banks of the Green River. In Vancouver the victims just seemed to disappear. It is assumed that this is the reason that Vancouver authorities appeared to approach their missing persons’ issues in a seemingly lackadaisical manner. Without any evidence of a crime being committed there was simply no reason to assume that these women had been victims of any type of crime. In stark contrast, it was obvious that the women of Seattle and Sea Tac had been murdered and frightened communities demanded action. It was that call to action that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the monster known as The Green River Killer.
As stated earlier Justice James Williams decided to split the counts against Pickton citing undue stress being placed upon jurors. On December 9, 2007 the jury returned with a verdict that Pickton is not guilty on 6 counts of first-degree murder, but is guilty on 6 counts of second-degree murder. On December 11, 2007 Justice Williams read 18 impact statements from victim’s families; he then sentenced Robert Pickton to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years; the maximum punishment for second-degree murder and equal to the sentence which would have been imposed for a first-degree murder conviction. Also noted earlier was the fact that the decision to try Pickton for the other 20 murders was set aside. Prosecution had taken into account the fact that any additional convictions could not result in any increase to the sentence that Mr. Pickton has already received. Despite numerous appeals, Robert Pickton’s sentence was upheld.
Robert Pickton was accused of the murder of 27 women, however in a conversation between him and an undercover police officer posing as his cellmate Pickton confessed to the murder of 49 women. He went on to tell the officer that he had planned to kill 50 women then stop and that the only reason he was caught was due to getting, “sloppy.” The scary part about this is that it may be true. Initial attempts to have Robert Pickton investigated were all but ignored by authorities. Had a proper investigation been performed when he was accused of the attempted murder of Wendy Lynn Eistetter was committed a great many lives may have been saved. Not only was that not the case, the charges against Pickton was dropped thereby giving him an even greater air of invincibility.
How many Robert Picktons are in the world today? Every major city on this continent has its area known as, “skid row”; urine scented blocks littered with bloodstains, crack vials and dirty condoms. Within these areas sexual predators stalk their prey. Each day, prostitutes are beaten, raped, robbed, tied up, held down, doused, burned and not to mention….murdered. Most of these incidents never make the local news unless the media, our gateway to the world; choses to notify the public of such occurrences. Unfortunately, by then, it is usually too late for a great many victims and their families. How do we solve these problems? I have never been a fan of the Jerry Springer program but I think he sums it up at the end of each show. As he closes out each taping he looks at the camera as says these simple words, “Let’s take care of ourselves and each other.” Let’s try that for starters.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; home of the Phillies and the Eagles and nicknamed, “The City of Brotherly Love”. For those that are familiar with my blog you already know that here, the word “love” probably isn’t going to be the topic we will be discussing. Founded in 1682 I’m sure that this great city has earned its popular nickname but through research I’ve found several incidents in Philadelphia’s history that paralyzed the citizens of this city in fear as well as horrified the nation.
In my book, ”The Darker Side of Evil” we analyzed the exploits of some of the most prolific serial in modern American history. One of the subjects of the book was Harrison Graham, “The Corpse Collector,” a 28-year old mentally retarded drug abuser who lived in a slum district of Philadelphia and rented a third floor apartment. In August of 1987, Graham engaged in a heated argument with his landlord concerning the neighborhood’s complaints of an intolerable stench emanating from his two room apartment. Later Graham left the apartment but not before nailing the entry door shut. Afraid of what may be causing the overwhelming odor police were enlisted to gain access to the residence. Once inside, the officers found two strangled women’s bodies, three more skeletons beneath a mound of garbage on the floor, another tied up in the closet. Further investigation yielded the skeletal remains of victim number seven on the roof of Graham’s building. On August 14, another skull and partial skeleton were excavated from the dirt floor of a row house three doors down from Graham’s building. He surrendered two days later and confessed to seven murders since the winter months of 1986.
In March of the same year police apprehended Gary Heidnik. Heidnik is often referred to as a serial killer, although having been convicted of only two murders. This fact does not lessen the depravity of his crimes. Gary Heidnik held 6 women captive in the basement of his house of horrors located at 3520 North Marshall Street in North Philadelphia. The captives were sexually abused, beaten, and tortured in front of each other. The first off the two women that Heidnik was convicted of murdering died of a combination of starvation, excess torture, and an untreated fever. Sandra Lindsay was dismembered, ground with a food processor and mixed it with dog food, which he then fed to the surviving victims. Having a problem dealing with the arms and legs; Heidnik put them in a freezer and marked them “dog food”. He then cooked her ribs in an oven and boiled her head in a pot on the stove. The second woman that died, Deborah Dudley was fatally electrocuted. Heidnik disposed of her body in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Convicted of two counts of murder in 1988, Heidnik was sentenced to death and incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh. Heidnik was executed by lethal injection on July 6, 1999.
These two cases caught my attention initially but after further research I found several other intriguing crimes out of this city. Mary Noe, born Mary Liddy on August 23, 1928 in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia met and married Arthur Allen Noe in 1948. From this union ten children were born, all of whom died between the ages of 5 days and 14 months. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until the book The Death of Innocents, was published in 1997 and an article in 1998 concerning the book’s subject matter that brought interest in this case. After receiving information concerning the death of the Noe children decades earlier police questioned Mrs. Noe. During her interrogation Mrs. Noe admitted to suffocating four of her children. She went on to state that she could not remember what happened to the other four children who died under similar circumstances. Noe was charged with first-degree murder and as a result of a plea agreement Mrs. Noe was convicted of eight counts of second-degree murder and in June 1999 she was sentenced to 20 years of probation.
I found the next case, known in Philly as, “The Boy in the Box” especially disturbing, even now, as I type, an uneasy feeling comes over me. On February 25, 1957; a boy approximately 4 to 6 years old was found in the Fox Chase community of Philadelphia. The boy was found nude, badly bruised and wrapped in a blanket inside a cardboard box. Police in 1957 took the fingerprints of the boy and were initially confident about a quick resolve to the boy’s identity as well as to his murderer. Hundreds of promising leads were tracked down and several likely suspects were identified and interrogated however 58 years later and having been adopted by the country as “America’s Unknown Child,” authorities are no closer to closing the case now than they were then. Since the child’s discovery, several theories have arisen. Accusations ranging from foster home abuse to the outright purchase of the child by a woman but to date, none has been proven. The boy was originally buried in a potter’s field but in 1998 the body was exhumed in hopes of retrieving DNA. The child was then reburied at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Cedarbrook, Philadelphia, which donated a large plot. The coffin, headstone and funeral service were also donated by the son of the man who had originally buried him in 1957. Sadly, since 1957, Philadelphia has had at least two other unknown children have been found murdered.
In 1982, the decomposed remains of a young girl were found inside a steamer trunk under the Platt Memorial Bridge in southwest Philadelphia. As in the Boy in the Box case, no one came forward to identify the victim. It took investigators five years to solve the mystery. She turned out to be a five-year-old West Philadelphia girl named Aliyah Davis who had been beaten to death by her stepfather in 1981, seven months before her body was discovered. The girl’s mother Maria Davis Fox and stepfather Charles Fox were charged for Aliyah’s death.
There was another unknown child who remained unidentified for more than a decade after his battered, decomposed remains were discovered stuffed inside a nylon duffel bag in a vacant lot in 1994. This unknown child came to be known as “The Boy in the Bag.” Buried in 2001 the child’s gravestone simply read, “unknown boy.” However in 2005 the boy’s name and how he died was In 1994, a four year old Jerell Willis, actually from East Camden, New Jersey; was beaten to death then stuffed into a duffel bag that was dumped in a trash-strewn lot in Philadelphia. For years, family members that inquired about young Jerrell’s whereabouts and well-being was given the run around by his mother and father. In 2005, the boy’s mother, Alicia Robinson was arrested at her Southwest Philadelphia home. During her interrogation Mrs. Robinson admitted to officers that she and her husband, Lawrence Robinson, also known as Jevon Willis; struck Jerell numerous times in their apartment. The boy became lethargic and then unconscious. The husband, Lawrence Robinson, during this time was incarcerated in Riverfront State Prison in Camden, serving the second year of an eight-year sentence for sexual assault. Alicia Robinson was sentenced to five years in prison in 2007.
Dolores Della Penna was born on December 13, 1954. The honors graduate from St. Hubert’s Catholic High School known for her quiet, friendly nature. Shortly before midnight on July 11, 1972 Dolores Della Penna was abducted from her home in the 4900 block of Rawle Street in Philadelphia. Witnesses informed authorities that they saw the young lady being beaten and dragged, apparently unconscious, into a car. It turns out that the 17-year-old Philadelphia schoolgirl was tortured, gang raped, murdered by dismemberment and beheaded. Della Penna’s torso and arms were later located in Jackson Township, New Jersey, while her legs were found in neighboring Manchester Township near the border with Jackson. The head has not been found.
This gruesome crime has remained unsolved over the years. However, one explanation has been constantly retold and reported to the police. It seems that a drug dealing biker gang fronted one of Della Penna’s acquaintances with drugs. The acquaintance blamed Della Penna for stealing a cache of those drugs and informed the dealers. In 1992 a Graterford inmate reaffirmed the story and added he actually witnessed the beating of Della Penna by drug dealers at a Kensington garage on the night of July 11, 1972. The inmate, who was 16 at the time of the murder, gave his account to a Graterford prison guard who passed the information on to authorities. In 1994 the witness, approximately 38 years old at the time described the homicide to detectives at Philadelphia Police headquarters and testified before the grand jury. In his testimony, the inmate confessed to witnessing the murder but out of fear for his own life decided to remain silent concerning the crime. Through this testimony and with the assistance of corroborators, detectives identified six suspects in the murder, three of which having died since the 1972 killing.
From 1972-1977 Ira Einhorn and Holly Maddux shared an apartment in Philadelphia. In 1977 Maddux broke up with Einhorn and moved to New York. On Sept. 9, 1977, Maddux returned to collect her things from the apartment and was never seen again. Weeks later during questioning, Einhorn claimed that Holly left the apartment heading to the store and never returned. During the following months several of Einhorn’s neighbors complained of foul smells emanating from his apartment. On March 28, 1979, police searched Einhorn’s apartment and were horrified to find Maddux’s decomposing corpse was found in a trunk stored in a closet. In 1981, just days before his murder trial was to begin, Einhorn skipped bail, and fled to Europe. Over the next 17 years Einhorn remained in Europe and began a new life, eventually marrying even. Unbeknownst to Einhorn, Philadelphia courts had tried and convicted the murderer in absentia. On July 20, 2001, after a lengthy extradition battle, Einhorn was returned to the states to serve his prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
Lastly, during Harrison Graham and Gary Heidnik’s reign of terror there was another serial killer on the loose in the streets of Philly. Dubbed “The Frankford Slasher” by the media, this perpetrator sexually assaulted and stabbed to death at least 9 women in and around the Frankford area of Philadelphia from 1985-1990. These murders as well as the exploits of Heidnik and Graham paralyzed the city with fear. In turn, Philly residents placed a great deal of pressure on the police to solve the crimes and put an end to the murders. Carol Dowd was one of the 9 women found slain during this time. On April 28, 1990 her body of was found behind a Frankford Avenue seafood market. As a result of an comment, fish market employee Leonard Christopher became the prime suspect. Despite witness’s testimony that several of the women were seen in the company of a middle aged white man before their disappearances, Christopher was questioned concerning all of the murdered women. Lacking evidence linking him to any murder, Christopher was tried and convicted of the murder of Carol Dowd and on December 12, 1990, sentenced to life in prison.
Every major metropolitan city in our country has endured its share of evil. Despicable acts that the residents care not to remember but will never forget. Wickedness of an unspeakable nature seeps in and unhinges communities while changing the lives of all parties involved; forever. The crimes reported in this post occurred in Philadelphia, PA and is forever a part of its history, however, in no way are they exclusive to this city nor are they indicative of the residents of this fine city as many of these acts and worse have occurred in cities across the country and around the world. To my readers in Philadelphia, Chicago and around the globe, I thank you for your time and implore you to let brotherly love continue.
Let me apologize for my absence, I’ve been spending time filming the hit show CHICAGO PD, starring a great, up and coming actor named LaRoyce Hawkins; as well as the upcoming Fox series EMPIRE with acclaimed stunt performer Eddie J. Fernandez and Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard. My participation in these productions can be considered minimal at best but hopefully won’t end on the cutting room floor. However minute my role; it was a pleasure to be in the company of these talented actors. Unfortunately, news out of nearby Hammond, Indiana brought me back to earth and returned me to my original calling.
The body of 19 year old Afrikka Hardy was found at a Motel 6 in Hammond, Indiana on October 17th. Friends of Ms. Hardy had begun to text her after her disappearance and became apprehensive when they received suspicious text responses believing that they were from the suspect. Evidence collected from the crime scene led to of 43 year old Darren Deon Vann being considered a suspect. After obtaining a search warrant, authorities arrested Vann near his Gary, Indiana home.
Once in custody, Vann began a horrific tale of the internet, prostitution and murder. Vann’s confession led authorities to the discovery of 6 additional bodies in the Northwestern Indiana area. Vann told interrogators how he arranged a rendezvous with Ms. Hardy who posted her “services” on an internet site. While in custody Vann confessed to the murders of Anith Jones, Teaira Batey and four other women from the Hammond/ Gary area. The current number of Northwestern Indiana murder victims in which Vann may be responsible is now at 7. Statements made during the course of his confession lead authorities to believe that the overall death toll may be much higher and his spree may extend back over 20 years.
Darren Vann, the suspect in these serial murders is no stranger to law enforcement. A convicted sex offender from Austin, Texas, Vann pleaded guilty to rape in 2009. Before that conviction, he served a year in prison in Indiana after he grabbed a Gary woman in a chokehold in 2004, doused her with gasoline and threatened to set her on fire. The victim in the 2009 case told police that in 2007 she went to Vann’s apartment, where he asked if she was a police officer. After she told him no, he knocked her down and began to strangle and beat her, hitting her several times in the face and telling the woman he could kill her. He then raped her. Sentenced to 5 years Vann received 15 months credit for the time he was in jail awaiting trial and was released in 2013. Despite both incidents, Texas officials deemed him a low risk for violence. In a recent interview, Vann’s ex-wife, who asked not to be named, cited that she had not known Vann to be violent. The woman that happens to be 29 years older than Vann went on to add that she knew a different kind of man, one who was friendly, protective and not abusive. However her adult son had a different view of Darren Vann. Vann’s ex-wife’s son says he was “creepy” and “strange.
Vann, who is housed in Lake County Jail, located in Crown Point, IN is being charged with one murder however, other charges are said to be forthcoming. Lake County Jail is the pre-trial detention facility for those awaiting trial but unable to make bail arrangements. Gary and Hammond, Indiana are the cities in which the women’s bodies were located, and both fall within Lake County boundaries. A reliable source within the jail indicates that there had been a buzz among the female residents of the jail in recent months about the disappearance of several area women as well as to whom the culpability may fall. Through the pods and cells of the women’s jail, ladies would speak of missing relatives and friends many of whom had chosen prostitution as a means of survival.
Since his arrest, Darren Vann had been cooperating with authorities. During his interrogation Vann told investigators of the locations of victim’s bodies throughout the abandoned buildings in Gary. However, Vann’s cooperation ended recently at a magistrate hearing at Lake County Jail. Vann stood stone-faced and refused to acknowledge Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivan as she asked the defendant basic questions regarding his name and his ability to understand his
charges. In response the accused stood stoically, non-respondent to the questions posed to him by the judge. Sullivan then addressed Vann’s public defender, Matthew Fech, urging him to “tell your client that he stays in jail the rest of his life until this hearing takes place.” Ultimately, Vann was held in contempt and the hearing rescheduled for the following week
As we mentioned earlier there had been talk among area residents concerning several disappearances. In The Darker Side of Evil, we use the term, “throwaway people.” Individuals that society cares not to look at therefore are hardly missed if they disappear. The accused, Darren Deon Vann; took advantage of law enforcement’s lackadaisical approach to following up on missing person’s reports. We have human beings vanish from the face of the earth and no one willing to take the time and effort to look at the evidence in front of them to find them. We’ve seen this time and time again. Andre Crawford terrorized Chicago’s Englewood area in the 1990’s. In addition to similar M.O.’s and circumstances, the killer also made use of abandoned residences.
On the other hand we cannot place the blame totally upon law enforcement. In a blink of an eye mothers, daughters, sisters and wives all gone; never to be heard from
again. If we take time to take an interest in the lives of one another this sort of crime would be impossible. Tupac Shakur once said, “How can the devil take a brother if he is close to me?” Some of these victim’s remains were mummified and skeletal meaning that they had been deceased for several months. People, let’s take time to reconnect with that estranged family member, distant cousin or long lost friend. Let them know that even though you may or may not agree with the way they are living their life; you still care. Inquire about that person you haven’t seen in a while. If we actively and aggressively keep tabs on people in our lives it reduces the likelihood of tragedies such as this occurring. Any information concerning people that we haven’t seen in a while should be forwarded to law enforcement. Let’s assist these families in receiving closure for their missing loved ones.
The true crime genre has given me insight on some of the most wicked people to walk the face of the earth. At times I sit in utter amazement as well as in true disgust as I read and research the atrocities committed by the men and women. The most frightening thought is that these people look exactly like anyone else. There is no visible indicator that would identify any of the people as inherently evil or dangers to humanity, yet as we read we realize that we share this planet with individuals that give no regard to human life.
After hundreds of hours of reading, interviewing and film, I thought that I had reached a point of numbness in respect to the depravity of these crimes. I felt that by constantly being exposed to these crimes I would develop a mental callousness to these people and their exploits and honestly in a way….I had. However, my next subject made me realize that I’m not quite as tough as I thought I was.
In 39 short years on earth, Carl Panzram would murder at least 22 people and sodomize 1000’s of males. Panzram was born on June 28, 1891 in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. The last of 8 children, Panzram was a mischievous child; when he was eight he was convicted of drunk & disorderly conduct behavior. Carl broke into a neighbor’s home when he was 11. He stole anything he could get his hands on, including a handgun. He was quickly found out by his brothers, who beat him unconscious. Panzram received beatings from his brothers regularly and for any reason, no matter how insignificant. Carl was later arrested for the burglary. In 1903, at the age of 12, he was sent to the Minnesota State Training School. During his two year stay, Panzram was repeatedly raped, beaten, and tortured by staff members. In retaliation, young Carl burned down the school’s warehouse. By the time he was released in 1905, Carl was a teenage alcoholic filled with hatred and rage. Panzram developed a propensity for running away from home. When he was 14 he ran away and was reportedly gang raped by a group of hobos.
As he entered adulthood, Panzram became a proficient thief and burglar. He went through varied periods of incarceration until he joined the United States Army in 1907. While serving his country Panzram was convicted of larceny and served a prison sentence from 1908 to 1910 at Fort Leavenworth. During his time in prison, Panzram tallied numerous violations of prison rules, each carrying its own punishment, usually merciless beatings from prison guards. Upon his release from Leavenworth in 1910, Panzram realized that he was virtually homeless. Having spent most of his life behind bars, Carl Panzram had become irreversibly and totally evil, void of any level of kindness.
To call Carl Panzram a rapist would be like calling the North Pole “chilly.” From the time he was released from prison, Panzram robbed and raped his way around the country. He rode the trains over vast distances and spent time in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Utah, cutting a path of destruction across the country in a methodical, relentless way that kept police hot on his trail but a step behind. He raped without mercy, rarely passing up an opportunity to take on a new victim. In his autobiography
Panzram stated, “Whenever I met one that wasn’t too rusty looking I would make him raise his hands and drop his pants. I wasn’t very particular either. I rode them old and young, tall and short, white and black. It made no difference to me at all except that they were human beings.” Panzram also had an affinity for fires also. In his own words he states, “I burned down old barns, sheds, fences, snow sheds or anything I could, and when I couldn’t burn anything else I would set fire to the grass on the prairies, or the woods, anything and everything.”
In the summer of 1911, Panzram went about the business robbing and burglarizing. He would make his escapes by hopping boxcars and rolling to the next town. He jumped a freight train heading northwest and brought along some stolen guns that he had buried outside town before he got arrested. While he was in a boxcar with two other bums, he saw another opportunity for rape. Just as he was about to make his move a railroad cop appeared. Panzram got the drop on the officer, raised his pistol and robbed the cop of his watch and whatever money he had. Then, while the other two men watched, he raped the officer at gunpoint. He then forced the other two men to do the same.
Carl continued his travels around the country using various assumed names. On June 1, 1915, Panzram burgled a house in Astoria, Oregon. and was arrested soon after while attempting to sell some of the stolen items. Law enforcement promised Panzram a light sentence if he revealed the whereabouts of the rest of the stolen goods. Though he complied, Panzram was sentenced to 7 years in prison. Feeling double-crossed, he broke out of his cell and burnt down the jail. Panzram was immediately transferred to the Oregon State Penitentiary. Once at the prison, Panzram got into trouble almost immediately for rule violations, and punishment became routine; as did his escapes from prison. On May 12, 1918, Carl escaped from the Oregon Prison for good. He sawed through the window bars using a hacksaw blade and jumped down off the prison walls. As frantic guards fired hundreds of rounds at the fleeing convict, Panzram made it into the woods and disappeared from sight. He later hopped a freight train heading east and left the Pacific Northwest forever.
In the summer of 1920, Panzram ended up in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. He found an old three-story colonial located at 113 Whitney Avenue. Once inside, Panzram found a large amount of jewelry, bonds and a .45 caliber automatic handgun. The name on the bonds was William Howard Taft; yes the 27th President of the United States. Panzram had burglarized the home of ex-president Taft. Taft’s Colt .45 caliber handgun would go on to be used in several murders. After stealing everything he could carry, Panzram escaped through the same window that he entered and hit the streets carrying a large bag of loot.
In 1920, Carl Panzram crossed from thief and rapist to serial murderer. He traveled to the lower east side of Manhattan and sold most of the stolen jewelry and bonds. Using some of the money he gained from the burglary, Carl bought a yacht named the Akista. He sailed the boat up the East River, eastward through the Long Island Sound past the south shore of the Bronx, the City of New Rochelle, and Rye and onto the rocky coast of Connecticut. As he traveled he would burglarize several boats, he would steal booze, guns, supplies and anything else that he could make a buck from. He docked the Akista at the New Haven yacht club; it was there that the seed of a murderous future was planted.
While at the yacht club, Panzram noticed the constant flow of sailors. He realized many of them were looking for work on outgoing freighters or local boats. Panzram concocted a scheme to hire sailors as deckhands for his ship then rob rape and kill them. From his confession Carl admits, “Every day or two I would go to New York and hang around 25 South Street and size up the sailors. We would wine and dine and when they were drunk enough they would go to bed. When they were asleep I would get my .45 Colt automatic, this I stole from Mr. Taft’s home, and blow their brains out.” He would then tie a heavy rock to the body and toss the deceased sailor overboard. Panzram murdered at least 10 sailors in this fashion. Local residents became suspicious when he would dock to buy supplies; regularly carrying a different crew. Upon realizing that he was arousing the curiosity of the locals, Carl sailed down the coast of New Jersey with his last two passengers until he reached Long Beach Island, where he intended to kill them both. In late August 1920, a huge gale hit and the Akista smashed to pieces against the rocks. The three men swam to shore and parted ways.
In 1921, Panzram served six months in jail in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for burglary and possession of a loaded handgun. When released he stowed away on a ship and landed in Angola, a Portuguese colony on the west coast of Africa. Panzram landed a job with the Sinclair Oil Company as a foreman on an oil-drilling rig. The company was involved in searching for new sources of oil in Africa. Once there Panzram raped and murdered an 11 year old African boy. He gives the account in chilling detail, “A little nigger boy about 11 or 12 years old came bumming around,” he said. Panzram lured the boy back to the Sinclair Oil Company grounds where he sexually assaulted and killed him by bashing his head in with a rock. “I left him there, but first I committed sodomy on him and then I killed him,” Panzram wrote in his confession. “His brains were coming out of his ears when I left him and he will never be any deader.”
Panzram then moved to an area called Lobito Way and lived in a fishing village. The locals suspected him of murder but had no proof. He eventually hired six natives to assist him in the lucrative but dangerous occupation of crocodile hunting. While in the jungle the six men demanded a share of the profits. In return, Panzram shot each native in the back of the head then fed the bodies to the hungry crocodiles; he then rowed back to Lobito Bay. Realizing that many people saw him leave with the men and come back alone, he knew he had to relocate.
Panzram then headed north up the Congo River toward a place called Point Banana and then made his way to the Gold Coast. Robbing local village farmers along the way, he eventually got enough money to buy a fare to the Canary Islands. From there he stowed away on a ship to Lisbon, Portugal. Upon his arrival, he soon discovered that the local government knew about his crime spree in Africa and cops were on the lookout for him. Fortunately for Panzram he found another ship headed for America. Stowing away on the ship he soon found himself back in the United States by the summer of 1922.
Soon after he arrived in the U.S. Panzram renewed his captain’s license and retrieved the papers for his yacht, the Akista. His plan now was to steal another boat and register it with his yacht’s name. On July 18, 1922, while searching unsuccessfully for a similar boat to steal, Carl came across a 12 year old boy walking alone on the west side of Salem, Massachusetts. The boy’s name was George Henry McMahon who lived at 65 Boston Street in Salem. He had spent most of the day in a neighbor’s restaurant until the owner, Mrs. Margaret Lyons, asked George to run an errand. Panzram kept the boy for 3 hours where he reportedly sodomized the child six times before bashing his head in with a large rock. During the rape, Panzram stuffed magazine pages down the child’s throat and after the murder; the boy was left covered up with tree branches.
In haste, Panzram rushed to separate himself from the crime scene. As he fled the wooded area where he left McMahon’s body; two Salem residents passed by. The pair noticed how nervous and fidgety Panzram seemed, but they continued on their way. Though young George Henry’s body would be found three days later, the crime would go unsolved until 1928.
Panzram continued his search for a replacement boat and early in the summer of 1923 he stole a ship out of a Providence, Rhode Island marina. Panzram sailed the boat up the Hudson River to Yonkers. In Yonkers Carl met 15 year old George Walsoin. Panzram used the teen’s infatuation with sailing to lure him into his clutches. Promising that he would allow the boy to work with him on his trip upriver, Panzram waited til late in the night and sodomized the child.
Arriving in Kingston, a small bay off the Hudson, Panzram met a young man that seemed interested in purchasing the boat. Panzram took the buyer out to the yacht on the night of June 27 where they had a few drinks together. Unbeknownst to Panzram, the young man had no intention of purchasing the boat but to simply rob Carl of all he possessed. Realizing the true objective of his guest, Panzram shot the man, tied a metal weight onto the body and threw the man overboard; young George Walsoin stared in utter shock.
The next morning, Panzram and Walsoin, sailed into Poughkeepsie, NY. Panzram went on shore and stole a quantity of fishing nets worth more than $1,000. They set sail again and cruised across the river to Newburgh. After the boat dropped anchor, George jumped ship and swam to shore. He eventually made his way back to Yonkers the next day and told the police about being sexually assaulted by Panzram.
Area police were on the lookout for Panzram and his ship. After staking out the marina all night, Panzram docked and on the morning of June 29, 1923, the officers boarded the yacht and arrested Panzram. Using his sailing name, “Captain John O’Leary,” Panzram answered questions from the investigating detectives who charged him with sodomy, burglary and robbery. The next day he was placed in the Yonkers City jail awaiting court appearance. Panzram used his boat as collateral to hire an attorney. In turn, the lawyer arranged bail for Panzram, who immediately skipped. The lawyer, attempting to verify his property, was alerted by authorities that the boat was stolen and must be immediately confiscated. The attorney was left with nothing for his services.
On August 26, 1923, Panzram broke into the Larchmont train depot on Chatsworth Avenue. While rifling through passenger luggage he was confronted by a Larchmont cop, Officer Richard Grube, who was making his rounds. After wrestling with and disarming Panzram, he placed him under arrest. Still using the name John O’Leery, Panzram confessed to three additional burglaries. In village court the next morning, Judge Shafer set bail at $5,000 and remanded Panzram to county jail pending grand jury action. While in the village jail, Panzram told cops he was an escaped prisoner from Oregon where he was serving a 17-year sentence for shooting a police officer.
Larchmont police sent telegrams to Oregon. On August 29th, they received a reply citing that “Jeff Baldwin,” was a wanted man in Oregon. Telegrams came from various regions of the United States, each with various names but all describing the same man, verifying that indeed this man is wanted with several bounties on his head. Panzram even tried to claim a $500 bounty on himself using the logic that since he confessed, he should receive the reward.
Larchmont sentenced Panzram to prison for a five year term. He was taken to Dannemora, just 10 miles from the Canadian border, in October 1923. During an escape attempt, he climbed one of the prison walls and immediately fell 30 feet below onto a concrete step. He broke both legs and ankles. His spine was also badly injured. He received no medical attention for his injuries. He was carried into a cell and dropped on the floor. In July 1928, after serving five long, hard years, Panzram was discharged from Dannemora. Permanently crippled by lack of medical attention and certifiably insane, Carl Panzram was free again.
Consumed with revenge, the six foot 200 lb. Panzram set to put in motion the killing spree he had concocted while incarcerated. Within two weeks, he committed a dozen burglaries and killed at least one man during a robbery in Baltimore. Fortunately for the citizens of Washington DC, Panzram was arrested for burglary. It was during this period of incarceration that Carl would meet his one and only friend. Through this friendship the world would become aware of the true evil that coursed through the veins of Carl Panzram.
A naïve 26-year-old rookie guard named Henry Lesser had recently been hired to the jail in Washington DC. As Panzram was processed into the jail, an inquisitive Lesser asked Carl why he was here. In response Panzram said with a wry smile, “What I do is reform people.” The young guard monitored Panzram over the next few weeks. Unbeknownst to Lesser, Panzram wasn’t planning to hang around much longer. He had gradually been chipping away at the concrete surrounding the bars in the window of his cell so that he could eventually escape. His plans were thwarted by an overzealous inmate that informed the warden of his plans. As punishment Panzram was handcuffed to a pole and beaten mercilessly by guards. Lesser pitied Panzram and expressed his compassion by giving him a dollar to buy cigarettes and extra food. In a life filled with pain, this was the only act of kindness that was ever expressed to Carl Panzram. The two men became friends and confided in one another. Soon, Panzram agreed to write his life story for Lesser. And so, over the next few weeks, while Lesser supplied pencil and paper, Panzram wrote down the details of his twisted life of hate, depravity and murder.
Panzram wrote a 20,000 word confession. Within this journal of his life, Carl detailed the murders of at least 22 murders, over 1000 rapes and countless robberies and arsons; all eventually verified by the authorities of the various municipalities in which they occurred. As Panzram enlightened society to the true nature of his crimes, he felt obligated to divulge a trick used by criminals of his day to avoid capture. Criminals were frequently able to avoid arrest warrants by changing names. Panzram committed his transgressions against society under several names including, Jefferson Baldwin, Jeffrey Rhodes, John King and John O’Leery.
The document not only gave accounts of crimes but also contained Panzram’s opinions of the criminal justice system of the day. He gave graphic testimony of abuses he suffered while in prison. Prisons at that time were little more than hell holes, castles of pain designed to break unruly inmates; mentally and physically. Wardens served as the kings of these castles of pain and used the guards to carry out their orders, often utilizing physical torture to ensure obedience. The purpose of prison was strictly punishment and detention with little to no emphasis placed on rehabilitation. Panzram’s descriptions of his treatment during his periods of incarceration led to major changes in corrections in prisons nationwide.
Void of guilt or remorse, Panzram wrote of his tyrannical exploits occurring around the globe. He proudly admitted being the perpetrator of these crimes and gave vivid accounts of each offense, given with disturbing detail. Panzram however, adamantly blamed the commission of these acts on the criminal justice system. He blamed his crimes, not on himself but on society and the prison system, which he said perpetuates itself by producing more criminals.
On November 12, 1928, his trial for burglary began. Acting in his own defense, Panzram was found guilty by the jury and sentenced to 25 years. Panzram was promptly transferred to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. While in Leavenworth, Carl was assigned to work in the laundry facilities. Having told the warden that he would kill the first man to bother him, on June 20, 1929 he killed Robert Warnke, foreman of the prison laundry, battering him to death with an iron bar. During the trial for this murder, the jury took just 45 minutes to arrive at a verdict. Carl Panzram was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.
Panzram refused to file any appeals, threatening to kill human rights activists that attempted to appeal on his behalf. On September 5, 1930 Carl Panzram was hung at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. When they put the noose around his neck, he allegedly spat in his executioner’s face and declared, “I wish the entire human race had one neck, and I had my hands around it!” When asked by the executioner if he had any last words, Panzram barked, “Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could hang a dozen men while you’re screwing around!”
Such was the end of arguably the most evil man in American history. In his own words, Carl Panzram describes his life, “I am 36 years old and I have been a criminal all of my life. I have 11 felony convictions against me. I have served 20 years of my life in Jails, Reform Schools and prisons. I know why I am a criminal. Others may have different theories as to my life but I have no theory about it. I know the facts. If any man ever was a habitual criminal. I am one. In my lifetime I have broken every law that was ever made by both Man and God. If either had made more, I should cheerfully have broken them also. The mere fact that I have done these things is quite sufficient for the average person. Very few people ever consider it worthwhile to wonder why I am what I am and do what I do. All that they think it is necessary to do is to catch me, try me convict me and send me to prison for a few years, make life miserable for me while in prison and then turn me loose again. That is the system that is in practice today in this country. The consequences are that such that any one and every one can see crime and lots of it. Those who are sincere in their desire to put down crime are to be pitied for all of their efforts which accomplish so little in the desired direction. They are the ones who are deceived by their own ignorance and by the trickery and greed of others who profit the most by crime. If you or anyone else will take the trouble and have the intelligence and patience to follow and examine every one of my crimes and actions you will find that I have consistently followed one idea thru all my life. I preyed upon the weak the harmless or unsuspecting. Those I have harmed were all either weaklings either mentally or physically. Those who were strong in either mind or body I first lied to and led into a trap where they were either asleep or drunk or helpless in some way. I always had all the best of it, because I knew ahead of time just what to expect and the others did not. I therefore was strong in my knowledge and stronger in body than those preyed upon. This lesson I was taught by others. Might makes right.”
The primary target of male serial murderers is women. Recently I’ve become curious about the existence of female serial killers and their tendencies. Though some women kill their husbands or significant others in a fit of passion or rage, the focus of many female serial killers are children.
In the early to mid 1900’s, children became very profitable to those wicked enough to use their innocence for their own vile motives. Many used children in their sweat shops, forcing children to work ungodly hours for little or no pay. Others pimped children out to pedophiles willing to pay top dollar to live out their sickest fantasies with a child. Regardless of the purpose; if someone wanted a child, one of the biggest child brokers of the day was Georgia Tann.
Born July 18, 1891, Georgia Tann would reap untold millions by kidnapping and selling children from 1920-195o. The same woman is responsible for the murder of children; her death toll may number in the thousands.
As a young adult Tann began her career in social work, it was during this period when her warped views of wealth and parenting began to take shape. Employed at the Mississippi Children’s Home-Finding Society, she began to view wealthy people as the higher type and poverty stricken women as “breeders” often referring to the women as cows. She convinced herself and others that that poor people were incapable of proper parenting.
In 1920, Tann began her career as a baby snatcher. Her father, who was a judge, would sign papers deeming poor mothers as unfit parents thereby enabling Georgia Tann to “legally” remove a child from the birth parents and sell the innocent to the highest bidder. In 1924, Tann moved to Tennessee and began working for the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, where she turned part-time baby snatching into big business.
Shortly after her relocation to Tennessee she became an acquaintance of Memphis’s corrupt and powerful mayor, Edward Hull Crump. With the help of the mayor, Georgia eventually set up her own orphanage. Tann and her lesbian partner, Ann Atwood Hollinsworth, began selling children around the country to anyone willing to pay her price, often receiving as much as $100,000 in today’s money for babies. In Memphis, most of Tann’s crimes were accomplished with the aid of Memphis Family Court Judge Camille Kelley. Just as her father did in Mississippi, Judge Kelley would facilitate the removal of a child from its birth parents simply with the stroke of a pen. In other cases, single parents would drop off their children at nursery – when they came back to collect them, they would be told they had been taken away by welfare officers. Tann was also documented as taking children born to unwed mothers at birth, claiming that the newborns required medical care. When the mothers asked about the children, Tann told them that the babies had died, when they were actually placed in foster homes or adopted.
Georgia Tann dealt with only white children. Blonde hair and blue eyes brought the highest price. She lied about the child’s intellect and health to fit the adoptive parent’s desires. Tann would alter the children’s records and falsify birth certificates to make them more appealing to prospective adopters.
People ordered children as if they were ordering furniture, and Tann gladly supplied the demands, charging astronomical figures. She sold children to known molesters, abusers, for labor (one child toiled in a field at 18 hour days, eventually running away). She sold a baby to replace a dead baby. If the adoptive family angered her or would not bend to her extortive demands, she would remove the child. Records indicate that Georgia Tann sold well over 5000 children and killed hundreds more.
The children that Tann could not place were simply discarded like waste. Once deceased, the tiny corpses were simply buried in the yard. So many children died while in Tann’s care that at one point, the infant mortality rate in Memphis, TN was highest in the country and many more deaths were never reported. Many children died as a result of neglect and abuse; in 1945 it is estimated 40-50 children died in less than four months while housed in the illegally operated home. Children were starved, beaten, molested, mentally abused, and received no medical attention. Infants were kept in appalling conditions in suffocating heat. Some were sedated until they could be sold. Many were ill. In public, Georgia Tann spoke out loudly against child abuse, baby selling, corruption, and advocated child welfare reform. Privately, Tann preyed on young girls, sexually, physically, and mentally abusing her charges.
By 1940, alerted by the rising infant mortality rate in the city, some people were on to Tann. By 1950, officials began a long-overdue investigation into Tann’s business. State investigator Robert Taylor reported the horror of what had taken place at Tann’s orphanage, saying: ‘Her babies died like flies.’ As authorities closed in on her dealings, cancer was ravaging Tann’s body. Conveniently for the corrupt politicians who had collaborated in her black market baby trade, Tann was too sick to be questioned about her crimes. Georgia Tann and her allies would never see justice in this life. On September 15, 1950, she died of cancer.
The Georgia Tann/Tennessee Children’s Home Society scandal resulted in adoption reform laws in Tennessee in 1951.
During a recent interview I was asked a question. The interviewer wanted to know if I possessed a certain amount of empathy for the subjects of my blogs & books due to my criminal background. Caught somewhere between disbelief and apprehension, I regained my wits I responded, (in the most cynical tone that I could muster) “no, why would I.” I went on to inform the young lady that it is due to my criminal past that I know for a fact that violence in any capacity is senseless and above all evil. Regardless of whether I was attempting to become the “Nino Brown,’ of Chicago or trying to become the Black Frank Abagnale, Jr.; violence was never part of my modus operandi.
The following day I was having lunch with 2 Chicago Police officers that actually had thwarted my criminal endeavors back in my “hay day”; now that I’ve gone straight, we’re buddies….yay. Anyway, I told them about the interview and we had a big laugh. However, as we continued to talk, a melancholy presence fell upon our table. We began to talk about senseless violence and the names of Alton Coleman and Debra Brown came up.
The term “senseless violence,” does not begin to describe the death & destruction carried out by these two. Born in 1955, Alton Coleman resided in Waukegan, Illinois. A middle school drop out that earned the name, “Pissy”, as a youth due to his tendency to wet his pants, Coleman first came to the notice of police as a teenager when he was picked up for breaking windows in his Waukegan housing project. As a teenager Coleman had acquired a reputation for his strong sex drive among his peers. Neighborhood acquaintances reported that he was bisexual and willing to engage in sex any time, any place with anyone. As Coleman approached adulthood he developed an insatiable taste for deviant manners of sexual gratification.
In 1973 Coleman & an accomplice raped and robbed an elderly woman. However, during the trial, the woman refused to testify against Coleman regarding the rape. Found guilty of robbery, Coleman was sentenced to 2 years in prison. From 1973 to 1983 Alton Coleman would be charged in a total of 6 sex crimes, (one involving the rape of his own niece). Of the six charges; two were dismissed, in two he was found guilty of lesser charges and in two he would be acquitted. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. In a span of less than three months, he and Debra Brown would commit; 8 murders, 7 rapes, 3 kidnappings, and 14 armed robberies in 6 different states.
Debra Brown was born in 1962. One of eleven children, Brown suffered head trauma as a child and was deemed borderline mentally retarded. Later in life a psychiatrist would diagnose Brown as having dependent personality disorder. Until the age of 21, Brown led a mostly mundane and uneventful life. That would all change in 1983 when she met Alton Coleman. Despite being engaged to be married to another man, Brown detached from her family and accompanied Coleman.
In early 1984 Coleman had been indicted for a rape and murder of a 14 year old girl he had committed the previous year. Once Coleman found out about his “wanted” status he and Brown embarked one of the most prolific crime sprees in American history. In early May of 1984, the couple went north to Kenosha, WI where they met and befriended Juanita Wheat, her 7 year old son and her 9 year old daughter Vernita. On May 29, Wheat gave permission for Vernita to go with Coleman to his apartment to pick up stereo equipment. The couple abducted young Vernita and transported her back to Waukegan. On June 19th the body of Vernita Wheat was found in an abandoned building in Waukegan, four blocks from Coleman’s grandmother’s apartment. The body was badly decomposed and the cause of death was ligature strangulation. Police also found a fingerprint at the scene which was matched to Coleman. After befriending Robert Carpenter in Waukegan the pair stole his car and headed to Indiana.
In June of 1984 the two were in Gary, IN and crossed paths with 9-year-old Annie and 7 year old Tamika Turks who were walking home from a nearby candy store. Coleman & Brown convinced the two children to accompany them into the woods under the pretense of playing a game. Both children were then bound and gagged with strips of cloth torn from Tamika’s shirt. Annie was then forced to have sex with both adults. Annoyed by Tamika’s crying, Brown held his hand over her nose and mouth while Coleman stomped on her chest, then strangled her to death with elastic from a bed sheet. Annie survived the torment; unfortunately Tamika’s partially decomposed body was discovered on June 19, 1984. The cause of death was ligature strangulation. The two children resided with their grandmother who, stricken with grief over the ordeal and unable to deal with her loss, took her own life.
The very same day, Donna Williams and her car came up missing. The 25 year old Gary resident had met the couple only a few days prior to her disappearance. On July 11, 1984, Williams’ badly decomposed body was discovered in Detroit, MI about a half-mile from where her car was found. The cause of death was again ligature strangulation. On June 28, 1984, while in Michigan; Coleman and Brown committed a home invasion upon the Dearborn Heights, Michigan residence of Mr. and Mrs. Palmer Jones. Palmer was handcuffed by Coleman and then badly beaten. Mrs. Jones was also attacked. Coleman ripped the Jones’ phone from the wall and stole their money and car.
In July 5th of 1984 the pair turned up in Ohio, Toledo to be exact. Virginia Temple, the mother of several children, met and befriended Coleman and Brown. During their acquaintance the two became especially interested in Virginia’s 9 year old daughter Rachelle. Virginia’s family became concerned when she had not been heard from over a period of time. Troubled by the lack of contact, family members were shocked when they entered her home to find her children unsupervised. The bodies of Virginia and Rachelle were found in a crawl space, they both had been strangled to death. Frank and Dorothy Duvendack of Toledo had the misfortune of meeting Coleman & Brown. On the same day of the Temple murders the two entered the Duvendack home, bound them in phone cord and took their money and car. Later that evening the pair met Reverend and Mrs. Millard Gay of Dayton, Ohio. They stayed with them in Dayton and then accompanied them to Lockwood, Ohio, on July 9, to a religious service. On July 10, the Gays dropped off Coleman and Brown in downtown Cincinnati.
During their stay in Cincinnati, Brown & Coleman met 15 year old Tonnie Storey. After failing to return home from school, Storey’s parents reported her missing on July 11, 1984. Eight days later her body was found in an abandoned building. She had been strangled to death. During the investigation, one of Tonnie’s classmates testified that she saw Coleman talking to Tonnie the day she disappeared. A fingerprint at the crime scene was also linked to Coleman
On July 13, 1984, Coleman and Brown bicycled to Norwood, Ohio. Under the pretense of being interested in a travel trailer, they arrived at the home of a local couple, Harry and Marlene Walters. Once inside the Walter’s home, Coleman picked up a wooden candlestick and, after admiring it, struck Harry Walters on the back of the head. The attack was so vicious that the candlestick broke and lodged a chunk of bone against Mr. Walters’ brain. Coleman and Brown proceeded to strike Mrs. Walters up to 25 times about the face and head. The two also mutilated her face and scalp with a pair of vice grips. The two lay dying in a bloody mess until about 3:45 pm. Sheri Walters was horrified when she arrived home from work to find her parents bound with ligatures around their hands & necks. Mr. Walters, survived the attack, but suffered brain damage. Mrs. Walters however, succumbed to injuries that left her face unrecognizable and a skull so smashed that pieces of it and her brain was missing Coleman and Brown stole the couple’s car which was found two days later in Lexington, Kentucky.
In Williamsburg, Kentucky, Coleman and Brown kidnapped college professor Oline Carmichael, Jr., forced him into the trunk of his car, and then drove it to Dayton, Ohio. Authorities found the car and Carmichael still alive in the trunk.
While in Dayton, Coleman and Brown revisited the Gays. Rev. Gay recognized Coleman who by now had been nationally televised as a wanted and dangerous fugitive. Reverend Gay asked Coleman, “Why you want to do us like that, like this,” and according to Gay, Coleman responded: “I’m not going to kill you, but we generally kills them where we go.” Coleman and Brown took their car and headed back toward Evanston. On the way back home, they took time to steal another car, killing the 77-year-old man who owned it.
It was in Evanston that the couple’s crime spree ended. While crossing an intersection on July 20, 1984, Coleman was recognized by someone from his old neighborhood. The unsuspecting pair crossed the street and when the red light changed the witness drove north to the nearest gas station to alert authorities. Police officers caught up with Coleman and Brown at a nearby park. When confronted, Coleman, who possessed no identification tried to deny that he was Alton Coleman. During this time Brown attempted to separate herself from Coleman but was met by two approaching officers. During a custodial search, Brown was found to be in possession of a handgun; the two were immediately taken into custody without incident.
A week following the arrest, law enforcement officials from Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio met to determine the most effective manner of prosecution against Alton Coleman and Debra Brown. Michigan, who does not have capital punishment, was quickly ruled out as the place to begin. Ohio was given the first opportunity to bring the murderous pair to justice. In Ohio both Coleman & Brown were sentenced to death for the murders of Tonnie Storey, and Marlene Walters. The two were also sentenced to die in Indiana for killing Tamika Turks, 7, of Gary, Ind. In Illinois, Coleman received the death sentence for slaying Vernita Wheat, 9, of Kenosha, Wis. Vernita’s body was found in Waukegan. Alton Coleman was the only person at the time to have death sentences in three different states.
Despite numerous appeals, on April 26, 2002, Alton Coleman was executed by lethal injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. Debra Brown, however, had her Ohio death sentence commuted to life without parole by Ohio governor Richard Celeste. This outraged Ohio residents due to Brown’s unrepentant attitude. During the sentencing phase of her first Ohio trial, Brown sent a note to the judge which read in part: “I killed the bitch and I don’t give a damn. I had fun out of it.” Governor Celeste, a known opponent of the death penalty, cited her low IQ scores, non-violent history prior to meeting Coleman and her dependent personality as his reasons for the commutation of her sentence. Debra Brown is currently housed at Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in Marysville, Ohio. Brown still has a death sentence in Indiana which may be exercised at the state’s discretion.
As we concluded our meal, a frightening thought came to mind. Most criminals, regardless of their crime, are not caught for every crime that they’ve committed. I, myself, know that I’ve not been caught for every infraction of the law that I’ve done. Hell, I ran a red light, (it was yellow/red actually) and a stop sign on the way to the lunch meeting. So the numbers of victims given to these serial murderers as they are convicted may only be a fraction of the actual amount of carnage they’ve caused and the lives they have ruined.