Ann Rule: Revealing the Strangers Beside Us
The Andy Stack Trilogy
In an unusual move, Rule's agent advised her to continue to write under her pseudonym for the next few books rather than under her real name. She had gotten a contract to write three books on serial killers, but the advance for those had been low. "When those came out, The Stranger Beside Me was doing very well, so my agent said that these books got such small advances I should not put my name on them. I stayed with 'Andy Stack,' but after a while I put them under my real name and they sold much better."
The three books were The Lust Killer, The Want-Ad Killer and The I-5 Killer, and all featured men with a hidden vicious side.
Jerry Brudos, in The Lust Killer, had two strong emotions: hatred for his mother and a sexual attraction to women's shoes and underwear. He'd steal shoes from neighbors' homes, and by age 17, he was in court for attacking a girl. Eventually he honed his skill at stalking women and knocking them down to get their shoes. Then he stole women's underclothing and began to dress up. He took pictures of himself, which he kept in his home.
Then he raped and strangled a door-to-door saleswoman, and she was the first of five murder victims in Oregon. He took photos of his hapless victims before and after he killed them.
More brutal was Harvey Louis Carignan, who avoided the hangman's noose in 1949, only to kill again. Rule wrote about him in The Want-Ad Killer, released in 1983. He hated women, although he married twice, but both marriages fell apart. In 1973 in Washington State, he used a hammer to bludgeon to death Kathy Miller after she answered an ad for employees at his service station. He went to California, where more women turned up dead, and then moved to the Midwest.
Although he assaulted and raped a number of women, including two girls who were hitchhiking to Minneapolis, his next murder victim was someone with whom he was romantically involved. Right after she tried to end the relationship, she disappeared. When her body was found over a month later, it was determined that her killer had used a hammer to crush her skull.
Carignan liked his hammers. He used one end to rape women and the other to batter them to death. When several states coordinated their efforts, he was arrested. Among his possessions was a map with 180 locations circled in red. Some were associated with unsolved murders or assaults.
A more recent string of murders along the coast from California to Oregon inspired the third book in this trilogy. The 1-5 Killer found his female victims along Interstate 5, and he came to public attention in 1981 when one shooting victim survived. He also broke into homes at random to rape and kill.
When police turned up a lead on a sex offender named Randall Woodfield, they found evidence linking him to several victims. Despite the fact that he had been a top student and a good-looking athlete with professional football prospects, this 30-year-old man clearly had troubles. As young as he was, he'd raped over 50 women and estimates of his murders ranged from four to two dozen.
In the early fifties, there were no databases through which law enforcement could make quick links with geographically mobile killers, but an LAPD homicide detective named Pierce Brooks was looking into that. He'd worked on a case of a serial killer who'd placed lonely-hearts ads to lure women, and he believed that this man might have done something similar in other places. So he went to the library and did a newspaper search, looking for similar killings. Then he went to his police chief and asked for a computer to help him more efficiently match cases. However, computers at that time were as big as a building so it wasn't feasible. Yet he didn't give up. In 1982, Brooks got the U.S. Department of Justice to host a conference at Sam Houston State University, and that's when VI-CAP, the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, was born.
Brooks read The Stranger Beside Me and he called Rule to invite her to serve on the task force. "So I went down there three or four times," she says, "and worked with the men who had caught the Son of Sam, Correll Eugene Watts, and other infamous serial killers. My job was to help prepare the questionnaire that would go out to police departments to get minute details of crimes that appeared to be done in a serial pattern. I also testified before the Senate judiciary subcommittee and did a lot of PR work about the need for VI-CAP."
It was decided that the FBI would run the program out of Quantico and in 1985, Brooks became its first director. Since then, VI-CAP has helped to link hundreds of cases and locate numerous killers.
Yet it's not just violent or sociopathic men that inspire Rule's tales. In fact, she finds herself more drawn to the twisted ways of the female psychopath.