Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Fetish Killer

Brudos Continues

Just as the police had hypothesized, the car that Jan Whitney was driving had broken down. It was just her bad luck that Brudos happened along and saw her. She was with two men, he said, who looked to him like hippies, but he stopped anyway. For him, it was another unique opportunity that he could not pass up. But he played it out for maximum enjoyment. Jan apparently had given the men a ride and they weren't helping her to fix the car, so Brudos gave them all a ride, dropped the men off, and then took Jan to his home. He told her to wait for him while he told his wife he was going to go fix her car for her. She complied.

Then he got into the car behind her, told her to close her eyes, and began playing mind games. Again, she complied. He put a strap over her head and around her neck to keep her from moving, and strangled her. Once she was dead, he had sex in the car with the body. Then he took her to his workshop, dressed her in some of his clothes and took pictures to remind him of his deeds. He also sexually violated the body several more times. After that, he tied her up and raised her into the air via a hook-and-pulley system he had fixed in the ceiling. Despite the fact that someone could discover her, he left her hanging there for several days. She was only his second victim and already he felt cocky.

In fact, while he and his family were away for a few days, a car crashed into his house, leaving a hole large enough for a view inside. Yet no one looked, not even the police who came to investigate. "That was close," Brudos said to the detectives, as if he'd nearly lost some game. After removing the body, which by this time had to have smelled of decomposition, he invited the cops come to inspect the accident damage. They apparently smelled nothing, though the corpse was wrapped in a plastic sheet in another building in the yard.

And with this victim, Brudos went on, he had kept her right breast rather than taking a foot. "I was going to make a plastic mold of it," he said in the interview that Rule quotes, "and then I could make paperweights." But he did it wrong, so it didn't turn out the way he wanted. (He would try again with another victim, and still fail.) As with Slawson, he weighted Whitney's body down by tying it to a heavy part and threw it into the Willamette River. He refused to give a specific location. Oddly, he was telling the police so much yet holding back key details, as if he thought that keeping certain things secret would hinder them from prosecuting him. While it stymied their ability to find the body, they would have plenty for a trial.

Brudos encountered Karen Sprinker at the department store where she'd gone to meet her mother. He had tried for another victim, and missed, so he had settled on Karen, although he had not liked the shoes she was wearing. He used a pistol to get her into his car, and they went right to his home, where he raped her and forced her to pose in the clothing of his choice. Then he killed her by hanging her by the neck from his hook. He then subjected the corpse to the same indignities he'd imposed on the others. But he removed both breasts and dressed her in the long-line bra that was too large for her. He stuffed it to keep her from bleeding in his car and to make the bra look correct.

With Linda Salee, he had used a fake police badge and the threat of arrest for shoplifting to make her do what he wanted. He actually had dinner while she waited, bound, in his workshop. She apparently did not try to escape, although she fought him when he tried to strangle her with the strap. He raped her as she died and then used wires stuck into her rib cage to try to "make her dance" with electrical current. It apparently did not work to his satisfaction.

On June 2, 1969, as reported in the local papers, Brudos was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Karen Sprinker, and the police prepared a search warrant. Brudos believed he'd removed the evidence from his workshop by telling his wife to burn his stash of female clothing. But he was not smirking over this for long. Darcie had not complied.

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