Friday, November 6, 2009

Criminal Diaries Caught on Paper

Serial killer Jason Massey filled four journals—The Slayer's Books of Death—with writings and sketches imagining how he would fulfill his ambition to become the world's most prolific serial killer. His journals were hidden in a scuffed and rusty red cooler (pictured above right) which was found by a hiker who was walking through the woods. Opening it, the man was shocked to find the skulls of several dozen animals — 31 in all. With them, bagged in plastic, were four red and yellow spiral notebooks filled with a crooked, ominous script labeled The Slayer's Book of Death: The thoughts of Jason Massey, with each volume labeled one through four. The hiker knew enough about Massey, then on trial for two murders, to realize that this was an important piece of evidence, so he called the police.

The journal entries began in 1989 and ended in 1993, the month in which Massey had begun the realization of his fantasies with the double murder of two teenagers in Texas. In the journals, among other things, Massey described killing the dog of a seventh-grade girl, smearing the blood on her car. He also stalked the girl and wrote her threatening letters. More tellingly, Massey's recorded fantasies directly reflected the precise acts committed against the female murder victim in the case for which Massey was on trial. It was like finding the blueprints of an architect.

After reading them, there was no doubt among prosecutors how thoroughly obsessed Massey had been for years with murder and torture. He had wanted to become a "murder machine." During the trial, prosecutors relied on Massey's own words from his journal to prove the aggravating circumstances showing a depraved mind. His greatest ambition, he wrote, was to become America's most famous serial killer. "My goal is 700 people in twenty years."

Folbigg was being investigated in the case of the suspicious crib deaths of her four children when, in a surprising twist, her ex-husband Craig found some of her diaries which he read and gave to police. Apparently Kathleen had kept diaries most of her life, but had thrown most of them away. The ones her ex found obviously had been overlooked when she moved out.

Though some of the entries were merely suspicious, others were undeniably sinister. She wrote about how stress made her do terrible things and spoke of flashes of rage, resentment and hatred toward her children. She wrote of her feelings of remorse: "My guilt of how responsible I feel for them all, haunts me, my fear of it happening again, haunts me...When I think I'm going to lose control like last time I'll just hand baby over to someone else ... This time I'm prepared and know what signals to watch out for in myself. Changes in mood etc."

But one in particular was her undoing. On October 14, 1996, with three of her children already dead, Kathleen made a disturbing diary entry that indicated how the tumultuous events of her childhood had affected her: "Obviously I am my fathers daughter." Her father was a convicted murderer. And soon so was Kathleen.

An inmate tipped off authorities about the jailhouse diary of Jim Holden, who stood trial in Las Vegas for the murder of 19-year-old Michael Panek. In the bizarre 31-page journal, the 25-year-old forklift operator claimed to be a hit man and bragged that Panek's shooting death was a murder-for-hire, not self-defense, as his attorney claimed. Holden was found guilty of murder on August 10, 2005, and faces life in prison without parole.

"The demons have taken over." Convicted sex offender Joseph Duncan wrote the chilling self-diagnosis on his Web blog just days before Dylan and Shasta Groene were kidnapped from their Idaho home. In another entry, Duncan resolved to "harm society as much as I can, then die." Shasta, 8, was rescued six weeks later, but the body of Dylan, 9, was found in a Montana forest. Duncan has been charged with murdering Dylan, Dylan's 13-year-old brother Slade, his mother and his mother's boyfriend, whose bodies were found bound and beaten to death in their home.

Authorities worked hard to separate fact from fiction while investigating the case of alleged child molester Dean Schwartzmiller. The 63-year-old San Jose handyman allegedly documented his crimes and fantasies in a typed memoir and notebooks containing some 36,700 handwritten entries of boys' names, descriptions of their anatomy and code words for suspected sex acts. Schwartzmiller has been charged with two felony counts of child molestation.

When investigators searched the Vancouver home of child killer Westley
Allan Dodd, they discovered a briefcase under his bed containing the folded "Ghostbusters" underwear of Dodd's third victim, four-year-old Lee Iseli. Also inside were Dodd's horrific diaries describing the torture, molestation and brutal murder of three boys. A juror nearly passed out as passages were read aloud in court. Dodd was executed by hanging in Washington on January 5, 1993.

Columbine High School senior Eric Harris (left), 18, kept a diary where he and Dylan Klebold (right), 17, wrote about killing 500 people by invading the school cafeteria, blowing up the school, and then hijacking a plane to New York. Investigators found the diary after the pair killed 12 students and a teacher in April 1999 before killing themselves. Days later, a newspaper received a letter Harris wrote before the killings, blaming the parents, teachers, and students of Columbine for their actions. The teens' journal indicated they had planned the massacre for over a year.

Heartache and jealous rage led Tennessee honor student Jacob Davis to kill his girlfriend's secret lover days before their high school graduation. "I bleed, and for that he should bleed as well," Davis wrote to Tonya Bishop before shooting classmate Nick Creson to death in a parking lot near campus with a .22-caliber rifle. His letters helped convince a jury to convict him of first-degree murder in 1998. He will be 70 years old before he is eligible for parole.

When Margaret Rudin began to suspect that her husband, millionaire Ron Rudin, was having an affair, she secretly recorded his phone conversations and took notes. She also sent anonymous letters to the children of her husband's lover telling them about the affair. Her notes and letters became evidence in her murder trial, convincing a jury that she shot and killed her husband in his sleep and then burned his body. In 2001, Rudin was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

When police searched the home of hippie guru Ira Einhorn after his girlfriend's body was found decomposing in his closet, they also found a written history of his violence against women. During Einhorn's 2002 trial, jurors heard a poem from a journal describing how Einhorn had beaten and choked another ex-lover. The closing line read "In such violence, there may be freedom." The jury deliberated for less than a day before reaching a guilty verdict.

While retired engineer Donald Moringiello sat in a Florida prison awaiting trial for the 2002 murder of his wife, he corresponded with another inmate. Calling his pen pal "Son" and himself "Dad," Moringiello made cryptic references to his wife's murder and bloodstains: "The ice cream that your mother thought was all over the house turned out to be two drops and we don't know when they were dropped." His first trial ended in a hung jury, but at his retrial, jurors found him guilty of murder.

In a crusade against technology, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski sent wooden boxes packed with nails, shrapnel and razor blades to professors, researchers and airlines. For 18 years, Kaczynski killed and maimed unsuspecting victims with the parcels. Kaczynski later proposed a bargain to two newspapers: Print his 65-page "manifesto" or the bombings would continue. The manuscript eventually led David Kaczynski to conclude that his brother was the Unabomber.

Convicted serial killer Dennis Rader — whose nickname "BTK" stood for his gruesome "Bind, Torture, Kill" method — taunted police and media during his 14-year killing spree. In his letters, he claimed credit for recent murders and wrote poems about some of his victims. Rader's desire for the spotlight was apparent. One letter to a TV station read, "How many do I have to kill before I get my name in the paper or some national attention?" On June 27, 2005, Rader pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder.

"I AM NOT SICK. I AM INSANE. BUT THAT WILL NOT STOP THE GAME." In 1966, police and newspapers received the first of more than 20 letters from the self-proclaimed "Zodiac Killer," who claimed responsibility for a rash of murders in California. After one murder, the killer sent a letter to three newspapers, enclosed a cryptogram and ordered that it be printed on the front page. After the murder of a San Francisco cab driver, the editor of the local newspaper received a letter containing swatches of the victim's bloodstained shirt. The killer's identity was never solved.

Police in New York City were terrified when a string of shootings targeted attractive women. David Berkowitz, who called himself the "Son of Sam," began writing letters to police and media claiming demons were forcing him to kill. "To stop me, you must kill me," he wrote, taunting authorities with promises to continue the bloodshed. When investigators finally pinned the shootings on Berkowitz, a former security guard and taxi driver in Yonkers, he immediately confessed and was later sentenced to 365 years in prison.

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