“Along the shore the cloud waves break, The twin suns sink behind the lake, The shadows lengthen, In Carcosa.” – The King in Yellow
There’s no denying that human beings have always been predisposed to fascination with the unusual, ugly, and frightening things that hide in the dark corners of the world around us. We’re constantly seeking new ways to understand our fears, and new faces to give our monsters. HBO’s newest series, True Detective is a testament to our unrelenting desire to look into the darkness from safe distances. Unfortunately, not all monsters live in our imagination.
Inspired by True Detective, this map is an exploration of America’s real-life monsters and the detectives who caught them.
During the summer of 1976, David Berkowitz, also known as the Son of Sam, terrorized New York City, leaving behind six victims, and seven wounded people. The media deemed it the “Summer of Sam”.
By July of 1977 over fifty detectives had been assigned to track down the killer, but it was Detective Ed Zigo who broke the case when a parking ticket was traced back to a Ford Galaxie that had been spotted the night of Stacy Moskowitz’s murder. That car belonged to David Berkowitz, and when Zigo searched the car he discovered the murder weapon in the backseat.
Berkowitz later told detectives that his neighbor’s dog had been giving him instructions to kill.
Albert Fish admitted to molesting and torturing over 400 children, many of which he cannibalized. After a six year investigation, Fish was caught and on January 16th, 1936 he was executed at Sing Sing prison.
Fish was caught by Detective William King after a the mother of victim Grace Budd received an anonymous letter detailing the abduction, torture, murder, and cannibalization of her daughter. The letterhead was traced to the flophouse where Fish was staying, and his lifetime of terror came to an end.
Nicknamed “The Boston Strangler”, Albert DeSalvo admitted to raping and killing 13 women in the Boston Area between 1962 to 1973. Though not officially imprisoned for the murders, in 2013 police were able to match DeSalvo’s DNA to the rape and murder of Mary Sullivan with 99.9% accuracy.
In 1973, DeSalvo was found stabbed to death in the infirmary of Walpole prison.
John Wayne Gacy was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering 33 teenage boys, 26 of which were found buried in the crawlspace under his Norwood Park home. Four other bodies were discovered on his property, and three others dumped in the Des Plaines River.
In December of 1978, detective Aug Schwiesow and his colleagues discovered trace amounts of hair and teeth in the spot under Gacy’s home, a find that led them to crack one of the most grisly cases in criminal history.
Between 1978 and 1991, Jeffery Dahmer raped, killed, dismembered, and ate 17 men, preserving many of thieir body parts and keeping them as trophies. Dahmer also admitted to committing necrophilia with many of the corpses.
On July 22nd, 1991, officers Rolf Mueller and Robert Rauth discovered a stack of Polaroids inside Dahmer’s apartment, photographs that showed numerous bodies in various stages of decomposition. Once Dahmer was handcuffed and officers were able to investigate the rest of the home, they discovered the head of a man in the bottom shelf of the refrigerator… it was only one of four.
Ted Bundy admitted to to kidnapping, raping, killing, and having sex with the corpses of 30 women between 1974 to 1978, though the number is believed to be much higher.
Detective Jerry Thomson was one of the only detectives to see through Bundy’s overly “likable” personality, and discovered a balaclava, iron bar, and handcuffs inside Bundy’s car. He then ordered Bundy to take part in a line-up where kidnapping victim Carol DaRonch identified him as her attacker.
Bundy claimed that he followed through with the killings because of the “entity” that lived within him. On January 24th 1989, he was executed by way of the electric chair.
Richard Ramirez was charged with 13 counts of murder, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults, and 14 burglaries.
On August 30th, 1985, the ‘Night Stalker’s’ face was revealed to the pubic, and it took no time for a crowd, armed with steel rods, to subdue him until police arrived and he was officially arrested.
The Zodiac Killer’s identity remains unknown.
There are 7 confirmed Zodiac victims, and 5 suspected victims. A series of letters and cryptograms were sent to the local Bay Area press taunting local authorities to catch him. Only one of the cryptograms has been solved.
During 1947 to 1952 Ed Gein made over 40 trips to local cemeteries to exhume recently buried bodies that resembled his mother. He later told police that the trips were “daze-like”. He also admitted to killing two women and dismembering their bodies.
Inside Gein’s house police discovered a horror show. Body parts, human skin, and piles of bones were found stuffed into boxes, sitting on shelves, and spread across tables. The list included human noses, female heads, chairs upholstered in human skin, skulls, a belt made from female nipples, a lampshade made from a human face, and a body suit made from a woman’s torso which he wore to to satisfy his desire to become a woman.
Gein later became the inspiration behind three of the most famous fictional monsters, Norman Bates, Leatherface, and Buffalo Bill.
10. “BTK” – Dennis Rader
The “Bind, Torture, Kill” killer tortured, raped, and murdered 10 women in Kansas from 1974 to 1991.
BTK became media famous after sending a string of letters to local law and tv stations bragging about how he had been able to elude authorities. Dennis Rader was eventually caught by Lt. Ken Landwehr after sending police a floppy disk containing images and word documents that they were able to trace back to him.
BTK is currently serving 10 consecutive life sentences in El Dorado Correctional Facility.
Charles Manson led the quasi-commune known as “The Family”. “Charlie” was found guilty for conspiracy to commit murders, including actress Sharon Tate and four other people who were with Tate the night of her murder.
Manson was convinced of something he called “Helter Skelter”, a self-described apocalyptic race war. He believed the murders would jump-start that war. Manson is currently serving a life sentence in Corcoran State Prison.