Some jobs are stressful enough to send a person over the edge - or "go postal," if you will. But have you ever wondered where that phrase comes from? This slang term refers to an uncontrollable anger which can lead to violence, particularly in a workplace environment. And it came to be in 1986, when an Oklahoma mail caller named Pat Sherrill walked into the post office and gunned down 20 people before taking his life.
There are a surprising amount of serial killers who worked for the postal service. These criminals who worked for the post office carried a lot more than just mail - they carried the desire to kill. From the Son of Sam to the Bra Killer, these famous post office workers sometimes used their position as federal employees to kill unsuspecting people. And while some are more famous than others, these murderous acts are seriously shocking.
Serial killer David Berkowitz terrorized the city of New York in 1976 and 1977. A shy loner, he was employed by the U.S. Postal Service after an honorable discharge from the military in 1974. In the summer of 1976, the Son of Sam killed five women and one man, and wounded seven others before his capture. He is currently serving six life sentences in prison.
It was during the time Berkowitz was employed by the Postal Service he was engaging on his vicious killing spree. In fact, Berkowitz said in 1999, had he not become a serial killer, he would have loved to work for the post office into his retirement. He told the New York Times he could have seen himself "married with a wife and kids in the suburbs, making a living, working in the post office."
Robert Shulman, a postal worker and serial killer, was responsible for the bludgeoning deaths and dismemberment of five sex workers on Long Island, NY, in the early 1990s. He would discard their bodies in various locations around Hicksville, NY. He was eventually caught when a witness to one of his crimes spotted Shulman's brother's blue Cadillac around the area. They used this information to track down the type of sleeping bag one of Shulman's victims was found in and link it to a purchase he made at a Sears department store.
One of his confessed victims, a 'Jane Doe' from Yonkers, has yet to be identified. In 2018, Yonkers police released an updated artist's rendering of the victim in hopes of discovering her identity.
He was sentenced to death which was later rescinded to life without the possibility of parole after New York’s death penalty was overturned. Called “one of the few, true serial killers that I've ever come across" by former Suffolk County District Attorney James Catterson, Shulman died of natural causes in 2006.
In 1986, after being reprimanded by his supervisors for misdirected mail and tardiness for the umpteenth time, petulant postman Patrick “Crazy Pat” Sherrill finally had enough. The day after his scolding, he returned to the Edmond, OK, post office wearing his blue mailman’s uniform and toting three pistols and ammo in his mailbag. Without a word, he began shooting. He killed 14 people and wounded six before taking his own life. The Sherrill murders inspired usage of the term “going postal.”
After the shooting, neighbors told police he was a weird guy who was not well liked. He was a quiet loner who served in the U.S. Marines and hated children.
In 1993, disgruntled former poster worker Mark Hilbun - who was also infatuated with a fellow employee - stabbed his mother and her dog before opening fire on the Dana Point, CA, post office where he was once employed. There, he murdered a letter carrier and injured a postal clerk.
The whole ordeal started in 1992. Hilbun was hired at the Dana Point post office and became infatuated with a woman named Kim Springer. She filed multiple complaints against him. The final straw came when Hilbun showed up to work blaring a radio and wearing underwear on the outside of his pants, after which he was promptly fired. But that didn't stop him from harassing her. She obtained a restraining order, agitating him more. And when he filed an appeal of his termination and lost, he got progressively more angry.
A month later he went on his rampage. He tried unsuccessfully to kidnap Springer, who hid under her mail case. He went on a three-day crime spree, shooting at random people and avoiding police, before he was apprehended 30 miles north in Huntington Beach, CA, at a bar.