Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Fetish Killer

Will He Ever Be Free?

Jerry Brudos, recent photo
Jerry Brudos, recent photo

Brudos, who has been in prison longer than any other inmate in Oregon, periodically comes up for parole, inspiring a flurry of letters from Oregon residents to the parole board to prevent him from going free. Brudos makes a plea for it, insisting that he's no longer a threat to society, and even claiming he did not commit the murders. He's also tried to mitigate his crimes by blaming his mother's abuse and neglect. In appeals to the board, he's mentioned having blackouts during his crime spree and has indicated that at the time the world had seemed increasingly less real to him.

In 1995, Frasier indicates, the parole board voted to keep him in prison for life, but he still comes up for it every two years, as hopeful as ever that one day he will be free. He's currently 66 years old, and there have been several more hearings since 1995 in which he has argued for his mental stability. Yet he has shown no remorse.

As an Associated Press article reported, "Brudos still refused Thursday to say why he'd killed, contending that he would be in danger if he did. He told board members that he was ready to join society; that in more than thirty years at Oregon State Penitentiary, he had availed himself of every possible rehabilitation program for sex-offending murderers." Brudos was then quoted at saying, "I think I've got a whole new personality." In the Oregonian, a reporter said that Brudos is certain he won't kill again, "but he won't say why."

The article goes on to point out that a young woman on a tour of the prison encountered him. When he took her hand, she felt that something wasn't right in the way he looked at her and jerked it away. The encounter chilled her. "Human's have an instinct," says the reporter, "and it is important to heed it; lives depend on it."

But Brudos indicated that his own life depended on not divulging anything in the presence of reporters, who attended the parole hearings. "These people here will get me killed," he was quoted in the Corvallis Gazette-Times. Apparently he believed that publicity of his crimes from more than thirty years ago would inspire violence against him within the prison.

In August 2003, as they have done in the past, the parole board members once again denied Brudos the freedom he sought. They made their decision after only a half hour interview with the convicted killer, saying they did not need a full hearing. The Gazette-Times applauded this wise decision. A man who could mutilate and murder five [sic] young women, they decided, was not a likely candidate for responsible citizenship, especially since he did it all without ever alerting his wife to the devious acts he performed inside his home-based workshop.

Vronsky reports that Brudos is considered a model patient, denies his crimes, and walks around the prison unsupervised. He's apparently a computer wiz. Someone in a chat room noted online that the prison allowed him to sell leather key fobs with his name engraved on them through their prison store. (Rule indicates in a 1988 update of her book that Sharon Wood purchased one, a reminder of her ordeal and a symbol for assisting with her work in empowering women to defend themselves against physical attack.)

Brudos is up for parole again in August 2005 the year that Rule predicted he was actually eligible for release, based on serving the minimum time for his three consecutive sentences. The results will likely be the same, as long as there is community outrage over his past acts. Hickey says that under Oregon's outdated system, he will come up for a hearing every two years until he dies or gains his freedom. "He has adjusted to prison life, Hickey claims, "and has turned his energies to his personal computer and printer, which makes life in a cell much more meaningful." Unfortunately, he's got plenty of time to figure out the angles and probably will exploit all the possibilities for getting out for as long as he can. Rule predicted he'd served at least 36 years. That's how long it has been.

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