Tsutomu Miyazaki: deeply disturbed Japanese serial killer who practiced cannibalism and necrophilia on his young victims.
Joseph Duncan III : paedophilic killer who wiped out an entire family to get to the object of his desire, an 8-year-old girl.
Erno Soto: a deadly phantom who preyed on the children of Harlem and went by the terrifying sobriquet “Charlie Chop-off.”
Jeanne Weber: the babysitter from Hell. Weber strangled to death 10 children left in her care.
Robert Black: a remorseless child killer who sexually assaulted and murdered at least three little girls and may have killed many more.
Gordon Stewart Northcott: axe murderer from the 1920’s who tortured, sexually abused and murdered young boys.
Marc Dutroux: kidnapped six young girls and held them as sex slaves, eventually killing two and allowing two to starve to death.
Marcelo Costa de Andrade: sex fiend and necrophile who targeted slum children in Rio de Janeiro, killing 14 in just eight months.
Arthur Gary Bishop: repulsive paedophile who murdered five young boys, drowning, bludgeoning and strangling them to death.
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Westley Allan Dodd
Like most serial killers, Westley Allan Dodd showed an interest in sex from an early age. He was just 13 years old when he began exposing himself to younger children, standing at an upstairs window at his home and flashing them as they walked by. That inevitably led to complaints being lodged with the police, but the result was little more than a reprimand. Unperturbed, Dodd took his show on the road. He began cruising the neighborhood on his bicycle, flashing any young kid he encountered. When the police again came knocking, Dodd's father agreed to have a "father-son chat" with the boy.
Whether or not that conversation actually happened, it seems to have had little impact on young Westley. A year after the flashing incident, his parents divorced and he went to live with his father. At around this time, his deviant behavior escalated from flashing to sexual assault.
At first, Dodd molested the children close to him. An 8-year-old cousin and her 6-year-old brother were first, then the children of a woman his father was dating. But Dodd soon cast a wider net. He began volunteering to babysit neighborhood kids. Later, he became a camp counselor. All the while, he tweaked and perfected his M.O. He learned, for example, that it was easy to manipulate children into inappropriate behaviors by posing those behaviors as a dare or a game. He played on the natural curiosity that children have, on their uncertainty and their desire to act “grown-up.” He also became an expert at concealing his crimes, using intimidation or convincing his young victims to keep the abuse a secret.
Inevitably, though, some of the children did report him. By the age of 15, Dodd had already accumulated several arrests for inappropriate behavior with minors. Yet, amazingly, he was never prosecuted. In each case, the authorities decided on counseling rather than incarceration.
By the age of 18, Dodd had already molested over 250 children. And his perverted lust was nowhere near to being sated. He was constantly on the hunt, constantly looking for new victims. As yet, though, he'd never used violence against a child. That would change.
In September 1981, Dodd enlisted in the US Navy. He would later claim that he'd joined the military in order to quell his unrelenting lust for children. However, military life did nothing to control his appetites. While stationed at Bangor, Washington, he started preying on kids living on the base. Then he began making excursions into Seattle, accosting children in movie theater bathrooms and amusement arcades. By now, he'd started using money as an enticement. He would offer a reward to a child to help him look for a lost item, lure him to a secluded area, and then attack. One time, he offered $50 to some boys to join him in his motel room for a game of strip poker. The boys reported the incident and Dodd was arrested, although he was later released with a warning.
But Dodd's luck was not going to last forever. The next time he appeared before a judge charged with indecent assault, he earned 19 days in jail. It was no more than a slap on the wrist, but enough to see his military career brought to an abrupt end. Discharged from the Navy early in 1984, Dodd stepped up his pursuit of young boys. In May 1984, he received a suspended sentence for molesting a 10-year-old. It did nothing to discourage his nefarious activities.
Dodd's life had by now become a perpetual hunt for victims (or "targets," as he described them in his diaries). He moved into an apartment building with lots of young families, he took jobs at fast food restaurants and became a driver for various charities, which required him to call on homes to pick up donations. If he spotted a boy he liked, he would write down the address, and later return to cruise the neighborhood, hoping to catch the child alone.
Such was his need that he also took huge risks by attacking children who were known to him. He once abused a co-worker's son on a fishing trip; he repeatedly molested a neighbor's two and four-year-olds. When the mother found out she confronted Dodd, although she declined to press charges for fear of traumatizing her children further.
In 1986, Dodd moved to Seattle and was soon stalking the streets of his new hometown. His initial attempts, however, met with failure, the city kids perhaps more adept at spotting a predator than his earlier victims. Frustrated, Dodd resolved to use force with his next target if necessary. When he went hunting again, he was carrying a length of rope. And the act of subduing and restraining his target had an unexpected impact on Dodd. He found it sexually stimulating. From that point on, he began fantasizing about murder.
“The more I thought about it,” he'd later recount, “the more exciting the idea of murder sounded. I planned many ways to kill a boy. Then I started thinking of torture, castration, and even cannibalism.”
So it was, that in 1987, Westley Allan Dodd began planning his first murder. His intended victim was an 8-year-old he'd met while working as a security guard. Dodd drove to the area where the boy lived and tried to lure him to an isolated stretch of woodland by telling him that he needed his help to find a lost child. But the boy must have sensed that Dodd was dangerous. He insisted on going home to fetch a toy for the child. Once there he told his mother what had happened. Dodd was arrested, but the charge was not a serious one, and the sentence was correspondingly light. Dodd spent only 118 days in jail.
The following year, 1989, Dodd moved to Vancouver, Washington, and immediately started scouting the places where kids hung out. David Douglas Park, located about a mile from his new apartment, seemed like a good hunting ground. Before long, Dodd was walking the dirt paths and wooded areas, marking out isolated spots where kids might wander. In his diary he wrote,
“David Douglas Park is a good place for rape and murder.”
But Dodd's initial hunting expeditions all came up empty. By Labor Day weekend 1989, he was growing increasingly frustrated. Having spent the whole of Saturday and Sunday trawling the park without finding any likely victims, he returned again on Monday, September 3. He was carrying with him a murder kit – a large knife and some shoestrings to tie up his victims.
But, as on the previous two days, Dodd was unable to find a victim, at least, one that could be taken without risk. By 6:15 p.m., he was aggravated and ready to quit and head home. That was when he spotted two boys racing their bicycles along a path.
Cole Neer, 11, and his brother, William, 10, were late for dinner and had decided to take a shortcut through David Douglas Park on their way home. As they sped along the dirt path, a man suddenly appeared from the bushes and stepped in front of them, holding up his hand in a "stop" gesture. The boys came skidding to a halt and then dismounted their bikes when the man told them to. He spoke with such authority that the boys were sure he must be a policeman, or perhaps a park official. When he ordered them to follow him into the bushes, they obediently did so. Before long they were deep into the undergrowth and no longer visible from the path. Then the man came to a stop and turned towards them. He was holding something in his hand.
Dodd ordered the boys to lay down their bikes and then to stand back to back. He then tied their hands with the bootlaces. Having secured the boys, he said that he was going to have to pull down their pants. Perhaps to protect his younger brother, Cole agreed to do it. Dodd then began molesting Cole, all the while promising that he'd let them go once he was done. He then started on Billy, but the younger boy began crying so hard that Dodd was forced to stop and turn his attention to Cole again. Then, after what must have seemed an eternity to his young victims, he cut them loose and told them they could go. “There's just one more thing,” he said as the boys picked up their bicycles. Neither boy had seen the knife in his hand right up until the moment that it arced through the night air and buried itself in Billy's stomach.
Cole Neer barely had time to comprehend what was happening when he too was stabbed, the blade slicing through his flesh under the ribcage. With Dodd's attention temporarily diverted, Billy seized his opportunity and ran, while Dodd plunged the knife twice more into his brother's prostate form and then followed. He caught the mortally wounded Billy before he made it to the road. “I'm sorry!” Billy cried, as the killer stabbed him twice more and then fled into the night.
Billy Neer was found soon after by a passerby. He was rushed to hospital, but it was too late. The vicious knife attack had snuffed out his young life. The boys' father had meanwhile been searching the neighborhood for them and had called in the police when that search proved unsuccessful. A search was immediately launched, spreading out to cover the path Billy and Cole would have taken. They found Cole in the woods, lying dead on the ground where Dodd had left him.
While the Neer family mourned their murdered sons and the parents of Vancouver banded together to protect their children, Westley Dodd was already contemplating his next crime. The murders of Cole and Billy had left him both exhilarated and frustrated. The killings had thrilled him much more than molesting children had ever done. But there were things he had wanted to do to his victims, things he hadn't got the chance to do. Next time would be different. And he was absolutely certain that there would be a next time. As he sat recording his thoughts in his diary he knew one thing for sure. He wanted to kill again.
Toward the end of October, the compulsion that had been building up in Westley Allen Dodd had become so powerful that he could no longer ignore it. He decided to go hunting again. David Douglas Park, however, was out of the question, as was the whole of Vancouver. The shockwaves from the Neer murders had still not dissipated. The city was in a state of virtual lockdown. Not that Dodd was going to let that stop him. On Saturday, October 28, he drove to Portland, Oregon, just over the bridge from Vancouver, and started trawling.
Dodd's first stop was at Oaks Park, where he approached a little boy and was chased off by the child's father. Next, he passed by the Richmond School but found the playgrounds abandoned. Finally, he tried his luck at a movie theater but failed to lure any of the children he approached. With frustration growing, he decided to call off his hunt until the next day.
On Sunday, October 29, Dodd returned to the playground of the Richmond School. There he spotted four-year-old Lee Iseli, sitting atop a slide, watching some older kids playing football. Dodd approached the child and smiled. “Hi,” he said to the blonde toddler. “You want to have some fun and make some money?”
The child appeared uncertain. He shook his head. “Come on,” Dodd coaxed, still smiling. He held out his hand and Lee took it. Then, as they approached Dodd's car, Lee froze and said he didn't want to go. Dodd reassured him by saying that he'd been sent by Lee's father to pick him up. That seemed to convince the child and he got into the vehicle. As they drove off, Lee told Dodd that he was going in the wrong direction, that he lived the other way. “Don't worry,” Dodd said, “We're going to my house to have some fun.”
Back at the school grounds, Lee's older brother had broken off from his football game long enough to notice that the toddler was missing. He and his friends then carried out a frantic search before he ran home to tell his father that Lee had disappeared. A distraught Robert Iseli immediately called the police and a search was launched. Ultimately, it would prove fruitless.
We know the horrific details of Lee Iseli's death only because Westley Alan Dodd was so forthcoming in his later confession. With obvious relish, he described to investigators how he had tied the child up and molested him, recording meticulous details in his diary and with Polaroid photographs. When Lee began to cry, Dodd took him to K-Mart where he bought him a toy and to McDonalds for a meal.
Back at the apartment, he continued molesting Lee throughout the night, breaking off only to make sickening entries in his diary. “He suspects nothing now. Will probably wait until morning to kill him. That way his body will be fairly fresh for experiments after work. I'll suffocate him in his sleep when I wake up for work.”
Not content with that, he took to taunting the child. When the boy dozed off, Dodd woke him. “I'm going to kill you in the morning,” he said. “No, you won't!” Lee cried.
But Dodd had already decided. Realizing that it was a risk to leave Lee alone in his apartment, he strangled the child, then hung his body in a closet with a leather belt. He recorded all of this with his Polaroid camera and then calmly left the apartment to go to work. When he returned that evening, he loaded Lee's tiny body into his car and drove to Vancouver Lake where he dumped it in the undergrowth. Later he burned the child's clothing in a barrel in his backyard, all except for Lee's little Ghostbusters underwear, which he kept as a souvenir.
On the morning of November 1, 1989, a man walking near Vancouver Lake discovered Lee's body and called it in. Within minutes, the area was crawling with police officers, some of them close to tears at the little corpse so callously discarded, others shaking with rage. “What could a four-year-old do to make someone kill him?” one of the officers was heard to comment. “Who would do such a thing?”
The answer to that question lay just a few miles away. Westley Alan Dodd was still basking in the glow of his atrocious acts, writing in his diary and masturbating over his horrendous Polaroid collection. He was also busy constructing a torture rack out of boards and ropes. Already, he was planning his next crime.
On November 13, 1989, Dodd was at the New Liberty Theater in Camas, Washington. He wasn't here to watch a movie, though. He was hunting. After a while, he spotted a likely target, a young boy walking up the aisle toward the lobby. Dodd waited until the child passed, then got out of his seat and followed him into the restroom. A moment later he emerged, carrying the shrieking and kicking 6-year-old over his shoulder.
Theater employees initially thought that it was just a kid throwing a tantrum, but the child's persistent cries of "Help me! Help me!" disturbed them and they ran after Dodd, who had by now reached his car and was fumbling for his keys while trying to restrain the boy. As Dodd spotted the approaching movie theater employees, his attention must have wavered for a moment because the boy managed to wriggle out of his grasp and run back towards the theater. He made it just as his stepfather, Ray Graves, entered the lobby looking for him.
Graves paused just long enough in the lobby to hear what had happened. Then he sprinted out of the theater after Dodd. He caught the killer trying to start his car. Grabbing Dodd by the neck, he dragged him out of the car and back to the theater. Staff meanwhile had called the police, and they arrived to take Dodd into custody.
Dodd had been caught red-handed trying to kidnap a child and with three recent child murders in the area, detectives immediately started pressing him regarding the Neer brothers and Lee Iseli. He initially denied any involvement in the murders, but after less than an hour of interrogation, he cracked and admitted that he had killed the three boys.
Dodd was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one of attempted kidnapping. Initially, he entered not guilty pleas to each of the charges, but in January 1990, he changed his pleas to guilty, saying that he wanted to die. After listening to excerpts from his diary and viewing the sickening photographs he had taken of Lee Iseli, the jury had no problem in granting his wish.
Westley Allan Dodd died on the gallows at Washington's Walla Walla Prison on January 5, 1993. There have been few killers in history who have been more deserving of that fate.
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