Is it nature vs. nurture? Could it be genetic? What is it about some men that makes them want to kill, that makes them have to kill? Confusion of sexual orientation seems to be a factor. Problem childhoods, troubled relationships with parents are believed to be related. But this couldn’t possibly explain all of them. Could it?
In this, the second edition of Portrait of a Serial Killer, we examine some of the factors that may lead these killers down this dark road.
Gerard John Schaefer Jr.
Born March 25, 1946, the oldest of three children. And though outside observers believed him to have an "idyllic" childhood. Schaefer would argue differently. Calling himself the "illigitimate product of a 'forced marriage".
At an early age (12 or so) Schaefer stated that he would masturbate while wearing women's panties. And practiced masochistic bondage on himself stating "I'd tie myself up to a tree, struggle to get free, and I'd get excited sexually and do something to hurt myself."
Soon his aggressions toward himself wasn't enough to satisfy. "I would fantasize hurting other people, women in particular." Schaefer's obsession with torture and death led him down intricate fantasies that he would become so immersed in that he once said that he "didn't know what was fact and what was fantasy."
Volatile relationship with father
Sexual deviancy ;
Allegedly dressed up like a woman – though later he would claim that he only said that to avoid the draft to Vietnam.
Wore women’s panties
Enjoyed killing animals – practiced from his youth into adulthood.
Superior intellect – allegedly tested with a 130 IQ.
Fired from his job as a teacher for “totally inappropriate behavior” 1969. Unfortunately no details can be found on what this behavior actually entailed.
Applied to the priesthood – was rejected for “not having enough faith”
Entered into law enforcement – graduating in 1971 (25 years old)
July 21st, 1972, while on duty, Schaefer picked up two teenage hitchhikers. Abducting them and taking them to a remote wooded area. Schaefer threatened to rape and kill them, or sell them into prostitution. But he received a call, swearing that he would return he left the two young girls tied to a tree.
The two girls, ages 17, and 18 escaped and made their way to the nearest police station, which also happened to be Schaefer's sation. When Schaefer returned to the woods and found the girls missing he called his station stating that he had done “something foolish”. Attempting to cover his actions by creating a story that he had been trying to scare the two girls and show them the dangers of hitchhiking. His story wasn't believed and he was ordered back to the station where he was fired and charged with false imprisonment and assault.
Two months after getting out on bail Schaefer kidnapped two more teenage girls. This time succeeding in torturing and killing Susan Place (17), and Georgia Jessup (16). Burying their bodies on Hutchinson Island.
In court facing the original charges of false imprisonment he made a plea deal of Aggravated Assault and received one year in jail.
In April of 1973, six months after their disappearance, the remains of Susan Place and Georgia Jessup were found. The two girls who had vanished while hitchhiking were tied to a tree at one point before being killed. The many similarities between the two women Schaefer had abducted a year earlier led police to obtain a search warrant for his now divorced mother's place of residence.
In Schaefer's bedroom, police uncovered a wealth of evidence. Stories he had written himself describing rape, torture, and murder of women. Physical evidence such as jewelry, Identification cards, diaries, and teeth. Police estimated by the amount of evidence that Schaefer had killed around 30 young women over the past few years.
In October of 1973, Gerard John Schaefer Jr. was formally charged with the murders of Susan Place, and Georgia Jessup. He was convicted and given two life sentences.
Prison and Death
Over the next 22 years, Schaefer would confess and then retract statements to killing numerous people. He would file 19 appeals, dozens of frivolous lawsuits. Snitch on other inmates, threaten inmates and guards. He was under constant attack from his fellow convicts. They would throw feces and urine at him, they set his room on fire twice, but his letters of threat and attempted intimidation continued. He would claim to be a mafia boss, or some other form of power and threaten other inmates with violence and death.
He also wrote while in prison. Several stories entitled "Blonde on a Stick" and "Flies in Her Eyes" just to name a few.
On Sunday, December 3, Schaefer was found stabbed to death in his cell. Convicted murderer Vincent Faustino Rivera was charged with slitting the throat and stabbing Schaefer 42 times. Rivera received an additional 53 years onto his life sentence.
Several of Schaefer's interviews can be seen on YouTube, his behavior is chilling. Though he is speaking to another person, it doesn't seem relevant to Schaefer. It's almost as though he's talking through them, or speaking an inner dialogue that the other person can not hear or understand.
One of the more interesting statements heard after an interview was that Schaefer was charismatic, but that there was something else. As if there were a face behind the facade.