There are a couple of non-fiction subjects that I study in great detail.  One of them, not surprisingly, is baseball.  The other is true crime and forensics.  This might seem like an odd combination, but the great baseball historian and analyst Bill James also has a fascination with crime.  Today, I’ll begin a multi-part series where I introduce you to some serial killers from the past.

Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy had a confusing childhood.  He was raised by his maternal grandparents, not realizing until later that his “sister” was actually his mother.  Bundy studied psychology at the University of Washington.  At one point, he worked on a suicide hotline.  Bundy was eventually accepted into law school, although he eventually dropped out.

From the late 1960s through the mid 1970s, Ted Bundy murdered dozens of young, attractive females.  In 1975, Bundy was arrested for an attack that he had committed in 1974 (the victim fought back and survived).  In 1977, Bundy managed to escape from custody twice in a span of six months.  After the second escape, he traveled from Colorado to Florida.  On January 15, 1978, Bundy killed two women and injured two others in a sorority house at Florida State University, using a wooden club as a weapon.  Unfortunately for Bundy, he left behind a bite mark on the buttock of one of the women, Lisa Levy.  A month, Bundy was arrested for driving a stolen car.  A search warrant was obtained allowing authorities to obtain an impression of Bundy’s teeth.  Experts were able to match the impression to the bite mark left of Levy’s body.  Bundy was found guilty of murder in 1978 and died in Florida’s electric chair in 1989.

The Nightstalker

In 1984, the Nightstalker began to terrorize Los Angeles.  The Nightstalker would cut phone lines, break into he house, and immeditately kill any adult males.  He would then rape any women and children (boy and girls).  At one murder scene in 1985, he used lipstick to draw a pentagram on the thigh on one victim, as well as on the wall.  This led police to believe that the killer may believe that Satan was telling him to kill.

The police caught a break when one of the Nightstalker’s victims was able get the license plate number from his getaway car.  The car was stolen, of course, but police were able to lift a partial fingerprint.  Unfortunately, Los Angeles had only begun to  computerize their fingerprint records.  The fingerprint records for most criminals were still on paper.  Only criminals born in 1960 or later were in the computerized system.  The computer found a hit – Richard Ramirez, born in February 1960 – just making the cutoff to have his prints in the computerized system.

The photo of Ramirez was soon all over the television.  Unfortunately for him, he was out of town.  When he came back into town and stopped at a convenience store, the other  customers immediately recognized him.  They were in a predominantly hispanic area, and the hispanic population was very upset at the negative publicity that Ramirez was bring upon their community.  Several citizens attempted to stop Ramirez as he tried to flee, eventually inflicting a pretty decent beating upon Ramirez.

Ramirez ended up going to trial three times.  During the first trial, a juror fell asleep.  During the second trial, a juror was murder – in a completely unrelated crime.  Finally, Ramirez was convicted during his third trial, which was interrupted by frequent bursts of satanic comments from the accused.

It wasn’t all bad news for Ramirez, though.  Ramirez exchanged leters with many people after his capture.  One of them ended up marrying him.

Wikipedia and The Casebook of Forensic Detection (Colin Evans) were sources for this article.