Book review. One Town’s Son, by Kevin Troxall.

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I love stories about people going back to their hometowns to uncover something left behind, to reconsider something they thought they were certain about back in the day. Troxall’s book, therefore, hits all the right notes with me.

In the book Troxall returns to his hometown in Kentucky to dig into a mystery that happened there in 2004. I want to be as vague as possible about the plot, as this is very much a plot-driven true story, and discovering the elements that create the narrative is the most enjoyable aspect of the book.

One Town’s Son is written very well, and the narrator (Troxall) guides us through the events with a humane voice, one empathetic to suffering and shattered hearts. Make no mistake, though: this is not an overly sentimental journey down memory lane – another thing the book does very well is build suspense.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in buried secrets, true crime or mysteries in general. I read most of this book while visiting my own hometown in northern Finland. Made me wonder about the various skeletons in the closets of my own childhood friends and neighbors…

Book review. The Prisoner in His Palace, by Will Bardenwerper

This book tells the story of the final days of Saddam Hussein, and the American soldiers who were tasked to guard him before his inevitable execution by hanging in 2006. 

The Prisoner in His Palace spends a good portion of its length explaining the circumstances surrounding Saddams imprisonment to the reader. How Iraq came to be invaded by President Bush and the troops under his command, where Saddam was born and how he grew up, and how the American soldiers tasked with guarding him ended up working such a bizarre detail. This serves the book well: without this structure, we would be left with a book about a bunch of young guys guarding an old guy. Not very exciting. However, because we learn of the complex, violent historical currents that have led to the situation, even more mundane observations about Husseins daily routines become morbidly fascinating. 

History is made by living beings, and though some of its sociodynamics are beyond human comprehension, it nevertheless is of us, a legacy of our actions and inactions. Bardenwerper lays this out beautifully through this strange story he tells the reader. The old guy in the cell, listening to his radio and smoking his precious cigars while reminiscing about bringing up his childten, murdered thousands and thousands of people, causing hundreds of thousands of souls heartbreak. And yet, there he is, a weary old man taking a s*it in the morning and snoring while he sleeps. One of the most interesting observations the guards made about Saddam was that he actually appeared to enjoy his imprisonment to some extent, as being locked away and guarded by armed soldiers 24/7 meant that for the first time in his life he did not have to worry about being assassinated… 

None of this, however, means that the book somehow paints a sympathtic portrait of Saddam. The man was clearly a manipulative psychopath who loved power and cherished the fear of those around him.  And besides, the numbers speak for themselves, as do the people behind them: I personally know people who were persecuted by Saddam and had to migrate to Europe to escape his wrath. 

You dont need prior knowledge of Middle Eastern politics or Iraqi history to appreciate this book. The Prisoner in His Palace is first rate history writing: at one educational, darkly fascinating and very entertaining to read, a kind of “portrait of evil” that reminds us of the human face behind even the most incomprehensible acts of terror. All human beings create butterfly effects all day with their choices, and this is doubly true for presidents and other world leaders. Rule with terror, and tears will run for decades after you have passed, even if you dont care to hear the sounds of crying through the walls of your palace. 

Black magic, grave robbing, and other Finnish pastimes of the 30’s.

On the 19th of August 1930 school boy Leo Löfman had finished another day in the demanding Finnish school system of the ’30’s. The teachers of that time had no problems using their rulers and sticks to beat misbehaving pupils, and the term “misbehaving” was more loosely defined than it is today: “didn’t do his homework properly”, “didn’t stand up to answer a question”, etc.

As he made his way home, the thought of the fresh spring water at Tattarisuo must have made Leo smile after another day of standing still, being quiet and obeying.

When he reached the spring he crouched down, his hand cupped to bring a mouthful of water to his lips. That’s when he noticed something that would make this the last time he ever tried to drink from a natural water source.

Floating in the water was a severed human hand.


A year went by without incident. There were talks, whispered conversations and rumors, but nothing concrete.

Then, on the 18th of September 1931 a chauffeur was on his break when he decided to head to the spring to freshen up. This time, the discovery was slightly smaller in size but no less in ugliness – a human thumb was pointing at the thirsty working man from the water.

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(Tattarisuo spring, circa 1930s)

The police were called, and they carried out a search of the springs in the area. The result: 8 hands, 9 feet, a woman’s head, a patch of hair and 12 fingers. The outcome of the search was morbid to say the least, and pointed clearly at a pattern of some sort. A morbid, bizarre pattern, but a pattern nevertheless.

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(Body parts found in the water. Police photo)

The findings hit the daily news, and the panic the revelations induced was stunning. Newspapers were sold out, and the conversation in Helsinki (and most likely around the entire country) centered around an unusual topic: human limbs. Perhaps the minds of the population were put at least slightly more at ease when a professor of anatomy from the local university weighed in on where the limbs came from: his expert statement was that the body parts had come from people who were already dead when they were removed.

The rumor mill ignited by the bizarre events ended up costing an innocent man his career. The night watchman of a local mortuary became a suspect in the eyes of the media. Though he vehemently denied his involvement in supplying anyone with body parts from the corpses he watched over for a living, the rumor mill was too big to stop, and he ended up having to leave his hometown even though he was proven to be innocent of what he was accused of doing; the stigma of being associated with the outrageous crimes was enough to kill a reputation.

Though the famous “Satanic panic” only hit Finland for real in the late 1990’s, the Tattarisuo incident was a precursor of sorts. People gave up their neighbors, friends and co-workers to the police for the slightest hint of black magic practice. Neighbor seen walking around after dark? Call the cops! Co-worker heard saying something bad about the Bible? Get me a phone! Finns were a fearful bunch, terrified of unexplained supernatural powers despite the fact that the 20th century had rolled in already.

Beneath this macabre circus the police were carrying out a real investigation. Their probe into where the limbs came from ultimate lead them to the Malmi cemetery in Helsinki, and to a particular sector of it. In addition to the regular graves the cemetery was the final resting place for many poor souls who had died without family or anyone to take care of them after their  earthly journey was over. These people were buried in what were called “linjahaudat” (literally “line graves”), big open graves that could accommodate even 8 caskets at a time. A kind of mass grave, if you will. When the police looked into these graves as the potential source of the limbs, they finally found the answer to the mystery.

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(A police detective going through the morbid evidence)

Laying in the caskets were several mutilated bodies with hands, fingers and hair missing. As if the lonely lives these people had led were not enough, their very bodies now acted as nothing but meat for someone with a bizarre obsession.

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(A “mass grave” for the poor and unidentified) 

As the probe into the origin of the limbs was producing results, so was the investigation into the potential culprit(s) of the grave robbing. The police began zeroing in on a suspect named Vilho Kallio.

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(Vilho Kallio)

Kallio was, to say the very least, an unusual person. He had a reputation as a witch who could conjure up images, look into the future, and cure ailments with his spells. Central to his world view was the book known in Finnish as “Musta Raamattu” (“The Black Bible”), also known as “the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses”, a grimoire (book of spells) created sometime in the 18th or 19th century. Kallio was well versed in the writings, and used the book for in magical works.

He also claimed to have experienced various sorts of paranormal incidents since he was a child. He told the police interrogators that when he was 7 years old a mysterious male figure had approached him and talked to him for a moment. As the figure had turned his back to walk away, he had dematerialized before the frightened young Vilho.

In terms of the investigation into the grave robbing, the most important detail about Kallio’s life was relayed by a former landlord. The man told the police that he had evicted Kallio once due to unpaid rent. As he had been removing Kallio’s stuff from the apartment, he had found a human skull among his possessions.

The police had their man. Realizing there was no way out than coming clean, Kallio started to talk.


The description Kallio gave of the events leading up to the limbs being placed in the spring was somewhat confusing, but from his testimony (and the testimony of others involved with the events) we can discern the following.

As often happens with sufficiently charismatic people claiming to possess some kind of super powers or mystical knowledge, a small group had started to form around Kallio. This group, following Kallio’s visions (and orders) had engaged in activities such as

  • sacrificing and burying doves in the vicinity of a sports arena, in the belief that the sacrificed birds would prevent a disastrous event
  • witnessed Satan himself appear in the form of a dark-haired man in the apartment wall of one of the group members
  • conjured up spirits in the middle of the woods with the help of “Musta Raamattu”

And so on and so forth. Their actions followed the mystical logic of spell-casting and occultism, and were thus removed from the ordinary reasons people do things – trying to somehow definitively understand the weirdness that went on will prove futile to even the more intelligent among us, I would assume…

As for the limbs, they were, Kallio and Co. explained, tied to a ritual meant to expose conspiracies by the Freemasons, as well as other secrets of the world. The limbs had, as explained above, been stolen from a cemetery. While lifting them from their owners, the group had prayed above the graves. The body parts had then been taken to Tattarisuo, where they had been placed in the bottom of the spring. If the ritual had been performed correctly, the body parts would ultimately ascend to the surface of the water, thus symbolically causing various secrets of the world to “ascend to the surface” of human consciousness in their wake.


Whether Kallio and his minions received the Great Gnosis they were after or not is a secret they took with them to their graves.

Be that as it may, two members of the group received prison sentences while two others were let off on probation.

While it’s difficult to arrive at a conclusion about these weird events, Finnish radio host and author Perttu Häkkinen offers an interesting take in his book Valonkantajat (Like 2015) into the psycho-social benefits the group may have yielded from their practices: as the world was more or less closed and limited to a group of outsiders on the bottom levels of social hierarchy such as that led by Kallio, magic and occultism may have offered them a semblance of control over their lives and destinies, a feeling that they, too, had a say in the events of the surrounding world.

Personally, having read about the occult and unsolved mysteries since I was a kid, I am content to say I have no f*cking idea.

 

Your paranormal stories, part 3.

More paranormal stories from readers of this blog and followers from my Instagram.

Sirutar:

I had been really sad after my beloved dog had to be euthanized unexpectedly. I could barely do anything but blame myself and cry myself to sleep, and I had trouble taking care of myself. One night, I woke up to a something that sounded like the dog had jumped on her own chair. I looked around in the dark, saw no-one on the chair, but still felt like something unusual is going on. I jokingly called the dog’s name and tapped my leg to invite her close to me, just like I had done hundreds of times when she was alive. I heard the chair move, and suddenly felt something landing on my hip. I clearly felt four little paws stepping on me. The paws took a few steps, like trying to find a good spot to settle down on. Then, after a bit of shifting, the paws stopped and I felt the dog lie down on me. I knew she was in there with me, telling me not to worry. The pressure on the spot she was lying slowly decreased until it disappeared completely. All that was left was a cold spot where she was lying, and a stream of warm tears running across my face.

——————————

My grandfather was a man who appreciated good humor. He was always joking around and making pranks. On January couple of years ago he was spending his last days in the hospital, and me and other relatives visited him. He was over 90 years old, veteran of war, but still he found beauty in everyone and everything. He had already lost most of his ability to talk, so we were just holding his hand and making him feel comfortable. He didn’t say many understandable words, but suddenly started insisting that we ”take care of the little birds”, a request which we didn’t understand at the moment. Not many hours later he passed away. Fast forward a couple of months, I noticed a pair of European goldfinches making a nest outside my window. They are pretty rare where I live, and I had never seen them before either. But there they were: a pair of one of the most colorful birds in Finland. I called my grandmother to tell about this, and she told me she had a bird’s nest outside her window too. But instead of small, colorful birds, the nest was inhabited by a Hooded Crow. We laughed. That’s just Grandpa’s sense of humor.

Kelly K.:

I grew up in the small town of Pacific Grove in California.  One night in 1990, my cousin and I went to go see “Night of the Living Dead” remake at our local movie theatre.  We were both 16 years old at the time.  When the movie ended it was a little after midnight and we were both freaked out by the movie.  BUT we wanted to scare ourselves even more.  So we decided we’d drive through the Pacific Grove cemetery to really freak ourselves out.  The cemetery was a spot where a lot of local teenagers would drive through and sometimes park and walk around at night just to get a good scare.

My cousin and I both realized that we couldn’t remember exactly how to get there because the cemetery is kind of hidden within a neighborhood.  We drove down Lighthouse Avenue, which was eerily quiet with nobody out and about, and stopped at a gas station and went inside to ask for directions.  The employee there looked like he was the same age as us.  We asked him for directions on how to get to the cemetery and he started laughing and said he actually didn’t know how to get there either.  All of a sudden, literally out of nowhere, this really old frail looking super pale white man in a old brown suit appeared. We literally did not see him even walk up to enter the gas station and there were no other cars parked outside.  My cousin and I both kind of jumped back because he literally looked like death.
He looked at my cousin and I and said “You’re looking for the cemetery?”  We said “ummm yes”.  He said “I’ll tell you how to get there”.  He then gave us directions on how to get there and then just walked away.  We ran to her car and were laughing about how scary the old man was and then drove the directions the old man told us and minutes later we were at the cemetery.  All we wanted to do was drive through for a second… get a good scare and then get out.
We drove into the cemetery’s open gate slowly and went down the little paved road into the center of the cemetery.  We did a quick loop and turned off the headlights for a second, got a good scare and then proceeded to drive back out.   We turned back onto the little paved road to exit and as we got closer to the gate to exit, we see what appears to be a man standing to the side of the gate.  By now its like 12:30am and why would any one be standing there.
As we got closer to the gate, the headlights shone on the man that was standing there.  IT WAS THE OLD MAN FROM THE GAS STATION!!!! He just stood there!! My cousin screamed and all I could do was freeze and grip onto the seat as tight as I could.  We locked her doors and proceeded to drive out of the gate to leave which was the only entrance or exit.  The old man just stared at us. His eyes followed us the entire time and he turned his body all the way around to keep looking at us as we exited.  No smile… No wave.  Just stared a cold blank stare.  He was so pale and that’s when I realized that his brown suit looked like something someone would be buried in!   We drove home as fast as we could while trying to make sense to how that old man got to the cemetery as fast as we did when he didn’t appear to be driving… How did he appear at the gas station out of nowhere… Why did he look like a dead guy?  Seriously the scariest thing that has ever happened to either one of us!
Anon:
In my hometown, there is an abandoned slaughter house, where they would slaughter animals for meat a while back. It is illegal to go in but no one cares, everyone goes in anyway. It’s right next to a residential area so it is quite the thrill and really risky. Now to the actually scary part. They say a teenage girl killed herself on the second floor. It’s just speculation and has never been proven. But I have been there twice. Never making it to the second floor. The first time me and my friend went. We chilled for a little and then he wanted to go to the second floor. It was my first time so I was curious and accepted. We walked by an intact room and heard a terribly loud bang. Like a rock falling 50 feet and landing on hollow metal. We immediately bolted 5 blocks away and I couldn’t sleep that night wondering what it was. Then the second time. It was planned with 4 people rather than 2. We walked in and showed the 2 newbies around the first floor. Then we got to the stairs. Bigger group more safety right? Wrong. There was an inhuman groan from upstairs, but we assumed it was the old wood and bricks and continued. Then at the top we shined our flashlights in. It was a thin corridor with multiple doors. We walked in and then there was a thud. We shined in the third direction and it was a fucking rope. We booked it down the stairs only to be greeted by a large crack at the entrance/exit and another groan. The newbies were crying and, to be honest, I was damn near close. We managed to escape out of the open side that led to the residential area. The worst part is that that was near the staircase and I swear I saw a fucking girl at the top of the stairs. I never went back again.
Tyler J.:
There’s this eerie bridge here in San Antonio, TX that’s dubbed the “Donkey Lady Bridge”. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of it as it’s pretty popular among the American population (it definitely is popular among the Southwest at least). There are a couple of stories that surround the history of this bridge. One (and the most popular) story was that there was a woman and her 2 children who were in their home when the lady’s husband set fire to the house. Her children both passed away and the woman was so badly disfigured that her fingers and toes warped together to form hoove-like hands and feet. Her face was also horrifically disfigured that her face resembled a donkey.
Another story that surrounds this bridge was that there was a woman who owned a pet donkey. Said donkey bit a young boy while she was walking it one day and the boy went home to tell his father. The father gathered several friends of his and they plotted to capture this donkey. They waited in the forested area to see if the woman would show up again. She did and so the men jumped in front of them, grabbed the donkey and threw it into the nearby river. The woman began throwing rocks at the men and so they chased her down, grabbed her and threw into the same river where she drowned. Legend says that her and the donkey’s souls fused together to form one angry spirit. It’s said that this angry spirit walks around the bridge and is described to have “big, scary eyes, great strength and a very banshee-ish and vicious scream.
Yeah there’s a lot of stories that surround the history of this place and I, myself went to go see it. It’s very, very, VERY eerie but I didn’t actually see and feel anything.
Vanessa P. :

Many years ago my mother, cat Fluffy and I lived in a cottage in Aughton, Lancashire. In years gone by the cottage used to be only one room upstairs and one room downstairs. This property was used in Oliver Cromwell’s time, during the Battle of Aughton Moor, as a stable downstairs and accommodation for the stable lad upstairs.

We were all sat quietly one evening listening to the wireless when a grey shadowy figure came through the wall from the adjacent property on the left, passed across the front window and drifted through the wall to the right. The view of the wall on the right, where the figure passed through, was obscured by the staircase (the property was now two rooms upstairs and two rooms downstairs). It took a few seconds to realise what we had seen and the room went noticeable chilly.

As soon as Fluffy the cat saw the figure his fur stood sharply on end and he appeared mesmerized by the grey floating shadow. He followed the figure with his eyes, in his mind (and a little in ours) it had gone upstairs. But this person was obviously just passing through.

Nevertheless Fluffy went slowly and carefully up the stairs to follow, as he thought, the ghostly figure. He didn’t find it but it took a lot of coaxing to get him back downstairs again for his supper.  

As I believe all time exists now, maybe this wasn’t so strange an occurrence.

rica_ehlaine:

I work as a teacher in a private school. The school building where I work was once a warehouse. The school owner just renovated it, only using the ground floor. The second floor is unused. It’s painted to look like a country barn. I have had a few experiences in this school. My first was prepping for my lessons in front of my desktop computer in school. Take note that i was f facing a glass wall. When I glanced at the wall, I saw someone passed behind me, leaving the room. He opened the door. When I looked back, the door was closed. No sign of someone opening it.

My second experience was inside the school laboratory where the glass wall is attached. It was just after my class in the lab. Just as I was cleaning the apparatuses I used, I saw someone stood behind me. I was standing in front of the sink, but I saw from my periphery that someone wearing a white shirt and black pants was standing there. I thought it was my student so I faced that direction was about to ask my student what he’s doing there when I saw that no one was there. The room was small and there’s nowhere he could have hidden. I hurriedly finished my tasks and went out of the room. Still gives me the chills every time I think of it.

Since then I would hear stories from the staff working in the school. A neighbor would always see a woman go out of the school around 11 pm to 12 midnight. Sometimes when my workmates would decide to stay late, we would hear bangs of doors, as if telling us to go home already. Or a student would hear footsteps from the second floor every 3 pm of every day. I don’t know what the history of that place is but I always do my best to not stay later than usual. It’s a kind of place you don’t want to be alone in even at daytime. It always gives you the creeps. I just hope these spirits don’t bother my students.

fii.uberlin:

I live with my parents in a two story house, but we only use the second floor for living. We had a blind and deaf dog so we had to keep the stairway doors closed at all time so she wouldn’t fall down the stairs. One night I went to the bathroom just to take off my make-up because I had fallen asleep with it. When I woke up, I roamed through the hallway and to the bathroom. I was inside for 2 minutes max. When I got out, the stairway doors were wide open.

That was the first red flag, because as I said, we always closed the doors. I presumed it was one of my parents that needed to use the bathroom downstairs. I confronted my parents about the incident the next morning, but both of them said that no one had gone downstairs.

Since I was a kid, this house has had a paranormal vibe. My mother said she saw her father after he passed away, my grandma saw her sister, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunt a Killer

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If hobbies like this existed when I was a teenager, I would never have suffered a day of boredom.

Hunt A Killer (their website is here) is a company that provides a service that I have no problem advertising in my blog; it goes perfectly with the themes I write and post about, and I genuinely think my readers and Instagram followers would enjoy this.

When you sign up with them, each month you will receive a package containing a new batch of clues. The package you get physically contains a notebook, mysterious hints, and a letter from a shadowy figure that kind of resembles Hannibal Lecter in the film Silence of the Lambs.

Your job then is to put the clues together and go after the solution. The package leads you on a fun quest for answers, and is the kind of brainteaser to tickle the fancy of a mystery buff.

I just started this last night, and it’s pretty addictive. Extra points for the creepy letter…

Interview with true crime author James Renner.

James Renner is an American journalist and author of some amazing books, including Amy – My Search for Her Killer and True Crime Addict. The latter is currently being made into a television series by Johnny Depp’s production company.

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In reading your books, I always get a strong sense that you’re “one of us”, a genuine true crime aficionado. How did you become interested in this part of the world?

In 1989, a 10-year-old girl named Amy Mihaljevic was abducted from Bay Village, Ohio in broad daylight on a Friday afternoon. Amy and I were the same age and at the time, my mother lived in Rocky River, one town over from Bay. I’d see her posters all over the place and I became obsessed then with finding her. I used to ride my bike to Westgate Mall to look for her in the crowds. After her body was found, I would ride around looking for her killer. I’ve pretty much been trying to solve the case ever since.

What’s your “favorite” unsolved mystery? Why?

My favorite unsolved mystery is the Ted Conrad case, actually. Ted was a young man working at a bank in Cleveland on July 11, 1969 – the week we went to the moon. To celebrate his birthday, he bought some whiskey and brought it back to the bank in a paper bag, which he opened and showed to the guard on the way in. Then he switched the whiskey for $215,000 in cash and walked out with it in the bag at the end of his shift. Then he fled the state and has managed to remain hidden ever since. I believe I may have tracked him to a dormant volcano in Hawaii.

Why are so many people interested in the true crime genre? There was even a convention held this year called “CrimeCon”, which was a hit from what I hear. Why do we long after strangers who disappeared years, sometimes decades ago?

I think humans are hard-wired to seek solutions. When presented with an open-ended mystery it makes us feel anxious and we want to fix that by coming up with theories and possible answers. I think the recent surge in true crime has to do with a kind of existential crisis out country is having. I think we’re coming to terms with the fact that there really is no closure in this life and maybe that’s okay.

Are your friends and family generally understanding with regard to your interests, or do you find yourself having to explain your true crime projects to them?

My wife doesn’t care for unsolved mysteries and my investigation into the Maura Murray case took me away from my family for a while. I’ve promised them that I won’t lose myself in another case. They are mostly pointless adventures. There’s other things I can work on that are much more fun. I write novels, too, and they’re doing quite well.

Are you ever afraid when you go on your fact finding missions? Especially in your book “Amy – My Search for Her Killer” you come across some pretty, let’s say, “unique” people in chasing after Mihaljevic’s killer…

Not really. The men who would abduct little girls are cowards. They wouldn’t bother with a grown man. The Maura Murray case is different. There’s a lot of angry and dangerous people associated with that case and I did worry sometimes that they might show up at my house.

How do you get people to talk to you? It seems to me that in many cases, a lot of people deal with heartbreak and loss by simply refusing to discuss certain subjects.

I think most people want to share their stories. Everyone wants to be heard. The ones that don’t usually have something to hide. But the question is, does it have anything to do with the mystery or is it something else?

Do you still think about Amy Mihaljevic and Maura Murray?

Only every day.

What are you currently working on?

I’m finishing a new novel, a gothic horror story set in Akron. Fun stuff.

And finally, my standard question: what are your top 3 books?

1. Last Night in Twisted River, by John Irving. Fans of Maura’s case will love this story, a decades-spanning tale of accidental murder set in the North Country.
2. Happiness, by Matthieu Ricard. A great introduction to Buddhism, a guidebook to being happy again.
3. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. Every sentence is perfect.

 

Interview with Eric Holler, creator of Serial Killers Ink.

Eric Holler is the creator and webmaster of Serial Killers Ink, a site that sells crime-related memorabilia (also known as “murderabilia”). Visit his site here.

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(Holler with a painting made by serial killer John Wayne Gacy)

Who are you? How did you end up working in this business? Tell us your story!

My name is Eric Holler. I own and run serialkillersink.net. I began writing to infamous killers in the mid 1990s. Shortly thereafter I began selling their items, artwork craft items, signed photograph etc, on eBay. The items were so in demand that bidding wars would go down on the item listings. Fast forward a few years later and the websitesite serialkillersink.net was born. The rest, as they say, is history.

Where do you obtain the items you sell on your site?

I get most items directly from the inmates themselves although I do trade with private collectors to some extent.

What is the most expensive/unique item you have ever sold on Serial Killers Ink?

I’d have to say any John Wayne Gacy painting would qualify as most expensive, they top off around $3100-$3500. The most unique item would have to be bullet fragments taken from the body of surviving victim Carli Richards. Carli survived being shot by James Holmes in the 2012 Aurora, Colorado Batman movie massacre. Carli offered up two shotgun pellets that had been removed from her body. We also sold the bullet riddled purse and jacket that she had on that night.

Another unique item would have to be the full Santa Claus suit that serial killer John Robinson wore to entertain children at Christmas parties.

What is the “Holy Grail” of murderabilia, the one item everyone is after?

For me it would be John Wayne Gacy’s clown suit or the hoodie and sunglasses which belonged to the Unabomber. I was lucky enough to have a private viewing of the hoodie and sunglasses back in 2011 while I was being filmed for a segment of the National Geographic Channel television show Taboo.

How do the families and friends of victims react to your site? Have you ever had legal problems because of your site/store?

It’s not my concern how someone may or may not react to what I do for a living – positive or negatively – to each their own. …That’s what makes this country that I live in so great – that we are free  to voice our opinions without fear of government reprisal.

I have never had any legal issues regarding my business.

Why do people buy “murderabilia”, in your opinion? What is the allure?

I cannot answer for why others buy or collect these items – I can only answer as to why it is a passion of mine – I love history and preserving pieces of history – even if it is dark or taboo. These collectibles are indeed important pieces of history and this industry is very dear to me.

Who is your average customer? Is there such a thing?

We do not have an average customer. We sell to people of all walks of life from all around the world. To try and pin it to one specific demographic would be impossible.

Is there a favorite serial killer among your customers? Manson? Ramirez?

Items from Richard Ramirez have always sold very well. John Wayne Gacy paintings are very in demand. Manson of course…basically the well-known killers are the ones who are in demand and sell very well – and rightfully so.

And finally, my standard questions for all my guests: What are your top 3 films and top 3 books?

Cannibal Holocaust – It was one of the first horror movies that I had ever rented from my neighborhood video store when I was kid back in the 1980s – and to this day that movie has stayed with me. I absolutely loved it the first time I saw it and I can watch it now and it still has the same effect on me all these years later. Brilliant film making! The stigma it has earned even after all these years is testament to the films genius.

Old Boy (Original South Korean release) – Again, a movie with a stigma attached to it…another genius in film making. I discovered this movie 5 or 6 years ago and it had roughly the same effect that Cannibal Holocaust had on me all those years prior – which is a very deep and strong psychological effect. It’s such an amazing movie and for those who have never seen it that enjoy a good and intelligent mind fuck…see it!

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original) – Another psychological movie – it was another horror movie that I had seen from my early youth. Again, this one has always stayed with me as well – a classic that still stands up very well today. Deeply psychological – it didn’t need overt blood and guts to get the point across – another example of genius in film making.

Books – I’ve never really been a book person but a few stand outs would be:

Making of a Serial Killer: The Real Story of the Gainesville Student Murders in the Killer’s Own Words by Sondra London and Danny Harold Rolling. It’s a very graphic book with extreme and well written details of the murders. The Gainesville murders happened not too far from where I live here in Florida – so it also has local appeal to me.

I: The Creation of a Serial Killer by Jack Olsen and Keith Hunter Jesperson. Another graphic telling of murder. The murders committed by Keith Jesperson are highly detailed and reported on. The book is very well written and very factual.

Born Evil: A True Story of Cannibalism and Serial Murder by Adrian Havill – Book about the life and crimes of Hadden Clark. Very well written book. The Hadden Clark case is one of my favorite cases to read about. The guy is completely nuts. The chapter detailing the initial interrogation of Hadden is such an amazing read – as is the entire book.