L The List
- 3By 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.
- 5David Berkowitz looks like your average middle-aged, schlubby goofball. You probably wouldn't guess, context aside, that he's serving six consecutive life sentences in prison for the murder of six people (not to mention the wounding of several others) between the years of 1976 and 1977. And yet, here we are.
Berkowitz was captured in 1977, as he was allegedly en route to committing another murder. Interviews with various psychologists revealed that he likely was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and that he believed himself to be part of a Satanic cult under direct orders from the Devil. (He had subbed himself the "Son of Sam," referring to a dog - Harvey - owned by his neighbor, Sam Carr. Berkowitz thought the dog was possessed by a demon who had instructed him to kill.) Though, obviously, Berkowitz was experiencing delusions, some law enforcement experts have theorized that there may have been other Satanists who had committed some of the "Son of Sam" crimes. Berkowitz confessed, but some of the "Son of Sam" shootings remain open cases.
In this interview, Berkowitz recounts his past contract with the devil and satanic rituals, claiming that they are all entirely behind him. He insists that he is a changed person, saying, "my job was to be a soldier for the devil, and to bring destruction. Ultimately that good would become of it, and that would help bring about the apocalypse, the end of the world, so God would establish his kingdom of peace."
Today, Berkowitz is still alive and resides in Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York. He claims to be a born again Christian, and even maintains his own website through a third party source, as he notes that he is not allowed access to a computer. In 2006, Berkowitz released a memoir titled, "Son of Hope: The Prison Journals of David Berkowitz." He claims he receives no money from its publication.
- 10Dennis Lynn Rader of Wichita, Kansas, called himself as the "BTK Killer" in reference to his preferred crimes - "Bind, Torture, Kill."
Between the years 1974 and 1991, Rader killed 10 people (men and women), all in the state of Kansas. (He had allegedly learned how to get around home security systems while working as an installer for ADT Security Services.) He also liked to send taunting messages to the local police boasting about his crimes and demanding media attention. Though his last murder is believed to have taken place in 1994, Rader was not captured until 2005, after he had resumed sending out letters as BTK.
In the end, he was undone by technology - he did not realize a floppy disk he sent to police could be analyzed to determine things like his first name and location. The metadata on the disk led police right to him.
Though there are few new revelations in this interview Rader did with NBC News, it does give the viewer some kind of insight into his motives and madness. For example, Rader states in reference to the origins of his slaughters, "I actually think I may be possessed with demons. I was dropped on my head as a kid."
He also describes his meticulous preparations for the murder, which often involved stalking his victims and then waiting for them in their own homes. (On occasion, potential victims would alter their plans, thus evading BTK without even knowing how close they had come.) He conceded, upon his capture, that he had planned to begin killing again, and had already started to stalk his next victim.
Thankfully, Rader is safely locked away in prison having been sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences. At the earliest, he will be eligible for parole in 2180.
- 7Edmund Kemper, known as the "Co-Ed Killer," murdered five hitchhiking college girls between May of 1972 and February of the following year. After the killings, he would often put the corpses to perverse use, engaging in oral sex with the women's severed heads or posing them for "pornographic" film shoots.
Kemper's first two victims had been his grandparents, whom he had shot to death at age 15 (purportedly just to find out what it would feel like.) His killing spree ended on Good Friday of 1973, when he beat his mother to death with a hammer, mutilated her corpse and then killed his mother's best friend for good measure. He had planned to escape in his car, but then turned himself in to police after hearing a report about his crimes on the radio.
Kemper's calm, matter-of-fact demeanor and well-spokenness likely relates to his high IQ, and his sociopathy. Fast forward to the 3:30 mark for Kemper's chilling details regarding his state of mind after dismembering bodies, and his thought process when speaking to a detached head.
Kemper ends the interview with these final words: "I am an American and I killed Americans. I am a human being and I killed human beings. And I did it in my society."
- 9Gary Ridgway became known as the "Green River Killer" after the Washington river where his first few strangulation victims were found. His typical MO involved picking up women on the road, earning their trust, having sex with them (either consensual or forcibly), strangling them with his bare arms or ligatures, and then dumping them around the forested areas of Kings County, Washington.
His massacre went on from the 1980s to early 1990s, and is thought to have claimed the lives of 70 to 90 women (mainly prostitutes and runaways.) Ridgway confessed to the crimes, but concedes that he killed so frequently, he lost count of the total.
In this interview, the Green River Killer details his ploy of using a photo of his son to win his victim's sympathy and trust. He also discusses an incident when he picked up a victim with his son in the car.
"I killed her," he said. "And I'm real sure my son didn't see it."
- 1Issei 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.