We’ve talked previously about the sheer number of serial killers who favour photographs as a way to capture a sick memento of their heinous crimes, but what other nasty souvenirs have serial killers opted for over the years?
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Killers and especially serial killers have often been found with macabre collections of various trophies from their victims. Having possession of such trophies enables the killer to revisit and relive their crimes again and again and they are able to achieve the same pleasure or thrill that they had at the time of the murder.
These souvenirs have often helped secure convictions as they link to their victims and often place the murderer at the crime scene. Obviously the best way to avoid detection would be to abstain from taking anything from their victims, but they often just can’t help themselves and have a twisted compulsion to do so.
From items of clothing to body parts, we explore 10 of the most messed up trophies collected by serial killers.
Let’s kick-start with a name pretty much everyone will recognise. The charismatic campus killer and necrophile Ted Bundy is known to have used his good looks and charm to lure at least 36 women to their deaths between 1973 and 1978.
Bundy would rape and bludgeon his victims and carried out his crimes across 6 different states which played a role in how long it took to apprehend him, not to mention he escaped twice whilst in police custody.
Bundy had a penchant for decapitating his victims and placing their heads on display in his apartment. He would sometimes do their makeup and wash and brush their hair and told detectives, “If you’ve got the time, they can be anything you want them to be.”
At least 12 of his victims met this fate and had the sick honour of becoming one of his display heads. Still can’t believe he had so many female fans.
2. Chessboard Squares
Russian serial killer Alexander Pichushkin killed over 49 people between 1992 and 2006 and once said, “Life without murder is like a life for you without food”. Not fussy, he killed men and women and his weapon of choice was a hammer.
Pichushkin claimed he wanted to kill enough people to fill a chessboard and he was dubbed “The Chessboard Killer”. Some of his victims were men he had previously played chess with in the park. Pichushkin’s trophies were chessboard squares and he would add the date the victim had died to each square.
Police found a chessboard with 61 squares marked off which leads them to believe his victim count was actually much higher than 49 and Pichushkin himself confessed to 61 murders. He must have been peeved he was only 3 kills away from the 64 squares on a chessboard.
3. Camping Equipment
Ivan Milat, known as “The Backpack Killer”, inspired the movie Wolf Creek after killing at least 7 backpackers in Australia between 1989 and 1992. His trademark move was to stab his victims in the spine, paralysing them so he could continue to stab the rest of their bodies until they died. The paralysing scene in Wolf Creek still makes my stomach turn.
Sexual assault was likely as Milat’s victims were often found with their trousers undone, however due to the state of their bodies this could never be confirmed for certain.
As for his souvenirs, Milat held onto several pieces of camping gear from his victims including sleeping bags, clothing, flasks and other camping bits and pieces. A classic case of where trophies were the undoing of a killer as his collection helped secure his conviction, putting an end to his murderous spree.
Anatoly Onoprienko was a Ukranian serial killer known as “The Beast of Ukraine” or the “Terminator”. That last one says it all really as Onoprienko confessed to 52 murders, but 43 of these were over a six month period which is just nuts if you think about it.
Like something out of a horror movie, Onoprienko described how he would find an isolated house and start by terrorising the inhabitants before breaking in and slaughtering everybody inside. Gun, axe or hammer, he wasn’t precious about his method of murder and would burn the house down afterwards.
When eventually caught in 1996, he retold his crimes in horrific detail to authorities and when his house was searched, police found over 100 items belonging to his victims.
In particular, and by far his main trophy was that he had kept the underwear from each of his female victims. And get ready to shudder, he even gifted several of these knickers to his girlfriend at the time for her to wear. Just so much nope.
Jewellery, cufflinks and necklaces with heart-shaped pendants are just some of the trophies that were discovered in Joseph DeAngelo’s California home. Dubbed “The Golden State Killer”, DeAngelo is an ex-cop and is believed to be responsible for at least 12 murders and more than 50 rapes in California between 1975 and 1986.
DeAngelo was only arrested in 2018 at the age of 72 thanks to a cold case criminologist flagging him as a potential suspect before police took the reins. Mad that it took 44 years to catch the guy but at least he’s finally paying for his crimes.
It’s quite interesting how they started to compile evidence for an arrest as the detectives initially used DNA submitted to a genealogy website by a distant relative of DeAngelo, before surveilling him until he threw something in the trash with his own DNA which gave them what they needed for the arrest. Who would have ever thought we’d be using those ancestry websites to hunt killers, but I guess it makes sense in this day of technology. Cold case suddenly sounds like a good concept for a TV show.
Creepy added extra: DeAngelo would turn on his TV, put it on mute and drape a towel over it to supposedly mimic the glow of the 70s and then go through his many trophies in the dim light.
More body parts now, well bodily fluids I suppose. Ahmad Suradji was a traditional sorcerer in Indonesia offering spiritual advice and practices to his clients.
Should you have been a woman who came to him to ask for supernatural help in making yourself richer or more attractive however, you would have likely ended up as one of Suradji’s victims. Suradji is slightly different to many serial killers as he killed for powers rather than pleasure.
Suradji killed 42 women from as young as 11 years old up to 30 years old between 1986 and 1997. His method was pretty horrific as he would bury the women up to their waist as part of a ritual before strangling them with a cable. He would then bury their bodies with their heads facing his house to give him special powers. Proper messed up in the mental health department by the sounds of it.
Suradji claimed he had a dream in 1988 in which his father’s ghost visited him and instructed him to kill 70 women and drink their saliva and if he did so, he could become a mystic healer. Slightly different in that he didn’t keep vials of saliva knocking about the house but would drain and drink the woman’s saliva after each murder, thus maintaining all of his victims within him.
So sort of spiritual trophies I guess? Yuck. Fortunately he was caught and was executed in 2008.
Consider yourself lucky you didn’t exist as a young female during the time of Elizabeth Bathory. The Slovakian “Blood Countess” committed copious bloody murders during the 15th and 16th centuries and has been described as the most vicious female serial killer in history with the names of 650 victims found in her home.
Several torture devices were also found inside her home and Bathory’s victims were generally young female peasants and farmer’s daughters, but eventually escalated to include young women sent to learn good manners. A thoroughly sadistic woman, Bathory enjoyed stabbing her victims, biting their breasts and other body parts, cutting them with scissors and sticking needles into their lips and under their nails. She would also burn them with hot irons and other items before eventually beating the girl to death or leaving them to starve or freeze.
It is alleged Bathory kept her victims’ blood as trophies so she could consume it and allegedly even bathe in it to maintain her youth and enhance her beauty. It is rather disturbingly fitting that she was part of the family that ruled Transylvania at the time. She is only outrivalled by Count Dracula in her vampire infamy.
Another name most will recognise; Jeffrey Dahmer murdered and dismembered 17 people between 1978 and 1991 and was nicknamed “The Milwaukee Cannibal” because he liked to chow down on his victims as well as engage in necrophilia.
His victims were young men and boys and Dahmer performed home-made lobotomies in a bizarre attempt to turn his victims into zombies so they couldn’t leave him.
When he was eventually caught, police found his trophy collection in the form of genitals preserved in acetone along with some heads and skulls.
Perhaps the most disturbing incident regarding Jeffrey Dahmer is when Konerak Sinthasomphone escaped from Dahmer’s apartment, only to be sent back to his death after Dahmer convinced two police officers that Konerak was his boyfriend and was incoherent due to taking recreational drugs.
Despite two black women protesting how terrified the boy had been – in perhaps a stark reminder of the times – the officers believed the well-spoken white man and additionally, didn’t want to get involved in what they believed to be a homosexual relationship. They left Sinthasomphone in Dahmer’s apartment before he was immediately strangled by Dahmer who then had sex with his corpse and made his skull into one of his trophies.
This is still so frustrating due to the utterly avoidable waste of life due to deep-rooted prejudice.
Only convicted of one murder but suspected of at least 2 others, Charles Albright was known as the “The Eyeball Killer”, his murders occurred between 1990 and 1991. Anything to do with eyes always makes me squirm and this is certainly no exception.
Albright had an abnormal obsession with eyes and would scratch the eyes out of photographs and remove the eyes from dolls.All three victims were found with their eyes gouged out which Albright allegedly took as souvenirs.
At least they managed to get the conviction for at least one of the murders and Albright received a life sentence for the murder of Shirley Williams, with the other two murders being used as evidence in Williams’ trial.
10. Various Personal Belongings
“The Co-ed Killer” Edmund Kemper is another notorious serial killer convicted of killing 10 people during the 70s as well as having shot his grandparents in 1964 in California.
The six foot, nine inch tall man would often go ‘hunting’ after arguments with his mother and would pick up female students who were hitchhiking. He would then take them to an isolated rural area and stab, shoot or suffocate them. He would then take the body back to his apartment and have sex with the corpse before dismembering them.
Kemper had no fixed preference for his trophies and instead opted for a variety of different things, presumably whatever took his fancy at the time. Items found in his possession included family photographs, notebooks, ID cards and a hairbrush amongst other things.
Eventually Kemper acted on his deep hatred of his mother and killed her. He really went to town for his final murders as he battered his mother to death with a pick hammer while she was sleeping before decapitating her and having sex with her headless body. He also used her head as a dartboard before stuffing her vocal chords down the garbage disposal. Before he was done, he called his mother’s best friend over and killed her too before driving off.
In typical serial killer fame seeking fashion, he was annoyed when he heard nothing of his crimes on the radio so he called the police and confessed to being “The Co-ed Killer” and waited to be picked up. He asked for the death penalty but due to capital punishment being suspended at the time, got given life imprisonment.
It’s disturbing to picture these murderers pawing through their collections and getting all excited about their horrific crimes. The only good thing is where convictions have come as a result of their creepy collections.
Something that seems to be a key part of being a serial killer is getting a cool serial killer nickname in the media. Perhaps if the press started nicknaming killers really lame things like “The Tiny Dick Killer” it would stop them being so proud.
For the killers who preferred photographic trophies, check out these haunting pictures taken of victims before their murders.