Number of victims: 7
Date of murders: 1986 - 1987
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Harrison Graham was well known in the Philadelphia neighborhood that he called home. The mentally challenged young man was popular with local kids for his “Cookie Monster” imitations. He was also a regular client of the local drug dealers, and was sometimes seen digging holes in vacant lots. “Graves for dogs,” he’d answer when asked what they were for.
In early August 1987, Graham had an argument with his landlord and vacated his apartment. Days later, police were called after neighbors complained about a horrendous stench coming from the residence. They arrived to find that Graham had nailed the door shut and they quickly discovered why. Inside, the apartment resembled a rubbish dump, with piles of garbage, soiled mattresses and spoiled food. The place was infested with rodents and cockroaches. But that wasn’t the source of the reek. The patrolmen soon found the decomposing corpses of two women. Four more sets of skeletal remains would be discovered by the time the filthy apartment was cleared. Another skeleton would be found hidden on the roof of the building.
A hunt was now launched for Graham and it didn’t take long to find him. On August 16, he handed himself over at a local police station. Under interrogation, he confessed to seven murders, all committed in the last eighteen months. All of the victims were drug addicted women who he lured to his squalid apartment for sex.
Surprisingly, given his state of mental health, Graham was ruled fit to stand trial. In April 1988, he was given one term of life imprisonment and six death sentences. He was later ruled incompetent to be executed, meaning he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
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