Friday, August 3, 2012

Harvey Murray Glatman: First of the Signature Killers


By that hot July night in 1958, Harvey Glatman had raped and killed two females. He had come to enjoy it. But, now, since it had been seven months since his last crime, and the police so far had not shown up at his door, he resolved he was overdue for a little more fun. He was ready, boiling. Tonight he was going to take the life of another woman.
Having parked his clunker, the Dodge, halfway down her street, Pico Street, Harvey strolled the rest of the way to her door recalling his old, familiar line, the joe-photographer bit he had used on the others; the freelance photographer ruse that had worked so well. Knocking the elements of his masquerade together in his head, he practiced under his breath just what he was going to say when this Angela Rojas opened the door to let him in. Of course, half the battle was won already. He had done it by phone: had called up the agency she worked for, said he wanted a model to pose for some fashion layouts, and made arrangements to do the layout at her house. Of course, the agency and he both knew exactly what that meant to take nudie pictures. But, as long as he had the cash to pay and as long as there were whores like this Rojas willing to strip for some horny shutterbug until their real break came along here in Hollywood, no one asked questions. Credentials weren't needed. All that mattered was that everybody won: The chicks got paid; the agency got its percentage and the guy who forked over the dough walked away with pornographic freeze frames.
As before, he used a phony name, this time Frank Wilson. Hell, he had to! After all, the models he chose would never come back alive and he couldn't invite the LAPD to his door, now could he?
Inside the apartment, 24-year-old Ruth Mercado who used the pseudonym Angela Rojas whenever she took a modeling assignment peered out the window and saw Frank Wilson rounding her walkway. Yuck, she thought, what a loser! and knew exactly what kind of "layout" this dude would conjure up. Take off your clothes and look sexy! Smile now! Show me what ya' got!
Mercado had come from New York months previously to hit the big time here in West Hollywood, hoping she would get discovered but her dream of being the next Marilyn Monroe or Sandra Dee never materialized. With no aspirations for waiting tables or cashiering, Los Angeles of 1958 didn't offer much more for a girl who found such occupations too menial. Reduced to a "photographer's model," she at least was able to avoid the humdrum and still be able to pay the rent and eat thanks to the "photographers" who, like Wilson, couldn't get a real woman of their own.
As long as they never touched her she was no prostitute on that she was firm. But, as the agency told her when she first started accepting these assignments, Just pose and take the sucker's cash.
A knock at the door; she opened it, forced a smile at Frank Wilson, and asked him to step inside. Cripe, up close he was uglier than she thought. Large ears that stuck out like Dumbo's, ungroomed hair and a pair of squinty eyes behind thick horn-rimmed glasses.
"No camera?" she asked.
"'s in the car," he stammered.
"It does no good out there," she cracked, and purring in her most seductive voice the way these nerds loved it she added, "Wanna get it while I slip into something more comforta"
She was clipped. Her words gurgled off when he produced a pistol, shoving its barrel under her chin. Obviously, he was no photographer. Glancing down, she could see the stenciling on the weapon's chamber: Browning .32 Automatic
"Where's your bedroom?" he barked. "We're going there."
"" she whimpered, but he severed her voice again with another jab of the gun. "Answer me, bitch!"
Mutely, she motioned towards the direction of an unlit, slight hallway leading from her living room. He turned her, a puppet, and pushed her in that direction. "Go!" he ordered, and followed her, the gun barrel resting against her spine. As they entered the room together, he shoved her onto the bed. "Strip!" came one more command.
She obeyed. As she slipped out of her clothing, one article at a time, she watched his homely face begin to perspire in anticipation. His elephant ears flushed red. His puffy lips trembled in awe. She had always feared such a thing happening, allowing jug-heads into her place the way she had, but so far she'd been lucky they had snapped their cheesecakes and pranced away delighted. Not this time.
"Don't hurt me, mister, please, I..." she began again, but of course he overrode.
"The bra!"
She thought he was going to hyperventilate when she unstrapped it; no doubt this hayseed had not been with many women. Maybe, she thought, he would let her live if she played the role he wanted her to play. After all, he seemed to be not much more than a grown-up child peering at that new girly magazine, Playboy. With a smile, pretending to enjoy what she was doing, she dropped the last of her undergarments to the floor.
Naked now, she let his clammy hands caress her privates, and tried not to shudder, muchtheless puke, as his nauseating touch experienced her. She tightened, though, when she saw him reach beneath his jacket and withdraw a length of thin rope. And when he told her to turn around, and she felt him binding her wrists together, the shudder she had tried to resist surfaced.
"Don't be frightened," his voice crackled behind her. "I just want to make love to you."
She resisted the temptation to tell him that, yes, it's the only way any woman would dare let him touch her tied up! Instead, she locked her lips and inhaled deeply, silent, except when he pushed her across the bed again and sprawled across her, unzipped. Despite protestations, he had his way with her. After a few moments of pleading in vain, she surrendered and for the next hour she turned herself over to this grunting, heaving disaster.


For a while, he lay beside her, having finished with her. She didn't dare look at him, was afraid to, but she heard his breathing that still came in sporadic bursts. Somehow, he sounded undone. "I have an idea," he suddenly said, propping himself on his arm beside her.
She jumped at the abrupt breaking of silence and looked at him for the first time since before her rape. He was chuckling like the naughty little boy she thought he was.
"Let's go on a picnic."
"I don't understand..." she shook her head but dreaded to think what he really meant. "It's after midnight."
"So, who says two people who just made love can't go on a nice romantic picnic at night?" He giggled and pulled her by her bound wrists to her feet. It hurt, but he disregarded her groans. "I will untie you if you promise not to cry out or run."
"I promise," she played it cooly.
"Good," he said as he unwound the rope, "then get dressed." He handed her her panties, but only after reveling in their silken touch awhile.
Mercado dressed in a flash, not sure exactly what was in store for her. Picnic? She didn't ask, only hoped that whatever it was that she would be able to walk away from this alive. In the meantime, her brain rushed to keep her panic down. From time to time, she even batted a wink in his direction.
Watching her cover that body he had just enjoyed, Glatman, gun in hand, flopped back in a chair, thinking. Those fake smiles, he thought, trying to butter me up. He knew better, and he knew her ploy wouldn't work. Yet, he felt sorry for her. He didn't want to kill her, but...well, forget that for now. First there were the pictures to take.
His camera was in his car, and he was going to do to her what he had done with to! the others: take her to his favorite spot beyond the city and shoot some (what he liked to call) "souvenirs" in memory of the night. He had gone too far with this Mercado now just to leave without the real reward. They, the pictures, were better than the sex.
They would last long after she was buzzard bait.
As she was clothed now, he again tied her wrists. Directing her toward the front door, he threw her coat over her shoulders to hide the sight of the binds holding her wrists. Simultaneously, he wrapped his own coat over the crook of his arm that held the pistol. She marched in front of him and followed his directions to his car, a battered black Dodge Cornet, several years old and as unglamorous as her kidnapper. Sliding inside the vehicle, she noticed an expensive Rolleicord camera lying on the backseat, along with some accompanying gear.
"Are we taking photos?" she addressed him while he fumbled for the right key on an overloaded key ring. Looking at her, he grinned, nodded, churned the ignition, and then pressed the accelerator to produce a not too impressive "wheelie". The jalopy left Pico Street with a squeal, turned south, then straight for where she expected, the Santa Ana Freeway.
"Do you have a studio?" Mercado seemed to be recovering her voice. Again, he merely nodded. The while he kept his pistol on his lap.
Through Orange County the Dodge rolled until it picked up the Intercoastal Highway just beyond San Juan Capistrano. At Oceanside, Harvey wheeled his car east past Escanada, then into the desert. By then, the sun had tipped the horizon and had already brought unbearable heat to the sandy surface. But, that didn't bother Harvey Glatman. He found a spot to park, a place he considered remote, where he could do what he wanted to this latest bitch without interference from the California Highway Patrol.
Keeping her hands immobile, he raped her again in the desert under the rising sun. Undressing her, he then shot photos of her in a number of positions, demanding that she pose more graphically with each click of the shutter. Snap snap, whiiirrr. Snap snap...whiiirrr. If she whined, he would reach for the pistol in his jeans pocket, a move that discouraged further griping.
As the day waned, he realized the inevitable had come.
He would later tell the police, he didn't want to kill her. Hadn't wanted to kill any of them really, especially this Rojas whom he liked the best at least she tried to smile but, there was little else he could do. Raped, abducted, forced to pose pornographically really now, he couldn't let her go.
Ruth Mercado must have known her hopes were gone and her death had come when he told her to pose as if she were dead. Close your eyes, lie there, don't a corpse. She closed her eyes...snap, click...whirr...snap, click...whirr...snap, click.

Ruth Mercado's pose, before her death
Ruth Mercado's pose, before her death
Then she felt him hovering. She opened her eyes and watched him strap her ankles together. Before she could ask, he tossed another loop of hemp around her neck, and rolled her over on her stomach. As if roping a steer, he kneeled on her back deadweight while stringing all ends of the ropes together. She couldn't breathe. While she certainly struggled, he yanked on the rope to keep her in place. One final yank and she fell still.
Stripping her down to her panties, he took a couple more photos, shaping the mannequin into a dozen more poses. Satisfied that he had captured the essence of his trophy, Harvey rolled the body to where a growth of mesquite sprouted profusely and where she would soon be nourishment for the coyotes. Packing his camera, his tripod, his ropes and the blanket he had used for them to lie on when making love, he felt pleased with himself.
Well, true...he felt somewhat sorry for the bitch, but...what did Doris Day sing in that song?" Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be."
He turned toward the woman one more time and couldn't believe that that dead thing with blank expression and twisted mouth had turned him on. That didn't matter. He was heading home now to his darkroom where she was very much alive, frozen eternally alive on film.

Serial Killer

Of Harvey Glatman, serial killer expert and best-selling author Michael Newton writes, "(He) was a pioneer of sorts. Nine years before author John Brophy coined the term 'serial murder,' nearly two decades before FBI agent Robert Ressler dusted it off and made the tag a household word, Glatman was already plying his trade...Glatman never had a catchy nickname (but he has since then) become the stuff of urban myth, a quintessential bogeyman."
Rapist and killer, he was a complex nightmare of emotions on two feet, a helter-skelter of sexual frustration. The women he molested and destroyed he feared and hated because they represented what he could not understand about himself and the world in which he moved. Void of self-comprehension, and therefore self-expression, he saw everything as an abstract predominant with black shadow. There was no identity and he had no identity except that everything translated in his brain as a Freudian piece of work. Everything was sexual. Overcome with sex and frightened as hell of his libido he had no idea what he was doing in life or where he fit into its scheme. Females who tickled his male desires perplexed him because they threatened to remind him of his own confusion and his non-existence. They were his enemies.
Unable to see the humanity in female form, women became mere fantasy toys he wished to understand and wished to conquer. Other men could, but not he. They might laugh at his ignorance. Therefore, violence was the only way to approach them; that way, they would not laugh at him, and therefore they would have to give in to him. And he could walk away afterwards, at least having proven to himself that he could claim some trophies in life, if only through force.
First there was the rape, the initial release of manhood encouraged by his victim's inability to fight back. Thanks to the rope. There were powers in the rope. His ropes became merely an extension of his arms, holding the world in place while he grabbed his piece of it, as a man should.
Then there was the camera, which brought even greater pleasure because it recorded his conquests and reminded him of how far he could go with a woman, a length of rope and some wile tossed in for good measure.
Says Newton, "The photos that resulted from a 'shoot'...allowed (Glatman) to relive the incident, elaborate the fantasy, while masturbating...The camera (also) was a shield, something for (Glatman) to hide behind. (It) gave him distance, shrank the models to a manageable size, and let him steal, if not their souls, at least their sexuality."
Agreeing with Newton that Glatman's strange fabric equals those of other, more famous murderers to come, such as the Boston Strangler, the Hillside Stranglers and Ted Bundy, British author and crime historian Colin Wilson attests, "To understand Harvey Glatman is to understand the basic psychology of the serial killer."

Weird, Weird Kid

It wasn't long after Ophelia gave birth to her son Harvey Murray Glatman in 1927 that she began to notice that his popcorn bag might contain a few too many unpopped kernels. Her husband Albert, a milliner who spent most of his time running his shop in the heart of the Bronx's garment district, was a little slower to catch on, but he too began to notice something strange as the infant became a toddler and the toddler lengthened into a skinny sulking, indefinable boy. Mother Ophelia was sensitive to the child's mood swings and odd ways, but Albert, a believer in discipline as a fundamental to anything, took to spankings and assorted mild punishments as a means to calm his son's queer deportment.
At first, Ophelia couldn't put her finger on what bothered her about baby Harvey he just [acted] strangely; there was nothing definite except that he giggled when there was nothing to giggle about and cry over nothing. He showed little interest in anything, his attention span was zero, and he often wandered away in reverie. As he grew, he avoided company including would-be friends.
The parents' first indication that their kid definitely wasn't right came when he was four years old. Ophelia chanced upon Harvey in his room committing a crude form of sado-masochism. According to Ophelia at his court trial in 1958, Harvey had "tied a string around his penis, placed the loose end in a drawer, and then leaned back against the string." The parents decided to overlook the act as a quirk of an inquisitive, exploring child. If they reacted at all, it was with mild disapproval and moralizing, like the time his father caught him masturbating and warned him that masturbation caused acne. They had no idea that the string represented a neurosis of both punishment and self-chastisement that would grow to dangerous proportions.
A rope would replace the string and the rope would be his fixation. Says biographer Newton, "The rope fetish would dog Glatman throughout his life and ultimately land him on Death Row."
Little Harvey's problems were kept indoors for years. To the outside world, neighbors thought him merely shy and studious. To schoolteachers (he began his schooling in 1933), he was a well-behaved, quiet, very good student. In fact, he excelled in many subjects.
Of friends, there were few, and these consisted of a small group of lunchtime playground buddies who knew him by name and shared a few moments of toss-the-ball. He was frightened of girls and when in their company grew wobbly-kneed and embarrassed. It didn't help that a few of them, and some boys too, ridiculed his overdeveloped ears and his buckteeth. Behind his back, and often to his face, they called him Chipmunk or Weasel.
He never joined the others for after-school games. He ran home and played his own. And it was sexual. And it involved a rope. Harvey's favorite pastime was tying a rope around his neck, looping the free end over a pipe or rafter, and yanking the rope with one hand while masturbating with the other; the strange feeling gave him a rush unlike anything else.
As Michael Newton explains in his book, Rope: "Harvey's sex game variously known as autoerotic asphyxia, asphyxiaphilia, or hypoxyphilipa is not the same thing as masochism (and involves) self-induced strangulation or suffocation during masturbation...'Gasping' appears to be an ancient practice...Asphyxiation itself creates excitement and eventually euphoria, even without genital stimulation, due to the adrenaline produced when the human body perceives a life-threatening situation."
How long Harvey had played the game isn't known; his parents discovered the bad habit around 1938 when their son was eleven. The family had recently left New York and moved to Denver, Colorado, to escape the teeming, dirty urbania of the Bronx. They had been happy with Harvey's school grades there and the fact that he seemed to adjust well to his new school, Sherman Elementary, and neighborhood. But, then they came home one night after an evening's shopping to find the boy's neck swollen and rope-burned; Harvey confessed what he had been doing. Naked girlie pictures hidden under his bed and masturbation were one thing, but this alarmed them. When they sought consultation with a doctor, however, even the professional wrote off the erratic playtime as growing pains.
Still, life teetered back to normal in the Glatman household, which really meant Harvey took more caution from that point on not to get caught by Ophelia and Albert. He continued to attend school regularly in school, he was an achiever and entered junior high in 1939. As a teen, his adolescent fear of the female sex hadn't dissipated; a bad case of acne didn't help his confidence. He stammered in the presence of anything with pigtails and a higher voice, turned red, felt inadequate. Yet, they were magnetic, girls were. He longed to touch them. And the rope, his beloved tool, helped him achieve this fantasy.
While being promoted at school, he also raised the level of his peculiar thrills after hours. Leaving the now-tiresome solitude of a locked bathroom and bedroom at home, he bought a new excitement of breaking and entering private residences. From most of these, he would steal something, anything, just for kicks. One of his prized plunders was a .26 caliber handgun uncovered from someone's dining room bureau.
Not all his break-ins were random. Sometimes he was more particular.
He would spot a pretty woman on Denver's streets and follow her home. Once assured of her address, he would climb through a window or up a set of back stairs into her abode. Once inside, he forced her to her bedroom where he secured her hands with a length of cord he carried in his jacket everywhere he went. He also muzzled her mouth with a gag cloth. The gun brought the advantage, the cloth silenced her yelps, but the rope, he discovered, was the key to a new sensation. It pinned back the woman's flailing arms, allowing him the liberty to run his fingers across a soft, curving body without interruption. To explore new mysteries and reach new peaks. The lady was at his mercy as he had been at the mercy of all those girls who had called him laughable names on the playground.
Tying victims to a bed or a chair, he unbuttoned their blouses, loosened their skirts, and fondled their flesh and, simultaneously, his own. Sometimes he made them lie down beside him and pretended that they enjoyed it as much as he did. He would not fully undress them, nor rape them for the libido was fully satisfied just to crack the moral bell jar. But, best of all for the inadequate Harvey Glatman, the more he touched them the more comfortable he became in their presence. After each molestation, he felt himself more like the man he wanted to be and not like the loser in those newspaper ads promoting vitamins, the guy who gets sand kicked in his face by some muscleman.
He practiced this ritual in spurts throughout high school. Noticing that he drifted home from school late on occasion, his parents believed him when he explained he had taken up some scholastic extracurricular activities.
On May 18, 1945, he grew careless. Police caught him in the act of breaking into the Vrain Street apartment window of Elma Hamum. In his pockets they found a length of rope and a .25 caliber pistol. Under interrogation that evening he confessed to a number of burglaries, but conveniently left out those that had involved forced sex.
He hadn't learned his lesson. Less than a month later, while awaiting trial for the burglary offense, he abducted well-built Norene Laurel from her neighborhood and, after binding her, drove her out of town to Sunshine Canyon. There, he repeated his routine performance of show and touch no rape before returning her to Denver well before dawn.
She went straight to the police station where, from a book of mug shots, she identified him. He was re-arrested and this time, no bail pending. Held behind bars until his trial in November, he was at that time sentenced to a year in Colorado State Prison.
He was 17 years old.

Phantom Delights

Harvey Glatman served eight months of his twelve-month sentence before being paroled from Colorado's state prison. He walked out the gates on July 27, 1946. One of the first things his mother did was bring him to a psychiatrist as a means to ward off further rash acts such as the ones that sent her boy to the calaboose. The doctor recommended that Harvey's problem was based on his abnormal fear of the opposite sex. Solution? That Harvey begin activities, such as dancing, that set him right in the midst of women to squelch that fear.
Harvey listened well. He returned to his native New York state and partook of many activities that involved women however, not the kind that the good professional had in mind.
It had been mother Ophelia's wish that Harvey leave Denver because of the black mark on him there. She earnestly believed that he could get a fresh start in a new climate among new faces; meet friendly people, get a job and make something of himself. Leaving Albert at home for a few weeks, Ophelia escorted her son to and set him up in a tidy little flat in Yonkers. She even stood by as he got a job in a television repair store. He had learned the trade in prison workshop and could now put that knowledge to good use, she told him.
Convinced that Harvey was on his way to a normal life, Ophelia returned to Denver.
As for Harvey, once mama was gone, he set out to the streets in search of excitement. Not taking the chance to try to procure a gun possession of one would send him back to prison for a long, long time he instead bought a cap gun from a five-and-dime that he thought looked authentic enough to pass for real. The pocket-knife he carried, though, was not a toy. And the rope, of course, too, that was the best-made hemp, guaranteed not to slip:
There was no imitating the embracing powers of real hemp.
Around midnight of August 17, 1946, lovers Thomas Staro and Doris Thorn were approached by a man they later described as being a bit shorter than six feet, 140 pounds, with messy hair, horn-rim glasses, large ears and pock-marked. The stranger, brandishing a pistol, ordered the couple off the sidewalk and into the darkness under a grove of trees. Removing Staro's wallet from his trousers, he tied his legs together and made him lie on the lawn. Turning to Thorn, he began touching her breasts, keeping her in place and quiet with the threat of the gun barrel at her abdomen. Immersed in the wonders of womanhood, Harvey failed to see that the boyfriend had worked himself free from the sloppily tied knot and was tip-toeing from behind.
Staro grabbed Harvey, but the latter wiggled free from his grasp, simultaneously producing his pocket-knife. With a slash, he caught Staro's shoulder, a cut that even though not lethal sent the other recoiling in terror. Harvey escaped into the umbrage.
He didn't stop running until he was safe on the first train to Albany.
Denver, Yonkers, Albany, it was all the same to Harvey Glatman. The place didn't matter, as long as it had women to caress. Renting a flat in his new town, he spent the next couple of days scouring the neighborhood around his flat on Commercial Street in preparation for more adventure. By August 22nd, he was ready.
His first target in Albany was off-duty nurse Florence Hayden. Coming up behind her from the darkness of Main Avenue, he grabbed her purse straps and shoved her into an adjacent yard. Jostling her, he dug his gun barrel into her side and demanded that she remain quiet while he bound her wrists together. But, as she told police later, "I realized he was using both his hands (to tie the rope) and no longer held the gun. So I wheeled around, pushed him hard, and screamed but loud."
The mugger absconded, Hayden said, more frightened than she.
Not discouraged by his latest run of bad luck, Harvey determined to succeed when he took a stroll along Hollywood Avenue the following evening. For a while, the cupboard looked bare as every woman he saw was with a male companion and he had had enough with scrapping with muscular males after that Yonkers incident. His libido itching, he impulsively went after the only unescorted females he saw passing him on a deserted street corner two women walking together, Evelyn Berge and Beverly Goldstein. But, once he had cornered them with his toy gun, he lost nerve. Two women were too much! Mumbling, fumbling, he ordered them to turn over their pocketbooks, and after they obliged he again mumbled, again fumbled before shrinking into the shadows.

The Call of the Wild

His crimes so far being small potatoes, the Albany Police Department nevertheless considered this phantom a danger. His modus operandi was striking at women, and that scared the bejesus out of Police Commissioner James Kirwin. Descriptions given to the authorities by Hayden, Berge and Goldstein matched, so they knew it had been the same assailant in all cases. He had already attempted to sexually molest the nurse. Kirwin assembled his forces and commanded, Get this clown!
Patrolmen moved quickly. Within two days they had Harvey Glatman in custody. Two officers had spotted the suspect, description matching to a T, following a woman down Western Avenue. Pausing him, they frisked him. In his pockets, they found a toy gun, a pocketknife and a roll of rope. Scared, he confessed.
Yonkers wanted him returned to face charges of assault on Thorn and Staro, but the city of Albany was rejoicing in its professional squelching of this goon and flat-out refused. Four days after his arrest, Glatman was indicted in Albany's Municipal Court for the attack on Flo Hayden. Even though the other women did not file charges, the city DA knew that this Glatman, who had already done time in Colorado, was no spontaneous small-timer. Harvey suddenly faced a prison term in the big league category.
Ophelia and Albert Glatman were stunned when they heard the bad news. All this time they had thought their son had reformed and was living clean, still in Yonkers. Ophelia rushed east to plead for leniency, but her tears won no results.

Glatman in custody
Glatman in custody
In October, her and Harvey's fears materialized. Judge Earl Gallup, with prodding from the DA's office, hammered the gavel down on the two-time loser: Five to ten! he proclaimed. Harvey was going back up the river, this time to the rock pile. Because Harvey was not yet 21 years of age, Judge Gallup recommended that the convicted begin his term in Elmira (New York) Reformatory, but, in due course, be committed to serve the remainder of his time at maximum security Sing Sing.
Prisoner Number 48337 spent nearly two years in Elmira. During that time, he was medically researched and evaluated. At the end of that time, Dr. Ralph Ryancale diagnosed Harvey as a "psychopathic personality schizophrenic type" having "sexually perverted impulses as the basis of his criminality." He strongly recommended that further studies on Harvey Glatman be resumed after his removal to Sing Sing.
Unfortunately, no records of his psychiatric examinations at Sing Sing have survived, apart from a case study performed just after his ingress. That perfunctory report apprises the new inmate as "not definitely mental defective or psychotic," but suggests that he should be "psycho-educated and if still anti-social should be segregated even if schizophrenia does not seem developed."
Parole reports which have survived the years show that Harvey was a model prisoner, had a high IQ, demonstrated ability and eagerness in his prison duties and responded positively to sporadic medical exams. Crime author Michael Newton who, for years, has studied Harvey Glatman and the serial killer mind in general, is unimpressed. He states, "Sociopathic sex offenders learn to 'play' the system early on, sometimes as children. After they have been arrested several times and spent time in jail, as Harvey had, they know exactly what to say and how to act in any given situation, whether dealing with police, attorneys, or psychologists. Despite solemn assurances to the contrary, many sociopaths...are fully capable of 'beating' polygraphs, manipulating the results of psychological evaluation tests and making therapists believe they have been 'cured'."
Harvey evidently played the game very well. Benefits accrued for "good behavior" severed a percentage of time off his minimum five-year sentence; after only two years, eight months behind bars, Harvey Glatman was paroled. Stipulations, however, decreed that he must return to the care of his mother, acquire a full-time job and remain under court observation for another four and a half years.
Going home to parental custody in Denver, Harvey worked a number of odd jobs and generally stayed out of mischief. Parole follow-ups refer to a spotty employment record, citing difficulties adjusting to a full-time work life. Harvey lived with his parents until after his father Albert passed away, at which time mother and son began to bicker. Allowed space to go on his own, he rented his own flat, continued to find on-again-off-again employment and visited his parole officer regularly and on time.
In September, 1956, Harvey Glatman received full liberty. With no more monthly updates to complete, no more authority-contrived check-ups, Harvey did what he'd been dying to do for years. Put Denver and Ophelia and courts and police records behind him.
With dust rising at his heels, he left the Mile High City and went west. Perhaps the horizon was blurry, but as he drove and drove down dirty highways, somewhere along the way he decided that Los Angeles was the place to go.
The call of the wild.


Harvey Glatman reached Los Angeles in January, 1957.
Alone and unsupervised for the first time in years, his psyche went crazy. Without much hesitancy, his fantasies of naked women in bondage screamed aloud, and brazenly. By the time he would be restrained by police a year and a half later, he had killed three women and nearly a fourth.
The first thing he did when arriving in California was to renew an old hobby of his: photography. He had excelled in the art during high school; it fascinated him. He never could quite explain his captivation maybe because he was able to capture the world in whatever tones and in whatever fashion he wished, and box it into a size eight by ten, dull finish or glossy. Whatever the charm, he devised a new outlet for it now, one that made his libido quiver. Up and down the main thoroughfares of downtown L.A., small modeling studios promoted their own array of girls willing to pose for a price, clothed, semi-clad or in the buff. Seedy, yes, but it was a dream come true for Harvey Glatman with a lot of time, and fantasies.
Pornography provided a release in the only way he knew.
Murder would cover it up.

A Signature Killer

Dr. Robert Keppel
Dr. Robert Keppel
Dr. Robert Keppel, author of Signature Killers, is not surprised that by this time Harvey's volcano was about to erupt. As chief criminal investigator for Washington State's Attorney General's Office, Keppel has worked on and consulted a large number of oddball murder cases. He writes, "As a person dreams and thinks of his fantasies over time, he develops a need to express those violent fantasies. Most serial killers have been living with their fantasies for years before they bubble to the surface and are translated into deeds. When the killer finally acts out, some aspect of the murder will demonstrate his unique personal expression that has been replayed in his fantasies over and over again."
True crime authors Stephen G. Michaud and Roy Hazelwood's recent book, The Evil That Men Do, uses Glatman's and other's histories to study the sordid but existing mind of the serial killer. In his work, Michaud turns to the experiences and knowledge of forensic consultant and former FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood, whom he quotes freely within the pages. Hazelwood spent decades with the Federal Bureau of Investigation examining the twisted crimes of sex offenders and joins the ranks of Dr. Keppel in being considered one of the nation's top experts on the subject. Glatman's was one of the first cases Hazelwood encountered in his studies. Harvey was, he says, a novelty in an era when the existence of sexual sadists was not fully considered.
In the 1950s, the world was beginning to realize just how vastly sex sold. But, the public in general had not yet awakened to the possibility that sex could be highly dangerous when misinterpreted by certain wayward minds.
"Such deviant criminality, plus much less sinister behavior, was both curbed and concealed in America at mid-century by a moral climate hostile to sexual extremes or erotic experimentation," writes Michaud. In quoting Hazelwood, he adds, "'In those days, people appearing in hardcore pornography still wore masks. Playboy was new. Mickey Spillane's books were considered explicit. In the last three or four pages of I, the Jury, for example, Spillane describes a man holding a gun on a woman as she slowly unbuttons her blouse. Beads of perspiration run between her breasts. That was the book that high school guys gathered around to read during lunchtime, and those were the particular pages most frequently read.'"
Passages like these stroked the "healthy male libido," Michaud says, but not that of a "sexual sadist" like Glatman, simply because it lacked "the specific connection between sex and violence necessary for his arousal...Aberrant offenders use pornography to validate their deviance as well. The more they see of it, and masturbate to it, the more their behavior is reinforced."
Eventually Harvey's inner behavior (as Dr. Keppel would say) would "bubble to the surface".

Judith Ann Dull

Working as a TV repairman by day, Harvey was able to afford rent for a small flat/studio apartment on quiet Melrose Avenue and a used car, a used 1951 black Dodge Cornet. He also found the cash to buy an expensive Rolleicord camera, complete with a Schneider Xenar zoom lens and a tripod. With the proper equipment, all he needed now was a pseudonym something snappy that sounded like a real professional photographer like those who took those saucy pictures in his favorite crime magazines. Weighing the decision like it was the most important one in the world, he finally conceived the alias Johnny Glenn. Sounded pert. Sounded suave. Sounded persuasive.
For months he hung out at the models' studios, snapping away to his libido's content, amazed and titillated at how easily these broads stripped bare for twenty bucks an hour.
But, it wasn't enough. He had to

Judy Dull the night of her murder
Judy Dull the night of her murder
His first victim was Judith Ann Dull, a 19-year-old wide-eyed babydoll divorcee taking on whatever assignment she could get to pay for a lawyer in a child custody battle with her ex. Having obtained her phone number through her agency (it was customary in the Fifties for agencies to release personal numbers), Harvey called Dull the morning of August 1, 1957, to explain that he had seen her model before and was interested in having her pose for a layout for a popular true crime magazine. It was a great opportunity, he stressed. Her line of business urged caution, but she thought he sounded nice enough over the telephone and the fact that he agreed to do the shoot at her own apartment sounded convivial. She agreed to pose for him at two o'clock that afternoon.
"Wear a tight skirt and sweater," he directed before hanging up.
When he arrived at her Sweetzer Avenue flat, early, he asked her if she would mind posing at his studio instead. The lighting was better. Surveying the floppy-eared, bespectacled wimp, she tossed off all caution and followed him to his car. He drove her to his "studio," actually his own apartment. Once inside, he explained that since the shots would accompany a story about bondage, he would have to illustrate by tying her up. If she had any doubts, the thought of $20 an hour overrode. She consented, throwing out her wrists as he bound them, sitting back in his armchair as he wrapped her ankles, and slinking back seductively this way and that way.
When she was fully strapped and muzzled, he drew a .32 Browning automatic from his pocket. "In 1957, California had no waiting period for firearms purchases," says author Michael Newton in Rope, "no background checks, no pesky licenses. You didn't even have to show ID. It was a cash and carry business..." Harvey had had the cash, and he carried.
Waving the steel-blue weapon under her chin, he untied her hands and ordered her to strip slowly as he snapped her in various poses, some bound, some free, all depicting her in control of someone off-screen. Like a movie director, he barked out, You're frightened! You're curious! Be scared, but be tempting! Lift a leg! Drop a strap! Snap snap whirr, snap, snap whirr. The poses varied and grew more erotic more emphatic to Harvey's personal soul as the shoot progressed..
In a chapter devoted to Glatman in his book, Signature Killers, Robert D. Keppel, Ph.D., explains how Harvey's photographs were his "personal signature of murder". Keppel finds Harvey's use of photography telling: "(His photos) were more than souvenirs because, in Glatman's mind, they actually carried the power of his need for bondage and control. They showed the women in various poses: sitting up or lying down, hands always bound behind their backs, innocent looks on their faces, but with eyes wide with terror because they had guessed what was to come."
When the pictures were taken, he had his way with Judy Dull. Oblige, he commanded, or die. Whimpering at her foolishness, the girl obeyed. As the outside world dimmed through Harvey's window shades, Johnny Glenn raped her several times, binding her limbs at the conclusion of each session. Relaxing, satisfied for the meantime, he made her sit beside him and nuzzle him on the sofa as he watched his favorite TV comedies. A few more shows, he promised, and he'd take her home.
But, Harvey had no intention of taking her anywhere except to a perfect little spot in the desert he had discovered one day while cruising near the vicinity of Indio. Way out, amongst the coyotes, and far, far away from the cops who could send him back behind bars for evermore. Really, he kept telling himself over and over again, he didn't want to kill anyone, but, what else was there to do? He had to have her, had to possess her, had to glutton on her. Damn, it wasn't his fault! And damn it, nobody was going to send him to prison for something he couldn't help.
How else was he supposed to get a woman?
At 10:30 p.m., Harvey announced that he would let her go, but he would have to dump her off out of town for her to find her own way home. She probably reasoned that he wanted time to escape, and she did not argue. Tying her wrists once again, he led her to his car, his gun in one hand as he steered the vehicle down the freeway, south to San Bernardino, east to Mission Road, into the open flatland of Riverside County lit only by stars. He kept on driving, miles more to go, and didn't pause until he had passed Banning and Palm Springs, finally slowing down once he passed Thousand Palms. A hundred miles from Los Angeles, here in the middle of nowhere, he stopped the car. Around them was night and nature.
Pulling Dull from the car, he acted as if he was about to untie her. She sighed. Then, in a single move, he lassoed her neck, shoved her to her knees, twirled her on her belly and rung the other loop of the cord around her ankles. Pulling up, her body snapped below him. A single groan, she was dead.
But, Harvey needed a few more photos by flash, something to remember his conquest. He molded Dull like a clay figure; an arm here, an arm there, a leg spread, a knee turned this way. Dead no matter how she was shaped. He wanted it to appear that way.
Of the victim's death photos, Dr. Keppel adds, "They were even more horrifying to police (than the in-life ones) because they revealed Glatman's true nature. They showed the ways the killer had positioned his victims, and the psychological depravity they evidenced was deeply revolting. That a human being could so reveal the depths of his own weakness and feelings of insignificance through photographs was something investigators had not seen before."

Shirley Ann Bridgeford

Seven months later, Harvey met victim number two.

Shirley Ann Bridgeford before her death
Shirley Ann Bridgeford before her death
Shirley Ann Bridgeford, 24 years old, recently divorced and with two sons, joined the popular Patty Sullivan Lonely Hearts Club in L.A., hoping to meet the right man. All she knew is that she didn't want someone like her first husband. She wasn't picky, having given up on Prince Charming, so when fellow member George Williams asked her out for a date March 7, 1958, she accepted. Williams did not set her heart fluttering his ears were so large and there was something, well, mousy about him but she figured a date is a date and beat sitting home Saturday night. He promised to take her square dancing; at least it would be a night on the town and a free dinner.
Harvey, as George Williams, showed up at the appointed time, 7:45 p.m., at her home on Tuxford Street, Sun Valley. Taken aback by a house-full of company to greet him, he kept his cool and played the hopeful boyfriend to the hilt, complementing the way Shirley looked and extending a "Nice to meet you all!" on his way out the door.
Once in the car, he asked Bridgeford if she would mind not going dancing; he had a headache and preferred to take a drive in the country instead, perhaps grab some dinner along the way. Sure, she replied, that sounded very nice. Driving south from Sun Valley, they stopped for dinner in Oceanside.
Afterwards, they returned to the car where Harvey resumed a southward direction.
"If we believe his later statements, he had not decided yet to rape and murder Shirley Bridgeford," Michael Newton reports in Rope. "He 'kept on thinking of her two children,' Harvey said, telling himself that Shirley was a 'different type' than Judy Dull. She didn't strip and show her body off to strangers. Shirley was a nice girl. Still...Her very presence in the car and the scent of her perfume incited Glatman...Harvey knew what he was missing if he did not follow through."
At last the car edged into the foothills of the looming Vallecito Mountains near Anza State Park. Harvey idled the car, letting it roll off the dirt road and several feet onto the dusty sand floor. Bridgeford looked at him quizzically. What omens she may have had crystallized sharp when she found the barrel of his .32 tucked between her breasts.
"Undress!" Harvey dictated.
She begged not to, but he insisted, and when she was naked, he ravaged her. The rapes, the humiliation, then he forced her onto the desert where he told her it was photo time. More pleas, more refusals from her abductor. He took photos of her dressed and he took photos of her nude. He took photos in many positions, his ritual orderly and timed... snap snap whirr. In the blackness the flashbulbs popped, one after another, crazy little explosions catching crazy little scenes. Snap snap whirr. To be sure he had useable products for all his trouble, he made her wait till the sun rose so he could take some photos in daylight.
When he thought he had enough to last him a while, he garroted his model and killed her.
Before he left the carcass in the dust, however, he did what he had done with Judy Dull: took some death shots in a number of wrenching positions.
Snap snap, whirr.
Then, as the maroon sun rose over the mountains behind him, Harvey went home to his darkroom for some real fun.
Four months later, he discovered Ruth Mercado (Angela Rojas) and repeated the process, by then refined, dumping her body not far from what was left of Shirley Bridgeford's.
In the meantime, three girls' families, friends and landlords were asking questions of the police...Where did they go and why can't you find them? Dull's disappearance had been one thing women ran off all the time to evade boyfriends and husbands and even families but then came the evaporation of Bridgeford and Mercado, two models and one "nice" girl, each one gone after leaving their place with a single male. Was there a connection?


Harvey had so far been able to control women with a gun and a rope, especially a rope, his symbol of sexual power. He now believed he could go on doing it forever.
That is where he goofed.
In the summer of 1958 Glatman had discovered the Diane Studio, one of the higher-priced but better reputed modeling agencies on Sunset Boulevard. Its models were often chosen by legitimate cameramen for magazine ads and TV commercials; Diane, the owner, often posed herself. Of course, the studio attracted the shutterbugs, too, like Harvey Glatman willing to pay as high as $30 for an hour's striptease.
It was to Diane's that Harvey came late afternoon of October 27 wanting to rent a model's time. Actually, he wanted Diane herself, but the proprietor, who was familiar with the man she knew as Frank Johnson, was totally turned off by his unkempt hair and repugnant body odor. Pretending to be too busy to accommodate him, she nevertheless offered studio space and the use of one of her particular models if the girl would accept. "Frank" was game, so Diane phoned a woman who had, in fact, just signed on the previous week. Lorraine Vigil, eager for her first modeling gig, accepted. Diane made the arrangements: Harvey would pick her up at eight.
However, after the unfavorable client left, Diane ruminated. She called Lorraine back to warn her, "Be careful with this loser. He's not a professional and is, er, rather creepy you know what I mean?" Vigil promised she would take care and thanked the agent for the advice.
With Diane's alert signal still ringing in her ears, it was with great reticence that Vigil got into Harvey's old Dodge that night; she watched his every move as he bent to release the clutch and silently head toward the Santa Ana Freeway.
"The studio's not this way," she instructed.
"Oh...didn't I tell you? I've been pre-empted by another client. We're going to my private studio instead."
No no, thought Lorraine to herself. The signal started to vibrate inside her head.
"Are you sure?"
"Cross my heart," he giggled, and did so. It was the first time that Lorraine really took a good look at his face. Even his grin was unsavory.
She kept quiet, not wanting to make a fuss. This was her first job for the Diane Studio and didn't want to earn bad marks right off the bat as an unwilling client. As the Dodge rattled along, down the freeway past one exit ramp after another, seemingly speeding up with the mileage, she mustered up enough nerve to ask Harvey who had not uttered one word since he giggled and crossed his heart where his studio was. "A little further," he said. "Anaheim."
But, the Anaheim exits had come and gone, she noted. "Didn't you pass it?"
"Forget it!" he growled. Otherwise, he remained close-mouthed, only staring straight ahead through the glimmering windshield. The lights from the freeway, gutted with shadows, curled his expression into an eerie grimace. From beside him, Vigil dropped her eyes to his foot, which was bearing down on the gas pedal.
Diane's alarms clanged in her skull: Be careful with this loser...creepy...creepy... creepy...
"Listen, I have a right to know" Vigil quaked, but he sawed her off with a groan.
"Hey, you," she protested now. "You'd better tell me where we're going or"
Viciously, he swung the car into a dangerous turn grabbing the forthcoming exit, impulsively crossing two lanes to take it. Vigil slammed against the door panel. As she tried to sit up again, her eyes caught the overhead road marker, "Tustin Ranch Road." The car, slowing up after the spontaneous turnabout, came to a stop on the side of the road just below the off ramp.
"Are you trying to kill us?" the woman screamed.
"Hold out your arms," he said.
"I said hold out your arms. You're getting on my nerves. I'm going to tie you up and shut you up!" To emphasize the seriousness of his order, he whipped out a gun, and watched the bitch recoil at its sight. But when her fingers wrapped around the door handle in an attempt to flee, he grabbed her. Yanking her into him, he wrapped her body, twisting her around in the motion, trying desperately to coil the length of rope that seemed to appear out of nowhere around her arms. But, she fought.
He hadn't expected this. The others hadn't grappled, why was she a tiger? "Stay still!" he grumbled and tried like hell to keep her away from the car door. Once outside she would be able to flag down any number of automobiles that drove by...and then...God forbid!
She continued to wrestle until both their hands wrapped the gun barrel. In one awkward reflex, the pistol exploded and a bullet seared through a section of Vigil's skirt skimming her thigh. The noise jolted her attacker who, in that instant, released his hold on her. Thinking fast, she kicked at the door handle and, as the door bounced open, she pushed herself out with it. Landing on the gravel, she felt him behind her, then his hands on her sweater, trying to haul her back inside.

Lorraine Vigil demonstrating how Glatman grabbed her throat
Lorraine Vigil demonstrating how Glatman grabbed her throat
Just as she felt herself being reeled in, the night lit up with a great glare of white that, as both scrappers paused, turned into two distinct headlights of a police sedan. Vigil ran to it and realized, for the first time, she still held onto her attacker's pistol. She dropped it before the two policemen emerging from the auto and fell at their feet sobbing.
As for Harvey Glatman, he cowered beside his car, whimpering, mumbling something about it not being his fault.
Highway Patrolman Tom Mulligan later testified, "He had a lunatic stare. I'll never forget that wild look he had in his eyes."

Interrogation & Confession

"Tell us, you SOB, tell us what you know about those other girls!"
Harvey, exhausted after hours of grilling attempted once again to lay his head on the briefing table, but one of the detectives yanked him back up by the collar. "No shuteye 'till you speak up, Harve!"
Around him were four plainclothesmen, scowling, determined, hovering, smothering him, all representing various sectors of the local law enforcement bodies that had had enough of women disappearing from their midst. They had gathered there, in the Orange County jail in Santa Ana to corner a rat. Sergeants Pierce Brooks and Elmer Jackson were there from the LAPD gunning for information on Ruth Mercado and Shirley Bridgeford; Captain Jim Bradford and Detective John Lawton from the Sheriff's Office insisting that he knew what happened to Judith Ann Dull.
"You fit the description of the punk who took away Bridgeford," Brooks reminded him. "What the hell did you do to her, where is she?"
"And tell us where Judy Dull is, Harvey," Bradford urged. "You killed her, you know you killed her."
"Tell us about the rope we found in your car, and the switchblade in your pocket, and the pop gun you held on Miss Vigil tonight!" Lawton slammed his fist onto the table. "Did you strangle the others with that rope, did you stab'em, or did you shoot'em?"
"You have a record in Colorado and in New York, too, Harvey," Bradford pummeled. "All about harassing women. You like to harass women, don't you, Harvey?"
"Speak up, SOB, 'cause we know you did it!" Jackson shouted. "We know you're the one...glasses, rumpled hair, rumpled clothes, and even a camera in your car! Yeah, a camera!"
"Camera!" Brooks echoed. "The guy who killed Mercado was supposed to have been a photographer are you a photographer, Harvey? Is that how you lured all these girls to their death? You shot'em with your camera then with your .32?"
No no no, Harvey shook his head and thought to himself, that's not what I did but damn you're getting close!
White lights, bright lights, incessant, unending bright lights in his face, first that squad car, now the snake lamps in his face. Giving him a headache. Temples throbbed. Mouth parched. And the hammering, hammering, hammering of fists beating war-time in front of him. The hammering and the nudging and the shoving and the yelling:
Tell us, Harvey, where are the girls?
Where did ya' kill the girls, Harvey??"
���� How did ya' kill the girls, Harvey???
�������� When did ya' kill the girls, Harvey????"
"ALL RIGHT, I KILLED'EM, KILLED'EM ALL...." He collapsed across the table, sobbing. "You know I killed'em, there's no way you could've known unless you found the toolbox...."
"The toolbox?" asked Brooks.
"The one in my house with the pictures...the dead girls...that's where I hid them...the my toolbox...You know what I mean, you're just playing with me now."
Brooks and the others shared agreeing glances, and understood. They now pretended to know about the toolbox, where obviously the incriminating evidence lay, so that Harvey would go on to officially confess to the murders. In the meantime, police were dispatched to the Glatman apartment with an order to find the damning object and bring it back.
Later that evening, the prisoner admitted what he had done. As if his testimony wasn't shocking enough, the terrible essence of exactly what he had done was caught in black and white to send a shiver down the spines of those who saw them.
"They were images of Glatman's detailed methodology of murder, which showed a sequence of terror by re-creating the entire psychological arc of the crime" Dr. Robert Keppel explains in Signature Killers. "He first photographed each victim with a look of innocence on her face as if she were truly enjoying a modeling session. The next series represented a sadist's view of a sexually terrorized victim with the impending horror of a slow and painful death etched across her face. The final frame depicted the victim's position that Glatman himself had arranged after he strangled her. (These were) the central phases of Glatman's signature of serial murder...His only motive from the outset was to torture and punish them before and after death."

Finding Bodies

As Harvey pioneered the field of serial killing, Sergeant Pierce Brooks of the LAPD pioneered the field in a scholastic way, laying the foundation of what would become the study of serial killers. Renowned subject scholar, Dr. Robert D. Keppel, who in his book [Signature Killers] refers to the sergeant as his "mentor," praises the groundwork done by the LAPD cop who, intrigued with what he saw in Glatman, was "one of the first people to talk about catching repetitive killers by examining their behavior at crime scenes".
Better said, Brooks was the first law enforcement officer to recognize how some killers left a reiterating "signature" or "calling card" at the scenes of their crimes. His documentation led to what in time became the FBI's VICAP program, which tracks subtle nuances left behind by such murderers.
On that hot October night, though, Harvey Glatman was the only killer on Brooks' and his fellow officers' minds, for he provided enough of the macabre to keep the cops busy for quite some time.
The night of his arrest, and after he confessed to murdering Dull, Bridgeford and Mercado, Harvey was cuffed and hurried under armed patrol to the San Diego County Courthouse. But, he was not immediately jailed. There was something the detectives wanted him to do first: lead them to where the bodies were abandoned. The DA saw the Glatman case as open and shut but not a sure thing until the killer produced cadavers. Without his victim's remains any reliable defense counsel could paint Harvey as just any other whacko trying to make headlines.
Finding what was left of the three women was a necessity, as gruesome and hard as it sounded and there was no time like now for finding them. In the dark of the night, Harvey was packed away between a couple of detectives in one car and followed by a several police in another, and called upon to serve as navigator. He led the caravan down what had been the last leg of his familiar route from L.A. the San Diego Freeway to Escondido, then east on 78 to the desert and San Vallecito's foothills. Even though the shroud of night, Harvey knew the way like an old tar on habitual waters.
First, he showed them where he had raped and killed Shirley Bridgeford; a tan coat and scattered bones bathed by moonlight proved to the police he wasn't lying. Most of the skeleton had been chewed on or carried away by animals, but certainly there would be enough there for the forensic team to identify Miss Bridgeford.

Detectives prepare the remains of Mercado - Harvey at center
Detectives prepare the remains of Mercado - Harvey at center
Leaving a patrolman at the crime scene, the parade moved further down Vallecito Road until Harvey directed them to stop. Scouring the area to which Harvey pointed; the searchers finally came upon a skeleton, almost intact, with tufts of hair still clinging to the skull. "Angela Rojas," Harvey intoned the name he had known her by. But, the detectives knew she was really Ruth Mercado.

The Arraignment

By now it was daylight. After securing this spot, the detectives returned Harvey to town. When, on the following day, the murderer brought them to the site where he slew Judith Ann Dull, there was not much to find, surprisingly; some shreds of clothing, nothing much more. But, then investigators learned that many months previously a skeleton of an unknown woman had been found at that locale by hikers. Forensic odontologists were now able to re-examine those bones, still on file, as well as examine the skeletal remains of the other two victims, and make positive identification.
On Monday, November 3, Harvey Glatman was officially arraigned in San Diego County. Here his trial would take place, even though three other counties had wanted him badly: Orange County, for the assault on Miss Vigil that occurred within its jurisdiction; Riverside County where Miss Dull had been killed; and Los Angeles County, claiming (rightfully so) that all of the victims had been abducted there. But, says author Newton, "it finally came down to numbers, at least as far as San Diego County DA James Don Keller was concerned. His county had two corpses, compared to Riverside's one."
Once the arraignment was over, Keller assembled a task force prosecuting team to see that justice was served well on the mad dog. (The mad dog was already yelping to be put out of his misery, and these men agreed that he should be obliged.) They wanted a fair process of law, of course, but they wanted it to be done expediently. The team consisted of Keller and members of the San Diego County DA's office, as well as representatives from the other counties and the city of Los Angeles. Included in this last were homicide detective (LAPD) Pierce Brooks.
One of the things these men wanted and needed for legal prosecution was the history of each crime on tape as recorded by Harvey Glatman himself: how he killed the girls, and why. Harvey had already confessed and, in effect, surrendered his right to a trial. But, for purpose of the prosecuting team's full understanding of what occurred and most certainly for the purpose of studying a kind of mind the world had yet to realize the recording was mandatory.
Brought to a room in the County Sheriff's building, Lieutenant Tom Isbell and Sergeant Robert Majors conducted the session. Explaining to the prisoner what they were doing, and the reasons for it, they flicked on the machine. As a legal technicality, Majors prefaced the dialogue. Bending over the mic, he spoke. "Harvey, before you make any statement here that will be recorded on this tape, I would like you to know that everything you say is being recorded...and that everything you say here can be held against you in your prosecution for murder. Do you understand that?"
"Harvey nodded. "Yes, sir."
Over the next four hours, Harvey addressed each murder at a time, as well as his planned murder of Lorraine Vigil, relating a story the likes of which the two other men in that room had never heard and may have called preposterous had they seen it played out in a movie. He stated dates, addresses, deeds, details in gory Technicolor. He told how the idea of the killings seeded in his mind, how they grew; he confessed that he craved sex with the women, and when the sex was through how he needed to kill them. All based on a sexual urge to control.
When Harvey spoke it was without drama or malevolence or even regret; his speech was a monotone, even while it gushed the gruesome incidentals of murder. Perhaps his attitude was, thought the detectives watching him, one of relief. Since his arrest, the prisoner had been begging for his death. Maybe he figured that this was his final testimony before the grave, the only way to get what he wanted now.

No Time For Mourning

There was only one person who felt sorry for the man whom the newspapers were calling "The Lonely Hearts Killer". That was his mother, Ophelia. At 69 years old, the aged lady ventured to California to visit her son. Allowed to see him on November 12, she soon emerged from his cell dabbing her cheeks, saddened but acceptant, for she had seen a tragedy coming for decades. When surrounded by the press, she inadvertantly gave the papers probably the most accurate observation of Harvey Glatman to date: "He is not a vicious man he is sick." Journalists devoured that new adaptation and spat out the anecdote in full human interest drama, the sacrificing mother stage front.
That brought hope for attorney Willard Whittinghill, who had been charged to represent Harvey. His strategy became the only viable one open to him to save his client from the gas chamber" to present Harvey as insane. This would mean that the defendant would have to undergo psychiatric examination by the county psychiatrist C. E. Lengyel. Harvey's attitude was careless he wanted to die but Whittinghill convinced him to endure the test. A mistake. What doubt there had been about the soundness of the culprit's mind collapsed under Lengyel's diagnosis.
In summary to the report that the doctor filed on Friday, December 12, it read:
"This individual shows no evidence of a psychosis. He knows right from wrong, the nature and quality of his acts, and he can keep from doing wrong if he so desires."
In the meantime, Don Keller had been preparing for the upcoming San Diego grand jury hearing by accruing a host of witnesses to testify against Harvey in his alleged murders of the two victims slain in San Diego County, Ruth Mercado and Shirley Bridgeford. Lending the most credibility were those relatives of Miss Bridgeford who had gathered at her house the evening Harvey came to pick up his date. They had fingered him and they had testified how she had left that night with him, a healthy young girl and loving mother of two never to be seen alive again.
The grand jury returned two counts of murder in the first degree.

Sgt. Pierce Brooks leads the accused into court
Sgt. Pierce Brooks leads the accused into court
"Harvey Glatman's final day in court began bright and early on Monday, December 15, 1985, in Department 4 of Superior Court," reports Rope author Michael Newton. "The proceeding was not a trial, per se. He had already filed a guilty plea...but California law requires a separate penalty phase in such cases before sentence is passed. The options, simply stated, were death or life imprisonment..."
Presiding was William T. Low, a stickler for the judicial word.
Witnesses for the prosecution were some repeats from the earlier grand jury hearing, but also many new ones, officials and laypersons alike, including Lorraine Vigil, the only survivor of Harvey's designs. Lawmen spoke about their finding of the bones, remnants of the women left abandoned in the desert; they explained how they caught Harvey in the act of trying to drag Vigil into the car to make her victim number four, and they described the nature of the photographs found in Harvey's toolbox.
As a climax, the prosecution then played Harvey Glatman's taped confession, which in the silence of the courtroom sent chills through the assemblage. Several women crossed themselves and wept. Men stared into the void, but their mind's eyes trying to form some of the hell that Harvey painted.
As the session ended, Judge Low asked defense counsel Whittinghill if he had anything to add. Whittinghill answered with a simple, nearly inaudible "No, Your Honor."
Nodding, expecting that reply, the presider sat back in his chair. With the look of disbelief, he turned to the defendant. Said Lowe: "I sat here and listened to those recordings, the manner in which these women were killed...I never heard anything like it and I hope I never hear anything like it again. The torment, the suffering these women must have endured during the night and in the must have been horrible."
He cleared his throat, fought back a lump that had formed there, and resumed.
"At this time I, having found the defendant guilty of first-degree murder, I will impose the death penalty on him. I think that is the only proper judgment that should be pronounced in this particular case...Mr. Glatman...may God have mercy on your soul."
these women must have endured during the night and in the must have been horrible."He cleared his throat, fought back a lump that had formed there, and resumed.
"At this time I, having found the defendant guilty of first-degree murder, I will impose the death penalty on him. I think that is the only proper judgment that should be pronounced in this particular case...Mr. Glatman...may God have mercy on your soul."


The condemned killer was transferred to Death Row at San Quentin Prison as Prisoner Number A-50239. The space he was given, in a cell apart from the rest of the inmate population, would be shared in later years by Charles Manson and Richard "The Night Stalker" Ramirez. Life there must have been unbearable for Harvey Murray Glatman: no outlet for his fantasies. No twine, not even his precious camera, snap snap [whirr].
But, he wouldn't have to endure the suffocation of his new abode for very long. His execution was set early for September 18, 1959, at which time he was led into San Quentin's infamous "green room" to inhale cyanide.
The procedure, which began at 10 a.m., took twelve minutes in all. Much less than the length of time it took for him to march his victims through their separate agonies. The chamber door was locked at 10:01; he was strapped in place by 10:02; the sodium cyanide pellets dropped a minute later and, within seconds, they dissolved to emanate forth fumes across and up his nostrils; doctors beyond the viewing glass rated his pulse at 200, but by 10:05 it had plunged to 60; he gasped at 10:06, drooled at 10:07, and his head dropped, bobbed, bobbed again, and twitched.
By 10:12 a.m., September 18, 1959, the lady killer expired.
It was a ghastly way to die.
A true punishment for Harvey Glatman who would have been much, much happier, maybe even ecstatic, had he been hung by rope.

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