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Thread: Keith Hunter Jesperson

  1. #1

    truck2 Keith Hunter Jesperson

    RIVERSIDE — To give his newly appointed attorney time to review the case, an arraignment was postponed Friday for a 54-year-old convicted serial killer accused in the 1992 slaying of a woman whose body was found near Blythe.

    Keith Hunter Jesperson, who is known as “The Happy Face Killer,” is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of an unidentified woman.
    Jesperson appeared Friday before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Donner, who appointed Jesperson a public defender. Donner granted a four-week delay in Jesperson's arraignment to give his attorney time to look at the state's case and confer with the defendant.
    Jesperson was brought to Riverside County on Tuesday from Oregon, where he is serving a life sentence for a November 1995 murder there. He has also admitted to slayings in Washington and Wyoming, said Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Michael Lujan.
    The body of the Riverside County victim was found by deputies on Aug. 30, 1992, west of state Route 95 near Blythe, said Lujan.
    The body was in an advanced stage of decomposition. She was 5-foot-3, had blond hair and was between 20 and 30 years old, authorities said.
    The initial investigation went cold until 1994, when Jesperson was identified as a possible suspect, but was not arrested.
    In 1996, Jesperson provided a written account of the murder and the specific location near Blythe where he discarded the victim's body. The defendant referred to her as “Claudia,” according to Lujan.
    Jesperson was charged in September and is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Hearing for serial killer delayed

    Unidentified White Female Located on August 30, 1992 in Blythe, Riverside County, California.
    Estimated Date of Death is 2 - 6 weeks prior
    Cause of death is suspected to be homicide.

    Vital Statistics

    • Estimated age: 21-26 years old
    • Approximate Height and Weight: 5' 4".
    • Distinguishing Characteristics: She had blonde or light brown hair, possibly shoulder length.
    • Clothing: Wearing a gray shirt and jeans. Gold glitter on her fingernails and toenails.
    • Other: She was possibly using the name of Claudia and hitchhiking at truck stops.
    • Dentals: Dental records are available. She had some missing teeth and amalgam fillings.

    Case History
    The victim was found in open desert area, in Blythe. 100 feet west of Highway 95 and one mile north of Second Avenue. It is unknown where the death occurred, it is believed she was dumped where she was found. Investigators determined that she had been dead for a number of weeks.
    Serial-Killer Keith Hunter Jesperson confessed to her homicide. He claimed her name was Claudia and that she wanted a ride to Phoenix, Arizona with him.

    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Riverside County Sheriff's Department
    909 443-2300

    Agency Case Number:

    NCIC Number:

    Please refer to this number when contacting any agency with information regarding this case.

    Source Information: Riverside County Sheriff's Department
    The Crimelibrary
    The Press-Enterprise

  3. #3

    Default Happy Face Killer pleads guilty to slaying

    RIVERSIDE - A serial killer known for drawing smiley faces in his correspondence pleaded guilty today to the 1992 slaying of a woman whose body was found in a remote area on the eastern edge of Riverside County.
    Keith Hunter Jesperson, dubbed "The Happy Face Killer,'' is already serving a life sentence for the 1995 slaying of an Oregon woman and has admitted killing women throughout the country.
    Jesperson pleaded guilty this afternoon to first-degree murder in connection with the death of an unidentified woman whose remains were found near Blythe and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
    "We were able to achieve justice on behalf of an innocent victim regardless of the fact that we may never even know her identity,'' District Attorney Rod Pacheco said.
    "Each and every victim deserves the opportunity to have justice and to have their perpetrator held accountable.''
    Jesperson will be returned to Oregon to continue serving his time there, said Deputy District Attorney Laura Ozolz. The sentence imposed in Riverside County will be tacked onto his life term there.
    The woman's remains were found by deputies on Aug. 30, 1992, west of state Route 95, just outside of Blythe.
    "When we found her, she was more or less just bones,'' said Ozolz.
    Investigators determined the victim was 5-foot-3, blonde, between 20 and 30 years old. She is still listed as a Jane Doe, according to the prosecutor.
    The initial investigation went cold until 1994, when Jesperson was identified as a possible suspect, but was not arrested.
    In 1996, he provided a written account of the murder and the specific location where he disposed of the victim's body. The defendant referred to her as "Claudia,'' according to sheriff's officials.
    Authorities believe Jesperson's killing rampage started around 1990. His career as a long-haul trucker took him through numerous towns. He picked up his first victim, 23-year-old Taunja Bennett, in a Portland, Ore. bar.
    Jesperson boasted about killing women in letters to the police and the media, often signing the correspondence with a smiley face.

    Happy Face Killer to be arraigned today; currently serving life sentence for murder
    RIVERSIDE - A convicted murderer accused in the 1992 slaying of a woman whose body was found in a remote area on the eastern edge of Riverside County is slated to be arraigned today.
    Keith Hunter Jesperson, who is known as "The Happy Face Killer,'' is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of the unidentified woman.
    Jesperson was brought to Riverside County Dec. 8 from Oregon, where he is serving a life sentence for a November 1995 murder there. He has also admitted to slayings in Washington and Wyoming, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
    A Riverside judge postponed Jesperson's arraignment last month because the defendant had only just been assigned a public defender, who had not had time to review the case or confer with his new client.
    According to authorities, the woman Jesperson allegedly killed in Riverside County was found by deputies on Aug. 30, 1992, west of state Route 95 near Blythe. The body was in an advanced stage of decomposition, but authorities said they determined that she was 5-foot-3, blond and between 20 and 30 years old.
    The initial investigation went cold until 1994, when Jesperson was identified as a possible suspect, but was not arrested.
    In 1996, Jesperson provided a written account of the murder and the specific location near Blythe where he discarded the victim's body. The defendant referred to her as "Claudia,'' according to sheriff's officials.
    Jesperson was charged in September and is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.

  4. #4

    truck2 Keith Hunter Jesperson

    He has a few unsolved unidentified female victims listed on the internet. Some were not identified.

  5. #5

  6. #6

    outline ‘Happy Face Killer’ Survivor Daun Richert Slagle Sues Lifetime Over Movie

    Daun Richert Slagle, the sole survivor of Keith Jesperson, the Happy Face Killer, is suing Lifetime over a movie, aired on March 1 of this year, that was based on Jesperson’s story. According to TMZ, Daun Slagle is unhappy with the way she was portrayed in the movie. Slagle’s story was dramatized as the character Candy, a local prostitute who performed fellatio on the serial killer while her baby was present.

    Daun Slagle disagrees with the way the true events were presented in the television movie. According to the court documents obtained by TMZ, Slagle referred to Lifetime’s portrayal as “false, egregious and disgusting.”

    According to Examiner, the movie chronicles the true events surround Canadian serial killer Keith Jesperson.

    Oroville MR News reported that Daun Richert Glagle came into contact with the serial killer when she left home after a disagreement with her husband. According to Daun, Jesperson began conversing with her in the parking lot of a store. Daun Richert continues.

    “He did not appear to be a threatening person.()He strapped Tauna Bennett’s body in the same seat I was sitting in. I was sitting in the same seat that a dead girl was in weeks earlier and I had no idea.”

    Once Daun Slagle was in Keith Jeserpson’s truck, he drove her and the baby to a remote location. That is when Slagle said Jesperson proceeded to brutally attack her. After several hours of struggling with the serial killer, he let her and her baby go. She attributes the baby’s screams as a determining factor for why Jesperson let her live.

    Truck driver Keith Hunter Jesperson brutally killed eight victims from 1990 to 1995. He taunted the police and news journalists by sending them letters with little smiley faces until he was finally caught several years later. This case is also referred to as the smiley face killer. Jesperson was given three life sentences for his chilling crimes. He is housed in an Oregon state prison.

    Produced by Front Street Pictures, Lifetime’s true crime movie was advertised as inspired by a true story. As noted earlier, it premiered earlier this year on the Lifetime channel. The movie was based on a script by Richard Christian Matheson and stars David Arquette, Gloria Reuben, and Stefanie von Pfetten. According to the Movies Based On True Stories Archives, most of the names of the real people in the Lifetime movie were changed. Lifetime’s movies are a guilty pleasure for the female audience, as was discussed in an earlier article by Inquisitr.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Keith Hunter Jesperson

    My evil dad: Life as a serial killer’s daughter

    Keith Jesperson is notorious in the US as the Happy Face Killer, who raped and murdered eight women in the 1990s. Here his daughter, Melissa Moore, describes how she learned the truth as a teenager - and eventually found a way to live with it.

    Let me tell you about the last time I saw my dad before he was sent to prison. I was 15 years old when he showed up randomly at our home in Spokane, Washington State. He and my mother were divorced, and we just saw him occasionally, when he fitted us in with his job as a long-distance truck-driver.

    On this particular day, in autumn 1994, he asked me and my younger brother and sister if we wanted to go out for breakfast with him. We all hopped into his big truck, which had a sleeper cab attached to it. My sister and I sat in the sleeper cab on top of the mattress and my brother sat in the passenger seat.

    After we set off, my brother opened the glove compartment and found a pack of cigarettes. He was really shocked because smoking was a big no-no for my dad - that had always been something he wanted to instil in us. And he said, "Oh those are for my friends, for women that I pick up." My brother pulled a face like he didn't really believe him, as if to say: "Dad, are you hiding something from us? Maybe you're a closet smoker."

    Could my father have killed me? That has been a huge question mark in my life”

    As we were turning the corner by my high school, a big roll of duct tape rolled out of the sleeping compartment, which struck me as pretty strange too. I thought, "Why does my dad have duct tape by his pillow?" But I kind of brushed it off, thinking, "Well, everything's probably in weird places because there's not a lot of space in here."

    My brother and sister had plans that morning so we dropped them off, and it was just my dad and I that went to a downtown diner. I loved my dad, but I didn't really enjoy being around him. He made me anxious. He never molested or beat any of us, it was just a feeling that something was building, seething beneath the surface. I had once tried to articulate it to a school counsellor but it didn't come out right. I mean, a lot of kids think their dad is weird.

    Melissa's yearbook photo from 1995
    One of the things about my dad - which made me very uncomfortable as a young woman - was that he was very explicit about his sexual relationships. For example, he sometimes went into graphic detail about what it had been like sleeping with my mother. He would leer at women in public, make lewd remarks about them, and harass them. That morning in Denny's Diner was no different - I remember him flirting horribly with the waitress while we sat in a window booth.

    It was during this meal that my dad said, "Not everything is what it appears to be, Missy." And I said, "What do you mean Dad?"

    I watched him wrestling with something internally. Then he said: "You know, I have something to tell you, and it's really important." There was a long silence before I asked him what it was. "I can't tell you, sweetie. If I tell you, you will tell the police. I'm not what you think I am, Melissa."

    I felt my stomach drop, like I was on a rollercoaster and had just hit the lowest part of the loop. I had to run to the bathroom. When I returned to the booth I felt calm again and I found to my relief that my dad was willing to just drop the conversation.

    But I go back to that incident so often and I think: "If he had told me, what would have happened next? If he had told me about his seven murders - it was very soon to be eight - would I have gone to the police? Having revealed his secrets, would he have given me the chance?"

    Could my father have killed me? That has been a huge question mark in my life.

    It was a few months after that trip to the diner, in March 1995, that my mother told us three kids that he had been arrested for murder. For murder! It was just overwhelming, and I ran to the bed I was sleeping on and started crying. I couldn't fathom how my dad could have done such a thing.

    Then I started to think back to the days when we lived together as a family on a farm in Washington State.

    When I was five, I found these beautiful little kittens in the cellar of our farmhouse and I took them outside to play with. When my dad saw what I had in my hands he took them, casually hung them up on the clothes line, and began to torment them. I remembered his enjoyment as I screamed and pleaded with him to take them down. Later on I found their little bodies in the back garden.

    Another time, he found me and my brother petting a beautiful black cat. My father is 6ft 6in (198cm) and a big, burly man. He hovered over us, and said, in a playful sort of way, "What have you got there?" He grabbed the cat, but to my relief he started to pet it. Then he began to pin the cat down with one hand and twist the animal's head with the other. The animal was frantically scratching his arms, and we were screaming, but my father had that same strange look on his face - of enjoyment.

    He was arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Julie Winningham, but I was told nothing about what he had done. My mother made it clear that it was not a topic she was willing to discuss. The stifling atmosphere at home did not help me in the long-term, but I now understand that she was trying to protect me.

    Throughout that summer of 1995, I sneaked out to the library to read reports of my father's trial. It was during this trial that he confessed to the murders of a number of other women (although he was to recant some of his confessions later).

    It was like there was another Keith Jesperson. I had caught glimpses of this other man, but I also remembered when my dad came home from long-haul truck drives he would be so doting and kind. He seemed like such a good dad at times.

    Then again, he had said some very strange things over the years. "You know I drove past the Oregon State Penitentiary, and I honked my horn," he told me on the phone one time. "I said: 'Someday I'm gonna be there. But not yet!'"
    When I was 13, we were driving along the Columbia River, a beautiful wide river that separates Washington State and Oregon. We were just getting close to the Multnomah Falls area when my Dad announced: "I know how to kill someone and get away with it." Then he just started to tell me how he would cut off the victim's buttons, so that there wouldn't be any fingerprints left, and he would wear cycling shoes that didn't leave a distinctive print in the mud.

    At the time, I put this down to my father's penchant for detective fiction, but years later I realised we had been driving through the area where he had disposed of Taunja Bennett's body three years earlier. I think he wanted to relive it and enjoy the moment again. My dad felt compelled to share his crimes, as he did in the messages that he left at truck stops, or sent in letters to the media. They were always signed with a smiley face, leading the media to dub him the "Happy Face Killer".

    In 1995, I wasn't capable of balancing out these memories and feelings with the reports I was reading in the library. One day I read an article that quoted Winningham's son, who called my dad a "monster" and said he should be executed. I knew he had every right to say that, but it was just daggers to my heart. I mean, this was my dad!

    I stopped reading newspaper reports after that, for my own sanity perhaps. I was able to compartmentalise what my father had done. I thought: he's a truck driver and he comes and goes, now he's gone out of my life for a long time and I don't need to think about this stuff.

    I got stared at in high school when the news came out. Parents were really shaken up by the thought that their children might have been in harm's way, so they kept them away from me and I began to feel tremendous guilt and shame.

    But during the summer of 1995 I had other, more immediate worries. For a start, I was in a violent, abusive relationship with a boy - something I think my father primed me for.

    Somehow I ended up feeling that I had to pay restitution for his crimes. I felt dirty, I felt less of a person, I felt isolated, I felt alone. I used to think that I couldn't live in this world and be a part of it. I would always be a spectator, watching normal people go about their lives.

    There isn't a book out there called, What Do You Do When You Find Out That Your Dad's A Serial Killer? There's nothing out there that tells you what to do.

    I was also worried. I knew I wasn't capable of killing anybody, I knew I wasn't a sociopath. And yet, didn't I share my father's DNA? How does one become a serial killer? Could that evil be something that I was carrying around, and could I even pass it on to my children?

    It became a part of my life that I kept very secret. When I dated boys, I would never bring it up because there's no point scaring anybody away at the beginning.

    But I was lucky enough to eventually find a wonderful man, get married and have my own children.

    One day in May 2008, I watched my daughter excitedly jump down from her school bus, bursting with a question that she couldn't wait to ask me. That day in kindergarten they had been learning about family units, and she had been told that everyone in the world has a mummy and a daddy. This was breaking news to her.

    "Mummy, everyone has a daddy. Where's your daddy?"

    I just froze. I thought: "How do I explain this to her? She's so adorable, she's so sweet and precious - how do I tell her who her grandfather is?" In the end I said, "Oh, he lives in Salem." That was the first thing that popped into my head - and it's the truth. He's in prison there, serving consecutive life sentences.

    But I realised that unless I addressed this issue properly, my father's crimes would affect my daughter just as they had me.

    We look very alike, she and I. I looked at her face, and it was like a mirror on to the past, on to the little girl I had once been. That was the moment that changed everything. For years I had been living in hiding, but that afternoon, the pain of living with secrets became greater than the pain of speaking out and telling the world who I really was.

    I wrote a memoir, Shattered Silence, and I started to give interviews to the media. After I appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2009, I received hundreds of emails from family members of other serial killers thanking me for telling my story, and asking for help and advice.

    I travel to see these people or speak to them on the phone. It's given my life meaning and direction.

    I've created a whole network of people like me - daughters, sons, siblings, parents and grandparents of serial killers. So far, I have had direct contact with more than 300 people like this - we are an underground community.

    Recently I was contacted by the mother of two young girls, whose father was a serial killer who had been all over the papers in Europe. One of these girls was so depressed she was thinking of suicide. I asked my network to write letters to the girls, to let them know it gets better in time.

    And it does. All these people have their own story, and each of them is on his or her own journey of recovery. But there are some emotions and processes we all go through. We all have a period of denial, we all ride that pendulum of shock and grief. Then comes the anger
    My father will never get the death penalty for his crimes. But he should.

    I don't say that for myself, but for his victims. Justice will never be served to them. I'm not going to go into the details of the horrific torture he inflicted on those poor women, who were mothers and daughters and sisters. Not all his victims have even been identified. There are some parents who still don't know where their daughter or sister disappeared to.

    I've spoken with family members of his first victim, Taunja Bennett. They had a lot of details about her life, and who she was as a person, which I really wanted to know.

    I've also spoken to his only survivor, who he brutally raped in front of her infant and tried to strangle. She reached out to me, and we arranged to speak on the phone. I was very nervous before the call, and I won't deny it was hard to hear graphic details about her assault. But I believe it was a powerful gift that she gave me. If I wanted to delude myself about what he had done I couldn't any more. I couldn't live in la-la land.

    I haven't seen him for almost a decade. After my book came out in 2008, I got a letter from him in which he said, "I don't want the world to judge me as a dad. I was a great dad. My only mistake was my eight errors in judgement."

    But he's talking about murders! He's calling them "errors in judgement"! That's the way he sees things. How can anyone - even someone as close as a daughter - continue to have a relationship with a person who so completely lacks honesty and compassion?

    For years I kidded myself. I knew he had done terrible things, but I still believed that he loved me and my siblings, that he was capable of love and empathy. Then one day, while I was working on my book, I had a conversation with my grandfather. He told me: "You know, I went to visit your dad in prison, and he said something that surprised me. He said that he had had thoughts of killing you children."

    Maybe people won't understand this, but hearing that gave me freedom. It allowed me to see that in truth there had been no double life - there had only ever been one Keith Jesperson and he had been able to manipulate everyone around him and present different facades to the world.

    And finally I knew the answer to the question that had been bothering me every time I thought about our last breakfast together in the diner. Would he have killed me if I had told the police about his crimes? Yes, he would.

    Understanding that allowed me to say goodbye to him.

    Melissa Moore appeared on Outlook on the BBC World Service.

    The Happy Face Killer

    Keith Hunter Jesperson was born in Canada in 1955 - as a child he killed cats and gophers, and attacked other children
    His first known murder was Taunja Bennett, who he raped and strangled in January 1990
    After a couple were wrongly convicted of her murder, Jesperson left "confessions" daubed in the toilets of truck stops and bus stations, signed with a smiley face
    He wrote letters to the Oregonian newspaper confessing to multiple murders
    He once confessed to killing 160 women, but it's now believed that Jesperson killed eight, some of whom have never been identified

  8. #8

    outline 'I'm the daughter of a serial killer'

    Photos at link above

    Having a notorious serial killer for a father, and only finding out about it at the age of 15. That’s exactly what Melissa Moore went through. She hid her secret for years before breaking her silence.

    Melissa Moore, 35, is the eldest daughter of notorious serial killer Keith Hunter Jesperson, who is currently serving several life sentences after being convicted of raping and strangling eight women in the United States in the 1990s. After two people were wrongly convicted of Jesperson's first murder, he left confession notes in the restrooms of truck stops and bus stations, signed with a smiley face. The media therefore dubbed him the "Happy Face Killer." Melissa told Life Links what it was like growing up with a serial killer, how she found out about her father's secret and how she is dealing with it now.

    Melissa Moore remembers the moment when she learned the truth about her father like it was yesterday. "I came home from school one day and my mom called me and my little brother and sister to the basement," the now 35-year-old recalls. "We never had family meetings, so I knew there was something serious going on. My mom's face looked like all the color had been washed out of it and she said: 'your father is in jail for murder.'"

    Back then, Melissa was 15 years old and a freshman in high school. Her parents had been divorced for five years and she'd been living in her grandmother's basement with her mother and two younger siblings. She only saw her father sporadically - he was a long-haul truck driver and therefore often on the road.

    "I was trying to picture who he would do this to,” she says. “I thought maybe he was at a bar and got in a fight and killed a man. My dad's a big guy, he's 6 feet 6 inches tall and 300 pounds (1.98 meters and 136 kilos), so just his sheer presence was intimidating."

    Melissa's mother wasn't willing to tell her more about what exactly her father had done. Talking about his arrest was taboo, so Melissa was left wondering.

    "I had a million questions but I was afraid to know the answers because that would change my whole world,” she says. “It was easier just to have limited information. In the spectrum of murder, wouldn't it be much nicer to think that he was somehow in a bar fight and accidentally punched someone too hard versus serial murder?"

    'He could take a life with his bare hands'

    But then Melissa remembered an incident from her childhood that made the idea of her father intentionally killing a person seem more plausible. When she was five years old, Melissa found kittens in their farmhouse cellar. She was playing with them outside, when her father took them away from herand started torturing them in front of his daughter.

    "He just killed them with his bare hands. He seemed to lack any kind of emotion, he saw them as objects," she says. "So I did feel like there was something simmering underneath the surface because of the way he was treating animals and the fact that he took pleasure out of it. He could simply take away a life with his bare hands."

    Being reminded of that moment made Melissa think that rather than accidentally killing a man in a bar fight, he had probably strangled a woman. "In my mind I somehow felt that was the case, I don't know why," she says.

    With her father's arrest in March 1995 and the consequent trial, in which he confessed to the murders, Melissa soon found out more about his crimes. She went to the public library to read every article about her father she could find. "Within only six months I had way more information than I was prepared to deal with," she says.

    She found out that at around the time her five-year-old self had witnessed her father torturing animals, he had also started raping, strangling and killing women.

    'My dad the serial killer vs. my dad the loving father'

    Melissa remembers sitting in the library, reading articles about her father and thinking: 'Who is this man? Is he really who I thought he was when I was growing up?'

    Melissa mostly has fond memories of her early childhood, living together with her two younger siblings and both of her parents. She says as a child she was never scared of her father; he never sexually molested or beat her.

    When she talks about her father's crimes, Melissa seems distant and detached. But when you ask her what he was like when she was young, her voice immediately changes. She sounds happy and excited as she describes him as "hands-on" and "engaging," adding that he took his three children on bike rides and camping trips as often as he could.

    Melissa says she was in denial when she learned about her father's arrest. "I wanted to place him as the 'dad who took me cycling and camping.’ But that didn't go together with hunting and seeking out women to torture, rape and kill. For a long time they were two separate people - my dad, the serial killer, and my dad, the loving dad."

    These two separate men finally merged together when Melissa visited her grandfather, who told her that Melissa's father admitted he’d had thoughts of killing his three children. "This confirmed my last interaction with my dad before he was arrested,” she says.

    'I think my father would have killed me'

    In the fall of 1994, Melissa's dad came by to see his children. He wanted to take his eldest daughter, Melissa, to a diner and dropped off her younger siblings at school on the way. Melissa was sitting in the sleeping compartment of her dad’s truck when they turned a corner and she saw industrial-sized duct tape roll out from underneath his pillow.

    "I thought: 'Oh my Gosh, my dad goes through a lot of duct tape, that's really strange.' But my mind quickly justified it as there is not a lot of space in the truck so he probably has to store and fix things," Melissa remembers with a bitter laugh.

    At the diner, Melissa’s father told her: “‘Not everything is as it seems to be, Missy. There's something I need to tell you but I'm afraid you'll tell the authorities,’" she recalls.

    Melissa says she wasn't sure what he was trying to confess but she had a bad feeling about it. "I suddenly felt sick to my stomach and I felt really uncomfortable, I didn't want to be around my dad alone anymore,” she says. She excused herself to go to the restroom and when she came back he had dropped the topic.

    "I always think back to that time and wonder what would have happened if he had told me that he'd murdered seven women by that point,” she says. “Would he have driven me back to school and let me go? I can't imagine that scenario happening. I really believe in my whole being that he would have killed me."

    'I felt guilty by association'

    That was the last time Melissa saw her father before he was arrested a couple of months later. With his arrest and the following media coverage, Melissa's life changed completely. Her friends suddenly weren't allowed to hang out with her anymore.

    "Their parents thought maybe there is something wrong with me, too, and they wanted to keep their children safe, so they kept them away from my entire family, including me,” she says, her voice laced with anger. “That made me feel like a monster, too."

    Melissa isn't the only child of a serial killer who has been shunned by society. Dr. Helen Morrison, a forensic psychiatrist who has studied 135 serial killers and their families from all over the world, says it's very difficult for the children to have a normal life.

    "They seem to be doing okay until their fathers are caught or arrested. Then they get almost tainted by the fact their father did this. They are treated like outcasts and they begin to feel marked by their father's behavior," she tells Life Links.

    'Do I carry my father's evil genes?'

    Melissa started to wonder whether she might have inherited certain violent traits from her father. "I physically look like my dad and we do have some things in common; we like the same kind of music, food, and sports,” she says, almost apologetically.“So I was wondering if I could do any of the things he did. But I never enjoyed seeing other people's torment. I have empathy, which he is lacking. He never had any remorse and no respect for human life and I do."

    Morrison says being a serial killer is not a trait that is passed down in the same way as eye or hair color. "That's not something the children of serial killers have to worry about,” she says. “But even though we tell them that it's nothing genetic, they still worry."

    Despite knowing that she wasn't capable of committing the same horrible crimes as her father, Melissa was worried other people might think otherwise. "That's why I kept it a secret for so long,” she says. “I wanted people to get to know me before they know about my past. But it became a personal hell to always wonder what people think about me, whether they judge me, to the point where I had to break my silence."

    'If I'm going to break my silence, I'm going to break it loud'

    It was in 2009 that she decided to speak out about her father. By that time Melissa was a mother herself. What finally convinced her to tell her story was having her daughter come home from kindergarten one day and ask Melissa where her "granddaddy" was.

    "I didn't know how to explain to this little innocent girl who her grandfather was. I was wondering if it will impact her as strongly as it impacted my life,” Melissa says. “I didn't know what to do, I really felt alone."

    Melissa decided she would go on an American talk show to speak about who she is. "I thought if I am going to break my silence, I am going to break it loud so that everybody knows everything and nobody feels the need to gossip and whisper behind my back anymore,” she says. “I wanted to have that power in my hand."

    Once she started talking, she says she realized how repressed her pain was and how good it felt to talk about it. She couldn’t stop crying.

    "It was powerful to see that by me not being afraid of people knowing the family secret, my daughter isn't afraid either. She doesn't feel like she has to justify herself to anybody,” says Melissa. “There is nothing I can do to protect my daughter from who her grandfather is. But I don't want my daughter to feel any kind of stigma and so I hope that I can turn around this family legacy into something positive."

    By now, Melissa has written a memoir called in which she tells her life story. She hasn't allowed her now 13-year-old daughter to read her book yet as she doesn’t want to expose her to the graphic details of her grandfather’s acts, but her daughter is aware of who he is and that he's in prison for being a serial killer.

    Speaking to victims

    Ever since Melissa came forward, everything has changed for her. She suddenly started meeting the families of other serial killers and created a whole network of people who have gone through similar experiences. "I wasn't expecting that there is such a huge underground community of people suffering from what a relative has done. For a long time I thought I was alone in this," she says.

    And that's not all. Melissa was also contacted by family members of her father's victims. She says she decided to talk to them to learn more about them so she would always be reminded of what he did in case she ever tried to legitimize his actions in her head. It helped her accept who her father really is.

    "If I ever want to have denial about who my father is, I have real faces and people in my head that had to deal with the consequences of my father's behavior. That makes it profoundly more real than just reading about it in the newspaper," she says.

    Melissa also talked to her father's only survivor, a woman he raped and strangled in front of her infant. In a letter Melissa's dad wrote to his daughter from prison, he explained why he let his first victim go.

    "When he was strangling her, he heard her son crying in the back of the car and then he realized that he had to kill the baby, too, so he decided to let them both go,” Melissa says. “Maybe he did value life to a point. I don't know."

    When speaking to the woman herself, Melissa learned how her father made women feel safe around him: by telling them about his daughter, Melissa.

    Today, Melissa Moore is a happily married mother of two living in California. In 2009, she published her autobiography “Shattered Silence.” The last time she saw her father was in 2005. "At first I felt this obligation as a daughter of keeping my dad in my life. But later on I realized he had lost any rights when he murdered eight women," she says.

    "He would offer women to walk them to their car for safety - how ironic is that,” Melissa says, laughing disgustedly. “Then he essentially used me as a pawn to gain their trust. By telling them he was a dad and talking about me. He made them feel comfortable - so comfortable, in fact, that they would get in a car with him."

    'I used to sleep with a gun underneath my bed'

    Knowing the full truth and speaking out about her family has helped Melissa deal with reality and lead a normal life. She's been happily married for more than a decade and has two children. Her two younger siblings, who are also both married, chose a different approach; they don't publicly discuss who their father is but support Melissa for what she is doing.

    But there is one person who doesn't like Melissa speaking out: her father. He started threatening her when she broke her silence.

    "My dad has this weird fan club of people who are obsessed with serial killers," Melissa says. "I know that he communicates with them about me. He had them contact me to send me messages. Just recently he sent a message to my grandmother saying that I need to watch my back; that it's all going to go down soon. I don't know what that means, I guess he has something up his sleeves but I don't know what it is."

    For many years, Melissa slept with a gun under her bed. But now she has moved to a guarded and gated community in California, where she feels safe. "I don't want him to stop me from being vocal about my story," she says.

    One day, when she's ready, she wants to go to see him in prison and ask him all the questions that still play on her mind. But she says she doesn't feel ready yet. She needs to gather more information to be fully prepared.

    Still, despite her father's history, she doesn't bear him any ill will. "I have forgiven the pain that he has caused me but I cannot forgive what he's done to other people,” she says. “I do not hold a grudge for what my father has done to my life. I had to move on."

  9. #9

    Default Re: ‘Happy Face Killer’ Survivor Daun Richert Slagle Sues Lifetime Over Movie

  10. #10

    Default Re: ‘Happy Face Killer’ Survivor Daun Richert Slagle Sues Lifetime Over Movie

    With so many true crime podcasts available, it can be difficult to decide which to choose. It is clear that in order to stand out in a vast array of similar stories, a successful true crime podcast must have something special to offer. The new 12-part series by HowStuffWorks, “Happy Face,” has just that.
    “Happy Face,” narrated by Lauren Bright Pacheco, explores the horrific story of Keith Hunter Jesperson, also known as the “Happy Face Killer.” Jesperson was responsible for the brutal murders of at least eight women between 1990 and 1995. Bright Pacheco worked as a television producer where she met Melissa Moore, formerly Melissa Jesperson, daughter of the Happy Face Killer.
    Throughout the podcast, Bright Pacheco helps Moore decompress her emotions and fears associated with being the child of a serial killer. The series combines testimonies, audio clips of Jesperson himself, passages from books and new facts to unfold a classic terrifying story in a new and emotionally charged way.
    Hearing from the family of the killer offers a new perspective to a true crime story. Rather than a mystery, the compelling aspect of this podcast is the emotional complexity of an untold side of trauma. Moore describes her childhood with a serial killer parent, from seeing blood stains on the ceiling, to witnessing her father kill animals when she was less than 10 years old.
    A particularly chilling section of the series comes in episodes 6 and 7, where Moore has a face-to-face meeting with the son of her father’s last victim, Don Findlay. Together, Moore and Findlay share a heart-wrenching conversation exploring their complex emotions and fondly remembering Findlay’s mother Julie Ann Winningham. Findlay goes as far as correcting the media’s account of his mother and breaks down as he describes passing the place of his mother’s murder daily.
    “Everyday of my life since then I have to drive by it. Everyday I go fishing in the beautiful gorge, I gotta drive right by it. I didn’t run, I faced it head-on. It kept crushing my heart,” Findlay’s voice trails off as he chokes back tears.
    Perhaps the most difficult audio to listen to is that of Jesperson himself recounting his own gruesome acts. Al Carlisle, a true crime author, met with Jesperson in prison, and for some reason Jesperson decided to open up to Carlisle and spoke to him in length about himself as well as the murders he committed. This audio was given to Moore and Bright Pacheco after Carlisle’s passing, and it is woven in throughout the podcast.
    The latest episode focuses on Jesperson, describing his murders and the way he played with law enforcement as if he was playing a game with them. Jesperson famously wrote a letter to The Oregonian newspaper confessing to five murders, which he signed with a smiley face, coining his name as the “Happy Face Killer.”
    After the particularly haunting episode, a note was given to listeners that there would be a break for Thanksgiving. “Happy Face” is due to return November 30th, with 3 more new episodes coming out every Friday. Bright Pacheco notes that the upcoming episodes will focus on the effect of Moore’s father on her current life and relationships, as well as diving in to discuss her deepest fear, that she is somehow like her father.
    “Happy Face” is not for the faint-hearted, but its compelling content and elaborate interweaving of sources create a riveting podcast experience for those brave enough to listen. If you are a fan of true crime looking for a stand-out new podcast, this is certainly a great option.

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