Tuesday, September 26, 2006

From the Macabre: Serial Killers

NOTE: Please forgive me in advance if this subject seems inappropriate for this blog. I promise not to make this a habit. But I was struck by the topic and the randomness of the people it affects, even a first lady.

I listened to an interview with author and researcher on serial killers, Philip Carlo this morning. I'm not really big on true crime books or topics. Frankly, stuff like this gives me the creeps.

Carlo mentioned the well known fact that Rosalynn Carter once innocently and unknowingly had her picture taken with serial killer (who sometimes dressed as a clown) John Wayne Gacy, a local political acivist in Iowa in the 1970's. Gacy was caught not long after the infamous photo was taken. And he was eventually executed for killing dozens of young boys.

Something similar happened once again to Mrs. Carter when she met with former Methodist minister, turned cult leader, Jim Jones. Jones would go on to lead his flock to Guyana and eventually order the execution of a California congressman and the largest mass suicide in recorded history.

I've heard Mrs. Carter speak on meeting both men and the horror that she felt when she found out later what they had been up to even during the time she met them. She said that in public life you come into contact with so many people and you have no idea what they may be doing when no one else is looking. She went on to add that both incidents spooked her, and she went through a period where she would shake a stranger's hand and wonder if there was something about them she should know.

Carlo went on to describe his interviews and subsequent books about such infamous people as Richard "The Nightstalker" Ramirez" and the mafia hit man, Richard "Ice Man" Kuklinski. He also spoke about Ted Bundy which hits close to home with me since I grew up in the shadows of the Florida State University campus. Bundy, of course, left a trail of blood from Washington state to Tallahassee in the late 70's and into the 80's.

Carlo said that estimates that there may be as many as 500 to 1,000 serial killers wandering around this country might be a bit low. He added that they often blend in nicely in our society. They are usually loners. But they tend to hold jobs, some are married with kids, and many take on a very friendly personna that makes people feel safe with them.

Carlo once asked Ramirez what he could put in a book that would help women (they are the most frequent victims) avoid killers like him. Ramirez's icy response was "nothing." But Carlo added that women should always use some common sense and caution when meeting people that they don't know.

Obviously, this isn't a political issue. But it's interesting to note that Gacy was a Democratic volunteer and local official. And Bundy was a staunch Republican who was involved in a Washington gubernatorial campaign.

Yikes! I hope I can sleep tonight!

1 comment:

rlpants said...

You simply must hear one of the most beautifully written, but intensely creepy songs ever, ever, ever written.

It's by singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens, and it's simply titled

"John Wayne Gacy, Jr."

This comes from his "Come on Feel the Illionoise" record which, is pretty amazing in its entirety.