Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Richard Trenton Chase

A Vampire's Demise

On the day after Christmas in 1980, one day short of the third anniversary of the killing spree, the guard looked in on Richard Chase. The condemned man was lying on his back in his bunk, breathing normally. He did not return the guards greeting, which was not unusual. At 11:05, the same guard looked into the cell again. Chase was on his stomach, both legs extended off his bunk, and his feet were on the floor. His head was against the mattress and his arms extended toward the pillow. The guard called out to Chase, who failed to move. He went in and pulled Chase off the bed. It was clear to him that the "Vampire of Sacramento", aka, "Dracula," was dead.

K. P. Holmes, the coroner, was called. He searched the cell and located a strange suicide note about taking some pills. Chase had been taking a daily dose of Sinequan for hallucinations and depression, which came to his cell in a package of three pills. Apparently he had hoarded the pills and then overdosed. The cause of his death was toxic ingestion. His heart was found to be normal and in good shape, despite his life-long concerns. The prison psychiatrist noted that Chase had been psychotic since the time he had entered the prison, but no one much bothered about the nature of his bizarre obsession with blood.

In 1992, a movie called Unspeakable was made based on Chase as a model for the killer. His case is still used by the FBI as the archetypal model for understanding the disorganized killer.


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