Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Melvin Rees -- The Sex Beast

The Jazz Player

Human Monsters
Human Monsters
As investigators interrogated suspects and looked for anything that would help them solve the Jackson murders, an anonymous letter arrived from a man with suspicions about his friend. The following year, he was identified, according to Everitt in Human Monsters, as Glenn Moser of Norfolk, VA. His friends name, he said in the letter, was Melvin Davis Rees, and he was a 26-year-old self-styled existential philosopher and jazz musician. Dark-haired Rees was intelligent and talented, traveling from one place to another to play saxophone, piano or clarinet. Rees had once attended the University of Maryland, but had dropped out before graduating. Ostensibly he had left to pursue a musical career. Their conversations were often filled with heady ideas and commentary on what life should be. One evening the subject turned to murder.

You cant say its wrong to kill, Moser recalled Rees saying. Only individual standards make it right or wrong. It was a Nietzschean rendering of situational ethics, bold for the time. In fact, in 1948, Alfred Hitchcock had made a movie based on the idea, in which two intellectual college students kill a man to prove it, horrifying their professor, who had introduced them to it in the classroom. Even before that, in 1924, Leopold and Loeb had done that very act, murdering 14-year-old Bobby Franks in Chicago to prove that they were superior individuals, above the standards of ordinary people. (But they werent above being punished for it.)

The Mammoth Book of the History of Murder
The Mammoth Book of the History of Murder
Under the experience of Benzedrine, an amphetamine that made him talk excessively, Rees confided to Moser that he craved to have every intense experience, from love to death. According to Wilsons rendering in The Mammoth Book of the History of Murder, this conversation supposedly took place the day before the Jacksons were abducted. Then, when their murder was publicized two months later, Moser viewed his friends bold words in a new light. He already knew that Rees had been arrested on charges of assaulting a 36-year-old woman in 1955. Rees had tried to get her into his car and when shed refused, he had resorted to dragging her. The victim would not press charges, however, so the case was dropped, and Reess friends had dismissed the incident, Moser among them. But now he wondered. Rees was mild-mannered, but one never knew what lay in another mans heart, especially if he wanted to hide it.

To understand why Moser suspected Rees and why Rees might indeed have been the killer, we need to examine ideas that were floating around in the counter-culture at the time.

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