Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Criminal Profiling: Part 1 History and Method

William Heirens & Others

William Heirens, the "Lipstick Killer"
William Heirens, the "Lipstick Killer"
Among the interviewees was William Heirens, who in 1945 and 1946 had committed three murders in an area that Ressler had been familiar with growing up, and who was famous for writing in lipstick a plaintive request to be caught before he killed again.

My father worked for the Chicago Tribune, Ressler said, and he would bring home the newspaper. I had heard that there was a killer loose in Chicago who was killing women and leaving writings on the wall. It was a classic case and I started following it.

Heirens was in Vienna Mens Correctional Facility in southern Illinois, and one day Ressler came into the area. It was weird, because kids have sports heroes and that sort of thing, and here I wanted to meet this serial killer. I told him I'd followed his case. He was about nine years older than me and he was kind of taken aback that he had a fan, in a sense. So, I asked him to participate in our research.

Other criminals who were willing to talk included Edward Kemper, the Coed Killer of San Jose who had murdered eight girls, his mother, and her friend; Jerry Brudos, who had killed and mutilated several women in Oregon; Richard Speck, who had slaughtered eight nurses in their shared residence in a single night; and John Wayne Gacy, who had killed 33 young men, burying most of them in the crawlspace beneath his home. Other offenders who were not killers were interviewed as well, such as Gary Trapnell, who had hijacked airplanes and committed armed robbery. However, the database was primarily for gathering information about serial murder.

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