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Me & My Other Interests: Serial Killers I'd Have a Cuppa With (Part 2)

Hey folks and welcome back for the second instalment of the serial killers I'd have a cuppa with. If you missed Part 1, I basically explained about my interest in true crime, particularly serial killers and the psychology/pathology behind their motives, and wanted to share that interest here on NB. I don't have any certain rhyme or reason to these posts other than just sharing with you some of the cases and individuals I find most fascinating and if I could have the impossible opportunity, which individuals I would like to speak to about their crimes to try and gain some insight into their drives and why they did what they did. I mentioned it in the last post but I'll reaffirm the message here - these posts are not designed to romanticise serial killers and it's certainly not to advocate them. These posts are merely a way to express my interest in criminal psychology and the history of psychopathy.

Part 1 and 2 of this mini-series here on NB is not some sort of distasteful top trumps of murderers but is instead hopefully an insight into some serial killers you recognise and want to know more about, or even possibly some that might have went under your radar as there are many out there in criminal history. As a huge aficionado of crime documentaries and books, writing these posts have been enjoyable as it has given me the opportunity to further research these particular individuals and educate myself more in the process. If you enjoy these posts then please do let me know as I'd like to write more true crime themed content in the future! Before I inevitably start waffling again, here are the second group of criminals that I would like to be able to analyse and just try to gain more understanding of:

Kenneth Bianchi - The Hillside Strangler
So, I can't help but start this post with Ken Bianchi - one part of the "Hillside Strangler" duo that went on a kidnapping, raping, and killing spree in the late seventies. Bianchi and his cousin Angelo Buono were responsible for the death of 1O women aged 12-28 over a span of just 2 years and Bianchi was also responsible for a further 2 deaths in 1979 when he acted alone and killed 2 female students. They were dubbed "The Hillside Strangler" as they would drive around LA in a fake unmarked police car, pull over or stop women with their fake police badges, order those women to get into the car and then take the victim bank to Buono's house to torture, rape, strangle, and kill. They would then usually dump their victims' bodies on the hillside of the Glendale Highland Park area thus, gaining their combined nickname. Although they worked together, I find Bianchi particularly interesting not because of his murders per say, but the rings he ran around psychologists after his arrest.

Bianchi seemingly had an issue with women since a young age. Dubbed a compulsive liar by his mother from the tender age of 5 and prone to violent outbursts, Bianchi had a lot of issues and upon his arrest, he seemed to play on these and use them as excuses to suspend and alter his sentencing. After his arrest, Bianchi claimed that it was not him who had murdered these women but in fact "Steve/Stevie Walker". Bianchi stressed to authorities and later psychiatrists and doctors that he couldn't remember the details of any of the murders because it wasn't actually him, Ken, who had committed them but instead was Steve's fault. Bianchi pleaded this so strongly that the judge in charge of the case demanded he be scrutinised, questioned, and even hypnotised by several professionals as if he did indeed have a multiple personality disorder, this could alter his sentencing and change things from him being a cold-blooded killer to being someone with extreme mental health issues who could plead insanity. Bianchi kept up this whole charade by acting like two completely different people - making Ken seem quite the kind, caring gentleman and portraying Steve as a woman-hating, chauvinistic pig who would talk about women (especially the victims) like they were something gross he had trodden in. This act had several psychiatrists convinced he did indeed have this split personality and some linked this split with him trying to deal with a turbulent relationship with his mother when he was a child. Bianchi was known whilst in prison to crawl under his bed during the night, whimpering, asking Steve to "go away" and reportedly told doctors that he in fact "met" Steve when he had crawled under his bed as a child when his mum was shouting at him.

As the judge was sceptic about all of Bianchi's claims, he brought in one final professional (Martin Orne) to analyse Bianchi to see if his statements held any truth. Orne set up another hypnosis situation in which Ken happily took part in, acting along as he had previously with other professionals. Prior to this however, Orne purposefully said within earshot of Ken that he couldn't possibly have MPD (multiple personality disorder) as those who do tend to have 3 different personalities. With that information, and under the "hypnosis", Ken suddenly changed into "Billy" rather than Steve and thus a third personality no one knew about was born. Whilst pretending to be Billy, Ken was asked to shake his lawyer's hand and happily obliged; leaning over to shake an invisible hand of a man that didn't exist. When his lawyer did walk into the room moments later, "Billy" exclaimed "how can I see two of you?" and Ken reportedly said afterwards that once his lawyer had walked through the door, he knew he was up shit creek without a paddle and the charade was bust. His acting teamed with the fact that Steve Walker was actually the name of student he had used in fraudulent activity, and the fact that Bianchi had a lot of psychology books in his possession which discussed MPD, the judge ruled that he was once again lying and did not accept his plead of insanity. As Bianchi ran rings around psychologists and some of the psychologists involved still to this day believe that he did indeed have a mental disorder, it would be fascinating to talk with Bianchi and try to work out what was truth and what was fabrication.

Ahmad Suradji - The Sorcerer
Although we always seem to think of serial killers as a western phenomenon, there are of course serial killers from all corners of the globe and Ahmad Suradji is certainly one I would want to speak to if I could. The Indonesian cattle breeder admitted to killing 42 women and girls (aged 11-30) over a period of 11 years from 1986-1997 and was eventually arrested in 1997 to later be executed via a firing squad in 2Oo8. Suradji is of particular interest to me due to the superstitions and religious connotations to his killings. Dubbed "The Sorcerer" or "Black Magic Killer" particularly in western media, Suradji was known for his ritualistic killings and burials of his victims. Although Indonesian government only recognises the 6 major religions, many Indonesian people believe in Shamanism and spiritual healers commonly called "Dutaks" or "Dukuns". Suradji promoted himself as one of these Dutaks/Dukuns and claimed that he could help women become more beautiful or find true love etc. with his magic. The majority of the 42 victims Suradji claimed actually came to him willingly as they were seeking his spiritual healing help but unfortunately, did not know their true fate.

Suradji began his killing spree after he claimed that his deceased father visited him in a dream and said he would kill 7O women to boost his spiritual powers. He therefore set out with a goal in mind and when women didn't seek him out themselves, it is thought that Suradji visited town to pick up prostitutes to keep his kill-count on the increase. The 42 women and girls he murdered were buried upright, to waist-height, in the sugar cane fields surrounding his home and were buried to all be facing his home as he thought this would help him draw on his power. He strangled his victims with a cable once they had been buried like this as they would be immobilised and he convinced his victims that this burial procedure was part of a ritual for whatever need they were hoping Suradji could help them with. His victims unknowingly all dug their own graves and voluntarily climbed into them because of this. He then proceeded to drink the saliva of his victims as the ghost of his father had also told him that this would make him a mystic healer. Once he was arrested and imprisoned, he stopped being a Shaman and became a devout Muslim, becoming a very popular inmate with other prisoners and often giving them guidance and advice. As these crimes are steeped in superstition and beliefs, both in the victims' and the killers minds, I think it would be fascinating to hear what Suradji truly believed and if he had any remorse for his actions.

Andrei Chikatilo - The Rostov Ripper
The last killer I'm going to mention in this post is Andrei Chikatilo - a man responsible for at least 52 deaths who was also a cannibal and paedophile. Chikatilo was born in a rural village in Ukraine in 1936 - a time when Stalin's policies on agricultural collectivisation caused widespread deprivation, poverty, and famine. There was lots of rumours circulating that because of this time of hardship, the people who felt it worst were prone to cannibalism in order to survive and apparently even Chikatilo's mother told him that his brother had been eaten by starving neighbours (it's not even confirmed that Chikatilo had a brother - but I digress). Chikatilo was born with hydrocephalus (water on the brain,) which meant he was prone to bed-wetting and an inability to sustain an erection in his late adolescent years; which is important to note in reference to his killings. After overpowering a girl when he was 15 in order to gain a sexual experience during his adolescent years and ejaculating almost immediately in the process, this resulted in ridicule for Chikatilo from peers at school but most significantly, it gave him a link between sexual pleasure/relief and violence.

Chikatilo married, had a couple of children despite his impotence, and he also became a teacher - a job he managed to hold down for almost ten years despite often being accused of child molestation. On December 21st 1978, after moving to Shakhty (a town near Rostov), Chikatilo committed his first known murder. Moving to Shakhty was a result of the child molestation accusations piling up but once he moved here, his paedophilic fantasies worsened and he would hide in a hut on a street to watch local children. His first victim was a nine year old girl who he abducted and stabbed to death in the woods. He ejaculated in the process of the killing and thus further cemented the link between sexual relief and violence. Over the next 12 years, Chikatilo committed over 5O known murders but unfortunately walked free on the couple of occasions he was suspected due to other individuals confessing to the crimes. The lack of punishment is also believed to be the result of a clerical error when semen was tested from crime scenes as it was not linked to his blood type (when it should have been). In the Soviet Union, serial killers were some sort of unknown phenomenon as the state-controlled media often played down or suppressed incidents of murders and child abuse in order to retain public order so, the increasing number of murders were even believed by result of werewolf attacks by local people.

The reason I would like to talk to Andrei Chikatilo has a lot to do with his actual trial to decide his fate. He spent the trial in a large iron cage, designed to keep him safe and separate from his many victims' angry families. Throughout the trial, his behaviour was bizarre. He would swing from seemingly angry and agitated to looking completely bored with the whole affair. He reportedly talked gibberish at times, broke into song so loudly when the prosecutor was talking that he needed to be removed from the court room, and also dropped his trousers and waved his genitalia at the surrounding court room too. This behaviour - and his hard upbringing - has given many the belief that Chikatilo was dealing with some severe mental health issues. An appeal was made after he was sentenced to death for each of the 52 murders there was evidence for, which claimed that the psychiatric analysis of Chikatilo that said he was sane of mind and suitable to stand in court was biased. I would be inclined to say there was definitely issues with Chikatilo's state of mind, but that can never excuse his actions. Police only originally accused Chikatilo of 36 murders and after he confessed to 56, he later retracted some of his confessions, further adding to the belief that he was not fit for trial. On February 14th 1994, he was executed with a single shot to the back of the head and his final words were reportedly, "Don't blow my brains out! The Japanese want to buy them!".

Keep your eyes peeled for Part 3 of this mini-series which will be coming soon!

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