I don’t know what it is about us that makes us kill so much. And when I say “us” I mean Americans. Or do I mean men? Or do I mean Chicagoans? Man, I don’t even know any more. But I was recently talking to my “female friend” who’s currently out of state and spending every waking moment trying to move back here to her hometown, Chicago. I went through a similar thing myself a few years back and had to return to the city-hence the title of the blog. She and I also have another thing in common; we both have an interest in “true crime” type stories. And luckily for us we’re from Chicago, because if there’s one thing we’ve got done pat, aside from our deep dish pizza, is killing people!
So this week the media is on its way to way to labeling the Northern Illinois University gunman, Steven Kazmierczak, who killed 5 students and himself in Dekalb a week back the “Zombie Killer.” Turns out he was on medication and his girlfriend, Jessica Baty, now has the unpleasant task of explaining to news organization which medicines and why he stopped taking them. According to this Sun Times story he was “taking anti-depressants, he also was taking an anti-anxiety medication and a sleep aid.” So that’s a mouthful right? The killer had stopped taking the Prozac, because it made him feel “like a Zombie,” and thus an official Killer Name is born.
When the event fist happened I wrote my small piece about the incident, because it happened on the same day as the original Valentine’s Day Massacre (also here in Chicago). But when I began to think about all the various mass murderers and serial killer I could recall, without really taxing my memory, it dawned on me that so MANY of them were from the city that it kind of teetered out of the coincidence barrel and into the weird barrel. The guy that just killed 5 women in Tinley Park (that’s also on the South Side) I’m going to exclude for this piece because those murders were committed in the process of a robbery-but hey its still murder. But back to the NIU killer Steven Kazmierczak. Even his name on paper kind of catches your eye because it resembles another local homicidal ex-student Ted Kaczynski, also known as, the Unabomber.
Ted, you may or may not recall, was a guy who lived in a shack in the woods of Montana but made the occasional trip out of the woods to his local post office. Then he would send homemade, handcrafted, meticulously premeditated bombs to universities, airlines, and an assortment of various companies and individuals. What you may NOT know is that not only is he from Chicago, but the South Side-where I was born, lived and now live again. His childhood home is literally closer to me than my local steak house. And I learned all these facts from reading possibly one of the best books on Kaczynski ever written. It was done by Chris Waits, a guy whose land Kaczynski lived on in Montana.
So since we’re talking about the South Side, something happened out here about a year before I was born. It was brutal and as a kid I’d hear people referring to it all the time. A man named Richard Speck broke into a nurse’s dorm and had a rape/killing spree. Ted Bundy would later emulate this attack with a sorority house in Florida. Specks murders happened walking distance from my current house. Hurray.
For those of you who aren’t regular readers of my blog, one of the things I’m doing is renovating this house. But you know who also was big into home renovation? John Wayne Gacy. Here in Chicago when I was a kid, I had a front side seat and watched as the Gacy crimes were both discovered and investigated over a period of years. And then there was the trial, followed by the gradually released details of the kidnapping/rape/murders. Who names their kid John Wayne? I guess they wanted him to have a glow of fame around him (actually he was a Jr., so his dad was named John Wayne too). Another odd twist is Brian Dennehy, Chicago native, played him in the TV movie.
Hey, speaking of kidnapping/rape/murders how many of you have heard of Henry Lee Lucas? Well did you see the movie “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”? He was at one point listed as the most prolific serial killer in America. Ever. But many of his claims have been contested over the years, by others as well as himself. The movie was set here because he was here killing for a while.
But I leave you with one last man. A man whose volume and manor of murder are so excessive I’m not going to write too much about it. H.H.Holmes. It also happened here on the South Side of Chicago. He built an ENTIRE HOUSE to kill people. You’ve seen the Johnny Depp Sweeney Todd movie? So, you know he had a house setup too-well both these guys worked around the same time, but it is impossible to compare Holmes to any other human being beyond that one fact.