Disabled Serial Killers You’ve Never Heard About: PART 2

In part one of our series on disabled serial killers — yes, they exist — we discussed that traditional stereotyping of serial killers is deeply flawed. Murderers come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes those with mental deficiencies are even more likely to show aggressive or violent tendencies. These are a few more disabled serial killers or murderers you’ve never heard about!

Prosecutors had a difficult time making charges stick to Donald Lang, who was found with blood on his clothes after he allegedly murdered a Chicago prostitute named Ernestine Williams in 1965. He was deaf and illiterate. Because he couldn’t communicate with anyone, even through sign language, authorities opted to institutionalize him instead. The case was dismissed after the death of a witness. Lang was freed in 1971, after which he murdered another prostitute.

This time, his incompetence didn’t save him — even though legally it should have — and he was convicted and incarcerated for a period up to 25 years. Or that’s what would have happened if the appeals court hadn’t overturned the original case. A judge ruled that Lang could never property defend himself even with counsel, and so he was confined to the Chicago-Read Mental Health facility where he remains to this day.

Joseph Mesa Jr. was charged with 15 counts of robbery and first-degree murder after he killed his Gallaudet University classmates Eric Plunkett and Benjamin Varner. A jury found him guilty and the judge handed him two life sentences, both without the possibility of parole. Although he never got the chance to attain serial killer status, psychiatrist Mitchell Hugonett says he fit the bill mentally: “[Mesa] found the murder as gratifying as if it were an end in and of itself.”

Mesa was one of those individuals who started young by killing animals. He admitted to killing a mother cat and its kittens with a baseball bat — and according to his doctors he enjoyed retelling the story.