**Warning – The post you are about to read contains graphic details of murder, torture, and other violent acts. Reader discretion is suggested.**
We have given names to serial killers that allow them to become infamous; Son of Sam, The Night Stalker, and The Collector. The Collector is one I hadn’t been fully familiar with and so I learned about him and his modus operandi. Here is the tale of Robert Berdella, The Kansas City Butcher and The Collector.
Robert Berdella Jr, was born in Ohio in 1949, he had a younger brother who was favored by their father as he was interested in sports and physical education. As Robert was largely unathletic, intelligent, but had a speech impediment and wore thick glasses. He also had high blood pressure for which he was prescribed several medications. Robert learned when reaching puberty that he was homosexual, he kept this as a closely guarded secret. Therefore in his early teens he had a girlfriend.
In his mid teens, Robert began to display more self confidence and it would be displayed in a condescending attitude towards women. In 1965, Robert watched the film adaptation of the John Fowles book, The Collector. The plot of the movie revolves around a man who stalks and abducts a woman and holds her captive, viewing her as an attractive specimen. After several weeks she dies, depsite her captor’s efforts to keep her alive. Robert stated that this movie formed a lasting impression on him.
Robert’s father passed away and shortly after his mother remarried, which Robert didn’t appreciate. He immersed himself in his own hobbies; painting, collecting coins and stamps, and writing to foreign pen pals. His pen pals sent him stamps for his collections and photographs of historical icons, cultures, and architecture. This would lead to him collecting these artifacts, this eventually lead to him opening his own business in 1982.
After graduating from high school, Robert enrolled in the Kansas City Art Institute, with aspirations of becoming a college professor. He was a talented student, and became involved in drug sales and distribution. He obtained a reputation as a minor drug dealer. At 19 years old, he was arrested for attempting to sell methamphetamines to an undercover officer. He was given a five year suspended sentence.
Robert eventually purchased a home at 4315 Charlotte Street. He spent a lot of his free time with male prostitutes, drug addicts, petty criminals and runaways. He befriended them and eventually provided help to free them from their drug use or criminal lifestyles. However not everyone was accepting of his assistance and this caused him frustration. Robert was attracted to many of these youths and engaged in sexual relations with them as well.
In July of 1984, 19 year old Jerry Howell, who was acquainted with Robert through the flea market booth. After plying the teenager with alcohol and other drugs, Robert bound Jerry to the bed. Jerry was tied to the bed for 28 hours, and during this time, he was repeatedly drugged, tortured, raped, and violated with foreign objects. Jerry died from either asphyxiation, or a combination of the drugs. Dismembering his body and places the parts in trash cans, Robert disposed of Jerry through the garbage and his body eventually ended up in the landfill. His remains have never been recovered. As will all his victims, Robert kept detailed logs of all his victims and the torture inflicted upon them.
In April of 1985, 23 year old Robert Sheldon, arrived at Robert Berdella’s home asking to stay for a short period of time. Robert Berdella was not fully attracted to him, however he felt he could use him to release some anger and frustration. Five days after his arrival, Robert Sheldon was suffocated and dissected in the bathroom.
In June, 1985, Robert met Mark Wallace. Not only 24 hours later, Mark Wallace was dead. He had suffered with torture including electrical shocks, and hypodermic needles inserted into his back. He died from a combination of drugs, gag, and lack of oxygen.
From then on, Robert Berdella became more brutal in his treatment of his captives. In September, 1985, James Ferris was held captive for 27 hours and his treatment included administering 7700 volt electrical shocks to his shoulders and testicles, hypodermic needles to the neck and genitals. He was also physically and sexually assaulted as well.
June, 1986, 23 year old Todd Stoops was held captive for two weeks before he died. Robert gradually increased the terror to make him cooperative and incapacitated. Robert refused the most basic needs for Todd, such as food and beverages. Two weeks after arriving, Robert ruptured Todd’s anal wall, which causes septic shock and proved fatal.
Spring of 1987, Robert met 20 year old Larry Wayne Pearson. Robert claimed that Larry was the most cooperative of his victims. Similar torture was performed on Larry, he also had several bones in his hands broken to render his submissive. Larry was kept captive for six weeks. Deeply biting into Robert’s penis and screaming for release. Robert, bludgeoned and suffocated Larry before dismembering him and being placed in the freezer. He was eventually buried in the back yard.
March, 1988, Robert abducted male prostitute Christopher Bryson. Upon arriving at Robert’s home, Christopher was knocked unconscious and bound to the bed. He suffered similar torture and abuse as the previous victims. By the third day, Christopher had earned enough trust to persuade Robert to tie his hands in front of him.
Christopher Bryson was able to burn through the restraints from a book of matches, that were inadvertently left in the room. Christopher managed to escape from the house, jumping from the second floor wearing only a dog collar. Breaking his foot in the fall, Christopher ran across the street and demanded help. Police were immediately called.
The investigation lasted until the fall, Robert Berdella plead not guilty and a plea agreement was made for him to confess to all his victims and they would take the death penalty off the table. Robert served his time in the Missouri State Penitentiary, and died in 1992 due to heart complications. His art collections were sold, and his property was later demolished.
What are your thoughts on Robert Berdella? Should he have been able to plea bargain for his acts, to get a reduction in his own judgement?
Be ever alert, make good choices, be safe