A fair warning, the first story in this article contains some disturbing pictures. Please consider closing your browser if squeamish.
Robert Berdella wasn’t the most prolific of serial killers but thanks to his habit of transcribing his actions and taking pictures as he maimed his victims, he certainly is one of the better documented crazies. Berdella was born in Ohio in 1949 where he attended Catholic Church thru his teen years. His father died suddenly when Berdella was 16 and his mother remarried soon after, setting off an inner rage in her son. He claims to have been sexually assaulted by a male co-worker around this time and that forced him into becoming even more of a loner than he was previously. Berdella would later say that he saw a movie during this period about a woman who was kidnapped and held captive in a man’s basement. The content made a lasting impression on him.
His college years in the late sixties saw Berdella dabble in animal torture on at least three occasions with a duck, a dog and a chicken. He also became a drug dealer for a spell before settling on becoming a chef. Eventually as the 80’s rolled in Berdella embraced his homosexual leanings and began to date a string of men and hanging out with male prostitutes.
Berdella’s murder spree started on July 5th, 1984 in Kansas City, Missouri. On that day he took a 19-year-old male prostitute he was dating named Jerry Howell into his house, fed him sedatives that were meant for animals and then bound him to a bed. He raped and tortured Howell, taking notes and pictures along the way. Finally after a long night of suffering, Berdella choked Howell to death.
Another man named Robert Sheldon was to stay with Berdella for a few days as a favor but Robert’s tendencies took over and Sheldon ended up drugged and held in bondage in his “friend’s” basement. For some reason Berdella decided to stop his torture session and actually took Sheldon to the doctor. Bizarrely, Sheldon did not seek help and instead returned to Berdella’s home where he ended up back in the basement as an unwilling victim of Berdella’s fantasies. When work needed to be done on Berdella’s home, he had little choice but to kill Sheldon in order to prevent him from screaming for help. A while after that incident, a local man named Mark Wallace came to help Berdella with some yard work. Berdella ended up drugging, torturing and killing him over the course of a few hours. Three months later, a man from a local gay bar named James Ferris came home with Berdella and endured the same fate as the others.
In June of 1986, 21-year-old Todd Stoops became the next man kidnapped and forced into participating in Berdella’s sick fetishes. Stoops was kept for a full six weeks, during which time Berdella used electric shocks to various parts of his anatomy, burnt his eyes with an electrified spatula, penetrated Stoops’ anus with his whole fist, injected drain cleaner into his vocal cords and dabbed bleach into Stoops’ eyes with cotton swabs. Stoops eventually died from a combination of infection and blood loss.
The following year Berdella bailed a man named Larry Pearson out of jail and quickly sedated him and brought him into his cellar of Hell. Pearson found himself enduring the same fate as those who came before him, surviving a full six weeks before being strangled. One final known victim was picked up in March of 1988. He was a prostitute named Chris Bryson. Bryson was locked in the basement and suffered like the rest, however, one day when Berdella was at work Bryson managed to break free of his binds and escaped the house wearing nothing but a dog collar around his neck. The police were called in and Berdella’s dungeon became known to all.
In addition to the torture diaries and the pictures, police also found a skull buried in the yard, and another skull in a closet. Berdella revealed the rest of the bodies had been drained of their blood, dismembered with knives and chainsaws and dumped off at the city landfill. They were never recovered. Berdella eventually made a full confession in exchange for having the death penalty removed as a possible punishment at his trial.
In a wild final note, several people came forward after Berdella was arrested and told police they had actually seen him months earlier in a state of severe intoxication at a bar and offered to drive him home. On the way to his place, Berdella told them stories of how he kidnapped and tortured men in his home. The driver and his friends assumed this was just the rambling of a drunk and didn’t believe him and thus never reported Berdella to the cops.
Sam Borg was the sixty-seven-year old owner of a Maltese club in Northern Melbourne. The place was known for illegal gambling taking place and money was said to flow freely there. At the end of May in 1960, Borg abruptly seemed to not leave his home for several days, leading to a concerned friend coming over for a wellness check. The house was locked and bolted shut. Police were called in and they used a ladder to enter a window. Inside the room they discovered Borg’s body wrapped in sheets. He had been battered around the head and had clearly been dead for days. A chair leg was eventually found to be the murder weapon. Borg’s body was found in his guest bedroom shoved under the bed – but even more bizarre was the fact that the room had been nailed shut from the inside. A loaded gun and a fair amount of cash were found hiding in his actual bedroom but the police believe the murderer made off with over $1000 dollars. Police theorize the the thief boarded up the bedroom and left through the skylight in the room, but no one could really understand why. Forty people were interviewed by the authorities but no arrests were ever made in this case.
The Atlas Vampire
In Stockholm, Sweden in May of 1932 a prostitute by the name of Lilly Lindestrom was not seen for making her rounds multiple days in a row. When her friends expressed concern, the police were prompted to bust into her apartment where they found her lying naked face down in her bed. She had been dead for two to three days from blunt force trauma to her skull. Sexual activity had obviously taken place as a used condom was found dangling from her anus. A bloody gravy ladle was found elsewhere in the apartment, and it was at that point that the police realized that Lindestrom’s body had been drained of a massive amount of blood. The authorities believed the ladle was then used to slurp up the visceral liquid. This led to the perp being dubbed the “Atlas Vampire”. Several of the prostitute’s clients were looked into but no one was ever charged with the murder.
John and Connor Lee
The South Lakeland District of Cumbria, England was the site of a fairly pedestrian accident – except for one strange clue. John Lee and his teenage son Connor were driving in early October when they suffered a fatal car wreck in the remote terrain near Windermere. The accident was not uncovered for sixteen days. When the scene was being processed it was noted that the teenage boy had fresh lipstick applied to his lips. A forensic test indicated the lipstick had probably been added upwards of two weeks after the crash and deaths occurred. No one knows who applied it or for what reason. The cause of the wreck was inconclusive.
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