Don’t Commit Other Crimes if you’re Already Killing People

I’m always amazed by the number of killers captured because of a traffic violation. It seems to me, if you’ve got a body in your car or if you’re going to or from a body dump, you’d be extra cautious to obey traffic laws and drive like a model citizen. But apparently, that’s just me. Several serial killers have been caught because they committed another, minor crime and were then linked to their murder spree. Berkowitz, Bundy, Kraft, and a handful of other serial killers were all captured because they came to the attention of the police because they were suspiciously driving around or because they couldn’t obey simple traffic laws. Here’s a list of 10 serial killers that should have kept to just one crime at a time.

  1. Randy Kraft – aka The Scorecard Killer, aka The Freeway killer gets the first place award for “wow, that was stupid” but trust me he had some really stiff competition to make it to number one on this list. Between 1972 and 1983 Kraft murdered at least 16 male hitchhikers in California. His reign of terror would come to an end on May 14, 1983. Kraft was pulled over under suspicion of DUI. His jeep was seen weaving across the lines as he drove. When he was pulled over, he told the cop his passenger was passed out drunk. However, the cop quickly realized the young Marine in the passenger’s seat of Kraft’s Jeep was actually dead. Caught red handed with a dead man in his car, it didn’t take long to connect him to the Scorecard Killer’s victims.
  2. Ted Bundy – I don’t know why people think Bundy is a great serial killer. But where you find people researching and discussing serial killers, you’ll find someone who thinks Bundy is the greatest serial killer of all time. They seem to forget that his shifty wee hours of the morning driving around to scope out the landscape is what lead to his capture. Bundy was driving up and down the streets of a single neighborhood looking for a house that tempted him when he caught the attention of a police officer on patrol, who found his circling a neighborhood suspicious. The officer pulled him over thinking he was looking for a place to rob. His suspicions were confirmed when he found housebreaking tools just lying in the open on the backseat of Bundy’s Beetle. He was taken into custody on suspicion of burglary and was found to have blood on some of his tools that eventually connected him to a murder.
  3. David Berkowitz – Berkowitz was a ghost. He was on no police radar as the brutal .44 Caliber Killer. In a moment of desperation, the police decided to check all traffic tickets received during a certain time around one of the murder sites and found a car had been ticketed for parking in front of a fire hydrant. That car belonged to David Berkowitz and it didn’t take long for police to decide he was The Son of Sam. If he hadn’t parked in front of that fire hydrant, he wouldn’t have even been interviewed by police.
  4. Joel Rifkin – Rifkin killed 17 women between 1989 and 1993. Rifkin was pulled over for not having a license plate on his car. The two state troopers following Rifkin turned on their lights and sirens. Rifkin ignored them. Oddly, he didn’t speed up, he just didn’t pull over and the troopers called for backup. Rifkin took a turn and lost control of the truck. It hit a tree. When troopers approached, they noticed a long object wrapped in plastic and tied up in the back of his truck. Rifkin was taken into custody and they began inspecting the oddly shaped package. It turned out to be the body of Tiffany Bresciani. Once cuffed, Rifkin confessed to the murders of 17 women, all of whom were prostitutes.
  5. Ricardo Ramirez – I think everyone would be hard pressed to believe Ricardo “Richard” Ramirez was sane, thoughtful, and capable of planning ahead. However, he wasn’t a suspect in the Nightstalker Murders until he did something incredibly strange. Before becoming a serial killer and rapist, Ramirez was still a career criminal. The hunt for the Nightstalker was in overdrive when Ramirez decided to go on a carjacking spree. He attempted to carjack 4 different people in the space of 2 hours and bystanders as well as potential victims realized he looked a lot like the sketch of the Nightstalker. Even odder, he didn’t manage to get a car from anyone and he was arrested after a witness called police from a payphone and they found him still loitering in the area.
  6. William Suff – If you’re unfamiliar with the name, you aren’t alone. Suff was a serial killer that took between 13 and 20 victims from 191986 until his capture in 1991. Suff was noticed by a police officer making an illegal U-Turn in an area where several bodies had been found. All of them prostitutes that had been murdered. He was pulled over for his illegal U-Turn and when the officer came to his window, he saw a badge, handcuffs, and a nightstick on the passenger’s seat of Suff’s car. The problem with this; Suff was a clerk that worked for the county, not a police officer. He was arrested for impersonating an officer and when his car was towed and searched, they found evidence to link him to the murders.
  7. Larry Eyler – Is another serial killer you may never have heard of. Eyler preyed on gay men, killing an estimated 29, although only conclusively linked to 19. A police officer noticed Eyler’s car parked on the side of a highway. But noticed no one was in the car. It had recently rained very heavily in Indiana and when the officer pulled in behind the car on the shoulder, he noticed footprints going into the woods. Thinking there must be something wrong the car, the officer got out and followed the footprints. He found Eyler standing over a man, who was tied to a tree. Eyler was holding a knife and the officer quickly realized he must be The Highway Killer they were all looking for.
  8. James Swann – Swann was a serial shooter. In 1993, he drove around Washington DC and randomly killed people with a shotgun. He killed four and injured five others. Interestingly, Swann is one of the few male serial killers found not guilty by reason of insanity. He is serving a life sentence in a hospital for the criminally insane. However, he was captured when a patrol officer saw him run a red light. He was pulled over and they found the shotgun in the passenger floorboard.
  9. Bruce Davis – Between 1969 and 1982 we have no idea how many people Davis killed. Estimates are between 3 and 40. Davis was actually in federal prison in 1979, convicted of the murders of two businessmen. In 1982, he was taken to a federal prison hospital in Springfield, Missouri. Somehow, on October 24th, while in custody, Davis got hold of an axe. He used it to murder a guard and steal his car. Police found the car abandoned in Illinois the following day and Davis would remain free until Halloween night. On Halloween, police were called out to investigate someone trying to break into a car. It was Davis. Once he was back in custody, he confessed to killing 32 people between 1969 and 1982, including the guard. Illinois were able to confirm four of the killings based on Davis’ knowledge of the details. And New York detectives were convinced based on his intimate knowledge of the murder of a teacher in 1970 in New York that he was indeed the killer in that case.
  10. HH Holmes – Known as America’s First serial killer (he wasn’t, just FYI), Holmes was actually not suspected of murder until his conman ways caught up with him. Holmes was a career criminal long before he built the “Murder Castle” in Chicago to serve as a hellish murder funhouse for Holmes. Yet, while several women were reported missing after staying in Holmes hotel, opened to service Chicago during the World’s Fair, no one really thought the handsome, dapper doctor was killing them. People began to suspect Holmes of murder, after his handyman died. Now, the handyman Benjamin Pitezel signed on to commit insurance fraud. Holmes was to secure a body that would match Pitezel in height and weight. Holmes insured Pitezel’s life for a huge sum of money and began paying the premiums. A few months after taking out the policy, the burned corpse of Pitezel was found and Holmes cashed in on the insurance policy. The insurance company was immediately suspicious of the circumstances of Pitezel’s death. And, as it turns out, Holmes did not secure the stand-in body, but had instead killed Benjamin Pitezel. By the time the Pinkel Detective agency began investigating for the insurance company, Holmes had convinced Pitezel’s widow to entrust him with several of the Pitezel children to go on a sightseeing tour of the country. And in Holmes’ usual fashion, he killed the children, leaving their bodies along his route of travel. It would be these deaths that Holmes would be convicted of, not the murders committed at the Murder Castle. Only after Holmes was caught, did people truly begin to suspect all those missing persons reports might be part of something more sinister.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s