It is a sad but true fact of life that child abuse and neglect exists in our world. An even darker fact is that children often comprise a great many of serial murder victims. Day after day, local and national media services report to the world circumstances surrounding some depraved act committed against a child. Our cell phones even notify us when a child has been victimized. Ironically, many of these predators are people that are considered “pillars of the community” or “stand-up citizens”.
Wayne Williams, the Atlanta child murderer, is the child of 2 career school teachers.
Growing up in the Dixie Hills neighborhood of southwest Atlanta, Williams was not impoverished. A trusted member of the community, the 23-year-old Williams was arrested on June 21, 1981, for the murders of 27-year-old Nathaniel Cater and 29-year-old Jimmy Ray Payne. Williams first became a suspect in the Atlanta Child Murders during the investigations into those murders. During the two-month trial, prosecutors matched nineteen different sources of fibers from Williams’ home and car environment; his bedspread, bathroom, gloves, clothes, carpets, dog and an unusual carpet fiber to a number of victims whose bodies had been found. Williams also failed three polygraph tests throughout the investigation. On February 27, 1982; Wayne Williams was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Another well-known case of child abuse and murder committed by a great American citizen was that of John Wayne Gacy; the Killer Clown. Gacy would perform as a “Pogo the Clown” for fundraising events, parades, and children’s parties, thereby gaining the trust of children and parents alike. The trust he established with his community led to the corpses of 33 teenage boys being found on or near his property. Between 1972 and 1978, John Wayne Gacy sexually assaulted, tortured and murdered at least 33 young men
right here in
Crook, I mean Cook County, Illinois. Gacy buried 26 of his victims in the crawlspace of his home. Three other victims were buried elsewhere on his property, while the bodies of his last four known victims were discarded in the nearby Des Plaines River. The youngest of Gacy’s known victims was just 14 years old.
Child murder is not something new. As long as there have been children, there has been child murder. Gilles de Rais was born in 1405 to a life of privilege a member of the House of Montmorency-Laval. Following the deaths of his father and mother in 1415, deRais and his brother were raised by his wealthy maternal grandfather. Through family wealth, de Rais was well versed in the life of an aristocrat. As an adult, deRais married Catherine de Thouars of Brittany; a wedding arranged by his grandfather. This marriage increased deRais’ net worth substantially. From 1427 to 1435, Gilles served as a commander in the Royal Army, distinguishing himself from the troops by exhibiting awe-inspiring bravery and courage. In 1429, he
joined forces with Joan of Arc in some of the campaigns waged against the English as he was present with Joan when the Siege of Orléans ended. He commanded valiantly during the Hundred Years’ War, for which he was appointed Marshal of France. Lauded as a war hero; de Rais’ retired from military life in 1435.
It was after his military service when his life made a distinct turn for the bizarre. Fond of the theater, deRais used the last of his fortune to promote and produce a theatrical performance resulting in a flop; to term it mildly. Desperate and distraught about being in financial ruins; deRais turned to the occult for guidance. Seeking any and everyone that studied alchemy, magic and demon summoning so that he may acquire some level of riches despite what may be required of him at a later time.
Bringing his books of magic; François Prelati of Florence, answered Gilles request. The two retreated to the lower hall of his castle at Tiffauges, there they attempted to summon a demon named Barron. Prelati entertained Gilles for hours with stories of his exploits with the demon Barron, ensuring him that the demon would indeed return him to a prosperous state. After three tries and no demon, Prelati; attempting to save face and reputation, reported to Gilles that the demon, Barron was angry and required an offering of children parts for his services.
Gilles deRais’ insatiable desire to regain some semblance of his previous wealth caused him to go mad and commit the unthinkable. It is said the child murders began at Champtocé-sur-Loire, however, no records exist of his exploits. What is documented is
that after Gilles moved to Machecoul, he sodomized then killed, or ordered to be killed countless numbers of children. Gilles would have his most loyal servants procure his victims, seeking out and apprehending unaccompanied children wandering the countryside or nearby villages. Gilles preferred boys, thinking himself a connoisseur of sorts; he would have his servants go out and find the boys with the fairest skin or the sleekest, toned limbs; keeping the most handsome of the decapitated heads and kissing them with the passion of a lover. When boys weren’t available girls would serve as victims. Disgusted by the thought of vaginal intercourse, Gilles would sodomize the girls as he had done to the boys. Oh, and one more note; sodomy would come pre or post mortem.
All children taken by Gilles were decapitated, most by braquemard; but periodically he would like to mix it up, depending on his moods and appetite for torture. Sometimes he or his servants used an axe, other times they severed the head from the body with dirks, daggers, and knives. Fascinated with torture and the act of dying, Gilles would stab a child in the neck and watch as the blood streamed down the neck. Mesmerized as he watched the essence of life leave their little bodies, de Rais would masturbate on the child’s bloody belly until he ejaculated. When not seeking sexual satisfaction but just personal pleasure deRais had their bodies cruelly cut open and taking delight at the sight of their inner organs; as the children lay dying, he would sit on their stomachs and laugh as he watched them die. The child murders went on for years with the body count innumerable.
On May 15, 1440, deRais’ kidnapping of a priest from Church of Saint-Étienne-de-Mer-Morte led to the Bishop of Nantes initiating an investigation. Testimonies from the parents of many of these missing children as well as witnesses convinced the judges that there were adequate grounds for establishing the guilt of the accused. Area residents testified to children begging for food near Gilles’ castle and never being seen again. Gilles accomplices Poitou and Henriet gave testimony so graphic many attendees were forced to leave the proceedings. Due to the intensity of the inquiry deRais was compelled to confess to his child murders. The exact number of children murdered at the hand of Gilles is unknown, some number into the high hundreds. For their crimes, Gilles, Poitou, and Henriet were hung then cremated.
Crimes against children are nothing new. Here we have child rape, torture, and murder at its worst. I’ve always felt that there is a special place in hell reserved for those that harm children. Gilles deRais took the lives of 100s of children simply because he could. The fact that he got away with it for as long as he did is inconceivable. Hundreds of children disappeared from a relatively small, sparsely populated rural area. How does this happen? I know that they didn’t have the technological amenities that we have today but damn; kids come up missing, simply vanished and day to day life simply just goes on.