Collecting Trophies From Victims
Press-Enterprise, The (Riverside, CA)
November 7, 1998
Edition: DESERT & PASS; HEMET-SAN JACINTO; TEMECULA-MURRIETA; SOUTHWEST; CORONA-NORCO; MORENO VALLEY;SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY
Serial killers are `collectors,' crime experts say
It is not unusual for them to take something from their victims.
Author: Valeria Godines; The Press-Enterprise
A sports enthusiast collects baseball cards. A hunter proudly hangs the heads of his prey on the wall. A serial killer is no different, experts say.
Except he collects human heads, breasts or other body parts. He proudly hangs the framed photos of his victims.
"Many of them have lived a pretty undistinguished life, but in their ability to kill and evade police, they feel somewhat proud of their cunning, and they will oftentimes keep souvenirs to symbolize their conquest and power," said James Alan Fox, dean of the College of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University in Boston.
"Like a baseball player who saves a baseball from his first major-league hit," said Fox, who has written several books on serial killers.
Wayne Adam Ford, 36, was charged Friday with the death of an unidentified woman whose torso was found in a slough in Eureka. The truck driver pleaded not guilty to the death although he had reportedly admitted the killing when he went to the Humboldt County sheriff's office Wednesday and showed deputies a breast he said he had taken from one of his victims.
Authorities shied away from describing Ford as a serial killer until investigations are completed, but San Bernardino County sheriff's spokesman Chip Patterson said Friday that "if in fact he has done these things, I would say he fit the profile" of a serial killer.
Experts on serial killers said it is not unusual for them to take something from their victims.
In the 1950s, Edward Gein of Wisconsin made clothes and ornaments from his victims. He used human skin to make lampshades and skin and breasts to make a vest. Nipples were used for a belt, said Fox, who has studied Gein's case.
In the early 1990s, authorities discovered a Florida serial killer who was fond of collecting nipples. He left behind a pillowcase full of them.
And Jeffrey Dahmer, the notorious serial killer who ate some of his victims, liked to keep photos of them.
William Lester Suff, who killed 12 prostitutes who worked in Riverside and Lake Elsinore, liked to keep mementos, too.
"Jewelry, clothing, pants, shirts," recalled Lt. Al Hearn of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. "He would wash them and give them to female friends to wear."
Suff, who was convicted of strangling and, in some cases, sexually mutilating 12 women from June 1989 to December 1991, was sentenced to death in 1995.
He also sliced off the breasts of several victims, but he left them behind to shock the investigators, Hearn said.
Suff enjoyed collecting from his victims their citations for prostitution. He kept them in a drawer at work, Hearn said.
Experts say serial killers like to keep items that will remind them of the crime and give them the "high" they experienced while committing it.
"When they don't have victims nearby, they can fantasize, masturbate, with the aid of the memorabilia," Fox said.
Breasts are not unusual "trophies," he added. "It is sexual, and these killers tend to be sexual."
A portrait of such murderers isn't that difficult to paint, according to experts. They tend to be men, white (although some have been black), in their late 20s, 30s or 40s, and may be not be considered successful in life. Their motives vary, but they generally want to control and dominate. They enjoy killing but are not necessarily mentally ill.
Fox noted that a truly mentally ill person would not have all the faculties to methodically plan out a number of killings.
"If these guys didn't know the difference, they wouldn't try to hide, run away. They definitely knew they were doing something wrong by the manner in which they conducted the crime," he said.
Their victims tend to be vulnerable - prostitutes, runaways, hitchhikers.
"Their victims are marginal people," Fox said. They dehumanize their victims. Prostitutes, for example, may be seen as sex machines, he said.
These types of victims also may draw less attention initially, Hearn said. A prostitute who is missing for a few days may go unnoticed.
"They are a lot easier to control," he said. "They are more willing to get into a car because they are really hurting for the dope."
************************* ************************ Inland area serial killers
Following are some of the most notorious serial killers to strike Riverside and San Bernardino counties:
William Lester Suff, a warehouse worker who was convicted in 1995 for sexually mutilating and killing 12 women between June 1989 and December 1991. The women were all prostitutes in Riverside and Lake Elsinore who police say were propositioned by Suff before they were killed.
Dana Sue Gray, a former nurse from Wildomar, is thought to be this area's first female serial killer. She was sentenced last month to spend the rest of her life in prison for two killings and one attempted murder in 1994.
Gray admitted beating and strangling June Roberts, 66, of Canyon Lake in February 1994, then doing the same to Dora Beebe, 87, of Sun City, a month later. Inland resident Dorinda Hawkins survived an attack from Gray in the back of a Lake Elsinore antique store and testified against her attacker at Gray's trial.
Horace Edwards Kelly sits on Death Row at San Quentin for killing three Inland area residents in the mid-1980s. Kelly was convicted of killing Riverside teen Danny Osentowski and a few days later murdering San Bernardino residents Sonia Reed, 25, and Ursula Houser, 43.
Randy Kraft was found guilty in the 1980s of killing and sexually mutilating 16 young men and boys, including Kevin Clark Bailey, a 17-year-old Riverside drifter.
William Bonin, the so-called "California Freeway Killer," was convicted and in 1996 executed for raping, torturing and killing 21 young boys in Southern California, including some who had family members in Moreno Valley and Temecula.
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