“Alias Grace” Is A Vomit-Filled Letdown 

No one knows us better than our BFF Netflix. She knows what we like, what we’ve seen, and notifies the NSA when we’ve watched all the murder shows. She knows that I would enjoy a historical murder drama. Only this time, she was wrong.

 Grace had enough in the beginning to intrigue me but it couldn’t keep up. Still, this didn’t stop me from binge-watching the entire thing. If you haven’t seen it, take this with a grain of salt. Watch if you want, but don’t forget I warned you. Slight spoilers ahead. 

 

 

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The Woman Who Cooked Her Boyfriend

I would like to point out now that I’m writing this while listening to the sound of sizzling meat in a skillet. I promise it’s chicken and not long pork.

The woman who served the other-other white meat was Australia’s, Katherine Knight. Knight now has the distinction of being the first woman in Australia sentenced to life in prison without parole.

 

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Katherine Knight. Image.

 

Like many killers, Katherine had a troubled and violent upbringing. She was abused by both of her parents and claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Her mother would often discuss the details of her sex life with her daughter and told her about how much she hated men.

When Katherine started high school she became a loner and a bully. The only people she was close to were her twin sister and her uncle, Oscar Knight. When he committed suicide in 1969 when Katherine was only 17, she became very distraught.

During high school, Katharine assaulted a male classmate and attacked a teacher. She was also known to fly into terrifying rages. When she wasn’t assaulting educators and other classmates, Katherine was a model student although she claimed that she never learned to read and write.

She dropped out of high school at age 15 and started working in a clothing factory. A year later, Knight started working at what she called her “dream job” at a slaughterhouse. She was promoted and given her very own set of butcher knives! Unlike presumably all other slaughterhouse employees, she took these knives home and hung them over her bed so “they would always be handy if I needed them.” Knight continued sleeping with the knives above her bed until her arrest.

Katherine found her first love and husband, David Kallett. When they married in 1974 Knight’s own mother told him: “You better watch this one or she’ll fucking kill you.” I doubt that’s on too many Hallmark cards.

His mother-in-law’s theory luckily didn’t come to pass (at least not for him) but his new life tried to strangle him on their wedding night. Katherine later recalled this was because he would only have sex with her a measly three times and fell asleep.

Unsurprisingly, their marriage didn’t last long. On one occasion, when Knight was pregnant with their daughter, Melissa Ann, she hit him in the head with a frying pan and fractured his skull. Soon after Melissa Ann was born, Kallett left him for another woman.

The day after he left her, Knight was seen throwing a baby stroller back and forth down the street. She was admitted to a mental health facility and treated for postpartum depression. Knight stayed in the hospital for several weeks and was quickly readmitted after she dumped her daughter on a train, stole an ax, and threaten to kill several people. Melissa Ann was rescued shortly before the train departed.

Kallett and Knight reconciled and had another daughter in 1980 before breaking up in 1984. Two years later Knight met another man, David Saunders. They also had a violent and volatile relationship.

On another occasion, Knight slit the throat of a baby dingo in front of Saunders and said she’d do the same to him if she ever caught him cheating on her. She would also frequently throw him out of her apartment. When she became pregnant with their daughter, Saunders bought a house which Knight decorated with animals skins, skulls, horns, rusty traps, old boots, leather, and machetes.

Knight also hit him in the face with an iron and stabbed him in the stomach with a pair of scissors. She also cut up all of his clothes. Saunders left her and when into hiding. He returned several months later to see their daughter. This prompted Knight to go to the police where she claimed he was the violent one. She was issued an Apprehended Violence Order against him (similar to an Emergency Protective Order in the U.S.).

Knight had another relationship with a man named John Chillingworth. The two had a son named Eric. After three years, Knight left him for John Price.

 

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John Price. Image.

 

Knight and Price had been having an affair for some time while he was married and she was still with Chillingworth. Price had three children with his ex-wife, two of which lives with him. Price was well aware of Knight’s violent history but continued their relationship and let her move into his house.

They soon had a fight brought on by Price’s refusal to marry her. Knight then made a video of several items Price had stolen from his work. Knight took the video to his boss and he was fired.

A few months later, Price rekindled their relationship but didn’t allow her to move back into his house. After their relationship started again, the ill-fated lovers started fighting even more. Price’s friends said they would no longer have anything to do with him if he continued seeing Knight. Price was well liked in their small community and many were shocked when he became romantically involved with Knight.

Their relationship finally came to a head in February 2000 when Knight stabbed him in the chest. On February 29, Knight obtained a restraining order against her. Later that day, Price told his co-workers that if he didn’t come to work the next day it was because Knight had killed him. He also feared she would kill his children as well.

After work on the night of February 29, Price went over to his neighbor’s house and drank for several hours. When he returned home, he found Knight there. The couple had sex and Price soon fell asleep. He would never wake up.

The next morning, his neighbors called the police when they noticed his car still in the driveway. The police were called and arrived at 8:00 a.m. There they found a gruesome sight.

Warning: this is graphic.

Knight was found unconscious after taking a bottle of pills. Evidence showed that Knight stabbed Price 37 times while he was sleeping and that he tried to get away and bled out in the hallway where he died. What was left of Price’s body was found posed with his arm wrapped around a 2-liter bottle. She then skinned him and hung his skin on a meat hook in the living room. Price was decapitated and his head was found in a pot still hot on the stove. Knight cooked other parts of his body with baked potato, pumpkin, beetroot, courgette, cabbage, yellow squash, and gravy.

 

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A less graphic and murderous representation of the crime. Image.

 

The police found two place settings at the dining room table with place cards with the names of Price’s children. Another meal and some of the cooked human meat were found discarded in the backyard. Police believed that Knight might have attempted to eat it. Price’s body also had a note attached to it which read: “Time got you back Johathon for rapping [raping] my douter [daughter]. You to Beck [Price’s daughter] for Ross – for Little John [his son]. Now play with little Johns dick John Price.”

When Knight woke up from her pill-induced coma, she claimed to have no memory of committing the crime. The accusation that Price had raped Knight’s daughter was never proven.

Knight was arrested and attempted to plead guilty to manslaughter. Her plea was rejected and changed to not guilty of the murder or Price. Her lawyers attempted to use a plea of amnesia and insanity. Several psychiatrists diagnosed Knight with borderline personality disorder and was declared fit to stand trial.

Before the trial began, the judge offered selected jury members to be excused due to the graphic crime scene photos. Knight was obviously found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Knight has continually refused to believe that she killed Price and still claims she doesn’t remember killing, dismembering, and cooking him.

In 2006, Knight attempted to appeal her life sentence and failed. Knight is currently serving her sentence in the Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre in New South Wales.

Victimology

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I have been working on a freelance job as well as finishing up 2 books. Writing is like, so hard.

Note: The following post is in no way meant to victim blame. This is just presenting facts.

In our PC laden culture, victimology can be a somewhat controversial topic as it can come across as victim blaming (see note above). However, the study and theories of victimology are extremely important in apprehending criminals.

Victimology is simply the study of victims in the criminal justice system and the connection between victims and perpetrators. This is a pretty basic, self-explanatory topic although it sounds much more complicated.

For example, Ted Bundy’s victims were college-aged girls often with long, brunette hair. Specific details about victims are used to create a victim profile which helps law enforcement track crimes. For a fictional example, take Dexter who’s victims are criminals and generally all around bad people.

This is a rather heavy topic and isn’t as fun as teenagers who think they are vampires and murder a bunch of people in Florida (where else would they do it?). Here’s a Dexter meme to lighten the mood.

 

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Sorry, not sorry. 

 

Victimology comes with various sets of theories based upon the lifestyle and environments of potential victims. For example, drug users, sex workers, abuse victims, and individuals fitting into a criminal’s M.O. are all considered in victimology theories. The study of victimology also explores how perpetrators lure and groom victims based on these theories.

The study of victimology has led to the rise of the victims’ rights movement, which was nonexistent until the 1970s with the beginning of the Victims’ Rights Movement. In 2004, the Crime Victims’ Rights Act was passed ensuring victims of protection, restitution, etc.

Freakin’ 2004! Seriously, it shouldn’t surprise anyone it took so long to get something so basic and obvious into law. The Victims’ Rights Movement has been very successful in passing legislation to help victims and future generations.

Murderabilia, or “why the hell is that in your house?”

Owning something collected from a crime scene or that was once owned by a famous murderer is the ultimate way to:

1. Keep your family and neighborhood children away from your house

2. Creep out your friends

3. Not get a second date

OR maybe find cool friends and the love of your life. Dean Martin was wrong, you are somebody when someone doesn’t love you, even if you have Ted Bundy’s Christmas card on your fridge.

Murderabilia is exactly what it sounds like- memorabilia collected from crime scenes and from the homes of murderers, personal effects, and artwork.

By far the famous pieces of murderabilia are the notorious Pogo the Clown paintings by everyone’s favorite KFC lovin’ serial killer, John Wayne Gacy.

 

 

Murderabilia is taking both true crime and trash vs. treasure to the extreme. While legal, the buying and selling of these items go hand in hand with the Son of Sam Law, which prohibits criminals from profiting from their crimes such as selling stories to journalists and publishers.

Instead, these macabre collectibles are sold through dealer sites. eBay banned the sale of such items in 2001. The concept alone sounds like something only the most depraved can access via the dark web. Surprisingly (or not), a Google search will lead the curious to these sites. eBay banned the sale of such items in 2001. The concept alone sounds like something only the most depraved can access via the dark web. Surprisingly (or not), a Google search will lead the curious to these sites.

To collectors, murderabilia is owning a piece of history. While collecting these oddities borders on illicit and would raise some eyebrows in conversation, the sale of these items isn’t about making money for the sellers. Many of these sites will donate to victims and their families. 

The concept is interesting and intriguing. However, as someone who runs a true crime blog, collecting these items is taking it too far and borders on serial/mass murder glorification and sympathizing (more on that later). These items belong in a museum, not in the creepiest living room display case of all time.

You’re probably better off still hoarding Beanie Babies.

 

 

Hollywood & Crime Podcast Explores The Black Dahlia As Well As Other Grisly Murders In 1947 Los Angeles

Even the most seasoned true crime aficionados probably don’t know about the similar and possibly connected murders which occurred following the months after the killing of The Black Dahlia (Elizabeth Short). I surely didn’t. Hollywood & Crime uncovers these horrific murders for a crime-hungry, twenty-first-century audience.

 

In this podcast series, host Tracy Pattin along with a team of talented actors tell the stories of these murdered women and the investigations into these crimes. Seventy plus years later these cases remain unsolved.

The podcast focuses on several different women: an heiress, a WWII flying nurse, a wife out for a good time who met a gruesome end, and the would-be actress with a seemingly bad reputation, The Black Dahlia. Yet, they all were murdered in a similar fashion around the same time. How did such different women with different paths meet the same end? We may never know.

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Image via.

 

If these crimes happened in 2017, or even 2007 (this January marked the seventy-year anniversary of The Black Dahlia murder), we would probably know the killer (or killers) due to DNA technology and a better understanding of crime scene contamination. This was a classic serial killer case before the term serial killer was even in the lexicon.

As I listened to these stories I wondered why don’t we know about these murders, which at the time were called The Werewolf Murders, like we do The Black Dahlia or other well-known crimes before the 1970’s? In my mind, the 70’s were terrifying and the epitome of all things serial killer. I’m not sure why these cases aren’t more talked about considering how sensationalized they were at the time. The podcast implies that The Black Dahlia murder was more reported and talked about than the others at the time-history proves that correct, which is why these other murders aren’t as well-known.

This podcast also mentions the theory that Elizabeth Short’s murderer was a woman. This theory is one I’ve come across in my years of looking up weirdness and murder on the Internet. I did a little research while writing this and wasn’t able to come up with much other than this post and a short Wikipedia entry. I thought it was interesting the police didn’t rule out the possibility of a female murderer. The podcast doesn’t discuss this for very long, but I’m glad they mentioned the theory.

I can’t say much more without giving anything away. Besides, Wondery does a much better job talking about murder than I do. Give it a listen on iTunes or here.

The Vampire of Dusseldorf

Running a little behind. Sometimes life happens and blogging doesn’t. Continuing on with the theme of vampire killers…

Peter Kürten, the Vampire of Dusseldorf was a German killer who committed a series of murders and sexual assaults in 1929.

Peter Kürten was from an abusive background and started killing small animals as a teen, classic serial killer behavior. He repeatedly ran away from home and lived on the streets with petty criminals. Later, Kürten claimed to have committed his first murder at age 9, when he drowned a friend. He also admitted to killing an 18-year-old girl in 1899 before his killing spree which earned him his nickname began.

In 1900, he was sentenced to a prison sentence for fraud and attempted murder. A short four years later, he was drafted into the German Army and deserted soon after. Around the same time he started setting fires for his own sexual excitement and was eventually arrested again for arson and robbery. He served another prison sentence from 1905 to 1913. Upon his release, he robbed a tavern where he murdered a nine-year-old girl by slashing her throat. Two months later, he killed another girl and several days later was arrested again for arson and burglary.

After this release, he moved in with his sister who introduced him to a woman named Auguste Scharf, who had been previously convicted of killing her husband. Its as a match made in murder heaven. They married two years later. Kürten was soon bored with marriage and started having an affair with two different housemaids. The two women reported him to the police, one claiming he raped her. Off to prison again…

He was out in six months under the condition to relocate to Dusseldorf. On February 2, 1929, Kürten stabbed an elderly woman 24 times and she survived. Five days later, he strangled a nine-year-old girl, stabbed her with scissors, and set her body on fire. Another week passed before he killed again. This time it was a male, who he stabbed 20 times. It should be noted here that the randomness of the victims is not normal, or conclusive with serial killer behavior, as most have a victim profile and M.O.

Between March to July 1929, he attempted to strangle four women. He did not kill again until August, when he raped, strangled, and stabbed a woman after a date. Kürten was still married at the time. Fearful his wife would see the blood, he buried her body and attempted to nail it to a tree. Three months later, he sent a letter to the police claiming responsibility for the murder. He also drew a map to her remains, which eventually led the police to the burial site.

He soon killed 5 people in two days, including a five-year-old girl. He attached her teenaged foster sister who survived and was able to give a description to the police. Around this time, is when he started sucking blood from victims. A month later, he killed 4 women in hammer attacks and attempted 2 more. The first victim survived, the second escaped because his hammer broke. In November 1929, he killed another five-year-old girl, with a pair of scissors. She would be his last victim.

During this time, the public was outraged the vicious killer had not yet been caught. The Düsseldorf Police received 13,000 letters in 1929 and had interviewed 9,000 people about the murders and attacks. Kürten had the infamous cooling off period and didn’t strike again until May 1930. This time, he picked up a young girl and attempted to rape and strangle her. She was able to get away when he released his grip on her throat.

The girl did not go to the police. This led to Kürten being caught by pure accident. The girl who escaped wrote a letter to her friend describing what happened. She addressed the letter incorrectly. A post office worker opened the letter, read it, reported it to the police. The police contacted the girl who led them to Kürten’s apartment where the attack at taken place. Kürten was caught t in the lobby of his apartmetn builidng. He confessed to police and to his wife that he was The Vampire of Dusseldorf.

After his arrest, Kürten was interviewed by a psychologist, who noted his acts were for sexual pleasure and he had a blood fetish. This information was the first psychological study conducted on a sexually-motivated killer.  Kürten admitted to switching weapons in an attempt to throw off the police. He was declared sane and was able to stand trial. Kürten plead not guilty by reason of insanity, which did not work due to his earlier diagnosis. A jury found him guilty on April 22,1931 and he was sentenced to death. He tried to appeal, but it was denied. He was executed in July of that year by guillotine.

In the moments leading up to his death, he asked: “Tell me…  after my head is chopped off, will I still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from the stump of my neck? That would be the pleasure to end all pleasures.”

He probably died a happy man.

After his death, his head was mummified and is currently on display at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum in Wisconsin Dells.

The Kentucky Vampire Clan

Being from Kentucky, (we got lots of murder, y’all) I heard about this one a lot. During the week of Thanksgiving 1996, a group of teens calling themselves “The Vampire Clan” murdered a Florida couple, Naomi Queen and Richard Wendorf.

The leader of The Vampire Clan, Rod Ferrell claimed to be a 500 year-old vampire named Vesago. Sweet vampire name, by the way. Ferrell had become obsessed with vampires after playing the table top role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade. The group, consisting of Dana Cooper, Charity Keese, and Howard Anderson believed they were actually vampires. Well, I did too briefly during the height of my True Blood binge, but I never killed anyone or drank blood.

Ferrell met Heather Wendorf, who was living with family in Kentucky and soon introduced her to the vampire clan. Heather supposedly had a rough home life which she described as “hell.” The group traveled from their home of Murray, Kentucky to Florida with plans to kill Heather’s parents in a ritualistic killing to honor their clan. Ferrell bludgeoned them to death with a crowbar. Originally, he had not planned on killing Heather’s mother Naomi. After she threw a hot cup of coffee at him, he changed his mind.

After the killings, the group traveled to Louisiana, where they were apprehended. Rod Ferrell confessed the three girls involved were innocent, but that Howard Anderson was not. Dana and Charity were both arrested for their involvement in the crimes and have since been released. Heather Wendorf was never tried as she was proven innocent. From 1998-2000, Ferrell was the youngest person in the United States on death row. His conviction was reduced to life in prison. Anderson was also convicted to life in prison.

There is also a local legend of sorts to go along with these murders. An abandoned house near Land Between The Lakes in Kentucky is the site of the Vampire Hotel. The stone structure is said to be haunted and that the vamp clan used to meet there and engage in Satanic rituals. From what I’ve read, there isn’t much proof the clan used to hang out there, although it does look like a perfect location for 90s Goth kids in Kentucky to get down.