Jerry Brudos, the Lust Killer Who Killed Women for Their High Heels
Jerry Brudos was known as the Shoe Fetish Killer and the Lust Killer. He was responsible for the murder of four women and the abduction of several others.
Jerry Brudos was known as the Shoe Fetish Killer and the Lust Killer. He was responsible for the murder of four women and the abduction of several others. He was obsessed at an early age with women's clothing, especially their shoes. He would dress as a transvestite in the clothes of his victims and took the most gruesome of souvenirs.
He first started acting out his sexual fantasies at five years old. Traumatised by a controlling and violent mother, these fantasies escalated. In addition, he hated women, who he believed all represented his mother. These factors turned a boy obsessed with women's shoes into a violent and horrific serial killer.
Early Life of Jerry Brudos
Brudos was born on 31st January 1939 in Webster, South Dakota. Brudos was the youngest of two sons. His parents were Henry and Eileen Brudos; Eileen was not happy when she found out that she was pregnant, but still, she hoped for a daughter. Eileen was horrified as another son and emotionally and physically abusive to the young Jerry. At five years old, Jerry found a set of high heels in the local junkyard; he adored them and played with them regularly. When his mother discovered them, she told him to get rid of them; when he failed, she burnt them in front of him.
This action increased his fetish; from here, he started stealing women's clothing from the neighbours. This escalated to him mugging women in the street; the only thing he stole was their shoes. His parents placed him in many mental hospitals where psychotherapy tried to deal with his addiction as a teenager. At seventeen years old, he abducted and beat women; he threatened to stab her if she did not follow his sexual demands. He told her to take her clothes off and photographed her. He was arrested and sent to a psychiatric ward for nine months. Here he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and extreme misogyny. Despite being in the hospital, he still graduated from school in 1957.
After release from the hospital, he became an electronics technician. He also had a brief time in the military but was discharged due to bizarre obsessions. Four years later, he married a seventeen-year-old woman; they went on to have two children together. After that, they moved around, finally settling in Salem. As part of his fetish, he would make his wife do the housework naked, except for a pair of high heels; he would photograph her doing this.
Around this time, he also started complaining of migraines and blackouts. To alleviate the symptoms, he used to steal women's clothing; he would keep these in his garage; this would escalate later to him keeping women there. His wife was not permitted to enter; she was to use an intercom if she needed him. Some have suggested that she was an accomplice in the murders; she never faced any charges.
Murder for shoes
In 1967, Brudos followed a woman home as he liked her shoes. He raped her, strangled her to unconsciousness and left with the shoes. This was the start of his escalation. On 26th January 1968, Linda Slawson (19) knocked at his door selling encyclopaedias; Brudos seduced her, taking her to the garage; he then bludgeoned her to death. He removed her left foot and kept it in the freezer to model his shoe collection. Once he had finished with her, he threw her into the Willamette River; her body was never found. With all his victims, he would dress up in their clothes and committed necrophilia. He would also weigh the bodies down so that they were not easy to discover once thrown in the river.
His next victim was Jan Whitney (23); she had broken down at the side of the road. Brudos stopped on the pretence of helping her; he strangled her and had sex with her body; he removed her breasts, later covering them in resin and keeping them as a paperweight. Once he had finished with her, he tied her to a railroad iron and disposed of her body. She would not be discovered until 27th July. Victim three was eighteen-year-old Karen Sprinkler; Brudos abducted her from a car park and took her home. He raped and killed her; she was found shortly after on 12th May in the Long Tom River. Brudos tried to abduct Gloria Smith, who was fifteen; she escaped from him. It would be this mistake that was ultimately be Brudos' downfall. His final victim was Linda Salee (22); again, she was abducted from a parking lot, killed and disposed of her in the Long Tom River.
Capturing a lust killer
The police had an idea that the killer may be operating around the Oregon State University. During their enquires, women told them about a man who rang there frequently looking for girls. One girl made the brave choice to meet this man and contacted the police. On arrival, the police arrested Brudos. Gloria Smith was then asked to identify the man, which she did. This provided the police with enough evidence to gain a search warrant for his property.
When they searched his house, they found a range of incriminating evidence, including copper wire, rope and pictures of the victims. His collection of strange souvenirs was also discovered, including the paperweight. As a result, Brudos was charged with three counts of murder. Initially, he tried to claim insanity, but the police psychiatrists claimed he should face trial as he was sane and knew what he was doing. At this point, Brudos pleaded guilty to the charges and received a sentence of three consecutive life sentences.
Bruno's wife divorced him in 1970, having been cleared of any charges of conspiracy to murder. She moved states with her children and changed their names; nothing is known of her whereabouts. While incarcerated, Brudos had piles of women's shoe catalogues in his cell; he wrote to significant companies asking for them, claiming they were his substitute for pornography. Brudos himself died from cancer in prison on 28th March 2006; he was sixty-seven. At the time, he was the longest-serving prisoner at Oregon State Penitentiary. Whether he would have killed had his initial fantasies been dealt with in his younger life is unlikely?
Next article, we will look at the psychology of Brudos and whether he could have been stopped from killing.