By M. P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
There are women who run with killers who are classified as compliant accomplices, in other words they were aware and at times participated in their crimes either in fear of their lives or that the relationship would end. There are other women who claim they were in total ignorance that the person they were involved with was killing other human beings.
Serial killers are many times portrayed as loners or misanthropes who obsess over their future victims in a dank cellar somewhere, but this is not always the case.
Johann "Jack" Unterweger an Austrian serial killer went on to leave a series of victims in several countries.
Unterweger strangled his first victim, an 18-year-old prostitute named Margaret Schaefer, in 1974. He used her own bra to kill her. He was sentenced to life behind bars. During his time there he wrote short stories, plays and poems that captured the attention of literary elites in Austria. He became known as the "prison poet."
In 1985, a campaign was started to gain him a pardon. He was released in May, 1990, after serving the required 15-year minimum. A book he wrote was taught in Austrian schools, and his stories for children were read on the radio. He hosted a TV program where he talked about criminal rehabilitation. Ironically as a journalist, he covered several murder stories for which he would later be found to have been the perpetrator.
Once he came under suspicion, and the Austrian police searched his apartment they found photographs of their suspect posing with female police officers from L.A.P.D. They had welcomed him as a visiting writer in 1991, and had even taken him on ride-alongs.
There was also evidence that linked him to other cold cases in Austria. They had their confirmation he was their suspect, but they missed Unterweger who had fled to Florida with Bianca Mrak, his 18-year-old girlfriend.
Unterweger like the true psychopath that he was, gave interviews to Austrian journalists and claimed he was being framed. His girlfriend said she had gone willingly with him.
Bianca like many young, modern women was mesmerized by his celebrity as an author and journalist, and believed his story of being framed. It's unknown if she knew he was accused of killing several women.
The U.S. Marshals caught up with them in South Beach, Florida in 1992. He ditched Bianca, and good thing he did, because when the agents reviewed his travel journal, which was kept in his room, Unterweger had considered killing his young lover.
While awaiting extradition back to Austria he said, "I have wonderful relationships with women."
Even after being made aware of his crimes, if she wasn't already, Mrak said, "I'll stick with him, no matter what happens. He is my man, and I'm his woman."
In May, he was charged with eleven murders, including one in Prague and three in Los Angeles. He was convicted of killing ten women in three countries in 1994.
That night, Unterweger committed suicide by hanging himself with a rope made from shoelaces, and a cord from the trousers of a track suit. In a parting shot he used the same knot that was found on all his strangled victims, many which were prostitutes.
Bianca would go on to tell the Austrian tabloid Krone Zeitung, "Jack has such beautifully cared-for hands. He
could be very sweet with those hands. I can't imagine that he could have used those same hands to kill someone."
Liz Kendall (real name Elizabeth Kloepfer) met Ted Bundy in a bar in 1969. He wooed the single mother with stories that he was writing a book, and had plans to attend law school. She would go on to write The Phantom Prince (1981) describing her six-year relationship with this prolific serial killer.
She recalled, "I knew when I first looked at him…that he was a cut above the rest of the crowd. The way he moved projected confidence. He seemed to be in control of his world.” Despite his air of assured success, she gave him financial support. Later she learned that he killed other women while they were in a relationship. When she caught him in lies, he turned the tables on her and made her believe she was to blame. She was compliant and believed him.
Both Unterweger and Bundy manipulated with their charms and lies. Most importantly they presented themselves as "normal" and imitated behavior that would make them appear to be caring boyfriends. They understood their predation of other humans could not bleed over into their relationships, because no amount of manipulation could undo the damage if it became known what they were capable of.
They understood that they needed to fulfill these women's expectations in order to groom them, and make them emotionally dependent on them. They didn't kill their girlfriends out of love, but because they served a purpose.
Unlike TV movies or reality shows where the villain is known from the beginning, predators of both sexes make an effort to appear ordinary. They pick those who they want to seduce based on their innocence and emotional needs.
In the case of Bundy, one could romanticize his reason for not killing Kloepfer because he loved her, however most probably she served the purpose of making him appear "normal" to society, and if he killed her, he would be a prime suspect. There would be a good chance the murders he had committed so far would be discovered.
Paul John Knowles
In 1974, Paul John Knowles, who became known as the Casanova Killer was being hunted by the FBI.
His youth was spent in foster homes, and at some point he was sent to the Dozier School for Boys. By the time he was 19 he was serving time in Florida's Raiford Prison. He struck up a long distance, correspondence relationship with Angela Covic a divorcee who lived in San Francisco. They became engaged after one meeting at the prison, and she paid for his attorney. Once released he went to be with her, but she was so disturbed after this meeting that she broke off the relationship. He claimed that he murdered three people that same night.
Chances are that by then she knew that he was in prison for burglary, and not drug transactions as he first told her. Whatever her reasons, she was thoroughly spooked when their were no bars to separate them.
Knowles returned to Jacksonville, and he was arrested after stabbing a bartender in a fight. He escaped on July 26, 1974, by picking the lock of his jail cell.
He went on a multi-state killing spree that lasted four months.
His first victim was Alice Curtis, 65, whose home he broke into the night he escaped. He ransacked the home and stole her car. She died after choking to death from the gag Knowles had put in her mouth.
In his taped confession he said he had killed a girl named "Alma". It wasn't until 2011, that this claim was proven to be accurate. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation matched Alma to Ima Jean Sanders, 13, who disappeared on August 1, 1974, from Warner Robins, Georgia. She skeleton was found in April 1976.
Then he said he was responsible for the disappearance of Annette Anderson, 11, and Mylette Anderson, 7, who were taken from their Jacksonville home on August 1, 1974. The investigators believed this was a false confession. The girls' bodies have never been found, and their kidnapping coincided with the disappearance of a total of five young girls during a 3-month period. The only bodies recovered were those of Virginia Helm and Rebecca Greene, both 12. No arrests have been made in connection to any of the cases.
On August 2, he met Marjorie Howie, 49, in Atlantic Beach. She was found strangled, and her TV was stolen. Three weeks later he broke into the home of Kathie Sue Pierce in Musella, Georgia. He strangled her but left her 3-year old son unharmed.
On September 3, 1974, William Bates, 32, was seen at the Scott's Inn, a pub near Lima, Ohio in the company of a redheaded man. Mrs. Bates reported him missing. Near the tavern Alice Curtis' stolen vehicle was recovered, but Bates' car was gone. His nude body was found a month later in the woods. He'd been strangled.
Knowles' next stop was Ely, Nevada. On September 18, 1974, he shot Emmett and Lois Johnson, two elderly campers at a rest stop.
Four days later, Knowles had already made it to Texas. On September, 22, Charlynn Hicks was found dead near a rest stop outside Seguin. This was three days after her family had reported her missing. She'd been raped and strangled.
A day later he had rolled into Birmingham, Alabama and met Ann Dawson, 49, a beautician. They traveled together for about a week, and she was footing the bills. He said he killed her on September 29, 1974, and threw her into the Mississippi River. She has never been found.
Two weeks later, Karen Wine and her daughter Dawn, 16, were tied up, raped and strangled. Knowles had broken into their Marlborough, Connecticut home. The only thing missing from the home was a tape recorder.
On October, 18, Doris Hosey, 53, was shot with her husband's gun which was left by her body. This happened in Virginia
Knowles then showed up in Key West, driving William Bates' vehicle. He had picked up two hitchhikers and was stopped by police for some infraction. He was given only a warning. Scared by the close call, he dropped off the couple in Miami without harming them. After this, he went to see his lawyer, Sheldon Yavitz, who suggested that he surrender. But Knowles refused. He would mail his taped confessions to Yavitz.
Later Yavitz said he never listened to the tapes, but he refused to turn them over to the police, citing attorney-client privilege. He was sent to jail for contempt of court, and for an unknown reason his wife was jailed as well. Eventually authorities did obtain them.
Knowles claimed to have killed 35 people, although it's believed he only killed 18. The tapes were reviewed by a grand jury in 1975, but never released to the public. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation the tapes and their transcripts were destroyed after being ruined in a flood at the Federal Courthouse in Macon.
On November 2, 1974, hitchhikers Edward Hillard and Debbie Griffin disappeared near Macon, Georgia. Hillard's body was found in some nearby woods, and Griffin has never been found. Knowles is suspected as their killer.
Four days later he meet Carswell Carr who lived in Milledgeville, Georgia. In one version Carswell befriends him and invites him back to his house to spend the night. In another version Knowles broke into the Carr home. Mrs. Carr was working a night shift. Carswell was stripped naked and stabbed almost 30 times with a pair of scissors. His daughter Mandy, 15, was strangled with a pair of stocking. Another pair of stocking were stuffed inside her mouth. Both victims had their hands tied behind their backs.
Next Knowles turned up in Atlanta, calling himself Lester Daryl Golden. He met Sandy Fawkes, a British journalist and told her he would be the perfect subject for a book. He intrigued her enough that she spent two days with him after he said he would die in a year, and that by then he would be famous. They parted ways on November, 10.
Fawkes observed her new lover had difficulty during intercourse, and thought him strange, but considerate. She even joked that he might be a killer.
The following day he picked up Susan Mackenzie, an acquaintance of Fawkes, who he held at gunpoint and tried to rape. She escaped and called police. When approached by an officer he made his escape by pulling out a sawed-off shotgun.
This is when Fawkes realized who she had been keeping company with. She learned his real name and that he was a suspect in several murders. Fawkes, who did go on to write a book, surmised that her status as the potential author of his biography is what protected her.
Knowles then fled into Florida and turned up in West Palm Beach where he broke into the home of Beverly Mabee, and kidnapped her sister Barbara. He left Beverly an invalid, and her nephew tied up in the home. He drove 60 miles with Barbara in her car to Ft. Pierce. At his insistence they checked into a motel as a married couple. He left her alone in the room, and she managed to run away from him.
Knowles fled, and police believed he was hiding in Jacksonville. On November 16, Trooper Charles Campbell recognized the stolen car Knowles was traveling in. Knowles overpowered Campbell, and kidnapped him and another man named James Meyer. With both hostages he drove into Georgia, and ran a roadblock in Stockbridge. He wrecked the vehicle against a tree, and he was forced to flee on foot.
The hostages were not in the car any longer, only some of their items.
A task force of 200 men hunted him to a farmhouse. There he tried to take David Clark a hunter as hostage, however a shotgun he had found jammed, and Clark instead held him until police arrived.
Knowles initially refused to tell police where his two hostages were at. Authorities hoped they were still alive, but on November 21, they were found dead by a hunter. Knowles shot them both in the head while they were handcuffed to a tree.
During a prison transfer on December 18, he picked open his handcuffs and was shot by GBI agent Ron Angel, after he wrecked the vehicle he was traveling in as he attempted another escape.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer