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Serial killers are some of the most studied people in jails. They hold a strangely macabre fascination for many of us who just can't comprehend how someone could torture and murder an innocent victim. Gruesome as their crimes are, it's really hard to wrap one's mind around how their minds work, or what goes through their heads.
Unsurprisingly, many serial killers spend their time in jail writing — because, let's face it, there's not much else to do. If you've ever wanted to see a small glimpse into the inner workings of a serial killer's mind, you can do so by reading what they've written behind bars.
Most books by serial killers are hard to find, especially those that were self-published. The following books by killers are commonly circulated, and are definitely worth the read.
Son of Hope: The Prison Journals of David Berkowitz by David Berkowitz
This is one of several books by serial killers that had a major impact in the world. David Berkowitz was offered a huge sum of money to write his story, which caused the passing of "Son of Sam Laws" throughout the US as a way to ensure that killers don't profit off their crimes — and that the proceeds go to victims' families.
Son of Hope gives readers a good look at what life behind bars is like for one of the most intelligent and psychotic killers in American history. It is also the tale of how Berkowitz found God behind bars, and how he copes with the fact that he killed a bunch of people.
While it's technically Christian lit, it's still a pretty good book to read, especially if you want to see a person's life in the aftermath of going on a killing spree.
The Strange Case of H.H. Holmes by John Boroski
Technically, The Strange Case of H.H. Holmes wasn't one of the weirder books written by serial killers. However, it does have the real written confessions of Herman W. Mudget — also known as H.H. Holmes, one of America's first serial killers — in it.
This book, which is a compilation of a number of different primary sources, offers a seriously good look into what made Mudget into a killer. More impressively, Mudget's own autobiography is featured within the pages of this book, and also talks about how he felt he had committed the perfect murder.
For people who want to see what it was like to be a killer in the Victorian Era, The Strange Case of H.H. Holmes is indispensable. Few books are as excellent in detailing what life was like for one of America's most notorious serial killers, and that's what makes this book so fascinating.
The Gates of Janus by Ian Brady
Many of the books written by serial killers often seem like they are pleas for help, but not The Gates of Janus. In this book, the "Moors Murderer," Ian Brady, looks into serial killing in an icy, factual, and analytical manner that few can really do.
The Gates of Janus is criminal psychology done by a bloodthirsty criminal — way before Dexter even ran its first episode. In The Gates of Janus, child killer and rapist Ian Brady takes a look at about a dozen other serial killings and analyzes them through his own eyes as a violent crime expert.
To date, not many books (if any) offer an analysis of other serial criminals from someone who was a real-life serial killer. So, if you're looking to learn how a killer's mind really works, The Gates of Janus will be a bone-chillingly honest look into the dark inner world of serial killers' minds.
The Making of a Serial Killer: The Real Story of the Gainesville Murders in the Killer's Own Words by Danny Rolling
Danny Rolling is the most infamous serial killer to live in Florida since Ted Bundy, and is currently incarcerated for the murders of five different people. He is, by every definition, a classic case of a serial killer — and in The Making of a Serial Killer, Rolling explains how he became a monster in his own words.
Rolling discusses why he killed his victims, what went through his mind, and how he currently struggles to come to terms with what he did now that he's in jail. This book is seriously disturbing, and to keep the authenticity of his writing intact, has a lot of spelling errors.
That being said, many people claim that The Making of a Serial Killer is a book meant to drum up sympathy for the devil, as he discusses his childhood abuse as a reason for his becoming a killer. However, it's hard to tell if it's a sympathy ploy, or not.
Is it a play to gain sympathizers, or is it an honest-to-God reflection into what made him into a murderer? No one will ever know the truth, except for Danny Rolling himself, and his ex/co-writer, Sondra.
Final Truth: Autobiography of a Serial Killer by Donald H. Gaskins
Pee Wee Gaskins, as he's more commonly called, was a serial killer who murdered a total of 13 people by a variety of different methods, including stabbing, drowning, and strangulation. Prior to his execution in 1991, Gaskins was known as "the meanest man in America," due to his insane levels of cruelty.
Final Truth is an autobiography and a confessional of Pee Wee Gaskins's life, where he claims to have killed as many as 110 victims. How did he do it? Why did he do it? As far as books written by serial killers go, it's hard to get more graphic or more disturbing than what Gaskins managed to write.
Killer Fiction: Stories that Convicted the Ex-Cop of Murder by G.J. Schaefer
One of the most alarming books written by serial killers would have to be Killer Fiction, primarily because it's a book written by a former cop who had at least two confirmed kills. However, criminologists believe that his kills were much, much higher — and that yes, he was an official serial killer.
This compilation of "fiction" stories and grotesquely violent artwork are the same ones that got Schaefer put behind bars. As such, this is both courtroom evidence and a terrifying look into what mass murderers tend to think about.
Seriously, though, how did no one notice the "art-related" signs that this guy was a serial killer in the making?
Fun Trivia Fact: Sondra London, Danny Rollings' ex-fiancee, and co-writer, also dated Schaefer and helped him author Killer Fiction. (And you thought you had bad taste in men?)