5 WTF Side Projects Of Infamous Serial Killers
You may be aware of John Wayne Gacy's artistic endeavors in the area of nouveau psychotique clown paintings. But he's not the only serial murderer with a passion outside the realm normally associated with individuals with nicknames like the Texas Eyeball Killer (he paints eyeballs, go figure). We're talking about how ...
Ed Kemper Is The Voice Of Hundreds Of Audiobooks
If you've ever purchased an audiobook to alleviate the tedium of a cross-country drive or keep up with the latest literary hits while disguising the fact that you can't read, did you bother to check who was reading to you? Because there's a chance it wasn't some random voiceover artist in Burbank making a buck in between acting gigs, but this this guy:
If you're a fan of either Mindhunter or hulking brutes who dissect hitchhiking college students in bathtubs, you know about Edmund Kemper. Dubbed "The Coed Killer," he did exactly as his nickname implies until 1973, when he turned himself in and was sentenced to spend the remainder of his days in a California prison. He soon earned a reputation for being as much of a model prisoner as a killer of 10 can be, so he was put in charge of a prison program that recorded audiobooks. (This was back when they were still primarily an unprofitable niche product for the blind.)
Many inmates recorded audiobooks, but few were as dedicated to the project as Kemper. He's credited with over 5,000 hours of audio across hundreds of books, including well-known titles like Star Wars, Dune, and Flowers In The Attic. Indeed, what could be more appropriate than hearing a creepy book about incest and abuse read to you by a 6'9" necrophile with mommy issues? Kemper retired from recording after a stroke in 2015, but his work was featured in a 1987 LA Times article, which mentions two trophies he received for his services to the blind community. G-good for him?
Jim Jones Funded His Church By Selling Monkeys
In the early 1950s, Jim Jones met the only people to ever make him look like a nice guy. He was a young preacher in Indiana, but members of his church refused to let African-Americans join their congregation. So he left to form a new dang church, where all people would be welcomed ... and eventually murdered. He financed this plan by working a series of odd jobs which included that classic Americana work experience: door-to-door monkey salesman.
Jones biked around Indianapolis with a cage of spider monkeys -- a look usually reserved for ragtag misfits who solve mysteries. At $29 each, the sales raised hundreds for his burgeoning church. Surprisingly, many people wanted to hear what the guy covered in monkey feces thought about God. Some customers started attending his services, and while most workplaces reward their employee of the month with soon-to-expire Red Lobster coupons, Jones treated whoever brought in the most new recruits with yet another monkey.
His primate empire hit a snag when shipments started turning up full of dead or dying monkeys. Not wanting to pay an $89 air freight bill for one box of ailing apes, Jones abandoned his furry wards to their fate. It seems mass death was already his go-to solution to getting out of legal problems. Luckily for three of the monkeys, a customs official was able to revive them by combining bananas with brandy, because apparently there's an overlap between veterinary science and college student mixology.
Jones' interest in monkeying around was not purely financial. He liked to hang out with his pet chimpanzee, named Mr. Muggs, a mascot for Jonestown whom he claimed to have rescued from inhumane research (although it's more likely he just bought the creature). Sadly, Mr. Muggs never did get to find his Mrs. Muggs, as he was shot to death on Jonestown's last day. It was the most tragic relationship between a James Jones and a monkey until The Lion King.
The I-5 Killer Was Drafted By The Green Bay Packers
Randall Woodfield was good at two things: football and showing his penis to strangers. Both skills emerged in junior high and continued into high school, where he played for Oregon's Newport High. He was arrested for exposing himself to a group of women on a bridge, but his coaches helped smooth things over, and he made it to college with his juvenile record expunged.
In college, Woodfield joined a Christian student group and would be remembered as polite and quiet, but he was also convicted of indecent exposure four more times over as many years. Then came the 1974 NFL draft, when he was picked by the Green Bay Packers in the 17th round. But while the contract he signed held him to a high standard of behavior, including the requirement that he always wear a jacket and tie in public, it didn't stipulate anything about having to wear pants. The arrests continued and the Packers cut him, because the NFL takes a hard line against sex crimes ... as long as they're committed by unmarketable fringe players.
This was a wake-up call for Woodfield, and the public indecency arrests stopped. Instead came a spree of robberies, home invasions, sexual assaults, and murders (and also, bizarrely, the publication of a nude self-portrait in Playgirl). From late 1980 to early 1981, he's believed to have killed anywhere from 18 to 44 people, and he's also been linked to 60 unsolved rapes. Acquaintances recall him taking the end of his football career hard, and survivors noted that he wore tape over his nose like the players of his time. So if you've ever worried that you took a rejection from your dream job poorly, at least it wasn't "violent rampage" poorly.
The National Parks Killer Made A Movie That Foreshadowed His Crimes
In 1995, Gary Hilton approached his friend and lawyer Samuel Rael, who was dabbling in film production, with an idea. He wanted to make a horror movie about a man who captures women, holds them captive in a cabin, then releases them in the woods to hunt. His exact words were "go ahead and let some beautiful women out in the woods and then they could be hunted down like prey." Deadly Run, the generically named result, was a straight-to-video flick that made Rob Schneider look like a Shakespearean thespian, but Hilton's work on the forgettable film resurfaced in 2008 after he befriended hiker Meredith Emerson, held her captive in a cabin for three days, then beat her to death and decapitated her.
This understandably caught the attention of Rael, who said the crime was almost "word for word" from the movie while explaining, in essence, "Sure, the criminal I routinely defended from criminal charges seemed like a bit of a criminal, but not a criminal criminal, you know?" Rael recalled Hilton as both a lover of the outdoors and "a really interesting guy with a screw loose" -- in this case, apparently the screw that keeps both bad movie ideas and violent impulses in check.
Emerson was killed just 30 miles south of the Georgia cabin where the movie was shot, and Hilton was also linked to three additional outdoorsy murders in other states, which earned him the nickname "The National Forest Killer." (America has run out of good names for its serial killers, and has resorted to stealing from subpar Captain Planet villains.) Hilton was caught soon after the Emerson murder and sentenced to life in prison. Deadly Run is on Vimeo, if you want to be bummed out by both real-world subtext and bad filmmaking.
Edward Edwards Became A Celebrity Reformed Criminal (While Secretly Murdering People)
The game show To Tell The Truth started back in 1956, and it's since been revived five times, because every generation of grandmas needs something to knit in front of. The idea is that three people (confusingly called contestants, even though they aren't competing) all claim to have the same biography, like three men all saying "I'm Dick Johnson, and I have two penises." Two are actors, so the guests ask them questions and try to figure out which of them is really Dick Johnson. If nothing else, you know the catchphrase "Will the real please stand up?"
In October 1972, the show featured three men all claiming to be Ed Edwards. Based on that alone, you'd be forgiven for thinking all three were liars, but one really had changed his name to Edward Edwards, and his story was that he was a reformed criminal. He had been a robber and arsonist so brazen (he never disguised himself, and claimed he wanted to be famous) that he ended up on the FBI's most wanted list. He was caught and convicted, and when he left prison in 1967, he said he was a changed man.
He was certainly a popular man, as he also became a motivational speaker, wrote a book modestly titled The Metamorphosis Of A Criminal: The True Life Story Of Ed Edwards, and appeared on What's My Line, another perpetually necromanced game show. But while he was very honest about being a criminal, the "reformed" part was a lie. Edwards graduated to murder, and lots of it, even as he was speaking to crowds about his transformation.
Edwards killed at least five people between 1977 and 1996, including his adopted son in an insurance scheme, and there may have been even more victims from as early as 1960. He was only caught in 2009 after his daughter figured him out, and he beat an impending lethal injection by dying of natural causes in 2011. So the next time a hangover compels you into a Price Is Right marathon, keep in mind that there's a chance the person who just won a deep freezer is going to stuff it full of torsos.
E. Reid Ross has a book called BIZARRE WORLD that's on store shelves as we speak. Or you could just order it now from Amazon or Barnes and Noble and leave a scathing/glowing review. Nate Yungman likes to write things. Some of those things are tweets. You can follow him on Twitter. Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for bits cut from this article and other stuff no one should see.
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