Seeing these serial killers attempt to justify, or in some cases, lie their way through their crimes, spotlights them in a shameful humility, caught up in their own stories and explanations of rationale. Some are convincing, entertaining, or just plain vile, but all of them allow a peek into the twisted minds of some of the most notorious cold blooded killers.
It's interesting to get a look inside the heads of the most notorious serial killers ever as an attempt to understand what made them take the lives of others, but just as their crimes are incomprehensible, their explanations are often just as baffling.
As chilling as these stories of murder, rape, dismemberment and much worse are, there is comfort that these convicted killers, if still alive, are locked away to never hurt anyone ever again.
Issei Sagawa became a notorious semi-celebrity in his native Japan in 1981 after killing and eating a Dutch exchange student named Renee Hartevelt. (After inviting Hartevelt to his apartment in Paris to read and study poetry, he shot her in the neck, had sex with her corpse and then spent two days carving up and eating her body.) Sagawa later said that he had hoped, by eating the beautiful Hartevelt, that he would absorb some of her healthy energy.
Initially imprisoned in France for the crime, he was later extradited in Japan, where his crime became a subject of intense public fascination. The above is a documentary film about Sagawa's that aired in Scandinavia in the 1980s called "Cannibal Superstar." The scariest bit? Sagawa is currently a free man, living in Tokyo and working as a writer, restaurant reviewer (!!!) and guest speaker. see more on Issei Sagawa
Convicted of the rape and murder of 33 men and teenage boys between 1972 and 1978, John Wayne Gacy was also known by his daytime career pseudonym of "Pogo the Clown."
Wayne was a father, a husband, a businessman and an active, well-liked member of the local community. That is, until 26 corpses were found buried in the crawlspace of his home in Chicago, Illinois. The rest of his victims were buried elsewhere on his property or discarded in a nearby river.
Gacy, a determined sociopath, claimed to have no remorse for his crimes, and until the end of his life remained in complete denial about them. In this clip, Gacy becomes confused by his own tangled web of lies, and in his determined attempt to keep his story straight, he makes a crucial slip-up that was now captured for posterity.Fast forward to the 4:10 mark to see Gacy try to cover it up his blunder by telling the interviewer "Oh! Ok, I'm sorry if I led you to believe that. Strike it then. That is wrong." He's visibly seen realizing his mistake when the interviewer, Walter Jacobson, informs him of his slip up. Though he can probably "strike" out his own memories or truths for his own advantage, the memory and permanence of film does not change and Gacy was ultimately executed on orders of the Supreme Court by lethal injection. see more on John Wayne Gacy
By far the most infamous serial cult leader of our time, Charles Manson's penchant for leadership is due in part to his persuasive, outrageous and street smart character. In the video, interviewer Heidi Schulman gets to the heart of who Manson believes himself to be and his justification for the crimes he believes he didn't commit.
Amidst a barrage of incredibly outrageous claims and obscenities, the 2:23 mark pretty much sums up the obscene yet cartoonish worldview that defines Manson. He says, "if I wanted to kill somebody, I'd take this book and beat you to death with it. And I wouldn't feel a thing. It'd be just like walking to the drug store."
His self-proclaimed lack of emotion and human sympathy is both astonishing and frightening. But it's perhaps his frankness and bleak unapologetic view of human nature that's somehow managed to captivated and manipulate a cult following.Manson's closing line does seem somehow genuine, and may have been intended to gain sympathy from his audience. He declares, "I've been with prostitutes and bums and winos all my life. The street is my world. I don't pretend to go uptown and be anything fancy. I can, but I find more real in the world that I'm in than I do the tinsel, and the real world is the one I have to deal with everyday." A peculiarly heartfelt declaration from a man with no heart. see more on Charles Manson
Chocolate factory employee and seemingly mild-mannered Jeffrey Dahmer was accused of killing, raping, torturing, dismembering and even in some cases eating a total of 17 victims between 1978 and 1991.
Dahmer's calm, controlled and polite attitude throughout this 1994 interview with Stone Phillips shows no indication of a man capable of committing the crimes he's describing. Though evidently aware of his mistakes and regretful of his actions, he gives us and Phillipsan idea as to the sort of satisfaction he fulfilled, sexual gratification he felt while dominating and subduing his victims.
A chilling recount of his first murder in 1978 in a hotel room involving a man he met at a bar is vaguely described at the three-minute mark of the clip. "When I woke up in the morning, my forearms were bruised," Dahmer said. "And his chest was bruised, blood was coming out of his mouth, he was hanging over the side of the bed, and I have no memory of beating him to death, but I must have."
Dahmer admits to striving for total control over his victims, a large part of the reason why he committed the crimes, and when Phillips questions him about the pleasure he acquires from the actual act of killing his victims at the 6:06 mark, Dahmer replies, "the killing was just a means to an end, that was the least satisfactory part, I didn't enjoy doing that. That's why I tried to create living zombies with muriatic acid and the drill. But it never worked."There's no telling what kind of zombie apocalypse would have occurred if Dahmer's intricate zombie scheme did work out, but let's just be glad that he wasn't as proficient in his zombie manufacturing skills as he was in manslaughter. see more on Jeffrey Dahmer