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Bestselling true-crime writer Harold Schechter, a leading authority on serial killers, and coauthor David Everitt offer a guided tour through the bizarre and blood-chilling world of serial murder. Through hundreds of detailed entries that span the entire spectrum -- the shocking crimes, the infamous perpetrators, and much more -- they examine all angles of a gruesome cultural phenomenon that grips our imagination. From Art (both by and about serial killers) to Zeitgeist (how killers past and present embody their times)...from Groupies (even the most sadistic killer can claim devoted fans) to Marriage (the perfect domestic disguise for demented killers)...from Homebodies (psychos who slay in the comfort of their homes) to Plumbing (how clogged drains have undone the most discreet killer), THE A TO Z ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SERIAL KILLERS is the ultimate reference for anyone compelled by the personalities and pathologies behind the most disturbing of crimes.
Serial killers have never enjoyed a firmer grip on the nation's imagination. A steady stream of horrific crimes have made serial murder a subject of both tabloid attention and serious study. With hundreds of entries spanning the entire spectrum of serial murder, this comprehensive resource examines these shocking crimes, and their infamous practicioners, from every angle. Image descriptions are included.
Harold Schechter, who delivers "must reading for true crime buffs" (Ann Rule), unravels one of the most gruesome and historically significant cases of American serial murder in Bestial. Violent crime was on the rise in the Jazz Age, and gangland carnage made flashy headlines. But few could conceive of who -- or what -- orchestrated the acts of barbaric murder and unimaginable defilement that commenced in San Francisco in the winter of 1926. The savagery of Earle Leonard Nelson -- a hulking creature dubbed "the Gorilla Man" -- shocked a nation weaned on the fictional nightmares of Edgar Allan Poe and distant legends of the Whitechapel murders. A child of unnatural obsessions and an aberrant sex drive, he grew to become a social outcast whose perverse behavior erupted in a sixteen-month spree of butchery that would not be equaled until decades later, by the likes of John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer.
The heinous bloodlust of Dr. H.H. Holmes is notorious -- but only Harold Schechter's Depraved tells the complete story of the killer whose evil acts of torture and murder flourished within miles of the Chicago World's Fair. "Destined to be a true crime classic" (Flint Journal, MI), this authoritative account chronicles the methods and madness of a monster who slipped easily into a bright, affluent Midwestern suburb, where no one suspected the dapper, charming Holmes -- who alternately posed as doctor, druggist, and inventor to snare his prey -- was the architect of a labyrinthine "Castle of Horrors." Holmes admitted to twenty-seven murders by the time his madhouse of trapdoors, asphyxiation devices, body chutes, and acid vats was exposed. The seminal profile of a homegrown madman in the era of Jack the Ripper, Depraved is also a mesmerizing tale of true detection long before the age of technological wizardry.
LURED FROM THE SAFETY OF HOME -- INTO THE JAWS OF HELL "America's principal chronicler of its greatest psychopathic killers" (The Boston Book Review), Harold Schechter shatters the myth that violent crime is a modern phenomenon -- with this seamless true account of unvarnished horror from the early twentieth century. Journey inside the demented mind of Albert Fish -- pedophile, sadist, and cannibal killer -- and discover that bloodlust knows no time or place.... On a warm spring day in 1928, a kindly, white-haired man appeared at the Budd family home in New York City, and soon persuaded Mr. and Mrs. Budd to let him take their adorable little girl, Grace, on an outing. The Budds never guessed that they had entrusted their child to a monster. After a relentless six-year search and nationwide press coverage, the mystery of Grace Budd's disappearance was solved -- and a crime of unparalleled gore and revulsion was revealed to a stunned American public. What Albert Fish did to Grace Budd, and perhaps fifteen other young children, caused experts to pronounce him the most deranged human being they had ever seen.
The truth behind the twisted crimes that inspired the films Psycho, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and The Silence of the Lambs... From "America's principal chronicler of its greatest psychopathic killers" (The Boston Book Review) comes the definitive account of Ed Gein, a mild-mannered Wisconsin farmhand who stunned an unsuspecting nation -- and redefined the meaning of the word "psycho." The year was 1957. The place was an ordinary farmhouse in America's heartland, filled with extraordinary evidence of unthinkable depravity. The man behind the massacre was a slight, unassuming Midwesterner with a strange smile -- and even stranger attachment to his domineering mother. After her death and a failed attempt to dig up his mother's body from the local cemetery, Gein turned to other grave robberies and, ultimately, multiple murders. Driven to commit gruesome and bizarre acts beyond all imagining, Ed Gein remains one of the most deranged minds in the annals of American homicide. This is his story -- recounted in fascinating and chilling detail by Harold Schechter, one of the most acclaimed true-crime storytellers of our time.
From renowned true-crime historian Harold Schechter, whom The Boston Book Review hails as "America's principal chronicler of its greatest psychopathic killers," comes the riveting exploration of a notorious, sensational New York City murder in the 1890s, the fascinating forensic science of an earlier age, and the explosively dramatic trial that became a tabloid sensation at the turn of the century. Death was by poison and came in the mail: A package of Bromo Seltzer had been anonymously sent to Harry Cornish, the popular athletic director of Manhattan's elite Knickerbocker Athletic Club. Cornish barely survived swallowing a small dose; his cousin Mrs. Katherine Adams died in agony after ingesting the toxic brew. Scandal sheets owned by Hearst and Pulitzer eagerly jumped on this story of fatal high-society intrigue, speculating that the devious killer was a chemist, a woman, or "an effeminate man." Forensic studies suggested cyanide as the cause of death; handwriting on the deadly package and the vestige of a label glued to the bottle pointed to a handsome, athletic society scamp, Roland Molineux. The wayward son of a revered Civil War general, Molineux had clashed bitterly with Cornish before. He had even furiously denounced Cornish when penning his resignation from the Knickerbocker Club, a letter that later proved a major clue. Bon vivant Molineux had recently wed the sensuous Blanche Chesebrough, an opera singer whose former lover, Henry Barnet, had also recently died ... after taking medicine sent to him through the mail. Molineux's subsequent indictment for murder led to two explosive trials, a sex-infused scandal that shocked the nation, and a lurid print-media circus that ended in madness and a proud family's disgrace. In bold, brilliant strokes, Schechter captures all the colors of the tumultuous legal case, gathering his own evidence and tackling subjects no one dared address at the time--all in hopes of answering the tantalizing question: What powerfully dark motives could drive the wealthy scion of an eminent New York family to foul murder? Schechter vividly portrays the case's fascinating cast of characters, including Julian Hawthorne, son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, a prolific yellow journalist who covered the story, and proud General Edward Leslie Molineux, whose son's ignoble deeds besmirched a dignified national hero's final years. All the while Schechter brings alive Manhattan's Gilded Age: a gaslit world of elegant town houses and hidden bordellos, chic restaurants and shabby opium dens, a city peopled by men and women fighting and losing the battle against urges an upright era had ordered suppressed. Superbly researched and powerfully written, The Devil's Gentleman is an insightful, gripping work, a true-crime historian's crowning achievement.
Reflecting today's growing emphasis on multiculturalism, the second edition of this remarkably successful anthology supplements its offerings from the traditional literary canon with twelve additional contributions from the new generation of writers currently revitalizing the short story form, including Amy Tan, Bharati Mukherjee, Stephen Milhauser, Ellen Gilchrist, and Patrick McGrath. Organized around the successive stages of humanity's most durable myth, the hero's quest narrative pattern delineated by renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell, this edition offers a summary and explication of Campbell's analysis of the quest motif, a new biographical introduction to Campbell's life and work, and a section of concise, biographical entries on each of the fifty authors. As in the earlier edition, the quality and quantity of the selections assure instructors of complete freedom in presenting the stories in whatever order and structure they choose. For those who do wish to take advantage of the anthology's thematic organization, the editors provide questions for discussion and possible writing assignments that do not sacrifice the comprehensive diversity of the selections or their identity as distinctive works of literature open to various interpretations. A highly accessible introduction to the technical aspects of the close analysis of fiction, this text also offers a number of special features: two supplementary tables of contents, one organized by alternate themes, and one by the traditional elements of fiction; an introductory essay defining those technical elements and including a sample analysis of one of the stories in the anthology, and a glossary of critical terms. About the Editors: Harold Schechter is Professor of English at Queens College, the City University of New York. He is the author of numerous articles and over a dozen books. Jonna Gormely Serneiks is Associate Professor of English at Long Island University. She is the coeditor of Patterns in Popular Culture (1980) and American Voices (1988).
In an era that produced some of the most vicious female sociopaths in American history, Jane Toppan would become the most notorious of them all. AN ANGEL OF MERCY In 1891, Jane Toppan, a proper New England matron, embarked on a profession as a private-duty nurse. Selfless and good-natured, she beguiled Boston's most prominent families. They had no idea what they were welcoming into their homes.... A DEVIL IN DISGUISE No one knew of Jane's past: of her mother's tragic death, of her brutal upbringing in an adoptive home, of her father's insanity, or of her own suicide attempts. No one could have guessed that during her tenure at a Massachusetts hospital the amiable "Jolly Jane" was morbidly obsessed with autopsies, or that she conducted her own after-hours experiments on patients, deriving sexual satisfaction in their slow, agonizing deaths from poison. Self-schooled in the art of murder, Jane Toppan was just beginning her career -- and she would indulge in her true calling victim by victim to become the most prolific domestic fiend of the nineteenth century.
A MONSTER PREYED UPON THE CHILDREN OF NINETEENTH-CENTURY BOSTON. HIS CRIMES WERE APPALLING -- AND YET HE WAS LITTLE MORE THAN A CHILD HIMSELF. When fourteen-year-old Jesse Pomeroy was arrested in 1874, a nightmarish reign of terror over an unsuspecting city came to an end. "The Boston Boy Fiend" was imprisoned at last. But the complex questions sparked by his ghastly crime spree -- the hows and whys of vicious juvenile crime -- were as relevant in the so-called Age of Innocence as they are today. Jesse Pomeroy was outwardly repellent in appearance, with a gruesome "dead" eye; inside, he was deformed beyond imagining. A sexual sadist of disturbing precocity, he satisfied his atrocious appetites by abducting and torturing his child victims. But soon, the teenager's bloodlust gave way to another obsession: murder. Harold Schechter, whose true-crime masterpieces are "well-documented nightmares for anyone who dares to look" (Peoria Journal Star), brings his acclaimed mix of page-turning storytelling, brilliant insight, and fascinating historical documentation to Fiend -- an unforgettable account from the annals of American crime.
Suspense, intrigue, atmosphere, and vivid historical detail combine into a thrilling ride through nineteenth-century New York City in The Mask of Red Death. Harold Schechter delivers both a wonderfully accurate portrait of a city in turmoil and an irresistibly appealing depiction of his amateur sleuth Edgar Allan Poe, mirroring the master's writing style with wit and acumen. It is the sweltering summer of 1845, and the thriving metropolis has fallen victim to a creature of the most inhuman depravity...
Praised by Caleb Carr for his "brilliantly detailed and above all riveting" true-crime writing, Harold Schechter brings his expertise to a marvelous work of fiction. Superbly rendering the 1830s Baltimore of Edgar Allan Poe, Schechter taps into the dark genius of that legendary author -- and follows a labyrinthine path into the heart of a most heinous crime. Nevermore A literary critic known for his scathing pen, Edgar Allan Poe is a young struggling writer, plagued by dreadful ruminations and horrific visions. Suddenly he is plunged into an adventure beyond his wildest fantasies -- a quest for a killer through Baltimore's highest and lowest streets and byways. A string of ghastly murders is linked by one chilling clue -- a cryptic word scrawled in blood. It is a terrifying lure that ensnares Poe in a deadly investigation. And along the way, his own macabre literary imagination is sparked as he unveils dark realities stranger than any fiction...
The brutally graphic memoirs of one of America's most notorious and repentant murderers who killed 21 people and committed thousands of burglaries and numerous acts of violence and sexual abuse. Born in 1891 in Minnesota, he died on the gallows in 1930 after having spent a large portion of his life within the penitentiary system. 'I enjoyed the real hell out of it. Panzram is one of those people who doesn't exist in your mind until you come across him in life or as here, in a book, and then he never leaves you.' -Norman Mailer
AMERICA'S MOST COLD-BLOODED! In the horrifying annals of American crime, the infamous names of brutal killers such as Bundy, Dahmer, Gacy, and Berkowitz are writ large in the imaginations of a public both horrified and hypnotized by their monstrous, murderous acts. But for every celebrity psychopath who's gotten ink for spilling blood, there's a bevy of all-but-forgotten homicidal fiends studding the bloody margins of U.S. history. The law gave them their just desserts, but now the hugely acclaimed author of The Serial Killer Files and The Whole Death Catalog gives them their dark due in this absolutely riveting true-crime treasury. Among America's most cold-blooded you'll meet * Robert Irwin, "The Mad Sculptor": He longed to use his carving skills on the woman he loved--but had to settle for making short work of her mother and sister instead. * Peter Robinson, "The Tell-Tale Heart Killer": It took two days and four tries for him to finish off his victim, but no time at all for keen-eyed cops to spot the fatal flaw in his floor plan. * Anton Probst, "The Monster in the Shape of a Man": The ax-murdering immigrant's systematic slaughter of all eight members of a Pennsylvania farm family matched the savagery of the Manson murders a century later. * Edward H. Ruloff, "The Man of Two Lives": A genuine Jekyll and Hyde, his brilliant scholarship disguised his bloodthirsty brutality, and his oversized brain gave new meaning to "mastermind." Spurred by profit, passion, paranoia, or perverse pleasure, these killers--the Witch of Staten Island, the Smutty Nose Butcher, the Bluebeard of Quiet Dell, and many others--span three centuries and a host of harrowing murder methods. Dramatized in the pages of penny dreadfuls, sensationalized in tabloid headlines, and immortalized in "murder ballads" and classic fiction by Edgar Allan Poe and Theodore Dreiser, the demonic denizens of Psycho USA may be long gone to the gallows--but this insidiously irresistible slice of gothic Americana will ensure that they'll no longer be forgotten.
The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World's Most Terrifying Murderersby Harold Schechter
THE DEFINITIVE DOSSIER ON HISTORY'S MOST HEINOUS! Hollywood's make-believe maniacs like Jason, Freddy, and Hannibal Lecter can't hold a candle to real life monsters like John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and scores of others who have terrorized, tortured, and terminated their way across civilization throughout the ages. Now, from the much-acclaimed author of Deviant, Deranged, and Depraved, comes the ultimate resource on the serial killer phenomenon. Rigorously researched and packed with the most terrifying, up-to-date information, this innovative and highly compelling compendium covers every aspect of multiple murderers--from psychology to cinema, fetishism to fan clubs, "trophies" to trading cards. Discover: WHO THEY ARE: Those featured include Ed Gein, the homicidal mama's boy who inspired fiction's most famous Psycho, Norman Bates; Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi, sex-crazed killer cousins better known as the Hillside Stranglers; and the Beanes, a fifteenth-century cave-dwelling clan with an insatiable appetite for human flesh. HOW THEY KILL: They shoot, stab, and strangle. Butcher, bludgeon, and burn. Drown, dismember, and devour . . . and other methods of massacre too many and monstrous to mention here. WHY THEY DO IT: For pleasure and for profit. For celebrity and for "companionship." For the devil and for dinner. For the thrill of it, for the hell of it, and because "such men are monsters, who live beyond the frontiers of madness." PLUS: in-depth case studies, classic killers' nicknames, definitions of every kind of deviance and derangement, and much, much more. For more than one hundred profiles of lethal loners and killer couples, Bluebeards and black widows, cannibals and copycats-- this is an indispensable, spine-tingling, eye-popping investigation into the dark hearts and mad minds of that twisted breed of human whose crimes are the most frightening ... and fascinating.
Ever since childhood, Edgar Allan Poe has seen things that are not there, heard voices others cannot and felt utterly at home in the realm of human darkness. In Harold Schechter's intriguing, suspenseful, and delightfully wicked mystery series, Poe makes the perfect hero to unravel cases of the murderous and the macabre. The Tell-Tale Corpse begins as Poe pays a visit to his old friend P. T. Barnum, who implores the wordsmith to travel to Boston to secure for Poe's wife an urgent medical cure--and to acquire some particularly garish crime-scene evidence for Barnum's popular cabinet of curiosities, the so-called American Museum. The crime in question is the recent butchery of a beautiful young shopgirl. Once in Boston, Poe makes an immediate deduction: The sensational murder is only one in a string of inexplicable killings-the center of a single, shadowy pool of deceit and ghoulish depravity. Several deaths later, Poe finds himself leading a frantic investigation, with the assistance of a highly unusual girl named Louisa May Alcott, who has literary ambitions of her own-and whose innocence belies her own fascination with the dark side. As his wife's health falters and a city panics, Poe pursues a strange circle of suspects. He must now see what others cannot: the invisible bonds that tie together seemingly unrelated cases-and the truth that lies behind a serial murderer's ghastly disguise. From a cameo by the narcoleptic Henry David Thoreau to a charming portrait of the four Alcott sisters at home in Concord, The Tell-Tale Corpse brings to life nineteenth-century New York and Boston and a world of intellectuals, charlatans, discoverers, dupes, daguerreotypists, and amateur morticians. As Poe comes closer to unraveling the fiendish riddle, the poet must admit at last that he is up against a fellow genius--a genius not of words but of death.
In the tradition of the bestselling work "Stiff," a pop culture guru and author of "The Serial Killer Files" offers an all-inclusive, irreverent, and always lively look at the state of death.
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