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John Wayne Gacy was born in Chicago, Illinois, on March 17, 1942, the second child and only son of John Stanley Gacy (June 20, 1900 – December 25, 1969) and Marion Elaine Robison (May 4, 1908 – December 6, 1989). His father was an auto repair machinist and World War I veteran, and his mother was a homemaker. Gacy was of Polish and Danish ancestry, and his family was Catholic. His paternal grandparents (who spelled the family name as "Gatza" or "Gaca") had immigrated to the United States from Poland (then part of the German state of Prussia).
Childhood Ted Bundy was born Theodore Robert Cowell on November 24, 1946, to Eleanor Louise Cowell (1924–2012; known as Louise) at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont. His father's identity has never been confirmed. By some accounts, his birth certificate assigns paternity to a salesman and Air Force veteran named Lloyd Marshall, though according to others the father is listed as unknown. Louise claimed she had been seduced by a war veteran named Jack Worthington, who abandoned her soon after she became pregnant with Ted. Some family members expressed suspicions that Bundy might have been fathered by Louise's own father, Samuel Cowell, but no material evidence has ever been cited to support this. For the first three years of his life, Bundy lived in the Philadelphia home of his maternal grandparents, Samuel (1898–1983) and Eleanor Cowell (1895–1971), who raised him as their son to avoid the social stigma that accompanied birth outside of wedlock. Family, friends, and even young Ted were told that his grandparents were his parents and that his mother was his older sister. He eventually discovered the truth, although his recollections of the circumstances varied. He told a girlfriend that a cousin showed him a copy of his birth certificate after calling him a "bastard", but he told biographers Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth that he found the certificate himself. Biographer and true crime writer Ann Rule, who knew Bundy personally, believed that he did not find out until 1969, when he located his original birth record in Vermont. Bundy expressed a lifelong resentment toward his mother for never talking to him about his real father, and for leaving him to discover his true parentage for himself. In some interviews, Bundy spoke warmly of his grandparents and told Rule that he "identified with", "respected", and "clung to" his grandfather. In 1987, however, he and other family members told attorneys that Samuel Cowell was a tyrannical bully and a bigot who hated blacks, Italians, Catholics, and Jews, beat his wife and the family dog, and swung neighborhood cats by their tails. He once threw Louise's younger sister Julia down a flight of stairs for oversleeping. He sometimes spoke aloud to unseen presences, and at least once flew into a violent rage when the question of Bundy's paternity was raised. Bundy described his grandmother as a timid and obedient woman who periodically underwent electroconvulsive therapy for depression and feared to leave their house toward the end of her life. Bundy occasionally exhibited disturbing behavior at an early age. Julia recalled awakening from a nap to find herself surrounded by knives from the kitchen, and three-year-old Ted standing by the bed smiling. These descriptions of Bundy's grandparents have been questioned in more recent investigations. In 1950, Louise changed her surname from Cowell to Nelson, and at the urging of multiple family members, left Philadelphia with Ted to live with cousins Alan and Jane Scott in Tacoma, Washington. In 1951, Louise met Johnny Culpepper Bundy (1921–2007), a hospital cook, at an adult singles night at Tacoma's First Methodist Church. They married later that year and Johnny Bundy formally adopted Ted. Johnny and Louise conceived four children of their own, and though Johnny tried to include his adopted son in camping trips and other family activities, Ted remained distant. He later complained to his girlfriend that Johnny wasn't his real father, "wasn't very bright", and "didn't make much money". Bundy varied his recollections of Tacoma in later years. To Michaud and Aynesworth, he described roaming his neighborhood, picking through trash barrels in search of pictures of naked women. He told Polly Nelson that he perused detective magazines, crime novels, and true crime documentaries for stories that involved sexual violence, particularly when the stories were illustrated with pictures of dead or maimed bodies. In a letter to Rule, however, he asserted that he "never, ever read fact-detective magazines, and shuddered at the thought" that anyone would. He told Michaud that he would consume large quantities of alcohol and "canvass the community" late at night in search of undraped windows where he could observe women undressing, or "whatever [else] could be seen." Accounts of his social life also varied. Bundy told Michaud and Aynesworth that he "chose to be alone" as an adolescent because he was unable to understand interpersonal relationships. He claimed that he had no natural sense of how to develop friendships. "I didn't know what made people want to be friends," he said. "I didn't know what underlay social interactions." Classmates from Woodrow Wilson High School told Rule, however, that Bundy was "well known and well liked" there, "a medium-sized fish in a large pond."
effrey Lionel Dahmer (/ˈdɑːmər/; May 21, 1960 – November 28, 1994), also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal or the Milwaukee Monster, was an American serial killer and sex offender who committed the murder and dismemberment of seventeen men and boys between 1978 and 1991. Many of his later murders involved necrophilia, cannibalism, and the permanent preservation of body parts—typically all or part of the skeleton.
Dennis Lynn Rader (born March 9, 1945) is an American serial killer known as BTK (an abbreviation he gave himself, for "bind, torture, kill"), the BTK Strangler or the BTK Killer. Between 1974 and 1991, Rader killed ten people in Wichita and Park City, Kansas, and sent taunting letters to police and newspapers describing the details of his crimes. After a decade-long hiatus, Rader resumed sending letters in 2004, leading to his 2005 arrest and subsequent guilty plea. He is serving ten consecutive life sentences at El Dorado Correctional Facility in Prospect Township, Butler County, Kansas.
Gary Leon Ridgway was born on February 18, 1949, in Salt Lake City, Utah, the second of Mary and Thomas Ridgway's three sons. His home life was somewhat troubled; relatives have described his mother as domineering and have said that, while young, he witnessed more than one violent argument between his parents. His father was a bus driver who would often complain about the presence of sex workers. Ridgway had a bed-wetting problem until he was 13, and his mother would wash his genitals after every episode. He would later tell defense psychologists that, as an adolescent, he had conflicting feelings of anger and sexual attraction toward his mother, and fantasized about killing her. Ridgway is dyslexic, and was held back a year in high school. When he was 16, he stabbed a six-year-old boy who survived the attack. Ridgway had led the boy into the woods and then stabbed him through the ribs into his liver. Ridgway's IQ was recorded as being in the "low eighties".
Born in Burbank, California, Kemper had a troubled upbringing. His parents divorced in early life; as a child, he moved to Montana with his abusive mother Clarnell, who locked Kemper in their basement which had been frequented by rats. He ran away to reunite with his father, but was left behind in North Fork, California on Christmas Day in 1963, where he murdered his paternal grandparents when he was 15. Following the murders, he was briefly diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by court psychiatrists and sentenced to the Atascadero State Hospital as a criminally insane juvenile. Edmund Emil Kemper III was born in Burbank, California, on December 18, 1948. He was the middle child and only son born to Clarnell Elizabeth Kemper (née Stage, 1921–1973) and Edmund Emil Kemper Jr. (1917–1985). Edmund Jr. was a World War II veteran who, after the war, tested nuclear weapons in the Pacific Proving Grounds before returning to California, where he worked as an electrician. Clarnell often complained about Edmund II's "menial" electrician job, and he later said "suicide missions in wartime and the atomic bomb testings were nothing compared to living with her" and that Clarnell affected him "more than three hundred and ninety-six days and nights of fighting on the front did."Weighing 13 pounds (5.9 kg) as a newborn, Kemper was a head taller than his peers by the age of four. Early on, he exhibited antisocial behavior such as cruelty to animals: At the age of 10, he buried a pet cat alive; once it died, he dug it up, decapitated it, and mounted its head on a spike. Kemper later stated that he derived pleasure from successfully lying to his family about killing the cat. At the age of 13, he killed another family cat when he perceived it to be favoring his younger sister, Allyn Lee Kemper (born 1951), over him; and he kept pieces of it in his closet until his mother found them. Kemper had a dark fantasy life. He performed rites with his younger sister's dolls that culminated in his removing their heads and hands; on one occasion, when his elder sister, Susan Hughey Kemper (1943–2014), teased him and asked why he did not try to kiss his teacher, he replied, "If I kiss her, I'd have to kill her first." He also recalled that as a young boy, he would sneak out of his house and, armed with his father's bayonet, go to his second-grade teacher's house to watch her through the windows. He stated in later interviews that some of his favorite games to play as a child were "Gas Chamber" and "Electric Chair," in which he asked his younger sister to tie him up and flip an imaginary switch; he would then tumble over and writhe on the floor, pretending that he was being executed by gas inhalation or electric shock. He also had close-to-death experiences as a child: once, when his elder sister tried to push him in front of a train and another time when she successfully pushed him into the deep end of a swimming pool, where he almost drowned. Kemper had a close relationship with his father and was devastated when his parents separated in 1957, causing him to be raised by Clarnell in Helena, Montana. He had a severely dysfunctional relationship with his mother, a neurotic, domineering alcoholic who frequently belittled, humiliated, and abused him. Clarnell often made her son sleep in a locked basement because she feared that he would harm his sisters, regularly mocked him for his large size—he stood 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) by the age of 15—and derided him as "a real weirdo." She also refused to show him affection out of fear that she would "turn him gay" and told the young Kemper that he reminded her of his father and that no woman would ever love him. Kemper later described her as a "sick angry woman," and it has been postulated that she suffered from borderline personality disorder. At the age of 14, Kemper ran away from home in an attempt to reconcile with his father in Van Nuys, California. Once there, he learned that his father had remarried and had a stepson. Kemper stayed with his father for a short while until the elder Kemper sent him to live with his paternal grandparents, who lived on a ranch in the mountains of North Fork, California. Kemper hated living in North Fork; he described his grandfather as "senile" and said that his grandmother "was constantly emasculating me and my grandfather."