Part I: Who Are The Most Famous Copycat Killers?

This website is dedicated to the murderous psychopaths who have captured the national (and sometimes international) spotlight, for better or for worse. But sometimes, as bad as those criminals are, there are even crazier individuals who are captivated in exactly the wrong way. These lunatics turn into copycat killers. Once in a blue moon, the copycats are worthy successors to the original murderers. Here are the most famous copycat killers!

Daniel Bartlam. This guy is one of those really special killers who give politicians sufficient ammo when blaming violent video games for violent acts (because he liked them). He smashed Jacqueline Bartlam, his mother, in the head with a hammer, then set her on fire along with the rest of the house. But don’t worry — he helped the family and the dog escape their burning home.

He told investigators that a crook did the dirty deed. Unfortunately it took them all of two seconds to uncover the truth, thanks in large part due to the 14-year-old’s internet history. He had performed an online search on how to get away with the aforementioned crime. To make matters more transparent, he had also downloaded a number of videos of John Stape, a fictional character in the TV series Coronation Street

How did Stape kill his victims? Yep, he used his trusty ol’ hammer. The reclusively boyish Bartram was named the Coronation Killer for this peculiar obsession. He was sentenced to life in prison in February 2012. Potentially, he could be released after serving only sixteen years. 

Mark Twitchell. This nutcase is another guy who really liked TV psychopaths. The producers of popular dark dramedy Dexter probably never envisioned that the fictional/murderous protagonist would inspire any real-world murders, but alas — Dexter Morgan did exactly that. Although Twitchell had found his serial killing idol, he would never live up to the name. Twitchell only managed to commit a single murder before he was caught.

Twitchell wasn’t one for shame, either. He made a fake profile on a dating site in order to pose as a woman and lure a couple men to his kill room, where coincidentally he had already been making an actual movie about a serial killer. One of those men escaped.

He was another moron who left way too much obvious evidence behind. Like, don’t these guys even watch CSI: Crime Scene Investigation? One would think it’d be the first item on their list. Twitchell had a document called “SKConfessions” on his laptop. It read: “This story is based on true events. The names and events were altered slightly to protect the guilty. This is the story of my progression into becoming a serial killer.”

Before he was found guilty on a 1st degree murder charge, he tried to build a defense based on “blame the media.” He was put away for at least 25 years.

Stay tuned for “Part II” of the Looney Tunes.

Weird Crimes: Margaret “Bill” Allen Bludgeons Nancy Ellen Chadwick on August 28, 1948

The early 1900s were hardly a good time to be gay, much less transgender, but Margaret Allen was living such a life when it was almost unheard of to be doing so. He was 42 years old at the time of his death, went by the name of Bill, and almost always dressed in men’s clothing. Not surprisingly for the time, his family had disowned him for his “choices” in life. He was in poor health, chain smoking and suffering from depression brought about from his mother’s death in 1943.

Because of his lot in life, he had a great deal of difficulty finding work. 

Perhaps it isn’t surprising then that he turned to violence and that his life ended in the same. On August 28th, 1948, his neighbor Nancy Ellen Chadwick visited him hoping to borrow some sugar. The two were not fond of one another. The decision cost Nancy her life — reports from the time period indicate that Bill bludgeoned Nancy to death with a nearby coal hammer. Shockingly, he dragged the body down to the cellar before going out to enjoy a few drinks with his friend, Annie Cook.

That night, Bill had difficulty sleeping. He went back down to the cellar, removed the body, and dragged it out to the road. He wasn’t the brightest criminal on record. Someone found Nancy’s body the very next day, and police immediately opened an investigation. 

Bill was arrested on September 2nd, 1948 — his last birthday alive.

Detective Chief Inspector Stevens of Scotland Yard had interviewed him only one day before. Police discovered blood stains all along the inside wall near the front door.

After Bill’s arrest, he confessed quickly: “I didn’t do it for money, I was in one of my funny moods. I just happened to look around and saw the hammer in the kitchen. Then, on the spur of the moment, I hit her with it. She gave a loud shout and that seemed to start me off more, and so I hit her a few times more, I don’t know how many.”

Even today, transgender individuals who are imprisoned face significant challenges that other prisoners don’t. Being born in 1906 certainly didn’t help Bill when faced with a judge and jury. His lawyer, William Gormann K.C. argued that Bill was criminally insane. The jury deliberated for fifteen minutes, finding him guilty of murder after the prosecution argued that Bill had intended to rob Nancy. Perhaps his fate was sealed when he wore a suit to the trial.

Strangeways Prison officials in Manchester, England did not allow Bill to wear man’s clothing to his own execution. He was provided with a prison dress, brought to the gallows, and hanged until he was dead.

Strangeways chaplain Reverend Arthur Walker later argued that no woman should be hanged and that the execution had left he and other bystanders in worse health than before.

Serial Killers: Edward J. Adams OR William J. Wallace, Depending On Who You Ask

William J. Wallace was born in 1887. He lived on the family farm in Hutchinson, Kanson with his mother and father. When his father died and his mother remarried, he was at constant odds with his new stepfather. On top of that, he was growing more and more exhausted by the constant physical strain of daily farmwork. That’s likely why he decided to set off for Wichita, where he learned how to be a barber.

Unfortunately, it also set him on a dark path: in Wichita he met John Callahan, who taught him how to steal professionally. Before long, Wallace was caught up in bootlegging and theft scandals. He married, but his wife took off when she became weary of his infidelity. While Prohibition was still in effect, he became well known for starting a successful gang and committing a string of bank robberies in Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa.

Eventually he was caught and sentenced to life in prison.

Not long thereafter, he escaped custody in transport. Amusingly he was caught only a few days later when he began another string of robberies, and then sentenced to 10-30 years in Kansas. Ever the escape artist, he managed to flee from imprisonment only months later. 

Thus started a massive game of cat and mouse that left seven people dead — three of them police officers. Wallace (who at some point changed his name to Eddie Adams) pistol-whipped  an 82-year-old man during the commission of a bank robbery in Haysville. The man died. In the course of the manhunt, Adams came upon Patrolman A.L. Young, and shot him dead. According to witnesses, Young and Adams had been in love with the same woman. For some reason she chose the lawman over the outlaw.

The police caught up with Adams once again on November 20, 1921. In the course of pulling over his vehicle, the police were abruptly shot at, and an officer named Robert Fitzpatrick was killed. Fleeing to Cowley County, Adams and the men he was with ran out of gas near a farm, where they tried to steal George Oldham’s vehicle. Adams killed the man when he fought back.

Adams tried to flee one final time by using an officer’s funeral as cover for the escape. When trying to rent a car, the garage owner recognized Adams and called the police. When three police officers arrived, Adams managed to kill one and wound another before D.C. Stuckey shot him three times. He died on the scene. 

Thousands of people came to view his body, which was happily put on display to celebrate the man’s end.

This Year Marks The 100-Year Anniversary Of The Epic Black Sox Scandal

Few people who are alive today would remember the Black Sox Scandal that erupted after a group of eight Chicago White Sox players allegedly lost the 1919 World Series due to organized crime. They let the Cincinnati Reds defeat them after being promised a large cash payout by Arnold Rothstein, whose gambling syndicate was gaining power and wealth before the time of the incident.

Tension was boiling behind the scenes in the years leading up to the scandal. Many of the players detested White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, who had previously played the sport but was widely known as a cheapskate when negotiating salaries for his own players. Even in the clubhouse there were two distinct factions of players. From the outside looking in, it may have seemed like a battle between good and evil, or honor and greed.

It was later reported that a meeting took place between many players on the team, some already ready to lose games in exchange for the payment, and others simply open to the possibility. Even before the White Sox threw the requisite games, rumors in the gambling world were circulating that it was a possibility.

A grand jury wasn’t called to investigate the crime until late 1920, at which time one player confessed his part in the scandal. All hell broke loose from there. The players allegedly involved were all suspended in the midst of a strong season they had the potential to win, which left them in second place for the year.

Eight players were indicted, as well as five gamblers allegedly a part of the syndicate that paid them off. The “Clean Sox” who were not implicated in the crime were given bonus checks.

The outcome of the trial seemed to waver back and forth, being injected with new scandal at every turn — signed confessions and other evidence went missing while new testimonies were promised. Even though the testimony presented at trial seemed to clearly indicate the guilt of the players, each and every one of them were found not guilty by a jury of their peers. 

They didn’t get away with the scandal without consequence, though: all eight were banned from ever playing in the league again.

Baseball has always been known as a purely American sport here in the United States — even though it originally evolved from a European sport called “rounders” — and it should come as no surprise that the American psyche in the sports world was thoroughly trampled as a result of the alleged crime and subsequent trial. It would be a long time before the integrity of the game was fully restored.

Have you been falsely accused of a crime in or around Miami? You need the best defense attorney money can buy — and one is waiting at our Valiente Law offices.

The Trial Of Captain Thomas Preston After The Boston Massacre

Sometimes service to the king doesn’t pay. That was the case on March 5, 1770 when Private Hugh White ran into trouble when trying to protect the local Custom House treasury funds on King Street in the colonial city of Boston. The story goes that a number of colonists began to antagonize and assault White without cause, after which he eventually called for backup while prostrate on the ground. When Captain Thomas Preston and some of his troops surrounded the Custom House, it seemed only a matter of time before blood would be spilled.

Such was the case.

Colonists physically assaulted the soldiers — according to various accounts, none of which seem to say the same thing — and one of the soldiers apparently fired his weapon either intentionally or unintentionally. We’ll never know for sure, and it doesn’t really matter. It was only the first shot, then followed by many more. Five colonists were killed in the resulting chaos. Six others were injured.

This event was one of the sparks that caused the American Revolution. Preston and those serving under his command were arrested shortly after the bloodshed. It would be future president John Adams who would actually argue in defense of Preston and his men — not because he had any love for the British, but because he believed anyone accused of a crime should have the right to a fair trial. Adams even convinced the judge overseeing the trial to find a jury of out-of-towners to make sure the eventual ruling was as impartial as possible.

Adams argued well. 

He said that conflicting stories left reasonable doubt as to the men’s guilt, and that they should be found not guilty of murder. All were. Two of the soldiers were, however, found guilty on a lesser charge of manslaughter and penalized with branding.

Some time after the event, Preston commented on the chaotic nonsense that had led them astray: “None of them was a hero. The victims were troublemakers who got more than they deserved. The soldiers were professionals…who shouldn’t have panicked. The whole thing shouldn’t have happened.”

No one can argue against that.

Even so, events continued to escalate in Boston: the historic Boston Tea Party cemented the feelings of ill will between colonists and redcoats, which led to the First Continental Congress and even more skirmishes before all-out war finally broke out. The rest is history.

The Ancient Roman Master Of Poisons: Locusta

When you think of a poison expert, what first springs to mind? A person meddling in the dark arts? Or someone adept at finding antidotes to common poisons? In Ancient Rome, the best expert you might find would be skilled at making poisons. A number of Roman historians, including Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio, described the notorious Locusta’s elicit career and her equally elicit end. Modern poisoners like Linda Stratmann and William Palmer may have taken cues from their predecessors.

In Ancient Rome, if you made your career in killing, you were just as likely to be killed yourself whether you were following orders or not. Keep that in mind if you ever find yourself thrown backward through time.

Locusta’s storied history started the moment she decided to serve as a poisons expert for Agrippina the Younger, a Roman empress described as ruthless, violent, and power-hungry. By 54 AD Locusta had already been formally charged and imprisoned on poisoning charges. This was before the work she did under Agrippina.

What did she do?

Locusta provided her employer with a poison that was then sprinkled on mushrooms given to Agrippina’s husband, Emperor Claudius. The best way to poison an emperor? Make sure the food taster is on your side. Even though Agrippina made sure to have Claudius’s food taster hand the poisoned mushroom to the emperor himself, the poison still wasn’t enough to get the job done. Instead, the pair of villains moved onto their next plot. They provided Claudius’s doctor with a poisoned feather, which was then thrust down his throat in order to induce vomiting (most likely after health problems from the mushrooms developed, because that’s just the way these stories go).

Even though she was still locked away, Locusta’s career was not over.

Agrippina’s son was the Emperor Nero, and he would eventually call on Locusta in 55 AD to murder Claudius’s son. After all, if you murder the father, you can’t let his spawn escape. He’s likely to come after you someday! It’s logic.

Anyway, Locusta’s poison failed to eliminate its target as quickly as Nero desired. After he beat her and threatened her life, she opted to provide him with a poison of the faster-acting variety. The death of Claudius’s son left Nero in such a state of jubilation that he decided to provide Locusta with a pardon for any and all crimes she may have committed. He even gave her land and wealth. Convinced that she had secrets worth knowing, Nero sent students to Locusta’s new home so that they might learn the art of poisoning themselves.

It’s always best to have more than one murderer in your employ, after all.

When Nero fled Rome in 68 AD and eventually committed suicide, Locusta’s own prosperity was in jeopardy. The new emperor chained her alongside a number of Nero’s other pets, including Patrobius, Narcissus, and Helius. He had them dragged through the city so that all might see what happens when you follow the orders of a crazy leader, and then executed the lot of them. It never pays to poison.

How A Real Life Crime Inspired A New DUI Law In Maryland

While working on a DUI special task force in Montgomery County, Maryland, 24-year-old Noah Leotta was in the process of stopping another vehicle for suspicion of DUI on December 3, 2015. When he was returning to his police car, he was struck and ultimately killed by Luis Gustavo Reluzco. Prior to the accident, Reluzco was drinking and using Marijuana.

In response to this tragic accident, Maryland passed a new act entitled Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2015 also known as Noah’s Law. The act was signed by Governor Larry Hogan on May 19th, 2016 and was put into effect on October of that year.

The law requires an ignition interlock system to be installed on cars operated by anyone who was convicted of a DUI, a DWI while transporting a minor or anyone who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence or while intoxicated. The law also determines the length in which drivers licensed should be suspended if a blood alcohol test is refused or if the result is over .15.

Maryland is known for its very strict legislation regarding those who are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. First-time offenders face up to a year in prison and a $1000 fine. Their look back period is also 5 years which can make multiple DUI charges add up quicker than other states.

 

Elizabeth Short aka The Black Dahlia

It was the morning of January 15, 1947, when a mother was taking her child on a walk when she stumbled upon an ungodly sight: a young naked woman who was sliced in half at the waist. The body was so still that the mother originally thought it was a mannequin. Despite being cut in half and mutilated there was no blood at the scene which indicated that the young woman must have been murdered somewhere else.

The identifying of her body was quicker than one would think for 1947. The LA Police Department sent over her fingerprints to the FBI via a caveman version of a fax machine (which itself today is a relic). The fingerprints were luckily in the FBI database. The young woman was none other than Hollywood hopefull Elizabeth Short. She had been arrested for underage drinking a few months earlier and had applied for a job at the Army’s Camp Cooke a few years earlier which is why she was able to be identified quickly. The press labeled her Black Dahlia based on a movie that was out at the time called Blue Dahlia and rumor that Elizabeth liked to wear sheer black clothes.

To this day the killer has not been found. At the time over 60 people confessed to the murder but only 25 of them were considered viable suspects by the LAPD. Because of this legend, more suspects keep getting added to the list and now over 500 people have confessed to her murder (some of which weren’t even born at the time of her death!). Because of the clean nature of the cuts on Short’s body, the police believed the killer to be a medical professional.

Since this crime was committed 72 years ago, the odds of us ever figuring out who the real killer is are slim to none. It will forever be a mystery, a mystery that will go unsolved.

The Most Successful One-Armed Serial Killer You Never Heard About: Peter Stumpp

And no, we didn’t make that up. The one-armed madman’s last name really was “Stumpp” although it was also commonly spelled Stube, Stubbe, or Stumpf based on its Germanic roots. Good ‘ol stumpy was a German farmer, popular for his alleged love of witchcraft, cannibalism, and, oh yeah, being a werewolf. In the late Middle Ages, being a werewolf was as serious a crime as you could commit.

During his trial–once again, for being a werewolf–he was tortured by stretching. Sometimes the rack is just the only way you can get to the truth. Shockingly, poor Petey confessed. He learned the dark arts from a young age, practicing black magic by the time he was twelve. He was able to transform himself into a werewolf with the help of a magical belt gifted to him by the Devil. The Church believed the story, but oddly enough they never managed to find that darn belt.

Stumpp also confessed to cannibalism. According to his true accounting of the horrific events that led to the accusations levied against him, he chowed down at least fourteen kids. He liked the taste of human veal so much that he ripped the fetuses out of two pregnant women he’d already eaten, and wolfed them down too. He described the meals as “dainty morsels,” describing his hunger for raw, hot meat. Among the fourteen kids was his son. Stumpp ate his brain.

He also had an alleged incestuous relationship with his own daughter, who, no surprise, was obviously sentenced to die with him. You have to scour the infection completely, after all.

If these crimes weren’t enough, he also had sex with a succubus. Another gift from the Devil.

The execution of these truly heinous individuals put any act of brutality committed in the Roman Colosseum to absolute shame. Stumpp’s daughter was flayed living, and then strangled to death.

Stumpp didn’t have it so good. The flesh was torn from his body by heated pincers. His limbs were smashed with the flat side of an axe so that he could never be raised from the dead (always a concern). He was then beheaded. His body was burned alongside his daughter’s on a pyre. Done is done, or it would have been, but there was a point to be made. As a deterrent, Peter’s severed head was shoved atop a pole.

For some reason this version of events is contested. Some people believe that the whole charade was a political ploy by the Church to prevent anyone else converting from catholicism (as Peter had likely done). How silly!

The Greatest Medieval Serial Killers: Gilles de Rais

There’s just something special about the Middle Ages. Everything was grittier, darker, and more fantastical than it is today (even if the media would have us think differently). Gilles de Rais was a knight, a lord, and a companion to the famous Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years’ War. Sounds like a chaste guy, right? Oh, but he also enjoyed murdering children. In fact he enjoyed it so very much that he perhaps disposed of hundreds. An interesting fellow, to be sure.

From at least 1432 until 1440, a string of murders took place. They stopped when Gilles was found guilty, condemned to death, and sent to the gallows.

Gilles may have known something of the ancient Roman festival called Saturnalia. It was during this week-long celebration that a common subject was chosen from among the masses to be feasted with food and drink, to be pampered and loved. At the end of the joyous occasion, the subject was butchered as a representation of gluttonous evil overcome by the forces of good.

This is precisely how Gilles de Rais killed his victims. He would provide his intended victim with wonderful new garments, then a feast complete with copious amounts of alcohol. It was only then that Rais brought the victim to a kill room and took care of his baser desires by pleasuring himself. He would sexually assault the victim before the murder was completed.

The victims were routinely tortured. They were sometimes decapitated or dismembered. Other times their throats were cut or their necks were broken. Those who bore witness to these terrible crimes against humanity testified that Rais took immense pleasure in the pain he inflicted upon the children, and he also enjoyed the sight of their internal organs after they were dead.

Rais was only discovered after he kidnapped a cleric. An investigation was put forth by the Bishop of Nantes, and it didn’t take very long before Rais was found out. He was charged with murder, sodomy, and heresy. The court planned to torture Rais into confessing his sins, but Rais ruined the fun by confessing all on his own.

Most of the victims’ bodies were burned, but a grave of at least 40 was found. The total number of murders is thought to be between 80 and 200, making him perhaps one of the greatest serial killers of all time. His body was, perhaps quite fittingly, burned after his execution.

Then again, there are a number of counter-arguments and theories that claim Gilles de Rais was likely innocent of the crimes, and subject to a plot with ulterior motives.