This article originally appeared in the 4th issue of True Crime Magazine.
Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Richard Ramirez – three names we’ve all been introduced to by the media, books, and TV crime shows. You may think that you know everything about their twisted lives. However, there are at least ten things even the most die-hard true crime fans probably didn’t know about the murderous three.
1. You Can Visit Ted Bundy’s Beetle at Alcatraz East Crime Museum
In February 2010, a bizarre unveiling ceremony took place in Washington D.C. National Museum of Crime & Punishment. The visitors had been introduced to a new exhibit – Ted Bundy’s 1968 Volkswagen Beetle, which replaced the 1933 Essex-Terraplane used as a getaway vehicle by the infamous gangster John Dillinger.
A retired D.C. police deputy chief Wyndell Watkins Sr., who participated in the introduction of Bundy’s Beetle, dubbed it as a “death wagon.” According to the Washington Post, the so-called “Death Wagon” was previously owned by Arthur Nash, a New York-based private collector who also owned many other fascinating pieces of murderabilia on display in the museum’s exhibition, including the paintbox used by the “Killer Clown” John Wayne Gacy.
The grisly exhibit has been displayed at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment until its closure in 2015. The “death wagon” is now exhibited at the Alcatraz East, a 19th century prison-themed crime museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, along with many other infamous artifacts, such as John Dillinger’s car, Al Capone’s rosary, the O.J. Simpson’s Bronco, an FBI polygraph machine, and Al Pacino’s sub-machine gun from the movie Scarface.
2. The Night Stalker Is Not the First Nickname Given to Richard Ramirez
Most of us know Richard Ramirez by the name of the “Night Stalker,” but believe it or not, this isn’t the first nickname given to him.
The reporters of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, who had been covering the case since Ramirez’s first attack, had a brainstorming session in an attempt to come up with an attractive label for the killer.
The “Walk-In Killer,” “Valley Intruder” and the “Screen Door Intruder” are only a few nicknames the Herald Examiner came up with that night.
Although the reporters didn’t know many details about the crimes committed by Ramirez, they decided to dub him the “Night Stalker” based on a hit 1972 tv-movie “The Night Stalker” about a vampire serial killer terrorizing the people of Las Vegas.
3. Jeffrey Dahmer Was a US Army Medic
After Dahmer’s tenure at Ohio State University was cut short when he failed to enroll in winter quarter classes for the 1979 term, the Milwaukee Cannibal had no other choice but to try his luck in the U.S. Army. In January 1979, Dahmer enlisted as a medical specialist at Fort Sam Houston. Six months later, on July 13, 1979, the killer was deployed to West Germany, where he served as a combat medic.
Even though Dahmer denied having sexual adventures of any kind while in Germany, Preston Davis, a fellow soldier who worked in a medic unit with Dahmer, believes that he was drugged and raped by Dahmer inside an armored personnel vehicle.
Once Davis left Germany, he was replaced with 17-year-old Billy Joe Capshaw, who claimed to be a second victim of Dahmer’s brutal sexual urges. After the first assault, Capshaw leaped from a third-floor window and escaped the clutches of madness. According to the victim, Dahmer raped him 8 to 10 times within a period of 17 months. In one of his interviews, Capshaw told that Dahmer would tie him to the bunk with motor-pool rope, stripping all his clothing and beat him before raping him.
Soon after, Billy Capshaw reported the abuse to his commander and was taken to the dispensary for a rape test to determine if he was telling the truth. The doctors did nothing, and Capshaw was sent back to the room and spent another 17 months with Dahmer, suffering more rape and torture.
In his first year of service, Dahmer was described as an average to slightly above average soldier. Due to alcohol abuse, Dahmer’s performance slowly deteriorated, and in March 1981, he was discharged from the service.
4. The Silence of the Lambs Was Based on Ted Bundy
Buffalo Bill, the main character of Thomas Harris‘ The Silence of the Lambs, was drawn from at least six different serial killers, including Ted Bundy. Bill approached overweight women by faking injuries and asking for their help, just like Bundy did.
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Even more interesting, Harris had attended Bundy’s trial and mailed him a paperback copy of Red Dragon, the forerunner to The Silence of The Lambs, which depicted the relationship between a detective and an incarcerated serial killer.
5. Jeffrey Dahmer Committed Some of his Murders While Living With His Grandmother
Following his discharge from the U.S. Army and an arrest for drunk and disorderly conduct resulting in a fine of $60 and a suspended ten-day jail sentence, Dahmer moved in with his grandmother in Wisconsin.
During his time there, Dahmer killed three young men, one of whom he had drugged, strangled, sodomized and photographed in various positions sexually significant to him. For years, Dahmer’s grandmother had no clue what was happening down in her basement.
In 1988, she got fed up with her grandson’s late nights and heavy drinking and forced him to move out.
6. A Female Juror Was Fatally Shot During Richard Ramirez’s Trial
After Ramirez‘s first court appearance, jurors reported they had frequent nightmares about the crimes committed by the Night Stalker. However, one day, events took an unexpected, terrifying turn. On August 14, 1988, Phyllis Singletary, one of the jurors in Richard Ramirez’s trial, didn’t show up at the courtroom. A few hours later, Singletary was found shot dead in her apartment.
The grand jury was terrified, believing that Ramirez somehow masterminded the murder while being behind bars.
However, the Night Stalker wasn’t responsible for Singletary’s murder. She had been fatally shot by her boyfriend, James Melton. Two days later, Melton shot himself in the head outside his second-floor room, after the investigators received an anonymous phone tip disclosing his location.
7. Jeffrey Dahmer Forced One of His Victims To Watch The Exorcist III
Tracy Edwards, Dahmer‘s surviving victim, reported that after being handcuffed by the Milwaukee Cannibal, he was forced to watch the infamous horror movie The Exorcist III.
While Dahmer was rocking back and forth in a trance-like state watching the movie, Edwards saw an opportunity to escape.
During his confessions, Dahmer claimed that the first three movies of The Exorcist franchise were his most favorite movies of all time. Also, he could relate to them because the Milwaukee Cannibal felt the devil drove him.
8. Ted Bundy Was a Twisted Romantic Subject of Many Women
In his trials, Ted Bundy always made sure to address his female fans. Bundy believed that the more supporters he had, the more the jury would be swayed into thinking he wasn’t capable of horrific acts of kidnapping, rape, and murder.
While in prison, Bundy received more than 200 letters a day from women obsessed with him. Many groupies were so deluded that they believed Bundy was innocent. Some of them even dyed their hair brunette and parted it in the middle so they would resemble his victims.
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One of the groupies, Carol Anne Boone, married him during the trial and later gave birth to his child.
9. Jeffrey Dahmer Was a Happy and Energetic Child Until the Age of Four
At the age of four, Jeffrey Dahmer underwent double hernia surgery. After that, his behavior completely changed. The Milwaukee Cannibal became increasingly withdrawn and subdued. The behavior intensified even more after the birth of Dahmer’s younger brother.
By his teenage years, Dahmer was already an extreme loner. Although in one of his interviews he said that his fascination with necrophilia began at the age of 14, the real catalyst that turned his secret fantasies into horrific murderous actions is still a mystery.
10. Richard Ramirez Threatened to Shoot His Prosecutor
Known for his flirty and spectacular performances in front of the cameras, Richard Ramirez once planned to bring a gun into the courtroom and shoot his prosecutor. The chilling plot was discovered by the Los Angeles Times on August 3, 1988, after some jail employees reportedly overheard Ramirez’s plan.
Consequently, the courthouse installed the metal detectors and intensive searches were conducted on people entering.
A few months after Ramirez’s death, the New York Post published an article stating that he’d also hatched two plots to escape prison to continue his murder spree. Both plans had failed. In 1993, while being brought back to prison, Ramirez tried to smuggle a key into his rectum that would unlock his handcuffs. The second plan had never been executed since correctional officers became aware of the plot after reading one of the letters sent to Ramirez by a Night Stalker groupie.