Entries in Serial Killer (27)


Suspected Killer of Three Inspired By Convicted Serial Killer, Officials Say


(EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio) -- Authorities and volunteers expanded their search of vacant and abandoned houses Sunday in a Cleveland, Ohio, suburb for more possible victims after three bodies wrapped in plastic bags were found within less than 200 yards of each other.

Michael Madison, 35, was arrested Friday after authorities uncovered the body of a woman who had been wrapped in several garbage bags in a garage near a vacant East Cleveland home where he was apprehended.

Madison, a convicted sex offender, has been named a suspect in all three deaths, Norton said. He has not been charged.

"We believe every hour he was on the street, he would have been a danger to someone," East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton told

Police returned to the neighborhood to find two more bodies in the backyard and in the basement of nearby vacant homes the next day, Norton said.

All three corpses were found in the fetal position, wrapped in multiple trash bags, officials said.
While the identities of the three victims are currently unknown, Norton said that investigators believe all of the victims were black women who were killed within the last six to 10 days.

Based on investigators' initial reports, only one of the bodies was found without clothing. While Norton could only provide details on the shirts the other two women had on, he did not know if they were fully dressed when they were uncovered.

East Cleveland Police Chief Ralph Spotts called the discoveries an "absolute worst case scenario."

Norton said families who have relatives missing called in as soon as news of the discoveries broke.

"Some concerned family members can take comfort in knowing their loved one is not one of the victims," Norton said. With no autopsies scheduled at this time, others will have to continue to wait, he said.
Despite the fact that Madison was registered as living at his mother's home several miles away from where the bodies were found, he was well-known in the neighborhood.

"He was a person who frequented the area, and had spoken to and approached multiple women in the area," Norton said.

It is unclear where Madison's mother is, he said, or where he was living at the time of his arrest.

Police and the FBI expanded their search Sunday to more vacant homes and empty lots near the neighborhood where Madison frequented, after he led investigators to believe he may have been influenced by Ohio serial killer Anthony Sowell, Norton said.

Police will also be looking into anybody who was recently reported missing, the police chief said.

Sowell, who was described in court papers as "the worst offender in the history of Cuyahoga County and arguably the state of Ohio," was sentenced to death in 2011 after he was found guilty of killing 11 women and hiding their remains around his Cleveland home from June 2007 to July 2009.

"[Madison] said some things that led us to believe that in some way, shape, or form, Sowell might be an influence," Norton said. "Hopefully, we pray to God, this is it."

The gruesome discovery was made just 10 miles from the home where Ariel Castro allegedly held three women captive for nearly a decade until they were able to escape in May.

Despite the arrest of a suspect people in the East Cleveland neighborhood said they are still anxious.
"Something like this is very upsetting, not only for me but for my children and grandchildren," East Cleveland resident Bernadette Bass said.

Another resident said the discovery has convinced her it's time to find a new place to live.

"I have three daughters of my own and me and I do walk and go to the store, so it's kind of scary out here," the woman said. "I'm about ready to leave. Matter of fact I am moving."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


FBI Releases Serial Killer Israel Keyes' Suicide Letter

FBI(NEW YORK) -- Serial killer Israel Keyes' blood smeared suicide letter, obtained by ABC News, is a creepy ode to murder in which he clearly enjoys killing his victims and expresses his disgust with peoples' everyday lives.

"You may have been free, you loved loving your lie, fate had its own scheme, crushed like a bug you still die," Keyes wrote.

At another point he writes about the "nervous laugh as it burst like a pulse of blood from your throat.  There will be no more laughter here."

The arrest of Keyes, 34, on March 12, 2012 for the murder of Alaskan barista Samantha Koenig ended more than a decade of traveling around the country to find victims to kill or to prepare for future crimes by burying murder kits of weapons, cash and tools to dispose of bodies.  Since March, he had been slowly telling police about his hidden life and how he operated.  But the tale abruptly ended when Keyes committed suicide in his jail cell on Dec. 1.

Police are now left trying to fill in the details of Keyes' life.  Police believe he killed between eight and 12 people, including Koenig, but only three victims have been definitively tied to Keyes so far.

The FBI released Keyes' four-page document on Wednesday, describing it as "a combination of pencil and ink on yellow legal pad."  The pages were discovered under Keyes' body, "illegible and covered in blood," the FBI said.

Click here to see the original letter.

The papers were sent to an FBI laboratory in Virginia for processing and the FBI was able to restore the notes to a mostly legible condition for review and analysis.

"The FBI concluded there was no hidden code or message in the writings," the FBI said in a news release Wednesday.  "Further, it was determined that the writings do not offer any investigative clues or leads as to the identity of other possible victims."

The FBI said it would not offer any commentary as the meaning of the writings, but the chillingly morbid writings speak for themselves.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Remains in Drain Pipe Raise Fears About Michigan Serial Killer 

WXYZ/ABC News(DETROIT) -- Cops in Michigan have made a gruesome discovery: precisely-cut cubes of human flesh hidden in a drainage pipe. They bear a shocking similarity to other remains found last August in another nearby stretch of drain pipe.

Work crews discovered the remains, described by police to ABC as "chunks of skin and fat and little bit of muscle tissue" cut into 4-by-4-inch cubes. They were found stuck to a grating near Warren, Mich., outside Detroit, after water had been removed from the drain pipe during repairs.

The remains appear to be "almost exact matches" in physical appearance to 10 pieces found earlier this year in Sterling Heights, Mich., according to Detective Mel Nearing.

Police have sent the new remains to a lab in Texas for DNA testing. Authorities said they want to determine if they match the body parts discovered last summer, which belonged to an unidentified obese white female.

Nearing said the remains found this week appeared to have been dumped recently, and would have further decomposed had they been discarded in August with the other parts.

Police said they believe that if the remains are from the same person, the killer likely froze the body and has been disposing of pieces slowly over time.

The precision of the cuts would also indicate the body had been frozen before dismemberment, Nearing said.

If the remains are found to belong to a second victim, police said they might have a serial killer on their hands.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alaska Serial Killer Committed Suicide with Hidden Razor and Bedding

Kevin Horan/Ston(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- Serial killer Israel Keyes committed suicide in his Alaska jail cell by embedding a disposable razor blade into a pencil and slitting his wrist and using bedding material to strangle himself, the FBI said Wednesday.

Keyes, 34, left behind "crumpled, blood-soaked paper" with writing on the pages.

Keyes' death came as he was slowly confessing to a string of methodically planned murders that spanned the country. He had admitted to eight murders at the time of his suicide, but had yet to tell investigators the identities of all his victims and left police wondering how many more victims there may have been.

The suicide occurred while Keyes was locked alone in a cell after 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 1. His body was discovered the next morning at 5:57 a.m., the FBI said.

He used a weapon he had apparently constructed by embedding a blade from a disposable razor into a pencil. He slashed his left wrist with the razor, and then used a strip of bedding to strangle himself.

"There is no indication of any criminal involvement from other persons," according to the FBI in Anchorage. "Pages of crumpled, blood-soaked paper that appeared to have writing on them were recovered from the cell."

The papers have been handed over to the FBI for laboratory processing.

Keyes, 34, was in jail after his arrest for the death of teenage barista Samantha Koenig. While in jail, he told investigators how he traveled the country to kill and bury caches of weapons, money and tools for disposing of bodies to use in future crimes.

The suicide was Keyes' last act of violence committed by a merciless killer who told police that he "liked to do it."

Along with details of his suicide, investigators also released the grim details about Koenig's final hours and her killer's intricate plan to kill.

Koenig was abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled by Keyes, who went on a two-week cruise before returning to dismember and hide her body, according to the FBI.

"These details are being provided both to fully explain the courage and resolve Samantha displayed in the final hours of her life, as well as in the hopes that the release of additional details will help investigators of other murders committed by Israel Keyes," a statement released by federal prosecutors, the FBI and Alaskan police.

They also released video of Koenig's abduction and part of their interrogation of the confessed serial killer.

When Keyes was on the prowl for a victim, he selected the Common Grounds coffee stand in Anchorage, Alaska, where Koenig, 18, was working. Keyes picked the coffee stand for its location and late hours, authorities said. He had no previous connection to the teenager.

A ski mask-clad Keyes approached the coffee stand just before closing time on Feb. 1 and ordered a coffee. After Koenig handed him the coffee, he pulled a gun and demanded money. She complied and surveillance footage released by investigators shows Keyes climbing into the coffee stand and tying Koenig up with zip ties.

He forced her outside and toward his white truck, which he had earlier prepared by removing the license plates and unmounting tool boxes off the bed of the truck.

"Samantha broke away from Keyes and tried to run away," investigators said. "Keyes chased her and tackled her to the ground. He put one arm around her and pointed a gun at her body with the other hand, telling her that she needed to cooperate, that the gun had a very quiet ammo and that she should not do anything to make him kill her."

Keyes "drove around town" telling Koenig that he was kidnapping her for ransom. She explained that her family did not have much money and tried to convince him to let her go. Police said he intended to kill her all along.

When Keyes realized that Koenig did not have her cell phone, he went back to the coffee stand to get it as it was an integral part of his plan. He used the phone to text Koenig's boyfriend and the owner of the coffee stand.

"The text messages made it appear that Samantha just had a bad day and was leaving town for the weekend," investigators said. "Keyes then took the battery out of Samantha's phone."

When he asked her for her debit card, she explained that it was in the truck she shared with her boyfriend at her house and gave him the pin number.

"Keyes put Samantha in the shed in front of his [Keyes'] house, bound her, and turned the radio up in the shed so no one would hear her if she screamed," the release said. "He also told her that he had a police scanner and would know if she attempted to alert the neighbors."

Keyes went to Koenig's house for the debit card and was confronted by Koenig's boyfriend, who was looking for her. The boyfriend went into the house to call for help and Keyes was gone with the debit card by the time he got back.

Keyes returned to the shed, sexually assaulted Koenig and strangled her, the statement said.

"Keyes left her in the shed and then went back inside his house, where he packed for a pre-planned cruise that he was taking from New Orleans," authorities said.

He left Feb. 2 and returned Feb. 17. Upon his return, he used a typewriter to prepare a ransom note and demanded that $30,000 be deposited into the account tied to the debit card.

He went back to the shed and took a Polaroid photo of her tied up. His arm was in the photo holding a newspaper from Feb. 13, the statement said.

He put the note in a park and texted its location to Koenig's boyfriend. Police recovered the note.

"In the days that followed, Keyes dismembered Samantha's body and drove out to Matanuska Lake, where he cut a hole in the ice and put her body in the lake," investigators said.

Koenig's father deposited donated reward money into the ransom account and Keyes was arrested after ATM withdrawals were made in Anchorage, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The FBI has also released an ominous list of 35 trips Keyes made around the U.S., Mexico and Canada over the last eight years.

Keyes, the owner of an Anchorage construction company, had been facing a March trial in Anchorage federal court -- and possibly the death penalty -- for the killing of Koenig.

While in jail he had been confessing to at least seven other killings in Washington, New York and Vermont. Police have confirmed that he was responsible for the deaths of Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vt.

Investigators are now piecing together a deadly puzzle that is uncovering a macabre lifestyle of Keyes traveling to kill simply because he "liked to do it," prosecutors said.

Police and the FBI spent hours talking to Keyes in the months after his arrest and he was cooperating, talking to investigators as recently as Thursday.

The FBI is asking for the public's assistance with any information about Keyes' travels in order to identify additional victims. They ask that anyone with information contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Did a Serial Killer Commit Suicide in Alaska Jail?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- A murder suspect who apparently committed suicide in an Anchorage, Alaska, jail on Sunday is suspected of being a serial killer, according to the FBI.

Authorities said that Israel Keyes, 34, died of an apparent suicide while being held in the Anchorage jail on federal charges related to the kidnapping and death of an 18-year-old Alaska woman, Samantha Koenig.

Police say Koenig was abducted from an Anchorage coffee kiosk last February.  Keyes was later arrested in Texas after he was caught using the victim’s debit card.  He was facing the death penalty.

A spokesperson for Alaska State Troopers said Keyes was alone in his cell, and authorities do not suspect foul play.  The exact nature of his death was not disclosed.

Mary Rook, the FBI special agent in charge of the Anchorage office, told reporters the agency had developed information that Keyes was responsible for “multiple additional victims.”  She said they believe Keyes is responsible for the deaths of four people in Washington state, one in New York state and a married couple in Vermont.

U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler said the investigations into the deaths will continue even though there will be no prosecution.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Victim Discovered in Decades-Old Candyman Serial Killing Case

Comstock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Dean Corll, the Candyman serial killer, terrorized the Houston area by raping, torturing and murdering young boys before he was shot to death by his accomplice.

Now, 40 years later, authorities believe a filmmaker may have uncovered evidence that there was an unknown, 29th victim.

Josh Vargas, a Houston-based filmmaker, gained access to the belongings of the man who shot Corll, Elmer Wayne Henley, that the incarcerated man’s mother stored in an old school bus.

“While rummaging through those pictures, this Polaroid falls out,” Vargas told ABC affiliate KTRK. “I take a look at it and, right off the bat, having studied the case and the crime scene photos and everything, I see Dean’s toolbox, and I see his implements in that toolbox, and I see this kid right here with handcuffs on his arms.”

Vargas gave the photograph to the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office, which reviewed the photograph and determined it was not of any of the known victims.

Henley, who was asked about the photograph, told the filmmaker he believed there were more victims who have not been found.

Corll, along with two accomplices, abducted, sexually assaulted and tortured young boys before killing them. He gained the nickname “Candyman” because he was known to give candy from his family’s business to young boys.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Homeless Suspect to Be Charged With Six Murder Counts

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ORANGE COUNTY, Calif.) -- A California man accused of murdering four homeless people is now being charged with two additional murders -- that of a woman who was stabbed more than 30 times, and her son, who was stabbed more than 60 times.

Itzcoatl Ocampo, 23, a former Marine, will be charged Monday with six felony counts of murder, according to Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. The charges include the fatal stabbings of Raquel Estrada, 53, and her son, 34-year-old Juan Herrera, last October, and four homeless men in Orange County in the past two months.

The four homeless men were stabbed numerous times, just as Estrada and her son were.

Ocampo is being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Monday, Feb. 6. If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole and will be eligible for the death penalty, the OCDA said.

Estrada’s son, Eder Herrera, was previously accused of murdering his mother and brother. He had been arrested after a witness told police he thought he saw Eder Herrera at the crime scene.

The charges were dropped and Herrera was released from jail Friday afternoon due to the new evidence in the case, Rackauckas said Friday evening at a press conference.

But Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Gary Strachan told ABC News Saturday that Eder Herrera is on “immigration hold” and was transferred to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and is now in a federal detention facility.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Convicted Serial Killer Found Dead by Parole Agents in California

Convicted serial killer Loren Herzog from Sacramento, California is seen in this undated mugshot. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation(SUSANVILLE, Calif.) -- A convicted killer's body was found late Monday night and is being investigated as a possible suicide, officials tell ABC News.

Parolee Loren Herzog, 46, was found dead inside a trailer on California state property grounds right outside the perimeter of High Desert State Prison in Susanville, where he lived for more than a year after being released from prison.

A parole agent was in charge of monitoring Herzog around the clock through the use of a Global Positioning System monitor (GPS), worn on Herzog's ankle. The agent was alerted when the device bracelet was indicating a low battery.

After unsuccessful phone contact attempts, the agent called High Desert State Prison staff, who went to the residence and discovered Herzog's unresponsive body.

"The death is being investigated and is pending a complete autopsy, so at this moment we can't say what the cause of death or the condition of the body was," said Luis Patino, information officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

Herzog was released from prison in September 2010 after serving a reduced 14-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter, three counts of being an accessory to a felony, and one count for transportation of a controlled substance, according to a release from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

He was originally sentenced to 78 years to life for numerous first-degree murder charges with childhood friend Wesley Shermantine. The pair, who were dubbed the "Speed Freak Killers," were also convicted for the 1998 rape and murder of Cyndi Vanderheiden, whose body was never found.

According to court records, in August 2004, a state appellate court ordered a new trial for Herzog after defense attorneys found indications that detectives may have used coercive tactics to get a taped confession for the murders. Months later, Herzog's attorneys bargained a plea deal and he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter charges. A judge reduced his sentence to 14 years. This decision bypassed a retrial.

Herzog was released from prison in September 2010. According to California law, a parolee is to return to the county of last legal residence, in this case San Joaquin County. However victims and their family members can make sure the parolee lives at least 35 miles from their residence. Due to all the unsolved murders and cases linked to Herzog, several people turned in requests to have him far from their homes, eliminating San Joaquin as an option.

Patino said at that point the state had to find a place for Herzog and decided to have him live in a trailer on fenced-off property grounds outside the prison.

"He had served the sentence so we couldn't keep him incarcerated," Patino said. "Agents could see if he was in the area through the GPS device and he had a strict no-contact list, he even had to request permission to leave the grounds, but he was still limited with regards to places he could go."

Patino also told ABC News that Herzog had regular meetings with parole agents, but that he could not discuss the status of his mental health condition recently due to California privacy laws.

Cyndi Vanderheiden's family did not immediately respond to calls from ABC News, but in an interview with The Stockton Record, her father, John Vanderheiden, said he wanted proof Herzog was dead, and he would be willing to drive to Susanville.

"As long as he's dead, that's great," Vanderheiden told The Stockton Record. "That's what he deserves."

According to officials, the death is under review by multiple agencies, including the Lassen County District Attorney's Office, the Lassen County Sheriff's Office and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Investigative Services Unit.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Serial Killer Targeting Calif. Homeless: Police

Thinkstock/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Homeless men in southern California are being warned by police to stick together and remain on high alert for a suspected serial killer who may be preying on them.

The murders of three homeless, middle-aged men since Dec. 20 have police scrambling to caution the "significant" homeless population in Orange County, according to Anaheim police spokesman Sgt. Bob Dunn.

All three men were stabbed to death by their attacker, who police believe is a man captured on surveillance video during one of the crimes. The deaths occurred in Anaheim, Yorba Linda, and Placentia, from Dec. 20 to Dec. 30.

The victims were alone when the attacks happened, said Dunn. But two of the murders occurred in public spaces, one at a strip mall around 8 p.m., and one outside of a library just before closing time, around 5 p.m. The other victim was killed along a riverside trail and discovered during the early morning hours by a jogger.

Police are asking the public to call in with any helpful information to the task force hotline: 714-765-1944.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Long Island Beach Remains Identified as Shannan Gilbert

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images(OAK BEACH, N.Y.) -- Skeletal remains found in an impassable tangle of swamp and thick brush on a Long Island, N.Y., barrier beach have been identified as Shannan Gilbert, the woman whose disappearance led to the discovery of what police say is a serial killer's burial ground.

The Suffolk County Medical Examiner's Office identified the remains Saturday, and though the cause of death is still undetermined, police have said they believed it was accidental.

The body was found last week about a quarter of a mile from where the 24-year-old Gilbert's purse, identification and shoes were located last week, near Oak Beach.

"[The homicide squad] were on an amphibious machine edging forward into thick brush when the homicide squad detective spotted the skeletal remains lying on the surface of the ground," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said after the remains were found.

Oak Beach is on a barrier island along the South Shore of Long Island, separating the Atlantic Ocean from South Oyster Bay. In the summer the ocean beaches are crowded, but in winter the beaches are largely deserted.

Dormer called the area where the body was found a "very tough, desolate, tangled mess."

He said that Gilbert could have likely been able to see the lights on a nearby parkway and attempted to go in that direction, but that she did not get very far in the marshy, tough ramble.

"If it is Shannan Gilbert, then her location is indicative of her trying to make it to the causeway, which is northeast of where her remains were found," Dormer said.

"There's no way Shannan Gilbert could have gotten through that brush to make it to the parkway," Dormer said. "If somebody is disoriented and anxious and running, it certainly would take a toll on you."

Gilbert, 24, was last seen in May 2010 apparently running from someone near today's search area. On the night of her disappearance, witnesses told police Gilbert did not appear to be acting rationally.

"It appeared at first when they searched that there's no way anyone could get in there," Dormer said. "We went in with the idea that we were going to do this one last time to see if we can find anything and we did."

The search for Gilbert led to the discovery of 10 sets of dismembered bodies that are believed to have been the victims of a serial killer, but Gilbert's death is not believed to be linked to the other 10 deaths.

Detectives believe a single killer is responsible for the dismembered bodies of young women, a male transvestite and a toddler found dumped along a pristine stretch of Long Island's south shore from 1996 to 2010.

Police believe that all 10 of the victims were linked to the sex trade, with DNA indicating that the toddler was the likely daughter of one of the victims.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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