Murderers who role played or made their victims take on a persona are rare, but the phenomenon is nevertheless fascinating. Sometimes, role playing killers put on a false face to manipulate victims. Other times, killers make their victims act like a person from their memories to cope with a disturbed past. Regardless of their reasons for playing pretend, stories of killers who role played are always a chilling topic to discuss.
From the killer who pretended to be a friendly rancher on Craigslist to the man who coerced women into acting as his personal prey, role playing killers develop elaborate means to target and murder their victims. It leaves you wondering, "Who can you really trust?" Even if you know all the obvious signs that a person may be a serial killer, you may still be surprised to one day discover that a seemingly friendly and helpful person actually has sinister intentions. Read on below to discover tales about murderers who role played or made their victims role play.
In 1986, Indonesian serial killer Ahmad Suradji had a dream in which his deceased father appeared and ordered him to kill 70 women. By 1998, his body count was at 42. In a bizarre role playing ritual, Suradji would lure women into a field with the promise he could solve their problems via witchcraft and magic.
Once Suradji had his victims secluded, he would bury them up to their waist as part of the ritual. He would keep up the act and illusion of using magical powers until he decided to kill the victim. He would then strangle the immobile woman and bury her body in the field with her head pointed towards his house. After being caught, Suradji was executed via firing squad in July of 2008.
In a real-life version of the Richard Connell short story, “The Most Dangerous Game,” Alaskan native Robert Hansen decided to hunt people. From 1971 to 1983, he killed 26 women in a bizarre sporting game. A big game hunter, Hansen tired of killing wildlife and decided to make the switch to people.
While his family was out of town to visit relatives, Hansen would cruise strip clubs in Alaska. After requesting lap dances, he would offer women $300 to meet him outside to perform sexual favors. The women who complied were then kidnapped and flown to a remote location in the Alaskan wilderness. Once there, the victims were stripped naked and given a brief head start before Hansen hunted them down and killed them.
Hansen was caught when a victim managed to escape and tell the authorities. Police were given a search warrant to Hansen’s home, where they found guns, ammunition, and the ID cards of several missing women. In 1984, he was sentenced to 461 years plus life in prison.
In this case, both the victim and her killers were forced to role play by the mastermind behind the murder. After their parents separated and their mother was arrested for shoplifting, 16-year-old Sylvia Likens and her sister, Jenny, were sent to live with Gertrude Baniszewski in Indianapolis. Their father, a carnival worker, wanted his girls to live in a more stable environment. This proved to be a fatal error as three months later, Sylvia was dead.
On Baniszewski’s orders, her own children and even the neighborhood kids began to routinely beat and torture Sylvia. Even Jenny was occasionally told to hit her sister. Sylvia herself was forced to engage in sick acts, like stripping naked and shoving soda bottles up her vagina. Eventually, Sylvia was unable to leave the house and was left naked in the basement without access to food or water.
Eventually, Baniszewski forced her 10-year-old daughter and a boy from the neighborhood to burn the words, “I am a prostitute and proud of it,” on Sylvia’s skin with a heated needle. Sylvia attempted to escape and was brutally beaten by Baniszewski. She died three days later due to her injuries, as well as malnutrition. Baniszewski and some of her children served jail time for the crime and Baniszewski died of lung cancer in 1990.
Richard Beasley, known as the Craigslist Killer, took on the persona of a rancher and family man named Jack seeking out a caretaker for his farm. Beasley posted an ad on Craigslist for a caretaker job for a 688-acre Ohio farm. He promised potential employees free room and board as well as $300 a week as pay.
Beasley conducted fake interviews with a series of applicants, playing the part of the friendly and religious Jack, before settling on older, single men as victims. The men were lured onto Beasley’s property with the promise of a job and then released into the Ohio wilderness to be hunted down and killed. Three people were murdered before the fourth victim, Scott Davis, managed to escape and informed authorities of what had occurred. This led to Beasley being arrested and eventually sentenced to death for his crimes.