It is a well-known fact that serial killers often collect ‘trophies’ from their victims. Just as game hunters take home the head of their kill, some killers have applied this ritual to their misdeeds and leave a crime scene with their very own souvenir.
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Ahmad Suradji collected his victims’ saliva as he believed it gave him special powers; Anatoly Onoprienko kept his victims’ underwear; and Charles Albright retained the eyeballs of his victims. Shudders.
Several killers have opted for the same type of trophy in the form of photographs. Immortalising their victims so they can revisit and relive their crimes and remember all of their dark achievements is quite popular with serial killers.
The camera held by their killer may have been one of the last things they ever saw and provides a disturbing window into the tormented suffering of the subjects. Here’s 10 haunting photographs taken of victims before their murders.
1. Robert Ben Rhoades And His Hell On Wheels
Robert Ben Rhoades roamed the Texas highways between 1975 and 1990 in his 18-wheeler. With a makeshift torture chamber fashioned into the cab of his truck, he is responsible for the murders of over 50 women. Although this number is potentially much higher due to Rhoades travelling around various states. Scary to think what he might have got up to that we don’t know about.
Rhoades’ MO involved a system of kidnap, torture, kill. Couples were the popular target; Rhoades would immediately kill the male party and then keep the female in his cab for days, sometimes weeks, to endure repeated torture and rape before being brutally killed.
14-year-old Regina Kay Walters was hitchhiking with her boyfriend, Ricky Jones, when Rhoades picked them up in February 1990. After killing Jones, Rhoades kept Walters for two weeks in his travelling torture chamber. He pierced Walters with fishing hooks, cut off her hair and forced her to wear a black dress and heels. He strangled her shortly after this infamous photo was taken, leaving her body in a barn in Illinois.
Rhoades’ reign of terror came to an end on 1st April 1990. Officer Mike Miller found a truck at the side of the road with its hazard lights on. Miller discovered a nude woman, handcuffed and screaming in the cab. Rhoades unsuccessfully attempted to talk his way out of the situation and was arrested. Soon after, a search warrant for his house uncovered nude photos of Walters and another victim of Rhoades named Candace Walsh.
Rhoades was eventually convicted of three murders – however it is suspected Rhoades was killing two to three women per month at the height of his spree. Again, terrifying what we don’t know about the guy.
It is a truly haunting photograph as you can see the fear in Regina’s eyes as she holds her hands up and appears to back away from the camera. Photographs are usually used to capture special memories and the fact Rhoades took this photo gives us a glimpse into the twisted minds of these individuals. So tragic.
2. Harvey Glatman – The Rope Fetishist
Harvey Glatman had displayed signs of being not quite right as a youngster. He expressed worrying sadomasochistic sexual tendencies as a child and his mother once found him choking himself with a noose for erotic asphyxiation at just 12 years old. This interest in sadomasochism escalated quickly and by 18 he was arrested for tying up a high school classmate at gunpoint and molesting her. He robbed and sexually assaulted women for years following this and served several short stints in prison.
Once Glatman moved to Los Angeles in the late 1950s, he wasted no time in becoming a full-blown serial killer. Dubbed the ‘The Lonely Hearts Killer’, Glatman’s MO was to post Lonely Hearts adverts to lure victims. Not only that, Glatman also used the serial killer favourite of posing as a professional photographer which gave him the alternative nickname ‘The Glamour Girl Slayer’. The media and their nicknames eh?
Glatman would bring a woman to his apartment, force them to pose for him after being tied up and repeatedly rape them. He would say the photoshoots were BDSM themed to enable him to tie some of his victims up without suspicion. Otherwise he used a gun to keep them compliant. He would then take them out to the desert where he would strangle the woman to death, leaving their discarded body in the desert.
One of Glatman’s intended victims managed to escape which led to his final arrest. He readily revealed his crimes to police and showed them his photograph cache from his ‘photoshoots’. Glatman was executed by gas chamber in 1959.
Pictured is Judy Dull, Glatman’s first murder victim who Glatman actually lost his virginity to when he raped her. It’s horrifying to think all the sexual interactions throughout his life were most likely non-consensual. It’s always disturbing to think that some individuals exist that require someone to be suffering in order to get off.
3. Suspected Serial Killer William Richard Bradford
Another killer who used the guise of being a professional photographer, William Richard Bradford was a suspected serial killer active in the 80s.
Bradford met 21-year-old barmaid Shari Miller in a Los Angeles bar in July of 1984 whilst on bail for a rape charge. He took Miller to a remote campsite – the same site of the alleged rape for which he was awaiting trial – and once there he took several photographs of Miller before strangling her to death. He then sliced off her tattoos, removed her blouse and discarded her body in an alleyway in Hollywood.
Shortly thereafter, Bradford took his 15-year-old neighbour Tracey Campbell to the same desert campsite where he again photographed and strangled her. Bradford left the body there this time and covered the face with Shari Miller’s blouse. He was eventually sentenced to death in California for the murders of Miller and Campbell.
Fast forward 18 years: a detective in the LA police department discovered photographs of 54 women that had originally been used against Bradford in his trial for the deaths of Miller and Campbell. Because Bradford had taken photos of Shari Miller in a similar fashion, it is believed he was in fact a serial killer and these photos all show potential victims in the moments before their deaths.
Bradford himself hinted at this fact when giving his closing statement at his trial he said,
Think of how many you don’t even know about. You are so right. That’s it.
In July 2006, the 54 photographs were released under the heading: “Information Wanted: Have You Seen These Women or Know Their Location?” Since the photos’ release, at least one woman has been identified as having been found murdered and had met Bradford at a bar a few days before. All others remain potential rape or murder victims of Bradford.
What unsettles me most about this picture is that you can see the expression in Shari’s face almost showing the moment she realises something isn’t quite right and all is not what it seems with Bradford. The fact there are so many other potential victims shows how effective his ruse was.
He preyed on these women by making them think he would make their modelling dreams come true. You can see how easy it would be to subsequently end up in an isolated place with a dangerous man who you thought could be trusted.
4. Depraved Dean Corll And His Two Cronies
Many serial killers have a ‘type’ and we’ve looked at three killers with a penchant for young women. Now we meet Dean Corll, who is responsible for abducting, torturing and murdering at least 28 teenage boys and young men. Terrorising Houston, Texas between 1970 and 1973, Corll attained the creepy nickname ‘Candyman’ because he and his family had owned and operated a candy factory and Corll lured some of his victims with free candy.
Corll had two teenage accomplices on hand; David Owen Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley. The duo would earn $200 for every boy they delivered, many of whom were friends of Brooks and Henley. Once Corll had killed the boy through strangulation (his favourite) or using his .22-caliber pistol, they would assist with burying the bodies. It’s pretty savage that these guys were casually sending so many young men to their deaths for a measly $200.
The usual method of garnering victims typically involved offering a boy a lift to a party or other address. They would then be abducted and restrained on Corll’s torture board where they would be subjected to grotesque acts of cruelty. Get ready to shudder: Corll’s favourite methods of torture were pulling out the boy’s individual pubic hairs and inserting a glass rod into the boy’s urethra and snapping the end off. He would also starve the boys and repeatedly rape them over a period of days. Yikes, that sounds absolutely horrific.
Corll was never brought in front of a jury as he was fatally shot by Henley, one of his accomplices before his crimes could come to light. On the one hand that’s very frustrating as he arguably never had to face justice for his crimes but on the other hand it likely saved a lot of other people falling prey to Corll’s depraved mind.
In 2012, this photo was found showing a young boy scared, wearing handcuffs and looking up at the camera. Filmmaker, Josh Vargas said:
While rummaging through pictures, this Polaroid falls out. 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.
It is believed the photograph depicts a 29th victim of Corll’s.
What a nasty piece of work this guy was. It’s safe to say if he hadn’t been shot by Henley, he’d have continued to slaughter innocent boys and young men whilst Henley and Brooks collected their blood money.
5. Asunta Basterra Murdered By Family
Not a serial killer case but just as chilling. Asunta Basterra was a 12-year-old girl who was adopted from China by lawyer Rosario Porto Ortega and Alfonso Basterra Camporro, a wealthy couple in high standing.
Her adoptive Spanish family reported Asunta missing on the evening of 21st September 2013. Her body was found a few hours later on a forest trail. The couple were found guilty of drugging Asunta with the sedative Orfidal, periodically for three months before finally suffocating her. The motive was money as Asunta was due to inherit valuable real estate from her grandparents.
This image shows Asunta drugged and wrapped in a blanket. It is one of the last photographs taken of Asunta before she was killed by her adoptive parents.
Such an upsetting case. It’s always hard to contemplate what could compel parents to kill their child. Irrespective of the fact Asunta was adopted, it is crazy to think these two killed their daughter over something as material as money, especially as they were already a wealthy couple themselves. The couple were sentenced to 18 years in prison for the murder which I think is rather lenient. These are people you would definitely want spending the rest of their days behind a cell wall.
6. Rodney Alcala And 130 Potential Victims
Rodney Alcala was a serial killer and rapist sentenced to death for the murders of five women between 1977 and 1979, although the victim count could be as high as 130.
He has become known as the ‘Dating Game Killer’ because he appeared as a contestant on a popular dating show during his killing spree. If you watch the clip of him on the show (below), he comes across as a right creep and Cheryl Bradshaw, the bachelorette on the show said she declined to go on a date with him because she felt he was a little off after they had spoken backstage. This decision most likely saved Bradshaw from becoming one of Alcala’s victims.
Alcala would strangle his victims, revive them from unconsciousness and then rinse and repeat; strangling and reviving them again and again until they were dead. Of course that was not all and Alcala loved to bite, beat and rape his victims too. What a piece of work.
He was an arrogant man too; at one point, whilst on the run for a rape and attempted murder, Alcala fled to New York and despite being on the FBI’s most wanted list, assumed the role of a groovy film student, amateur photographer and lady’s man. He was eventually caught and spent less than three years in prison before being released. Alcala mingled his way through New York’s singles clubs and even got a job at the Los Angeles Times under his real name.
Echoing the find of photographs belonging to Richard Bradford above, detectives found over a thousand photographs belonging to Alcala in a storage locker. Pictured is one of the less explicit pictures which were shared in an attempt to identify the women in them. As of 2016, some closure has come out of this as Alcala was charged with murdering a woman in 1977 who was identified from one of the photographs.
It is unlikely we’ll ever know the full extent of Alcala’s victims. His story is all too familiar; like Ted Bundy, Alcala used charm and good looks to lure women to their untimely deaths. Alcala was sentenced to death but remains very much alive on California’s death row to this day.
7. Robert Berdella – The Avid Note-Taker
Robert Berdella was an American serial killer from Kansas City, Missouri. Between 1984 and 1987, Berdella murdered at least six men.
Berdella started hanging out with 19-year-old male prostitute Jerry Howell in 1984. Howell would become Berdella’s first victim. Only 5th July, Berdella invited Howell to his house, where he drugged Howell, bound him to a bed and spent the following hours repeatedly raping him whilst taking detailed notes of the experience in his diary. This event signified the start of Berdella’s torture and murder spree and he took several photographs of Howell to relive the event later.
Berdella would befriend victims before torturing them for days (sometimes up to six weeks) in the basement of his house. Berdella dabbled in a variety of different methods of torture including; injecting caulk into the ears to deafen the victim; electrocuting their body; blindfolding the victim with bags over their heads; and he once attempted to blind a victim by electrocuting a spatula over their eyelids.
Berdella relished taking photographs of his victims before and after death. Pictured is one of Berdella’s victims Todd Stoops, who Berdella kept captive for two weeks. During the ordeal Berdella at one point injected drain cleaner into Stoops’ larynx to try to silence his screaming. Stoops eventually died from an infection caused after Berdella ruptured his anal cavity with his fist. So horrific.
Once dead, Berdella would extensively dissect the victims’ bodies, which garnered him the charming nickname ‘The Kansas City Butcher’. Once dissected, Berdella either buried the bodies or left pieces in the garbage for collection.
Berdella was caught when Chris Bryson, an intended victim, managed to escape out of a second-storey window wearing nothing but a dog collar round his neck. Sentenced in 1988, Berdella avoided the death penalty in exchange for a full confession and died of a heart attack in October 1992. I can’t help but think he got off lightly here; not only did he get out of the death penalty, he then served only around four years of his sentence before dying from a heart attack. Berdella is someone you’d want to know is sitting in a cell somewhere never to see the light of day.
8. Twisted Scout Leader – Anatoly Slivko
On to the next depraved killer. Anatoly Slivko was a Soviet serial killer who developed a deeply specific and disturbing fetish after witnessing a traffic accident in his early twenties. A young boy was fatally injured and had been wearing a Young Pioneers (Sovient equivalent to Boy Scouts) uniform. Slivko was sexually excited by the incident and thus sparked a twisted fantasy that he would try to relive for years to come.
Two years following the traffic accident, Slivko had started running the local children’s club which put him in the perfect position to abuse this power in a grotesque fashion. Slivko would first groom the boys and form close relationships with them, usually aged between 12-15.
Slivko would gain the boy’s confidence and tell him he was making a film that would involve an experiment where there would be a controlled hanging, which would result in unconsciousness. Many young boys thus unwittingly became victims after being lured into the woods by Slivko. It is reported that over a period of 21 years he persuaded 43 plus boys to take part in his sexually macabre games.
Slivko had a routine in which he would purchase a Young Pioneers uniform for the boy to wear, shine his shoes, and tell him not to eat for several hours before the ‘experiment’ in order to prevent vomiting. Once passed out, Slivko would strip the boys naked, molest them and pose their bodies in sexual positions, masturbate onto their shoes and then revive them. Slivko took disturbing photographs and films of the boys as they were asphyxiated.
Seven of the 43 victims died after Slivko was unable to revive them. It seems Slivko didn’t mind too much about this though, as he would simply dismember them, pour gasoline over their body parts and set fire to them and then masturbate some more. This ritual would remind Slivko of the traffic accident which sparked his arousal.
Whilst investigating the disappearance of one of the murdered boys, the prosecutor interrogated many boys who had been to the club. They said they had suffered “temporary amnesia” and that Slivko had practiced many experiments with them. Following a long inquiry, Anatoly Slivko was arrested in December 1985 and accused of seven murders, seven counts of sexual abuse and necrophilia. He was found guilty and was executed in 1989.
It’s mad that he managed to trick so many boys into going along with his ‘experiments’. He used to tell them the film was about the Nazi torturing of boy-scouts during the Second World War, hence enabling him to trick the boys into wearing the Young Pioneers uniform which was a key part of his sexual fantasy. What’s also mad is that he managed to get away with this from 1963 all the way to 1985 before being finally caught. Who knows how many more victims there would have been?
9. Shoe Collector – Jerry Brudos
Serial killer and necrophile Jerry Brudos, had a fetish for women’s shoes from the age of five and thus spent his teen years in and out of psychotherapy and state hospitals. He began to stalk local women as a teenager, knocking down or choking them unconscious, and fleeing with their shoes.
Things quickly escalated as they so often do and between 1968 and 1969, Brudos bludgeoned and strangled four young women to death. Brudos attempted to attack two other women in Oregon but was unsuccessful. A real sicko, Brudos would abduct women, rape them and then after killing them, have sex with the body several times.
Known as ‘The Lust Killer’ and ‘The Shoe Fetish Slayer’ because of his perverse attraction to his victims; he would murder his victims and keep their shoes. Brudos kept other trophies from his victims, such as amputated breasts and a foot. After committing a murder, he would dress up in high heels and masturbate.
He liked to take photographs of the bodies and on at least one occasion, photographed one of his victims alive. Brudos took this photograph of 19-year-old Karen Sprinkler in his basement after kidnapping her from a department store carpark. He made her pose in clothes he had bought before strangling her and dumping her body.
After a body was found and police started to investigate, this eventually led to Brudos’ apprehension and he was sentenced to life in prison on three counts of murder. He died on 28th March 2006 from liver cancer after serving 37 years in prison.
Bonus tit-bit: whilst incarcerated, Brudos accumulated stacks and stacks of shoe catalogues which he claimed were his substitute to porn. Must’ve been some real sticky pages in his cell.
10. Madyson Jamison – Unsolved
Madyson Jamison and her entire family disappeared on 8th October 2009 from their family home in Oklahoma. The family pick-up truck was found abandoned an hour away with personal belongings such as ID, a purse and wallet found inside. $32,000 in cash was also found in the car which led some to speculate drugs were involved. A mobile phone found in the car contained this picture of Madyson which was taken by a rock nearby.
The case went cold until the family’s remains were found on 16th November 2013 and this photograph is believed to have been taken by the unidentified killer. Although there is no proof, police support this theory and Madyson’s aunt upon viewing the photo, claimed Madyson looks to be distressed and perhaps looking towards her parents.
This picture raises so many questions. If the family were murdered, why would the killer take this photograph of Madyson? I get kidnap-ransom-proof of life photograph vibes from the whole thing but it’s way too mysterious to figure out. There is also a theory that the father murdered the family and then himself, but if that were the case, why would he take this picture of Madyson if he knew he wasn’t going to be around to look at it? Regardless, the case remains unsolved and all that is left is to mourn the dead.
All of these photographs are truly haunting, and some in particular have definitely gotten under my skin. So many lives lost to heartless killers and it’s so terrifying to think that whilst these victims were frantically trying to stay alive, their murderers had time to mess about with a camera and take pictures. It’s the casual attitude that is truly disturbing.
Right I’m off to watch some videos of kittens after that. For more serial killer pictures, remember that guy who sells creepy artwork created by convicted killers?