Netflix has another hit on its hands with "Mindhunter." The David Fincher-produced show follows two fictional FBI agents, Holden Ford and Bill Tench, played by Jonathon Groff and Holt McCallany, respectfully, as they set out to create the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit. The unit, which you have probably heard of from TV and film, that profiles and investigates serial killers. One of the coolest aspects of the show is the interviews the two agents hold with four different serial killers, Ed Kemper, Monte Rissell, John Brudos and Richard Speck. While the agents are characters loosely based on the real agents that created the unit, the serial killers are not just characters on the show, they are based directly on real killers, using their real names
Edmund Emil Kemper III is the first killer we meet along with the agents on the show. Played brilliantly by Cameron Britton, Ed Kemper is creepy, intelligent, well-spoken and terrifying. In real life, he is the same way. Kemper's first crime was the murder of his grandparents in 1964 when he was just 15 years old. He was sentenced to 5 years in an institution and while he was inside, his doctors were torn on how to diagnose him. He seemed to have no remorse for his crime, but he also fully appreciated the gravity of it. They had not seen anything like him. He was paroled at age 21, against the advice of his doctors.
Once out of prison, he went to live with his mother near Santa Cruz, CA. His relationship with his mother was bad before and it only got worse, though he continued to live with her and attended a nearby community college. He also started picking up young female hitchhikers. While he didn't start murdering them right away, he did start preparing for it. He estimates that he picked up 150 hitchhikers during this time. This would eventually become part of his pattern.
Beginning in May of 1972 and lasting 11 months, Kemper picked up, murdered, and mutilated --including performing necrophilia with the corpses - at least ten women. Eventually, in April of '73 he murdered his mother and a friend of hers and then called the police and turned himself in. The brutality of the murders and Kemper's sexual motives left investigators disgusted and dumbfounded. Rarely had anyone seen someone like "Big Ed," as he was known by the Santa Cruz police. He was convicted of 10 murders and sentenced to life in the California Medical Facility for prisoners -- though the jury requested that he be sentenced to "death by torture." Big Ed really disgusted people.
Today is still incarcerated at the California Medical Facility and is considered a model prisoner.
Ford and Tench next meet and interview Montie Rissell, played by Sam Strike, who is almost the opposite of Kemper. Where Kemper is fastidious and intelligent; Rissell is uncouth and impulsive. Rissell is famous in crime circles because he started committing his brutal crimes -- mostly rape -- at such a young age. He raped for the first time at the age of 14. Then, between 1973 and 1974, Rissell raped and murdered 5 women, but the police had trouble pinning the crimes on him because he had an incredible alibi: he was incarcerated in a mental institution at the time.
It turns out, Rissell would make short escapes, commit his crimes and return to the institution before anyone knew he was gone, one time even committing a rape in the parking lot of the institution.
Today, Rissell is serving 5 life sentences at the Pocahontas State Correctional Center in Pocahontas, Virginia.
Jerry Brudos is introduced in the 4th episode of the season. Like Ed Kemper, Brudos was a brutal serial killer and necrophiliac. On the show, he is played by actor Happy Anderson.
Brudos was known as the Shoe Fetish Slayer because he kept the shoes of his female victims as trophies and had a sexual fetish for women's shoes in general that went all the way back to his early childhood. He committed his first crime, sexual assault, at age 17. He served 9 months in an institution where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Brudos was released after 9 months and began to live what was, on the surface at least, a normal life. He graduated high school, got a job as an electrician, got married in 1961 and had two kids. But there was a dark underlayer. At night Brudos was sneaking out and going on theft sprees, stealing women's shoes and lingerie out of their homes. He kept them all in his garage, along with a couple of bodies of young women he had murdered once he escalated to that in 1968. Between '68 and '69, Brudos murdered 4 women, with witnesses reporting having seen a large man dressed in women's clothing. His sick fetishes escalated too and he would pleasure himself after he killed the women, using their shoes as an aid.
Brudos was arrested in '69 and confessed to the crimes, though he spent the rest of his time in prison denying them. He was sentenced to life in prison and in 2006, he died of cancer at a prison in his hometown of Salem, Oregon.
The final killer the agents meet is technically not a serial killer. By definition, Richard Speck, played by Jack Erdie, was a spree killer. In one night, Speck broke into an apartment on the south side of Chicago in July of 1966 and murdered eight nurses in a fit of rage. He held the nurses in one of the bedrooms in their townhouse that served as a dorm for nurses from a nearby hospital, and one by one he brought the nurses out, tortured them and murdered them. He raped the last victim before strangling her. One nurse lived by hiding under a bed for 8 hours while the horror played out. Speck was a career criminal and likely sociopath whose violent tendencies were ferociously released that night in 1966.
Speck died in prison in 1991.
Spree killers like Speck are different than serial killers in that their murderous rampages are all part of a single event. Serial killers' murderers are separated over time, sometimes days, some times weeks, sometimes, like the case of Dennis Rader, "The BTK Killer," years.
At the opening of each episode, there is a brief look into the life of a man in Kansas. The scenes are usually only a minute or so long, but over the course of the series, it becomes clear that the show is introducing the infamous BTK Killer, whose real name is Dennis Rader and is played by actor Sonny Valicenti. Each scene shows Rader going a little bit more crazy and of him preparing for what would eventually be 10 murders over 16 years in Sedgewick County, Kansas, beginning, as reflected on the show, in 1974. The BTK Killer, which stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill," was among the very first serial killers that the Behavioral Science Unit identified while in the midst of their killings, but he would not be apprehended until 2005.
In addition to the 4 killers that the investigators meet and the scenes with Dennis Rader, there are another bunch of infamous serial killers mentioned on the show.
First in the timeline of the show, David Berkowitz, The "Son Of Sam," has just been arrested and charged with his murders, which occurred in New York City in 1977. Berkowitz is shown a number times on televisions in news reports.
Charles Manson, who led the terrifying Manson Family, is also discussed a number of times as someone that they would really like to interview.
In passing the agents mention four other killers, but go into little detail: Gerald Schaefer, Posteal Laskey aka "The Cincinnati Strangler," Herbert Mullin and Vaughn Greenwood, known as the "Skidrow Slasher." I guess we'll have to wait for season 2 before we meet some of these other monsters.
Brainjet is devoted to providing you with all of the craziest, most eye-opening, and overall most interesting information out there.