The Dracula Killer

The Dracula Killer, by Lt. Ray Biondi and Walt Hecox

Despite the sensational title, this is a solid, economical account of the investigation and arrest of Richard Chase by the supervising detective in the case.

Chase killed 6 people by gunshot during a one-month period in Sacramento County, California, in the late 70s. He earned the “Dracula Killer” moniker by pausing at some crime scenes to drain and drink the blood of his victims, leaving puzzling ring-shaped blood stains on the floor next to his victims from the cups he used; in one case he took a murdered child away from a crime scene so he could ingest his blood and selected internal organs at leisure. An unmedicated schizophrenic and psychotic, he believed that he was suffering from a pervasive illness that could only be cured by ingesting human blood; he also raped the corpses of the women he killed. Although Chase is used as an example of a disorganized serial killer by the FBI, he showed enough premeditation and self-awareness at trial to be denied an insanity plea and receive the death penalty. He cheated the executioner by saving up his psychiatric meds and overdosing in his jail cell 3 years after the crimes.

According to Biondi, at the time of writing (1990), the FBI was claiming to have solved the Chase case through profiling. Although the profile they developed matched the suspect, Biondi points out that the case was actually solved through routine police work and a little luck. A former classmate of Chase’s who’d had a troubling encounter with him in a grocery store saw the drawing of the suspect developed by police through witness interviews and made the connection.

(My favorite podcast has done an episode on Chase, which is what reminded me I had this book in the to-read pile.)


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