By J.W. Schnarr
Pedro Alonzo Lopez kidnapped, raped, and strangled more than 350 girls during his killing spree and then was released from prison in 2002 because the country where he was imprisoned doesn’t have the death penalty.
After playing the infamous “Killer Clown” John Wayne Gacy, actor Brian Dennehy actually received a letter from the Chicago killer claiming his innocence and apologizing to Dennehy for being mixed up in a big lie. The letter haunted the actor for years.
These are two things I learned about serial killers after picking up a copy of “The Globe Special Investigation” magazine at one of our local convenience stores. The September/October issue of the magazine boasts “Over 300 shocking crime scene photos” as it walks readers through The World’s Most Evil Serial Killers.
With the changing of the season from fall to summer, I’ll admit to looking forward to Thanksgiving and the upcoming hockey season. After looking through this magazine a couple times, I’ve been thinking a lot more about Halloween.
The magazine’s cover depicts the usual cast of villains we see whenever anyone mentions serial killings, and promises stories about cannibalism, sex, and torture. It looked like a dirty Polaroid stuffed into a wedding album, the way it sat there on the shelf, tucked in with magazines about cars and home decorating secrets and 10 ways to keep your kids healthy during flu season.
This couldn’t be the right spot for a magazine like this. Sure, there was also a cellophane-wrapped Playboy there, but people only buy those things for the articles. This magazine was definitely selling itself on photos.
By the way, they were right. I was shocked by many of the crime scene photos. There was actually a lot of stuff in here I’d never seen or read before. One of the Jeffrey Dahmer photos was particularly cringe-worthy.
It was obvious someone had picked it up and put it down. Maybe they’d picked it up again. Maybe they wandered around the store with it before deciding they didn’t want the cashier seeing them buy it.
Maybe they picked it up and their significant other rolled their eyes, as if to say, “this again?” or worse, “My mother was right about you.”
It wasn’t rolled up or dog-eared, so there might not have been too much fretting over the contents. There were fingerprints on the slick gloss cover, however. Someone’s thumb had been placed on Ted Bundy’s right cheek. Dahmer had a fingerprint on his neck.
After thumbing through it for a few minutes, I bought the thing. I also bought a pop and some chips.
Some folks might not want to be seen buying things like that, but not me. I’m a pop and chips kinda guy.
The cashier didn’t bat an eyelash when I paid for the magazine. I wonder if she would have been equally disengaged if I would have been paying for Good Housekeeping. I’m guessing she could have cared less if I bought Car and Driver or Time. Teen Beat might have raised an eyebrow, if they even still publish that magazine. But serial killers, that’s just another thing people are into sometimes.
As a sub genre of horror, I know serial killer stories have a few things going for them. They’re true life detective stories, for one thing, and one of the few stories where the good guys don’t always win. We find it interesting to read about secret lives so outside our own, about people who live so far out of the realm of normal thinking so as to appear alien to us. They are the circus freaks, the bearded ladies, the human snakes, the odd preserved specimens in antique glass bottles. They are travelling carnival nights in sleepy, forlorn towns.
They re-affirm our instincts to raise children “normally” in “normal” environments because, let’s face it, the only thing more interesting than a rash of ritual killings to us is that awful twist that sometimes occurs during their childhoods which makes them into the monsters they are as adults. That little “gotcha” moment we use to line up all the bottles on the fence, so everything in the world makes sense again.
I wonder how many of them would be upset to realize after all that self importance, and all that ego, their entire lives and all their self-proclaimed “greatness” is eventually reduced to dog-eared magazine pages sitting in the middle of a rack in the bathroom, to be read in five or 10 minute pieces, while the average person really has something else on their minds.
If so, good.