Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Fetish Killer

The Method

Jerry Brudos
Jerry Brudos

Brudos' first murder went against the received wisdom that killers often get rid of the body or walk away as quickly as they can. Later, when they become inured to corpses, they begin to do more to them (if that's part of their fetish). Yet with his first experience, Brudos apparently was quite pleased with himself. Right away, with a dead girl on his hands, he started thinking about what he could do with her, now that he had the real thing rather than just his obsessive fantasies. Clearly, his private images had gained a sufficient degree of sophistication to prepare him to spend some time with the victim and live out things he'd only dreamed about before.

He told the police officers interrogating him that he was in the yard when she came to his home. He started to lie to her right away to get her to come inside. She did so readily. He sent his wife and kids out to eat and then when a friend came over unexpectedly, Brudos had to spend some time getting rid of him. Once alone with the dead girl, he quickly undressed her. He recalled every detail, at least of her underwear, and was especially pleased that she had been wearing a pair of red panties. He then got some items from his own collection and redressed her in them. Realizing that he could not keep her there, he removed her foot with a hacksaw, stuck it in the freezer, and then took the body to the Willamette River. To make certain she would not be found, he had tied her to a car engine before throwing her over the bridge railing.

Then he went home and savored the part of her that he'd kept a reminder of his first kill and a trophy that he could play with. He had so many high-heeled shoes and he could try them on this severed foot and take pictures. He did that as long as he could, but when the foot deteriorated, he tied it to a weight and threw it into the river as well. He also recalled for police that Slawson had a class ring on her finger.

What rattled the detectives as Brudos told his tale was the way he grew more arrogant as he described his gruesome actions. It was as if he had viewed the women he'd killed and mutilated as objects that belonged to him and existed purely for his pleasure. Whatever lives they might have gone on to lead was of no account to him. What mattered to him was his own pleasure. And since it only lasted so long, he'd had to renew it with new victims.

With the realization that they probably would not find the remains of Linda Slawson this long after her murder, they pressed for details about Jan Whitney, missing at that point for six months.

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