Written by Patti Pauley
Let’s start off by asking this: What first comes to mind when you think of the 1970s? Is it the glorious rock and roll music by the likes of Bowie and Zeppelin? The groundbreaking horror films such as The Exorcist and Carrie? Is it Nixon’s weird wrinkly backwards face? I’ve asked around and these were a lot of the answers I got to the question at hand. It’s also probably safe to assume any one of these would be firstly answered by the masses. While all these facts indeed, made for a memorable and nostalgic decade for those living in that moment in time, it would also be hard to argue that it was also the decade that brought about some of the strangest and downright grisly crimes that have been recorded and publicized in not just here in America, but across the nations. The 1970s have been dubbed the official decade of The Infamous Serial Killer.
While the sixties spread the message of peace and harmony, the seventies brought the notion to live in fear. Of course, while this fear always existed prior, television media companies such as NBC, had made their imprint on the masses after covering the Kennedy assassination. Thus bringing TV as a main outlet for the goings on of the world rather than your morning paper. On top of one of the ugliest wars in American history, the Vietnam War plus the horrifying macabre happening at home, makes for a somber number of years in the history of our great nation.
The Manson Family Murders
The decade kicked off with the trial of one Charles Milles Maddox, or better known as Charles Manson. Manson’s followers, of what he dubbed the Manson family, committed a series of nine murders over a period of a short five weeks in California in the Summer of ’69. Note I said: HIS FOLLOWERS. Manson’s manipulative aura and maddening ramblings of this self-proclaimed prophet’s messages diluted the mind’s of his “family”, whom mostly consisted of naive young girls, into believing his fantastic prophecy of an impending end of the world race war. Manson convinced his followers to commit a series of murders meant to shock society and bring the free love era of the 60’s to a screeching halt; targeting the elite of Hollywood’s finest.
The home of Roman Polanski and then pregnant wife, Sharon Tate were among the most infamous and truly shocking. The massacre of Tate, writer Wojciech Frykowski and his partner, the coffee bean heiress Abigail Folger, celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, and gardener Steven Parent were among those murdered that night in such a horrific state of insanity was, indeed both horrifying and shocked the nation. The following night, Manson took his “family” to the address of a wealthy supermarket executive, Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, and were murdered as well.
As fate would have it, Manson and his crew of patsies would be arrested later in ’69 on unrelated charges and eventually the truth came to light under the coy confessions of murder by Susan Atkins, that led to one of most infamous trials of not only the 70’s, but of the century. The trial that began in June of 1970, became one of the most curious and talked about events of the decade. The strange behavior of Manson and his gal pals both bewildered and disgusted society as they often smiled and giggled during court sessions. In 1971, Manson was convicted of directing the murders of both the Tate and LaBianca victims and was sentenced to death, but was overturned later and simply left to spend his life behind bars. Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins received the same fate with death as the initial sentence, only to turn into life in prison. Atkins died while incarceration in 2009, while Krenwinkel remains behind bars today. Linda Kasabian received immunity for being the star witness in the trial.
Even with Manson incarcerated, his followers still managed to spread fear and chaos. In 1975, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme pulled a gun on President Gerald Ford in a failed assassination attempt. Not even one of the world’s most powerful leaders was safe from the growing violence of the young warped minds that seemed to be expanding in numbers.
John Wayne Gacy
Gacy is the original painted nightmare and could probably account for a decent amount of the masses’ crippling coulrophobia. The whole clown shebang aside tho, this twisted individual was every parent’s worst kid of nightmare. In the early 70s, despite some scandalous history in 1968 involving a sexual assault with two young boys, JWG was a respected member of the community, and a self-made building contractor and Democratic precinct captain in the Chicago suburbs. He organized community gatherings and was a volunteer clown performer for children’s birthday parties.
Gacy’s disturbing fetish of pedophilia became deadly in 1972. His first murder, that we know of, was that of 15-year-old Timothy McCoy, after luring the boy into his home. Although, the body of McCoy was never even identified until 1986; nearly 14 years later. Gacy’s angle was to lure the boys into his home with the promise of a construction job, sexually assault them, then eventually strangle them with a rope. On certain occasions, he would dress up as his alter ego, Pogo the Clown.
It wasn’t until December of 1978 with a police raid of Gacy’s home, did the authorities uncover evidence of the sick minded man’s horrific acts of violence against young boys and men. It was discovered Gacy had murdered 33 souls whose remains were buried underneath the house, and a few scattered by the nearby Del Plaines River. He was arrested, found guilty after a short deliberation from the jury, and sentenced to serve 12 death sentences along with 21 natural life sentences. Gacy was given a lethal injection at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois on May 10th, 1994.
Ted Bundy is the reason why normal looking people scare me. A rather good-looking young man, who did well in school, also harbored some deep-rooted psychological issues. While attending the University of Washington, Bundy met and fell head over heels with a gorgeous and wealthy young woman. They briefly dated and apparently he was so devastated from the break-up, it later reflected on his gruesome murders.
Around 1974, several women from the Seattle and Oregon areas went reported as missing. With many of his victims bearing a resemblance to his long-lost college love- attractive students with long, dark hair. The now confident in his own skin Bundy, left a pattern of raping his victims before brutally beating them to death by luring them into his car by pretending to be injured and asking for help. Later that year, Bundy moved to Utah and so did his reign of terror.
In 1975, a routine traffic stop paused the Bundy rampage. Upon inspection of the vehicle, police found a crowbar, a face mask, rope, and handcuffs. Suspected of burglary, Bundy was taken in and the authorities began the link to his sinister crimes with the help of Carol DaRonch, one of the women to actually escape the Bundy fate. He was convicted and sentenced to a one-to-fifteen-year jail sentence. A mere two years later in another trial, He was indicted on murder charges. During a trip to the courthouse, he jumped out of a window and made his first escape authorities. He was eventually caught eight days later.
In December of 1977, Bundy escaped from his prison cell out of a hole he had made in the ceiling. Police didn’t notice him missing for a shocking 15 hours, giving the serial killer a huge advantage, eventually making his way to Tallahassee, Florida. A month later in 1978, Bundy broke into a sorority house attacking four females in the residence and killing two of them. A month after that, Bundy kidnapped and killed a twelve-year old girl. Police eventually caught up with him later in February of ’78 putting a stop to the Bundy murders indefinitely.
It really isn’t known how many people Bundy had murdered. Only speculated. The only person that truly knows is Bundy himself, who met his end at the Florida State Prison on January 24, 1989 in the electric chair.
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