An autobiography is an account of a person’s life in their own words. Everybody has their own story to tell – but what happens when a serial killer wants to write a memoir?
Just one look into their evil eyes can prompt feelings of sheer terror to curiosity. What really goes on in their minds? Why did they do it? Do they feel remorse? In the following cases, these killers let us directly into their inner thoughts and the result was chilling…
(Appearing in The Strange Case of Dr. H.H. Holmes by John Borowski)
Herman Webster Mudgett is more commonly known as Dr. H. H. Holmes – one of the first serial killers in America. In Chicago, during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Holmes opened a hotel which he had designed and built with the intention to murder people. The hotel had bathrooms fitted with gas pipes, corridors made into mazes and traps under the beds. He confessed to 27 murders, but the real body count could be around 200.
In The Strange Case of Dr. H.H. Holmes by John Borowski, Holmes’s Own Story appears written by the serial killer but credited under his real name – Herman W. Mudgett. It is his own autobiography, written in 1895, where he speaks of his childhood, life and personal struggles. This is a chilling look into the mind of one of the worst men that ever lived.
10. Pickton: In His Own Words by Robert Pickton
Robert “Willie” Pickton was a former multi-millionaire and pig farmer who became a convicted serial killer in 2007. His victims were six women, mostly prostitutes from Downtown Eastside, Vancouver, whose remains he fed to the pigs on his farm.
It is believed he could have killed up to 49 women after The Crown reported that Pickton confessed to an inmate he was aiming for the “big 5-0”. He also added, “I made my own grave by being sloppy. Doesn’t that just kick you in the ass now?” His confession was caught on tape as the inmate was actually an undercover investigator. He also confessed how he committed the murders. Revealing, “I filled the syringes up with antifreeze and you inject the stuff and you’re dead in about five to 10 minutes.”
Then in February 2016, there was a huge public backlash when online retailer Amazon released a book titled Pickton: In His Own Words for $14.99. Publisher, Outskirts Press, received a lot of complaints after they had printed the 144-page memoir, but they quickly pulled the sale from the website. They claimed, “We have a longstanding policy of not working with, nor publishing work by, incarcerated individuals. Outskirts Press apologizes to the families of the victims for any additional heartache this may have caused.”
The publishers were under the impression the book had been penned by author Michael Childres, but this was actually a manuscript written entirely by Pickton, which he had somehow managed to smuggle out of prison. Pickton pleads his innocence throughout the book, which is now out-of-print and no longer available online.
9. Son of Hope by David Berkowitz
David Berkowitz, also known as the Son of Sam, shot and killed six victims, and wounded seven more, in New York City, between the summer of 1976 and July 1977. As the police hunted him down he wrote taunting letters and achieved worldwide notoriety. When he was finally arrested in August 1977, he claimed he was obeying the orders of a demon, which took the form of a dog named “Harvey” that belonged to his neighbor, “Sam”.
Intense coverage of the trial earned him celebrity status and almost every media outlet wanted to interview him. Publishers also offered him huge sums of money for his story. In response, the New York State introduced the new “Son of Sam laws”, which stops criminals from profiting financially from any publicity surrounding their crimes. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
After years of believing he was part of a satanic cult, Berkowitz has since penned a new book in prison: Son of Hope. 10 years into his sentence, he met a fellow inmate who encouraged him to share “Christ’s love, hope, and forgiveness.” Berkowitz now claims he has fully accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and has been a Christian for more than 18 years. The description reads that this “prison journal offers irrefutable evidence that God has indeed done a marvelous and miraculous work in this man’s life.”
All proceeds go to the victims of his crimes or their families.
8. The Trinity of Superkidds: Quest for Water by J.D. Bauer (a.k.a Charles Kempo)
In June 2010, Charles Kembo was found guilty of killing his wife, business partner, mistress, and stepdaughter – all on separate occasions between December 2002 and July 2005, in Vancouver.
His business partner, 38-year-old Ardon Samuel, was found strangled and castrated in Vancouver Park. The body of his mistress, Sui Yin Ma, had been stuffed into a hockey bag and found in Richmond slough. Then his stepdaughter, 20-year-old Rita Yeung, was found wrapped in garbage bags and dumped in Richmond. The body of his wife has never been found. He was sentenced to life imprisonment after the judge called him, “a serial killer, a very dangerous man.”
Which is why people find it very disturbing that he is also a children’s author, with novels published under the pen name “J.D. Bauer.” His novel The Trinity of Superkidds: Quest for Water, which was released in 2010, is as described by the author about “teenage heroes gifted with a variety of exotic superpowers which they use to inspire, raise awareness and vanquish water waste and pollution in a fun, fast-paced adventure.”
Kempo created the identity of the female writer during his trial. On the fake Facebook profile page he created, he wrote that “she” lives “elsewhere in the United States,” and that “she” “prefers to write in semi-darkness.” The book was available for sale and one customer review read: “A great YA novel; however, parents may want to read the second half of chapter 3 before giving it to their children, as it includes a moderately disturbing rape scene of one of the “bad” kids. My 5-year-old and 10-year-old loved it – we look forward to future entries in the series!” There will not be any further titles in the series as the book has since been removed for sale by Amazon.
7. Zekka by Seito Sakakibara
On March 16th and May 27th, 1997, the Kobe child murders took place in Kobe, Japan. Two victims, 10-year-old Ayaka Yamashita and 11-year-old Jun Hase, whose severed head was placed at the entrance of the school, were murdered by a 14-year-old boy only known under the aliases: Seito Sakakibara or “Boy A”, as Japanese law prohibits publishing the identification of juvenile criminals. He admitted the murders but was fully released on January 1st, 2015.
Then in Japanese bookshops, the same year as his release, Sakakibara’s autobiography, Zekka, was available to buy. The publishers faced a lot of criticism and controversy. Zekka details how the still unidentified teenager had a sexual appetite from a young age, and after growing bored of killing cats, he moved on to real people.
Neither of the victim’s families was told about the book until they received copies from Sakakibara direct to their homes with apology notes attached. To insult them even more, Sakakibara received royalties for the book – although he had stated that he will use the money to clear civil damage charges, of around $1.6 million, which will be awarded to the victim’s families.
6. Final Truth: The Autobiography of a Serial Killer by Donald H. Gaskins
Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins killed over 100 people but was only tried on eight counts of murder. By 1975, he had killed 80 boys and girls along the highways in North Carolina. One of his victims had been his own 15-year-old niece and her friend, he had lured the two girls to an abandoned house where he beat, sexually assaulted, and drowned them. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
On September 2nd, 1982, whilst he was serving time in prison, Gaskins murdered death row inmate, Rudolph Tyner, who had killed an elderly couple named Bill and Myrtle Moon, during an armed robbery gone wrong. Gaskins had been hired to kill Tyner by Tony Cimo, son of Bill and Myrtle Moon. Gaskins made a device similar to a portable radio and told Tyner that he could use this to talk through the cells. It was full of explosives and when detonated this instantly killed Tyner. Gaskins said, “The last thing he (Tyner) heard was me laughing.” Gaskins was sentenced to death for Tyner’s murder in 1991.
Gaskin’s autobiography Final Truth: The Autobiography of a Serial Killer, was written as a collaboration between Gaskins and biographer Wilton Earle. It tells the graphic story of his life and crimes – it is considered one of the most brutal autobiographies to date.
5. Killer Fiction by G.J. Schaefer
Gerard John Schaefer, Jr. was convicted of two murders and imprisoned in 1973, at Martin County, Florida. He was suspected of many other murders and fuelled this by boasting privately of murdering more than thirty women and girls.
On December 3rd, 1995, Schaefer was found dead in his cell after a fellow inmate, Vincent Rivera, had stabbed him to death. Rivera did not confess to the killing or have a motive. Schaefer’s sister claimed her brother’s murder was a cover up by the prison guards, whereas many other witnessed the killing as a fight over a cup of coffee.
True crime writer and former girlfriend to Schaefer, Sondra London, interviewed him following his conviction, and in 1990 published his short stories and drawings in a book titled Killer Fiction. Schaefer’s writes his stories about the savage torture and murder of women, often from the perspective of the killer. The second edition of Killer Fiction also released written confessions from Schaefer, he detailed killing 34 women and girls and bragged that this had impressed fellow Death Row inmate and serial killer Ted Bundy.
4. Killer: A Journal of Murder by Thomas E. Gaddis and James Long
Carl Panzram is considered one of the worst men that had ever lived. He was a rapist, killer, arsonist , and burglar. Before he was executed in 1930, he wrote many texts inside prison – some of which even claimed that he had sexually assaulted over 1000 victims. Killer: A Journal of Murder, by Thomas E. Gaddis and James Long, published the first edition of the book in 1970, with all of Panzram’s sinister texts inside.
One Amazon reviewer describes the book as, “A modern-day, hardcore picaresque novel – only it’s a true story. Carl Panzram, an inhuman monster, pens his autobiography, blaming everyone but himself for his brutal crimes against humanity.” The savage text and details of his killing are not for the weak hearted. The book was later adapted into a movie starring James Woods in 1995.
3. The Making of a Serial Killer by Danny Rolling
Daniel “Danny” Rolling became known as the Gainesville Ripper after he killed five students in Gainesville, Florida, in August 1990. Rolling also confessed to raping several of his victims and committing a triple homicide in Shreveport, Louisiana. He further admitted to attempting to murder his father. In total, Rolling confessed to killing eight people and was executed by lethal injection in 2006. Rolling’s case inspired screenwriter Kevin Williamson to write the script for the 1996 slasher movie, Scream.
While on death row at Florida State Prison, Rolling wrote songs and poems and drew pictures which were later used in the now out-of-print book, The Making of a Serial Killer in 1996.This work has been described as “Murderabilia”, but others found his in-depth detailing of rape and homicide beyond disturbing. One Amazon reviewer wrote: “It’s gratuitous violence perpetrated by the killer himself, Rollings, makes this one of the most despicable publications on the subject.”
Rollings collaborated with Sondra London, his former fiance, and true crime collaborator, to write the book. In 1999, when the “Son of Sam” law prohibited criminals from making money from their crimes, London was ordered to pay the families of the victims $15,000, but they refused to take her “blood money.”
2. The Gates of Janus by Ian Brady
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley killed five children – Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans – between July 1963 and October 1965, in Greater Manchester, England. These killings later became known as “The Moors Murders” after they buried their victims in graves they had dug on Saddleworth Moor. Ian Brady was declared criminally insane in 1985, he was sent to serve his sentence in high-security Ashworth Hospital.
Ian Brady was considered one of the sickest serial killers that ever lived. Despite the fact that most people find him twisted beyond recognition, the public interest in his crime is still growing. The Gates of Janus is a highly controversial book, written entirely by Brady, after British true crime writer, Colin Wilson, suggested that he write a book and come to terms with the crimes he committed.
Based on observations of other killers and his own life story, Brady’s book is part psychological and part philosophical. Wilson strongly denies this glorifies Brady’s crimes, but instead reads as a fascinating insight into the mind of a murderer. This is considered essential reading for psychologists, forensic scientists and anyone who really wants to take a look inside the criminal mind.
1. A Question of Doubt by John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy, Jr. sexually assaulted and murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois. He lured his victims back to his home, by either force or manipulation, and then stabbed them to death. He buried 26 of his victims in the crawl space of his own house. More victims, some of which were close friends of his, were found discarded in a local river. Gacy became known in the media as “The Killer Clown” when it was discovered that he would dress as a clown for called “Pogo” for children’s parties.
A Question of Doubt, written by Gacy, was only ever printed 500 times, although only 400 have been found, and 80 were signed by Gacy himself. The current auction price on some sites is between $900 – $1200. Gacy gives the reader details of his arrest and the trial from his point of view It also contains many drawings of himself as a clown and shockingly revealed that he believes some of the bodies in his house had been “planted” by other people.
The introduction reads: This is not an autobiography covering my entire life, but a detailed account of the nightmare I lived from December 11, 1978, until March 13, 1980. This is the history of the concoction of lies and calculated deceit created by the police and the news media . . .
Gacy spent 14 years on death row before he was executed by lethal injection on May 10th, 1994.