Do you know the mind of a murderer? Take a long, hard look at these seven interesting facts about murderers. Some are bizarre, others interesting, most are eerie, and one is happy.
7. The Dating Game Killer interrogated himself in court.
At his third trial, Rodney Alcala acted as his own lawyer and interrogated himself. The ‘Dating Game Killer’ was on the stand for five hours, used a deep voice to ask questions in third person, addressing himself as ‘Mr. Alcala,’ then answered in a normal voice. He was convicted on five counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death three times. It's believed he killed many more than the five women for which he was convicted. Conservative estimates place his victim count at 13, while certain outlets claim that Alcala may have killed up to 130 people.
6. Diogo Alves’ 170-year-old head is in a jar.
Serial killer Diogo Alves was hanged in 1841 for robbing and murdering over 70 people in Portugal by throwing them off an aqueduct. His severed head was kept in a jar as part of an effort to study the mind of a criminal.
5. Ed Gein influenced a lot of horror movies.
Psycho, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Silence of the Lambs, and American Horror Story all have characters that were based on serial killer Ed Gein, who was so devastated by his mother’s death that he began to make a ‘woman suit’ from the skin of bodies he stole from a nearby graveyard so he could become her and literally crawl into her skin.
4. People used to think cigarettes made you murderous.
In the early 1900s, people believed that smoking cigarettes turned you into a homicidal maniac. The belief was so common that ‘cigarette fiend’ became a valid defense for murder, and the term often accompanied an insanity plea.
3. Curb Your Enthusiasm saved Juan Catalan from prison.
Juan Catalan—who is not a murderer—spent nearly six months in jail for the murder of a teenage girl until his lawyer found unused footage from HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm that proved he’d been at a Dodger’s game with his six-year-old daughter. He later received a settlement of $320,000 for his false conviction.
2. Charles Whitman requested an autopsy before his murderous rampage.
In 1966, Charles Whitman murdered his wife and mother, then shot 45 random people on a university campus, killing 14 of them. He'd been to five doctors, but still didn't know why he'd been having bad headaches and irrational thoughts, so he left a suicide note requesting an autopsy. They found a brain tumor pressing against his amygdala, which may have caused his uncontrollable emotions and intense headaches.
A 2016 documentary, Tower, about Whitman's attack is available on Netflix.
1. James French got fried on purpose
While serving a life sentence for murder, James French killed his own cell mate—supposedly because he was afraid of suicide and preferred to be executed. His last words before the electric chair in 1966 were, “How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? ‘French Fries’.”