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.
Was Robert Berdella worse than Jeffery Dahmer? Were investigators wrong in giving him a deal in exchange for information (including names) of the victims?