While lots of serial killers have relented and confessed to their crimes after being picked up by police, very few have actually turned themselves in to the authorities, presumably because they're afraid they'll receive a death sentence or life in prison. However, a small number of serial killers have turned themselves in willingly, often because they are overcome by feelings of remorse, fear, and guilt. These killers who confessed to the police risked execution or spending the rest of their lives in jail in order to clear their consciences. Other killers turned themselves in because they knew the police were closing in on them and they figured the jig was almost up. And at least one murderer on this list may have confessed by mistake while complaining to police about another matter. Read on for a list of serial killers who surrendered, and what they did next.
In November 1998, 36-year-old trucker Wayne Adam Ford entered a Eureka, California, sheriff's office and confessed to sexually assaulting and murdering four women. According to Ford, the victims were mainly hitchhikers he'd picked up and killed while he was driving across the country for work in 1997 and 1998.
However, Ford (who claimed he had been urged by his brother and God to turn himself in) must have suspected officials wouldn't believe his confession, because he brought along proof in the form of a severed breast that he had placed in a plastic bag and stuck in the pocket of his jacket. On June 27, 2006, Ford, who police suspect may have murdered a number of other victims, was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to death.
Javed Iqbal Confessed To Killing And Dismembering 100 Children To Get Back At The Police
In November 1999, Javed Iqbal, a wealthy 38-year-old businessman, walked into a police station in Pakistan and confessed to murdering 100 children, many of them runaways and beggars who he had sexually assaulted and strangled with a chain. After murdering his victims, Iqbal cut their corpses into tiny pieces and dissolved their remains in vats of acid he kept in his apartment.
Incredibly, the police dismissed Iqbal's confession as a fabrication and he wasn't taken seriously until a letter he sent to a local newspaper caused reporters and officers to search his home and uncover evidence of the killings, including piles of children's shoes and clothing. On December 30, 1999, Iqbal, who was by that time wanted by law enforcement, turned himself in again at the offices of a local newspaper; he was arrested and charged with murdering 100 children in a bizarre act of "revenge" against the police for, he claims, ignoring earlier complaints he had filed after he was badly beaten by two young men.
At his trial, Iqbal pleaded not guilty to the charges, but he was convicted in 2000 and sentenced to death, with the judge ordering for him to be strangled, cut into pieces, and placed in acid. However, Iqbal escaped this fate: He was found dead in his cell on October 9, 2001, from an apparent suicide that some officials have deemed suspicious.
On April 23, 1973, 24-year-old Edmund Kemper called the Santa Cruz, California, police from a pay phone in Pueblo, Colorado, to confess to the murders of his mother, her best friend, and six other young women, many of them students who had been hitchhiking when they encountered the 6-foot-9-inch killer.
However, the police (who were well-acquainted with Kemper because he was a regular at a bar that was popular with law enforcement) didn't believe his confession, and he had to call them repeatedly in order to convince them of his guilt. Unbeknownst to the officers who had thought of Kemper as harmless, he had recently gotten out of a maximum-security facility, where he had spent several years for murdering his grandparents when he only 15.
Kemper was arrested and charged with eight counts of first-degree murder, and on November 8, 1973, he was found guilty of the crimes and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Kemper has been denied parole at every opportunity, however, and he remains in prison.
On July 13, 1999, Ángel Maturino Reséndiz handed himself over to Texas law enforcement officials at the urging of his sister, who had been communicating with police after learning her brother was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list. Reséndiz, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, regularly crossed the border into America by traveling illegally on freight trains, and the authorities believe he killed at least nine victims over the course of more than a decade.
Reséndiz was called the Railroad Killer, in part because of his mode of transportation, but also because many of his suspected victims' bodies were found near railway lines. Reséndiz was tried for the killing of 39-year-old Dr. Claudia Benton, and he was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death on May 24, 2000. Reséndiz was executed by lethal injection on June 27, 2006.
Mack Ray Edwards Turned Himself In After His Intended Victims Escaped
On March 6, 1970, 50-year-old Mack Ray Edwards walked into a Los Angeles police station and confessed to sexually assaulting and murdering six children over the course of a 20-year period. Edwards decided to admit to the killings because he and a teenage accomplice had abducted three sisters ranging in age from 12 to 14 earlier that day, but two of the girls had escaped and another had been rescued. Fearing the sisters would report the kidnapping to the authorities, Edwards decided to turn himself in.
He was convicted of three murders and given a death sentence. However, before officials were able to find evidence to charge him with these additional crimes, Edwards hanged himself in his cell on October 30, 1971.
- Photo: Pinnacle Books
Robert Bruce Spahalski Turned Himself In, Much To The Surprise Of His Killer Twin
In November 2005, 51-year-old Robert Bruce Spahalski walked into a Rochester, New York, police station and confessed to killing his 54-year-old neighbor and friend Vivian Irizarry, claiming he felt guilty about strangling the woman and wanted to clear his conscience. Then Spahalski admitted to murdering three other victims between 1990 and 1991, blaming hallucinations and disputes over money for the killings.
Most surprisingly, Robert Spahalski wasn't the only confessed murderer in his family: His twin brother Stephen had admitted to killing a man when he was 16, served eight years for manslaughter, and was in prison for violating his parole when Robert was arrested. Robert Spahalski was convicted of the murders, and on December 13, 2006, he was sentenced to 100 years in prison for his crimes.