John Wayne Gacy was known as the “Killer Clown.” Convicted of the sexual assault and murder of 33 teenage boys and young men, Gacy kept a close tally of his fame. “There’s been 11 hardback books on me, 31 paperbacks, two screenplays, one movie, one off-Broadway play, five songs, and over 5,000 articles,” he bragged.
Richard Ramirez was convicted in 1988 of thirteen murders and eleven rapes, yet womenwere infatuated with him and fought for his attention. He was “The Night Stalker.” Mysterious, dangerous, enticing. I corresponded with Doreen Lioy, Ramirez’s wife and with another lady who was one of his pen pals for many years. Richard was neither mysterious nor enticing but his aura loomed large.
Another bizarre copycat story involved Ken Bianchi one of the “The Hillside Stranglers.” In 1977, Bianchi and his cousin Angelo Buono kidnapped, raped and tortured ten females ranging in age from 12 to 28 years old. By the time Bianchi’s reign of terror ended, most Americans recognized his face and his nickname. While awaiting trial, he convinced a beautiful young woman, Veronica Compton, to copycat his crimes so the authorities would question whether or not the killer was still on the loose.
Veronica bought into the ruse and tried to strangle a women she befriended. She was caught, convicted of attempted murder and spent over twenty years in prison. I interviewed Veronica and asked how she could have been so manipulated by Bianchi. She talked about his fame and how she felt her career as a screenwriter would be enhanced by interviewing someone as infamous as him.