Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Maybe people shouldn't be surprised that a boy who had to endure the nickname "Pissy" because of a tendency to wet his pants would grow up to be one of America's most savage spree killers. And it certainly didn't help that Pissy would go to prison on a robbery charge and emerge two years later with a tendency to dress in women's clothing and a desire for rough sex. Whatever the reasons, Alton Coleman and his girlfriend Debra Denise Brown will go down in history as a short-lived U.S. version of Great Britain's multiple sex-slayers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady.

It takes more than a few homicides to get the attention of the people in a city the size of Los Angeles. Murders are a daily occurrence. So when three women living hi-risk lifestyles were found strangled and naked on hillsides very few people lost sleep over it. Only a couple sharp homicide detectives became nervous that this was just the beginning. Everything changed when five "nice girls" were abducted from their middle-class neighborhoods.

Two psychopathic cousins made torture into an unspeakable art form as they experimented on their young victims, giving new meaning to the concept of "Evil."

Delusional Australian criminal set out to commit the "Kill Seven" Murders, along with his teenage gang, to bring his dead son back to life. This bizarre mission caused the death of three innocent people before he was captured.

When McCafferty, called the Australian Charles Manson, was set to be released in 1997 after being imprisoned 23 years, the people of Australia were outraged. Since McCafferty was not an Australian citizen was exported back to his native Scotland, where he continued to be a problem.

Three appalling cases of individuals and even a family that were hired by unwed mothers to take care of their infants while they worked. Instead these "baby minders" either sold the children to childless couples, starved and neglected them, and even murdered the infants.

David's insatiable sexual appetite caused him to enlist wife Catherine into abducting, raping, and eventually, brutally murdering four women in the their Perth, Australia, love nest and torture chamber at 3 Moorhouse Street. David's cruelty finally got to Catherine who couldn't stand to participate in another murder. The victim escaped and resulted in the capture of the two serial killers.

Cruel, psychopathic son of wealthy Hong Kong businessman, discharged from the Marines for stealing, and his accomplice kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered an estimated 25 captives in a fortified bunker in California -- all caught on video. When Lake killed himself with hidden cyanide tablets, Ng fled to Canada, setting the stage for one of the most expensive legal battles in U.S. history, dwarfing the O.J. Simpson trial.

Robin Gecht & his friends rampaged Chicago in the 1980s. They talked about how they had kidnapped women off the streets, raped them, and stabbed them with knives, razors, tin can lids, and can openers. With piano wire, they then amputated one or both breasts and masturbated onto them. Gecht's "rippers" took the flesh they had removed from their victims, cut it up, and consumed it as a form of ancient devilish communion.

The Mansonesque type of killer is rare —the person who can persuade others to kill or harm others for him. According to three confessions, Gecht was exactly that type of person. While Manson's brood was larger, the three men who followed Gecht were just as deadly, and it's quite unusual to have four people involved in such an extensive string of sexually sadistic murders.

Australia's first serial killer partnership was made up of a charismatic psychopath and a dependent drifter who went on a killing spree that left seven women dead.

Ray & Faye Copeland, a serial killer team from America's heartland, were senior citizens when they began their murder rampage.

Did this closet homosexual really kill 27 boys or was he the victim of drugged up young men who took advantage of his generosity? This is the true story of treachery, torture, mutilation and murder.

New York classic story of a black widow and a psychopathic ladies man who create havoc in their community with pedophilia, arsenic poisoning and bad parenting.

They were the typical family next door, or at least they appeared to be. But 1994 witnessed the slow peeling away of the layers of secrets hidden in the ordinary house at 25 Cromwell Street, now known as the Gloucester House of Horrors. Rose was running a thriving prostitution business, bearing illegitimate, mixed race children one after another, while Fred lured young women to stay at the house. While that may have provoked scandal, police discovered that Fred & Rose turned their children and guests into sex slaves and murdered them when they tried to escape.

During the late 1970s, the city of Columbus, Ohio and outlying areas were plagued by a series of indiscriminate and brutal murders, which claimed the lives of 10 people.

The ".22-caliber killings," as they would later be dubbed by the media, began on December 10, 1977, with the murders of two women at Forkers Cafe in Newark, Ohio, some distance outside the city of Columbus. Joyce Vermilion and Karen Dodrill, had been shot multiple times as they walked out the rear door of the cafe, shortly after its closing at 2:30 a.m.

This and subsequent murders were distinguished by the amount of overkill — the bodies were literally bullet-ridden.

Finally, in 1978 suspicion focused on two truly weird middle-aged brothers, one very much under the influence of the other.

We have a few stock images that spring to mind when we think of serial killers. Maybe we see a Jeffrey Dahmer-type character--quietly savage, a misfit loner who practices his unspeakable avocation under society's radar. We probably do not, however, associate married couples with our notions of serial killing.

Gerald and Charlene kidnapped and killed ten people, mostly teenage girls, lured and captured in well-planned schemes, the ultimate goal of which was to provide a steady procession of disposable "love slaves." Depending on whose story you believe, Charlene Gallego was either a reluctant facilitator of, or a willing participant in her husband Gerald's tragic extended binge. After the couple's apprehension, Charlene claimed that Gerald had beaten and intimidated her into helping him, but Gerald, for his part, insisted that she had taken part in the assaults and killings. "We had this sexual fantasy see, so we just carried it out," Charlene later recounted chillingly. "I mean, like it was easy and fun and we really enjoyed it, so why shouldn't we do it?"

Along with psychopath sidekick Ottis Toole, he traveled the U.S. raping, robbing, killing, and mutilating men, women & children. Originally thought to have killed 360 people, some of his confessions are now discredited. Whatever number of murders he & Toole committed, these two serial killers set a new standard in depravity.

Eighteen-year-old Judith Neelley lured teenagers to a horrible death, but only after they had been raped and tortured. It was the consensus of those who listened to the various witnesses that Judith was the brains behind the most serious of the couple's offenses. It was she who had persuaded Alvin to participate with her in the brutal crimes, not the other way around. When they had lured Lisa Millican into their car and molested and killed her, it was Judith who injected her with liquid drain cleaner and who then shot her.

She was also the person who shot John Hancock and left him for dead. The question for a jury was whether she had done so because she herself was psychologically disturbed or whether she had been forcibly subordinated to Alvin in such a manner that she would do whatever he wanted, even when he was not around. They had decided that she was aware of what she was doing and had not been under anyone else's power.

Two career criminals murdered Ian Lamb, a complete stranger for $20, a package e of cigarettes and a couple of gallons of gasoline. Then, for no other reason than that one of the men had once worked for her family as a farm hand, they kidnapped Virginia Morse, a young mother of three, from her home. Morse was raped and tortured repeatedly while Crump and Baker drove to neighboring Queensland. Next, they tied her to a tree and shot her in the eyes.

Recently, Australian courts have struggled with the constitutionality of real life imprisonment where particularly horrible killers are "never to be released."

He signs his prison fan mail "Pliers."

His psychiatrist saw what he was: "a highly dangerous man, with no internal controls over his impulses, a man who could kill without hesitation or remorse." When he was released from prison, Bittaker told a cellmate that someday he planned to be "bigger than Manson."

Along with prison-buddy psychopath Roy Norris, Bittaker constructed a van called the Murder Mack and collected pretty teenage girls to rape, torture and kill in the San Gabriel Mountains. In the isolated mountain areas, they went to work on their young victims with vice-grip pliers, urging them to scream into their tape recorder before they snuffed out their voices forever.

Yes, he's on death row in California a condition that stretches into decades playing cards with other serial killers, filling frivolous lawsuits against the state and selling his fingernail clippings to murder groupies.

The story of a desperately lonely overweight woman who lets herself fall into partnership with a man who murders women for money. The so-called Lonely Hearts Murders, entwined in voodoo magic and kinky sex, becomes one of the most sensational cases of the 1940s.

New "Lonely Hearts" movie with John Travolta, Salma Hayek, Jared Leto and James Gandolfini is a satisfying case study. The film interweaves a detective's perspective to the story of the killer team.

Saddleworth Moor, its long stretches of rugged earth, punctuated by steep valleys, sprawling hills, and rocky streams, was the silent witness of one of Britain's worst serial murders. Every few months another child would mysteriously disappear as he or she walked the moors between the villages. And so it might have continued for many more years had Myra Hindley's brother-in-law not seen Ian Brady take an axe to one of his young victims.

It was a real shocker in an era that could not imagine a woman participating in the brutal murder of children. Myra and Ian were the prototypes for Fred and Rose West, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka and the other twisted partners in murder that followed them.

They got drunk together, abused illicit drugs together, and are believed to have committed their first of possibly 20 murders together. One of them is on death row. The other on parole after serving only a few years in prison. Now, an angry public wants to know what went wrong with a system that failed to keep a suspected serial killer behind bars.

It was a daring thing to do, but writer and director Joel Bender made a true-crime drama based on the infamous story of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. Karla was quite controversial when released in Canada in 2006, and some groups even tried to block it. They were unsuccessful. Now it's available on DVD.

The film adopts Karla's point of view throughout, and if you believe the performance you'll regard Karla as the prototypical battered wife and compliant accomplice. This can get annoying for anyone familiar with the facts, but in the end it's made clear that her story is pretty much a self-serving "reorganization" of what happened: she never apologized to victims' families, never expressed public remorse, and seemed as narcissistic upon her release as she'd ever been.

Phoenix's Serial Shooters hunted humans for fun.

William Holbert and Laura Reese left murder and mayhem in their wake when they fled from the U.S. to the laid-back beaches of Panama's Bocas del Toro where they ran a hostel and continued their campaign of lying, stealing and allegedly killing at least seven people.

Career criminal and meth-addicted mommy link up to fulfill Ricky's lifetime ambition torturing, raping and killing women on video. Just as police got an important tip, this depraved couple escaped, abducted a young girl and planned their suicide.

It's hard to imagine that these cases occur so often in recent times, but there are quite a number of them. Dr. Katherine Ramsland looks at some of the most interesting and high-profile cases where individuals and couples have become obsessed with taking sex slaves.

There are four basic victim types and sometimes their stories lead to the grave and sometimes to freedom. The slave masters are also very diverse psychologically in the way they practice this deadly game of dominance and submission.

Carol found Doug to be suddenly quite controlling. He demanded that she do what he wanted and threatened to abandon her if she did not comply. He wanted a sex slave, someone who would see to all of his needs, mundane and bizarre. She gave in, expecting that in return he would be true to her. But he soon told her that he was tired of having sex with her and needed something new and more exciting. He brought prostitutes home, and to please him Carol went along with it.

It was a long hot summer for LAPD. Bodies of young women were found mutilated, even headless, and dumped along the embankments around the freeway ramps.

Soon a call came into the station from a woman who implicated her boyfriend in the killings but who refused to offer details that could help to locate him. She could have been just a crank caller, but she was correct about how the murders had been done. She knew details that had not been released to the media. But the switchboard cut her off and she did not call back. If she had, some lives could have been saved and she might not have taken the path she did.

It was no crank call.

Author Katherine Ramsland looks at famous killing teams, their motives, and the psychology of killing along with a partner.

Psychological insight into types of team killers and some famous murder partners by Dr. Katherine Ramsland.

Dr. Katherine Ramsland looks at the psychology of several famous killing teams.

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