Due to this post from Roni Loren (thank you for the warning, Roni) I’ve decided to remove most photos from Thriller Thursday. I hope you’re still able to enjoy them!
Jeffrey Dahmer didn’t corner the market on homosexual oriented serial killings. Kansas City had its own monster: Robert Berdella, a.k.a. the Butcher. While Dahmer killed his victims fairly quickly, Berdella liked to torture the young men he seduced for days and sometimes weeks. He kept a “torture book” detailing his sadistic activities.
Like Dahmer, Berdella would pick up a young man and bring him home to party. After drugging his prey, Berdella kept the men drugged, bound and gagged. He tied them to a bed with piano wire, repeatedly raping them. He enjoyed taking pictures of the abuse as well as logging the information in his torture book.
Berdella killed at least six young men between 1984 and 1987. I would normally post pictures of each victim, but I could only find photos from Berdella’s torture book for some of the men. If you wish to see them and read about their specific horrors, visit here.
So how was Berdella finally caught? He made a mistake.
Twenty-two-year-old Chris Bryson jumped out of Berdella’s second-floor window at his house on 4315 Charlotte Street in Kansas City. A meter man saw the boy jump and had a neighbor call police. The story that followed was like something out of a movie.
Bryson had been invited to a party and taken to the house on March 29, days earlier. He had gone into the three-story house willingly, thinking he could handle the man who called himself ‘Bob.’
Bryson described the house as a mess and stinking of feces. When Bryson ascended the stairs, Bob hit him on the back of the head and then jammed a needle in his neck. When he woke up, Bryson found himself tied spread-eagled on a bed and nude with a dog collar around his neck. Bob had kept track of what he did to Bryson’s unconscious body in his journal. He sexually abused him and bound his head in a pillowcase, taking pictures to document the process.
When Bryson awoke, he quickly realized he was unable to get out of his restraints. The pillow case was loosened to expose Bryson’s face, and the groggy young man plead for his freedom. Bob’s sadistic response was to jab Bryson in the eyes with his finger, then a Q-tip dabbed in something that stung.
An electrical device had been attached to Bryson’s testicles and thigh. After beating Bryson’s hands with an iron bar, Bob turned on the electricity. He took pictures while Bryson suffered. After the torture, Bryson was drugged once more. When he awoke, Bob informed him he was now a sex toy and warned the previous punishments were nothing compared to what he could do.
Bryson spent four days being tortured, drugged, and sexually assaulted by Bob. Sometimes, Bob injected his victims throat with drain cleaner. He told Bryson how others had died for their misbehavior and showed him pictures. Bryson was kept tied to the bed with the dog collar and leash, but Bob made the mistake of letting the man have his hands tied in front of him. Bryson got free and fled as soon as Bob left the house.
When police entered the house, they found the room and electrical equipment Bryson described. But they also found much more. Inside Berdella’s bedroom, detectives found two human skulls and envelopes containing teeth. A collection of audiotapes, the torture notebook, and photographs of other males, bound and assaulted, were also found. A bag of human vertebrae was discovered in the house along with men’s passports and phone numbers.
After finding the skulls and vertebrae, police searched the property for additional human remains. A chainsaw with human blood and hair was confiscated, and a body was unearthed in the back yard.
No other bodies were found, but with a mountain of evidence against him, Berdella confessed in exchange for life in prison.
Berdella admitted he began killing in 1984. He said all the men were killed in his house.
Jerry Howell was the first victim. Berdella and Howell had a sexual relationship for two months before Berdella fed him a cocktail of tranquilizers. He assaulted Howell off and on for days and beat him with a metal rod. Berdella claimed Howell’s death was a surprise. He hung the body upside down by the feet and took photographs, then dismembered his lover. He disposed of the body in trash bags and set them out on the curb.
Robert Sheldon, another acquaintance, was the second victim. Berdella sexually abused and tortured Sheldon, but also injected Drano into the boy’s eyes. He’d hoped to blind him and make Sheldon a better captive. He eventually suffocated Sheldon, cut him up, and put the pieces out with the trash. He kept the head in the freezer and then buried in the back yard.
Third victim Mark Wallace was killed quickly after electric shock experimentation.
Walter Ferris was injected and tortured. Berdella said he died from either an overdose or wrong combination of drugs. Again, Berdella cut up the body and put it out with the trash.
Todd Stopps suffered similar torture, also Berdella took things further by shoving his fist into Stoops’s rectum. Stoops bled heavily, then developed a fever. Berdella gave him animal antibiotics and kept assaulting him. Stoops died, and Berdella kept the wrapped body parts in the basement for days.
Larry Pearson was the last one to die. Berdella said Pearson was more cooperative and didn’t require as much “discipline.” Pearson was kept as a sex slave for six weeks. He eventually fought back, and Berdella killed him. His head was kept in the freezer.
Robert Berdella said John Fowles’ The Collecter was his killing inspiration. In accordance with his deal, Berdella was given life in prison. He died in 1992 after claiming prison officials weren’t giving him his heart medication.
For more information about the case and victims, visit here.
Bob’s Bazaar Bizarre in Kansas City
Was Robert Berdella worse than Jeffery Dahmer? Were investigators wrong in giving him a deal in exchange for information (including names) of the victims?
This was so hard to read, Stacy. You did an excellent job, however, of presenting the information. Still, how any human could do these things to another is mind-boggling.
I don’t know about the plea bargain. On one hand, you want a murderer like this to receive the full sentence available. On the other hand, these families whose loved ones disappeared and were never heard from again need closure.
I can’t say that Berdella was worse than Dahmer, or vice versa. Barbarians like this are in a category unto themselves and they are so horrible that comparisons seem pointless to me. What a terrible situation. I am at least relieved that they finally stopped this guy. Good for Bryson getting away and reporting him!
Thanks, Julie. I know this is one of those topics that might not go over well, but his crimes were so horrific I couldn’t ignore them. And it is mind boggling.
The plea bargain is tough. From my understanding, they didn’t know who all of his victims were at that point and were a bit desperate to find out. They were also afraid he might have killed many more. So true, both Berdella and Dahmer were in a category by themselves. I can’t imagine the psychosis or mindset to be able to commit such crimes.
Stacy, I got physically sick reading this. It is so hard to comprehend that people can commit such horrifying acts. It’s like pure evil. I thought I could stop worrying about such a monster getting ahold of my son as he got to be 15 (the age child molesters tend to lose interest) but this story drives home the fact that I will never be able to stop worrying now! I dont know if this man is worse that Dahmer, its too hard to understand the mindset of such acts. The shining light here was that the one man got away from this demon.
It is pretty disgusting and hard to comprehend. There’s a part of me that’s fascinated by a mind like Berella’s, but I don’t know that I could actually deal with people like him as a researcher or whatever.
Yes, so damned true. I watched Disappeared on Discovery ID, and you can never stop worrying about your kids! Something could happen to them – or us – at any moment.
Thanks for commenting:)
Like the others who left a comment, I feel physically sick. Berdella should not have received life in prison for what he did. The poor kids that didn’t survive…but then again, I can’t imagine how you can live with your thoughts after being subjected to that amount of punishment. I would assume anger would overwhelm.
I think he should have been subjected to the same type of torture, although I’m sure he was roughed up in prison. And no, I don’t know how a survivor like Bryson would learn to cope and move on. Could you really be grateful?
Sonia G Medeiros
Horrific and chilling! It boggles my mind that people can be so divorced from humanity that they can torture and kill other human beings.
Mine, too. This is one of those cases where I firmly believe genetics play a huge role, no matter the upbringing. Some people are just destined for pure evil.
Thanks for stopping by.
Great minds think alike. I briefly mentioned Butcher Bob in my blog today. LOL I think the Drano thing was so gross. Can you imagine how much that hurt?
As for his plea deal…how lame. I guess it was the only way authorities could make sure they had all the victims’ names so the families could understand what happened. Even so, I think they should have burned him alive…with that torture book.
Haha! That’s awesome. And no, I can’t. To me, that’s the most sadistic thing he did (at least that was made public).
Agree about the plea deal. I know that’s a hard thing for cops to do, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.
Totally creepy. The photos make it even more creepy. Like Julie said, hard to read sometimes. Makes me want to looks at pictures and puppies and sunshines after reading these Thriller Thursdays to counteract the creep factor. Great writing as always.
Yes, they do. There are photos out there of the victims, but I didn’t want to post them on here. These posts are hard to read, and I’m always unsure of the reception. But, I think the story needs to be told.
Thank you so much!
Ohhhh…creepy!! It never ceases to amaze me that there are people out there who are sick and torture and mistreat others to this degree. Like…how does that even happen?!?! Wow. I feel terrible for the victims and the deaths they had to suffer. Unimaginable.
Great writing and thanks for sharing Stacy!
I know. That’s why it’s so fascinating to me even though it’s an awful story. I can’t imagine having that kind of mindset.
Thanks for the comment:)
Wow, this was fascinating. Evil really does walk the earth. I think the police believe that it’s a kindness to the families of the missing men to be able to let them know that their loved one is gone. I’m not sure whether I’d rather live with the uncertainty of my loved one being missing or with the knowledge that he died a protracted and agonizing death. I might rather live with the uncertainty.
Thank you! Yes, I really believe there is just plain evil out there. Regardless of childhood experiences, some people are just destined to be horrific. I agree, and I think the police probably felt they didn’t have much choice in the matter. But that’s a good point, although I don’t think I could live with the uncertainty.
Thanks for stopping by!
Tiffany A White
YIKES! How have I not heard of crazy Bob? All of the 48 Hours Mystery and shows of the sort that I watch and nothing!?!? CREEPY. I felt awkward clicking the “like” button on this, because I don’t like his story per say, but I loved your post! Thank you for sharing.
LOL, you and I are alike. I watch all those shows too and hadn’t heard of him until I started researching. He was just awful. Thanks for clicking that button, and I’m glad you enjoyed it!
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Humanity breeds some wierd folk. The majority of us never meet them in our lives and only hear about them when they’re captured. When you document the darker parts of people you get a chance to try to outdo the reality. Great post, will follow.
Yes, it does. I can’t even imagine having a mind that works like Bob’s. I guess that’s why criminals are so fascinating. Thanks so much for the comment and follow!
We all have a dark place that we keep hidden. The main part of humankind has been taught to stay away from this place and almost everybody does; except for writers who take quick peeks and relate to the rest what’s in there. I’ve had no problem creating an evil, depraved character. After I’ve written his time on stage in the story, I let it rest. When I go back, I shudder that someone like that could come out of a normal albeit slightly twisted mind.
That’s very true, Tom. I think the best writers are the ones more willing to look inside that dark place and see what they find. Love the sound of your character!
Hello my name is Serinna Howell I was 1 years old my Uncle Jerry died he lives with me and my mom and dad my mom said he was a very likeable person had lots of girlfriends wasn’t bad on drugs but partied like normal your young people I would like to answer your question yes I do think the police were wrong with the deal I believe the police wanted this out of the spotlight as fast as they could I also believe the police did a horrible job on their investigation who cares a lot of gay men drugs Hustler’s most of this was accurate I appreciate how you didn’t call them all prostitutes let me add just a few things for you the police were told it was Bob if you ever met my grandfather you would know he’s is a very persistent man they had more than enough to go on my grandpa did his own investigation he knew who it was he was a regular down at the police department demanding them to do more the police department was embarrassed and now for that my family and everyone else’s familys still are…I cant even have a fb with out this bs….. let me correct few things for u
JERRY AND MY GRANDPA HAD a BOOTH AT FLEA Market berdella was mad at my Uncle Jerry on some car deal probably why he got beat for 4 days you could leave the whole lover bs out my mom said jerry was hanging out with him all the time to party and Jerry thought he was a sucker and could get something out of him little did he know :-(! berdella made two mistakes not just one leaving his hands in front he also made a mistake when he got mad at my uncle and took him and for that it brought the spotlight 2 him nobody belives from the time he was sacrificing animals in collage he was a productive members of society counciling boys starting neighbor hood watches and writing reviews for the kansas city star sound like fhis man crossed his t and dotted his i he knows what is going on everywhere but so does my grandfather and its the kansas city police departments fault for every person that died after jerry and they owe us a apology for tbat if they would have done there job they wouldent have died questions for everybody too… was every different person identified and those pictures that Bob keptn20 + different and I’m not sure on this one but what about that envelope full of teeth were they ever identified please let me know here’s the last answer to your question he has he was definitely worse a matter of fact he probably is in the top two worst in North America but not talked about last question why. Hrre is the second part to your answer . If the police would have done there job he would have been number one serial killer list