Jack the Joker, Jack the Knife, The Scarecrow . . . Where are they?

It seems that we can agree with the redoubtable Sherlock Holmes these days and lament that the art of criminal ingenuity is a thing of the past. It’s not so cold hearted as it sounds. It is logistically the right attitude. The cleverest of serial killers leave more clues. In their endeavor to play their battle of wits, they try and hide clues. This, of course, is a clue. That they wish to play a battle of wits is also a clue. Clues will always lead to the perp. More clues, the better.

Hear me out on this.

We are always going to have serials. Sadly, it is the truth. But those that are famous are famous because they got into the fold. They are few by number and they are easier to track. They get the public involved, as the public should be since the public are the pawns and indeed object of a serial’s game, and this drags the serial from dark shadows.

The Joker from Batman would have been far more insidious had he remained only a denizen of dark nights and a scourge of the underground. But he wanted to take on Gotham. This brought him out. This brought out his opposition. Yes, the most ingenuous of serial killers by contrast bring out the best in those that hunt them. The dragon is contrasted by St. George.

It may sound shocking to want the most ingenious serials to be the only ones. You may think– “consider the potential for unsolved cold cases!” Despite the fame of some unsolved serial killers, they are in fact few compared to the cases of serial murders you have not heard about because they are more solvable. Their ingenuity is not intelligence. They truly are not incredibly clever super villains. Their ingenuity is a necessity. It is the result of their ambition. This is what drives them. It is not a natural intelligence. It is a logistic one used to protect themselves.

From a look at the past, the boldest serials always went after the average citizen. They knew the system goes berserk when John or Jane Q. Citizen is the object of the attack. Stalkers preying on the Strip at night don’t upset society. Prostitutes are the number 1 victims of serial killers. To attack them is not to assail the pillars of society. How many are killed in a year? None of us probably have even heard of most of the murders. The victim is a certain type. The killer is a certain type. There are few clues, only very common circumstances.

The Ripper alone is the exception. But then he made a game out of it, and it escalated to trying to upset the government of England and inciting social and race riots.

You’ve heard of the famous cases because the victims were average citizens. Ed Gein, the inspiration for Norman Bates, went after decent neighbors; Gacey, the killer clown, after runaways; The Phantom of Texarkana went after necking John and Jane; so did the Zodiac Killer; and the Phantom of Colonial Parkway; The Doodler went after average to exceptional bar patrons, using one of the most unique MOs in history; EAR/ONS, the ultimate and real life Michael Myers, went after the girl next door and violated the American suburban sanctity.

There are a few others, but they are actually not many. The clever wackos seem a product of the Depression generation or shortly thereafter, and the loosened bands of the antiestablishment movement seem to have emboldened them to take on Gotham. For the ZODIAC, he did it almost in a comic strip way.

Is that what emboldened them so? It seems so. It seems they gave free rein to their evil ambition in an era that was casting off so many moral fetters. They fancied themselves above the dregs cruising the strip. They had to have more elevated victims.

By contrast the norm is hundreds and hundreds of prostitute and hitchhiker victims who have been murdered and their bodies dumped. There are so many, the MOs common and utilitarian that it is hard to tell is a serial is afoot.

In terms of any really identifiable serial killer in recent times, we have only heard of The Long Island Serial Killer. But his MO is not unique. He picks up call girls and they end up dead, in a bag, at Gilgo Beach. Only once did he try some insipid terror against one of the victim’s sister. By using his victim’s cell phone and calling her sister, he showed us he wanted more than just the thrill of killing his victims.


Not surprisingly, the Long Island Serial Killer is not really a distinct character in crime, and the local cops aren’t being remiss in not having caught him yet. There aren’t many clues that lead anywhere. The same can be said for the West Mesa Killer– though probably he is dead and, if two were involved, the other is in jail.

Kill and Dump is the MO of today. It is reserved for prostitutes and hitchhikers. Neither type of victim has a lifestyle that can easily lead to a viable suspect.

. . . But in the heyday of the counterculture hitching was common and the average girl next door did it. The ambition of evil revealed the sadistic fiend that was the Sonoma Co-Ed Killer. Because the girls were from an average background, more clues were left. None of them were the kind to get into a compromising position, if you know my meaning, for professional reasons. Thus the killer had to use drugs on some or some other enticement. Clues, clues, clues.  The pickup points and the dumping sites give us more clues.

Impress this upon your minds. This is as close as the predators are. In an era of easy and acceptable hitchhiking, the human barracudas began to swarm around where the prey was easiest. Imagine salmon migrating. There the bears will gather and step into the river to catch and eat what they will.  Average middle-class girls took to hitching to college, home, work, or to friends, and quite a few got picked off from the arteries of traffic.

Human predators abound. They have arrogant and animalistic desires. We hear so much of evolution, but the modern political claptrap is vain jangling on “equality.” Both concepts are twisted in the public forum. Equality merely means equal justice for all. It does not mean equal ethics exist, equal intelligence, or equal skills. Like highwaymen of old, human predators fester outside of our daily lives and stalk about waiting for a victim to straggle from the herd. They remain animalistic in nature, uncontrolled by any divine nature.

Those with the greatest ingenuity exercised that ingenuity for a reason. They had the greatest ambition. They are the ones who have come into the fold, disguised themselves as one of us and taken what victims they wanted, sometimes by the boldest of methods. These are the ones that frighten us. They get more news as a result, but they are a rarity. I prefer the rarity.

Today, the ambition seems to be gone, and as a result the need for the ingenuity. But the predators still abound. They don’t rate the news because they are not in the fold. But there are a few Hannibal Lectors out there who keep their complex game underground and their victims to dark shadows.

Those who independently hunt serials must bear these obscure cases in equal mind. They are as intricate and as mentally stimulating as the famous cases. I’ve heard tell of “Angelfish,” a crime noir handle if ever I heard one. More attention must be given to outing serials who have little press but a deadly tally of victims. The outing of EAR/ONS has shocked the mainstream. How has the No. 1 serial villain in history gotten lost for so long?

How many others exist? The victims and their families need attention brought to the perp. That is one problem with highlighting victims too much. It breaks the heart, yes, and it should. But little attention is given to the perp’s arrogant MO. When people realize how evil and arrogant serials are, that’s when they take notice. This is when we have taken the best step to turning the hunter into the hunted. This will either lead to his outing or the coward, as they ultimately all are, will cringe again in dark shadows and fester, afraid to play his game on the unsuspecting, unarmed, weak and straggling– the victims of all predators.

*         *          *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.


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