Jerry Brudos was an American serial killer who was convicted of murdering four women in the late 1960s. Born and raised in South Dakota, Jerry was subjected to physical assaults by his mother, who had hoped for a girl child when Jerry was born. This troublesome childhood radiated to his adulthood, and he turned out to be a sexual predator and a psychotic serial killer. At the age of 17, he was accused of forcibly stripping a girl naked and taking her photographs. For a few years following that, he lived a normal life. However, in the late 1960s, his inner animal went berserk with rage and lust. He claimed his first victim in early 1968 and then embarked on a murderous spree. All the murders appeared to be sexually motivated. It seemed that when he was unsuccessful in making sexual relations with his victims when they were alive, he murdered them and raped their corpses, thereby indulging in necrophilia. He was imprisoned with three consecutive life sentences, in 1969, for his heinous crimes. He was kept in the ‘Oregon State Penitentiary,’ where he died of liver cancer in 2006.
Childhood & Early Life
Jerry Brudos was born Jerome Henry Brudos, on January 31, 1939, into a very average family, in Webster, South Dakota. He was the younger of the two sons in the family. Although he was the youngest child in the family, he never received enough love and care from his parents.
His mother wanted a daughter as her second child, and that caused her to treat Jerry poorly. The adverse impact of his mother’s behavior on his psyche, following years of physical and mental abuse, had him grow up to be a hateful and socially awkward individual.
He had a weird fetish for women’s shoes. While in nursery school, he was caught stealing his teacher’s shoes. Besides that, he also developed a crazy obsession with women’s underwear. He later claimed in prison that he used to steal his female neighbor’s underwear quite often. As a result of this eerie behaviour, he was a regular visitor at the psychiatric hospitals all through his teenage years.
In his teenage years, he often stalked young girls his age. He would knock them unconscious, steal their shoes, and run away. He was growing into a sex-crazed maniac and reached the levels of extreme madness. At the age of 17, he kidnapped a girl and threatened to kill her if she did not fulfill his sexual fantasies. He then forced her to strip and took photographs of her.
Some reports suggested that he even beat her brutally and that she was not his first victim. He was sent to the psychiatric ward of ‘Oregon State Hospital’ for a while, but he was able to continue with his studies in prison.
Reports suggest that once out of high school, he was in the army for a while but was suspended for his bizarre behavior. He eventually started working as an electronics mechanic. He got married in Oregon, at the age of 22, and had two children. It seemed that he had transformed and that his insane, obsessive phase was over.
However, he continued with his insane behavior and stole women’s underwear whenever he got the chance. His blissful married life was a mere cover, and as he approached his 30s, his sexual urges became increasingly uncontrollable.
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In May 1967, he followed a woman to her house only because he “liked her shoes.” He barged into her house, strangled her, and then brutally raped her. Before moving out of her house, he took some of her shoes with him. Although this was one of the very first of his crimes, he could not be connected to it until he was imprisoned, much later.
Another incident, this time further more creepy, took place on January 26, 1968. He invited an encyclopedia saleswoman, Linda Slawson, to his house, faking an interest in buying books from her. The woman could not read his sinister intentions and entered his house, unaware of the misfortune that she was about to face.
Jerry hit her on the head and killed her. After that, he dressed her corpse in female undergarments. He then used a hacksaw to cut her left foot and kept it in the freezer, often trying to fit it in the women’s shoes that he had collected. After fulfilling his fantasies with the corpse, he dumped the body.
In May 1968, he abducted a 19-year-old university student, Karen Sprinker, from a parking lot and brought her to his home. He raped her, strangled her to death, and then had sex with the corpse too. He then removed both of her breasts.
Not getting caught for this crime filled him with a dangerous self-confidence and led him to commit the next atrocity in November 1968. This time, the victim was Jan Susan Whitney, a young woman who was driving home for Thanksgiving. Her car broke down, and Jerry offered her help. He then strangled her to death in his car and had sexual relations with the corpse.
Jerry’s fetish was not limited to necrophilia. He brought the corpse back to his workshop and dressed it nicely. Continuing with his tradition of photographing his victims and keeping one of their body parts with him, he photographed her before carrying her severed breast with him.
In April 1969, Linda Salee became his next victim. He repeated the same process: he abducted her, brought her to his home, raped her, killed her, and then played with the corpse.
Trial & Conviction
Jerry Brudos made one mistake with his killings: he threw away the bodies in a river. The nearby Willamette River was his favorite spot for disposing of the bodies. Salee’s body was washed away and was found in the Long Tom River, weighed down by a heavy car part. After further investigations, the authorities located Sprinker’s remains too.
The police went to ‘Oregon State University,’ conducted further investigation, and found evidence about a man who looked like a war veteran and often called up female students and asked them out on dates. One of the students had actually agreed to go out with him, and she told the police how the man talked about murdering women and strangling them. The police decided to set a “honey trap” for catching Jerry.
The police interrogated him and looked for evidence at his home. They found a lot of evidence that proved Jerry’s involvement in the crimes. They found photographs of the victims and a nylon rope that he had probably used to strangle his victims. He was arrested in May 1969.
On June 28, Jerry pleaded guilty of three first-degree murders and was given three consecutive life sentences. His wife officially divorced Jerry and moved to another city.
While in jail, Jerry’s fetish with women’s shoes did not subside, and he often asked for catalogues of women’s shoes, saying they served as pornography for him. His request for parole was rejected in 1995.
On March 28, 2006, Jerry died in prison due to liver cancer.
The ‘Netflix’ series ‘Mindhunter’ had two episodes dedicated to him in the first season.