Charles Manson's deeply dark and twisted interpretation of The Beatles' "White Album"

Fifty years ago today, the Manson Family carried out the grisly Tate-Labianca murders that essentially crushed the hippie dream with a tragic nightmare starring failed songwriter and psychopath Charles Manson. At Manson's trial, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi argued that the cult leader was inspired by his misreading of The Beatles' White Album. Indeed, "Healter Skelter” [sic] had been smeared in blood on the LaBiancas’ refrigerator. Over at Rolling Stone, Kory Grow does a track-by-track analysis of Manson's bizarre misinterpretation of The White Album. From Rolling Stone:

Although he would deny being into the Beatles years later (“I am a Bing Crosby fan,” he declared in 1985 – despite inmates at a prison Manson stayed at in the early Sixties claiming he was obsessed with the Beatles), Manson discussed the group enough with his followers that his warped reading of the Fab Four’s most adventurous album resounded throughout the trial. Bugliosi interviewed several Manson Family members, including those who were not facing criminal charges, and found consistency in their descriptions of his mythology surrounding the White Album and the garbled connections he made between it and the Book of Revelations, which depict end-times.

“This music is bringing on the revolution, the unorganized overthrow of the establishment,” Manson told Rolling Stone in 1970. “The Beatles know [what’s happening] in the sense that the subconscious knows.”

“From the beginning, Charlie believed the Beatles’ music carried an important message – to us,” Manson Family member Paul Watkins wrote in his book, My Life With Charles Manson.

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Trailer for new Ted Bundy biopic starring Zac Efron

Following director Joseph Berlinger's Netflix docu-series "Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes," he brings us "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile," a Ted Bundy biopic starring Zac Efron as the alluring and horrible serial killer. The story is apparently told from the viewpoint of Bundy's girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer, played by Lily Collins.

Coming to Netflix on May 3.

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New Ted Bundy documentary based on deeply creepy unheard jailhouse recordings

If you're into the dark fringes of true crime media... The forthcoming documentary "Conversations With A Killer," about serial killer Ted Bundy, is based on 100 hours of two journalists' unheard audio interviews conducted on death row before Bundy was executed in 1989. From Rolling Stone:

The series also explores how Bundy was able to avert capture as he didn’t adhere to the serial killer stereotype; women flocked to Bundy’s trial despite the serial killer’s gruesome “sex crime slayings of more than 30 women.” “He was charming, good-looking, smart... Are you sure you got the right guy,” one woman says of Bundy in voiceover.

“I’m not an animal, I’m not crazy, I don’t have a split personality,” Bundy said in one recording. “I mean I’m just a normal individual.”

"Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes" premieres on Netflix on January 24, the anniversary of Bundy's execution. Read the rest

Zodiac killer's unsolved code "behaves like fake ciphers" and therefore probably a ruse

A statistical analysis of the unsolved Zodiak killer cipher shows that it is like fake ciphers and unlike true ones, such as the Zodiak's other, cracked ciphertext. In the chart above, created by Tom S Juzek, the red dot is the unsolved cipher, the purple dot the solved one, the other squares known-true ciphers and the diamonds known-fake ciphers. [via r/codes]

In my view, the most likely explanation is that the cipher is a ruse. Serial killers tend to be subject to hubris, as Douglas points out in his excellent book on the subject [html link]. It must have been a shock to the Zodiac Killer when he learnt that his z408 cipher had been deciphered so quick, by two hobby cryptographers. To prove intellectual superiority, he needed another cipher, one so strong that couldn't be deciphered, certainly not as easily as z408. I think the Zodiac Killer was unable to produce such a cipher, which is why he chose to take another route: He decided to cheat. The Zodiac Killer created a fake cipher that no-one could ever decrypt.

If you're wondering why the cracked Zodiak cipher is way past the rest of the "true" ones, it's because they all involved more randomness than his--never roll your own crypto. Be sure to read Juzek's post as it's staggeringly thorough, yet interesting to someone like me who knows nothing of mathematics.

Compare to Craig Bauer's solution, which Juzek describes as "far fetched."

Here's the original, if you'd like to take another futile stab at it:

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NYC women in 1977 talk about staying safe from the Son of Sam serial killer

Forty years ago, serial killer David Berkowitz, aka the "Son of Sam," was thought to be targeting women in New York City who had long, dark hair. (In reality, Berkowitz thought he was following orders from his neighbor Sam's demon dog Harvey.) The very real fear of being a target led many women to cut their hair short, dye it, or wear wigs. Above, a reporter's on-the-street interviews with women at the time.

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Suspected serial killer caught after cops put out a bait mannequin

After two homeless men were murdered in Las Vegas by the same method, cops put out a bait mannequin that looked like a homeless man sleeping under a blanket. During the stakeout, Shane Shindler began beating the mannequin with a hammer similar to the weapon used in the other deaths. Read the rest

New message from Zodiac killer was actually class project

Police in Tallahassee, Florida were on high alert after a message appeared on a sidewalk that looked very similar to the writing and cryptograms written by the Zodiac serial killer in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Northern California. The Zodiac Killer's identity is still unknown. Here's the message:

“You were wrong. I am not dead or in the hospital. I’m alive and well and I’m going to start killing again."

Turns out, the message was part of an assignment on serial killers and drug cartels in a Florida State University class. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, "the assignment was to write a message in a public forum, take a picture and send it to (professor Iheoma) Nwachukwu.

From the Tallahassee Democrat:

On Friday, someone reported seeing the message and called police.

Meanwhile, the student who wrote the message had left for a weekend trip. She returned and on Tuesday called police after seeing flyers alerting Luxe residents to it and seeing it reported on the news.

She told police she and her roommate wrote the message but left in the pouring rain thinking the chalk would wash away.

"Police: 'Zodiac' message near FSU part of class project" Read the rest

Author: My dad was the Zodiac Killer

Gary Stewart, author of a new memoir The Most Dangerous Animal Of All, is the latest person to claim he has proof of the real, true identity of the infamous Zodiac Killer of 1960s northern California; he says the killer was his late father, Earl Van Best, Jr. Read the rest

Little House on the Prairie, serial killers, and the nature of memoir

Over the weekend, I read a couple of the posts blogger Ana Mardoll has been writing in which she deconstructs some of the weirder/more objectionable elements of the Little House books. That sent me looking for an essay I'd read several years ago on the actual history of how the Osage people were removed from southeastern Kansas ... which is given a prominent, if rather warped, role in Little House on the Prairie.

I didn't find that essay, but I did find several references to a story I had never, ever heard before. Turns out, the Ingalls family's sojourn in Kansas might have overlapped with that of a family of serial killers. At the American Indians in Children's Literature blog, Debbie Reese writes about stumbling across the story in the transcript of a speech Laura Ingalls Wilder gave in 1937. Here's an excerpt from that transcript:

There were Kate Bender and two men, her brothers, in the family and their tavern was the only place for travelers to stop on the road south from Independence. People disappeared on that road. Leaving Independence and going south they were never heard of again. It was thought they were killed by Indians but no bodies were ever found.

Then it was noticed that the Benders’ garden was always freshly plowed but never planted. People wondered. And then a man came from the east looking for his brother, who was missing.

... In the cellar underneath was the body of a man whose head had been crushed by the hammer.

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Canadian politician: My internet spying bill would help us catch serial killers like Luka Magnotta

The Toronto Sun today reports that "politicians and their aides in Ottawa have been shocked by the gruesome killing" attributed to Luka Magnotta. But not too shocked to exploit it for their own political gain! Buried in a story about how the missing accused murderer will face charges of "Criminal harassment" for sending dead body parts to lawmakers, in addition to all the murder and ass-cheek-eating and corpse-sexing stuff: Read the rest

John Wayne Gacy had a helper?

“There is significant evidence out there that suggests that not only did John Wayne Gacy not operate alone, he may not have been involved in some of the murders, and the fact that he was largely a copycat killer.” Read the rest