There are thousands of images of vampires out there. Ranging from Bela Lugosi, Kiefer Sutherland, Brad Pitt, and even a cartoon version of Dracula in Hotel Transylvania. But those vampires are not real. None of them are. There is no such thing as vampires (right?). But the last few weeks have shown us that there are people among us that believe vampires are real. These individuals may participate in a gothic or vampire lifestyle, and if that does not harm anyone, then go for it. Some of these vampire enthusiasts take things a bit too far, today is a case about another individual who believed that not only was he a vampire, but that everyone else was one as well. Let’s meet James Riva.
April 10, 1980, Marshfield, MA. 74-year-old Carmen Lopez was a disabled grandmother, and she was sitting in her wheelchair. That afternoon, when her killer had chosen to confront her, Carmen begged for her life, and then threw a glass of water at him. Carmen was shot 2 – 4 times with bullets that had been painted gold so they could “find their mark”, she was stabbed through the heart, and it is believed that she was also beaten. As her life’s blood was pouring from her body, Carmen’s killer was said to have drunk from the wounds. If Carmen wasn’t dead from this attack she would be shortly, her attacker poured accelerant over the room, lit a match, and left the scene. After the fire was extinguished Carmen was found in the fetal position on her bedroom floor. Who was this depraved to attack and brutally murdered an elderly woman confined to a wheelchair? The answer is just as horrifying, it was her grandson, James Riva.
Why would he attack his grandmother who at times had cared for him? James claimed that his grandmother had been poisoning his food, and after he had fallen asleep at night she would come into his room and indulge on his blood. But that couldn’t be, because James was a 700-year-old vampire and he was required to drink her blood, but she was too old and withered to produce enough fresh blood to sustain him.
How does something like this all start? How does a 23-year-old man decide to murder his 75-pound grandmother without remorse? For James it started 10 years earlier, when at 13 he became obsessed with vampires and started to kill animals to drink their blood. He claimed this was to replenish his own blood supply as other vampires drank from him as well. He also attacked humans to drink their blood and never had the desire to kill anyone, except his father. He had attacked him with a hammer but was unsuccessful.
James’ history of mental illness began in 1975, when he first spent time in a mental health institution. He was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, but his treatments through the years did not help him get better. When he was released, his family had been terrified of him and sent him to live with his grandmother. Two weeks before the crime, James had moved in with his uncle.
On April 11, 1980, James was arrested and arraigned for the murder of his grandmother and arson. He would plead innocent. When speaking with police James stated he had no memory of the crime and that he must have been sleepwalking. He eventually stated that he did these horrible acts due to the voices in his head and genuinely believed that if he killed his grandma and drank her blood, he would become immortal, and that the other vampires would throw him a party. He would then be irresistible to women.
October 22, 1981, James stood trial as he was found competent to do so. But his plea was not guilty by reason of insanity. But there was one glaringly obvious hole to that plea; the fact that James had parked his car 150 feet away from his grandmother’s home on the day of the murder and that he later burned her body and house to conceal the crime.
October 30, 1981, after three hours of deliberation, the jury rejected the defense’s argument that James was not guilty by reason of insanity, and convicted him of second degree-murder, arson, and assault and battery. He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder and received an additional 10-19 years for the arson conviction.
In August of 2004, James was in front of the Parole Board. They had denied his request and stated he would be able to request parole again in 5 years. In 2009, James stated that he had gained control of his mental health using medication and has become religious. James has not however, shown remorse for the murder of his grandmother and his parole again was not granted.
James Riva resides at Walpole State Prison in Massachusetts.
Stay Curious my Friends!