For many of us, the holiday season is a time to reconnect with old friends and family members – to exchange hugs and gifts – eat, drink, and be merry. Paradoxically, during this festive period, homicide and suicide rates inevitably spike! Blood flows with the alcohol, kith and kin remember why they stayed out of each other’s business for the past 364 days, and numbers on a calendar provoke the lost, lonely, and hopeless to form decisive and often violent solutions to another failed year. For every cozy scene of Yuletide Bacchanalia, complete with logs crackling in the fireplace and couples kissing under the mistletoe, there is always somebody standing on the outside, looking in from the cold. The truth is that the holidays can be painful, not only because they force us to compare our own joy (or lack of it) with those around us, but also because they can be a cruel reminder of that which we have loved and lost.
With nearly 200 victims between them, the seven compulsive killers in Serial Killer Quarterly’s special Christmas 2014 issue, “Body Harvest: Prolific American Serial Killers,” not only destroyed countless lives and families, but Thanksgivings, Christmases, and New Year’s. Author and criminologist Judith A. Yates attributes a minimum of 20 victims to America’s first serial killers, Micajah & Wiley Harpe, who rather than bringing “peace on earth and good will to all men,” sought to exterminate the entire human race. Similarly, whenever Ted Bundy went “walking in a winter wonderland” it was in the snowy mountains of Washington or Colorado – landscapes strewn with the ravaged corpses of his 30+ female victims. Kevin M. Sullivan – author, Bundy researcher, and retired preacher – looks at arguably the most infamous serial slayer in American history, and his victims – known and potential. In her true crime debut, forensic psychologist Joan Swart goes above and beyond to tell us the tale of America’s most prolific homosexual sadist. With possibly a higher body count than Bundy and the Harpes combined, Randy Kraft may have actually rung in the New Year by torturing, killing, and mutilating several of the over 60 young men whose lives he appears to have extinguished.
Lee Mellor, author, criminologist, and SKQ editor-in-chief, writes of the 22 strangulation-slayings and post-mortem rapes perpetrated across the USA and in Canada by “Gorilla Murderer” Earle Leonard Nelson during the mid-1920s, as well as 10+ cold-blooded murders linked to “Coin-Shop Killer” Charles T. Sinclair throughout the Eighties. Spokane prostitute killer Robert Lee Yates – another necrophile – has admitted to shooting 16 victims and defiling their bodies, but author and journalist Karen D. Scioscia asks: were there more? Are you full of holiday cheer yet? Well, at least we know that Christmas was truly a time for family in the Bender household – even if their feasts were purchased with the money they stole from the people rotting under their floorboards. Dane Ladwig looks at the more than 20 hammer murders believed to have been committed by The Bloody Benders in the mid-nineteenth century.