It’s one of the disturbing characteristics of serial killers - they like to keep trophies. Psychologists say they do it for the same reason you or I might bring home a souvenir from a vacation. It allows them to relive the experience - in this case, murder.
The trophies aren’t always what you’d expect. Here are some of the creepiest:
1. Heads – Ted Bundy
Bundy, whose good looks and charming demeanor lured 36 or more women to their deaths, kept grisly trophies of his atrocious crimes: his victims’ severed heads. Once apprehended, he told police he had decapitated 12 of his victims with a hacksaw before disposing of them. Four were later found on Taylor Mountain, Utah. Not only did Bundy engage in necrophilia, he also applied makeup to his victim’s faces and washed their hair after he had killed them. “If you’ve got time,” he told detectives, “they can be whatever you want them to be.”
2. Saliva – Ahmad Suradji
Indonesian serial killer Ahman Suradji killed 42 girls and women over a 10-year period beginning in 1986. He believed that the saliva of his victims gave him special powers, and he would drain and drink it after strangling them to death. Suradji was married and had three wives, all sisters, who helped him cover up his crimes. He was sentenced to death and executed by firing squad in 2008.
3. Chessboard Squares – Alexander Pichushkin
Convicted Russian serial killer Alexander Pichushkin didn’t take physical souvenirs from his victims, but he did reward himself with a mental trophy for each murder. He told police it was his goal to kill 64 people, the same as the number of squares on a chessboard. He succeeded in murdering 60 people: three of his victims survived. Most of his victims were homeless men, though he also targeted women, children, and young men. While he was declared sane enough to sit for trial, Pichushkin said he killed because it made him feel like God, telling the court: “I killed in order to live, because when you kill, you want to live. For me, life without murder is like life without food for you. I felt like the father of all these people, since it was me who opened the door for them to another world.” He was sentenced to life in prison.
4. Feet – Jerome Brudos
Known as “the Shoe Fetish Slayer,” Jerome Brudos was convicted of the murder of four Oregon women. A lengthy investigation led police to Brudos, who confessed to the strangulation murder of his victims, but went on to elaborate about his disturbing foot fetish. Brudos kept the left foot of his first murder victim Linda Slawson, and would use it to model shoes. Police also found two pairs of amputated breasts that Brudos used as paperweights. Brudos was the longest incarcerated inmate in the history of Oregon, in jail for 37 years before his death from liver cancer in 2006. While incarcerated, he collected piles and piles of women’s shoe catalogs, which he called his “substitute” for pornography.
5. Eyes – Charles Albright
Known as “the Dallas Ripper” or “the Eyeball Killer,” Charles Albright was only convicted of the murder of Shirley Williams, though police are certain he killed at least three women in Dallas in the early 90s. All three victims, who were shot several times in the face and head, had had both eyes gouged out. Albright allegedly took the eyes with him as a souvenir. Authorities found hair at the Williams crime scene that matched Albright’s, but with the other two victims, the evidence was mostly circumstantial, and the court couldn’t get a conviction.
6. Genitals – Jeffrey Dahmer
In September 1988, Jeffrey Dahmer’s grandmother asked him to move out of her house for two reasons: he was always bringing young men home late at night, and she couldn’t take the foul smell emanating from the garage and basement. Why she didn’t put two and two together, who knows. Perhaps she didn’t want to believe her grandson was capable of the murder and dismemberment of 17 people. But Dahmer wasn’t just a murderer; he engaged in necrophilia, and kept trophies in the forms of his victims’ genitals (preserved in acetone), heads, and skulls. After confessing his crimes to the police, he also told them he had built an altar in his house made of severed human heads and skulls. When asked to whom the altar was dedicated, Dahmer replied: “Myself … It was a place I could feel at home.”
7. Underwear – Anatoly Onoprienko
Ukranian serial killer killed 52 people over the course of six months. When arrested, police found over a hundred items belonging to the victims in Onoprienko’s possession, including a pair of underwear from all his female victims. When apprehended, he recounted each murder in horrific detail, and claimed that he had gifted some of his trophies to his girlfriend at the time.
Special Mention: Faces – Ed Gein
With two confirmed victims to his name, is not a serial killer. Yet his ghoulish predilection for trophies made of human body parts earns him a spot on this list. The infamous murderer on whose crimes , , and were based, Ed Gein lived in relative seclusion in rural Wisconsin. Then, police tracked him to the disappearance of hardware store owner Bernice Worden. Gein confessed to killing Worden and another local woman, Mary Hogan. When police went to raid his house, however, they found the remains of nearly 30 more people: masks made from human faces, skulls, a belt made from human nipples, a corset made from human flesh, and many more horrifying discoveries. Gein claimed that these body parts were obtained through grave robbing; he had visited the local cemetery at least 40 times over the course of five years.
Feature photo: Laski Diffusion / Getty Images