While many serial killers have disturbing monikers like the "Night Stalker," the "Suffolk Strangler," and the "Blood Countess," others have been given weird, absurd, and even funny nicknames that fail to communicate the seriousness and severity of their crimes. Some serial murderers have given themselves terrifying nicknames or received these frightening monikers from the public, law enforcement, or the press, while others go by aliases that sound like rejected names for Batman villains or low-level members of the mafia.
Even though the sobriquets these serial killers were given or chose for themselves aren't particularly frightening, the horrifying reality is that the crimes they committed were no less terrifying, despite the ridiculousness of their nicknames. And, somehow, the gap between the two makes their crimes stand out in even starker contrast.
From 1974 to 1975, 14 men, most of them members of the gay community, were stabbed to death in San Francisco, California, leading many to attribute these murders to a single perpetrator. Officials believed the killer met most of his victims in gay bars and restaurants in the city’s Castro District, and the unidentified perpetrator was given the nickname the "Doodler" because he reportedly drew portraits of men on cocktail napkins before murdering them.
With the help of victims who survived the Doodler’s attacks, the police released an e-fit of the suspect, indicating he was a young black man (leading some to call him the "Black Doodler"), but he has never been identified or apprehended.
The press and law enforcement received some criticism from people who believe they failed to adequately cover and investigate the killings, largely because the victims were homosexual men. Some of the surviving victims, who hadn’t come out to their employers and families, refused to cooperate with the police because they were afraid of the consequences they would suffer if people found out they were gay. The Doodler has never been identified, and the authorities believe he murdered his last victim, 66-year-old sailor Harald Gullberg, whose partially decomposed corpse was discovered on June 24, 1975.
For more than two years, a serial killer terrorized the people of Manhattan, stabbing four Black and Hispanic boys to death and mutilating their genitals with a knife or a razor, leading the neighborhood children to give the unidentified murderer the nickname "Charlie Chop-Off."
On May 15, 1974, the authorities arrested Erno Soto when he tried to kidnap a boy, and he confessed to killing 8-year-old Steven Cropper, one of the victims attributed to Charlie Chop-Off, in 1973. Soto stood trial for the murder of Cropper, and he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a psychiatric hospital. While some people question whether Soto actually murdered the young boys attributed to Charlie Chop-Off, the murders stopped after the trial, and a surviving victim said the accused killer looked very similar to the man who attacked him.
Robert Nixon allegedly confessed to the murders of five victims, three women and two girls, in Los Angeles, California, after he was arrested in Chicago, Illinois. Because the victims were beaten to death with a brick and Nixon, who was Black, was portrayed as stupid by the media, he was dubbed the “Brick Moron.” Some of the press coverage of Nixon’s trial included racist terminology that likened him to an ape and argued that his appearance revealed his ferocity, while members of the Black community questioned whether the accused killer had actually given an uncoerced confession.
Nixon was eventually found guilty of killing Florence Castle, and on June 16, 1939, the 20 year old was executed in the electric chair in Chicago. Author Richard Wright, who had been deeply disturbed by the way Nixon was portrayed in the media and treated by law enforcement and the courts, wrote Native Son, a novel about a poor Black man convicted of murder in Chicago, as a response to the case.
In the early hours of June 15, 1969, a man, who laughed and identified himself as the “Giggler” called the Boston Police Department to report the body of a dead man in a construction site, leading law enforcement to discover the corpse of Joseph Breen. The call had been placed by Kenneth Harrison, Breen’s killer and the person who had murdered a 6-year-old girl years earlier in 1967 by throwing her off of a bridge. Before he was captured, Harrison killed two more victims in 1969: Kenneth Martin, a young boy he strangled to death with twine, and Clover Parker, an elderly woman he tossed off of a bridge.
Thankfully, Harrison was arrested after a witness remembered seeing him near the area where Martin’s body was found, and he confessed to killing the boy, as well as the other murders. The killer - who named himself the Giggler - was given one life sentence in 1970 and three additional life sentences in 1972, but in 1989, he took his own life by overdosing on prescription medication while at the Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane.