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What Is Meeting a Serial Killer Like?

Ever wonder whether someone you know has serial killer vibes? You might want to read what others have said meeting a serial killer is like to find out.

My partner and I believe we may know someone who is a serial killer in the making. We'll call him Gary for the sake of simplicity. Gary has a regular, respectable job in healthcare. He wears conservative clothing. In that sense, he should make people feel comfortable, right?

Clean-cut and tidy as he is, he gives us the creeps. He has this weird stare he gives women—a soulless stare with this unsettling, almost predatory expression on his face. He also seems to enjoy making people nervous, especially women.

When I first met him, he kept aggressively trying to push my partner into doing adult films. He also started to talk to me about filming, too, and that was incredibly creepy. It got to the point that my partner and I had to talk to him about it. 

We later found out that he had taken a liking to both adult film stars and certain exotic dancers that worked in the nightlife circuits we did. One girl, in particular, reached out to us terrified because Gary had somehow gotten into her medical records and talked about details of her private life he shouldn't know.

Gary's unsettling behavior has many of our clique under the impression that we might be meeting a serial killer at our parties. I, in particular, was concerned. He just didn't act normal at all.

We don't have proof, but we have this really bad gut feeling that we are dealing with someone who will eventually kill someone. I didn't want to believe it though, so I decided to see if the instances where others met killers were similar. Here's what they had to say.

Rodney Alcala won 'The Dating Game,' but the girl refused to date him because she felt creeped out by him.

"...successful photographer who got his start when his father found him in the darkroom at the age of 13, fully developed. Between takes you might find him skydiving or motorcycling." —Jim Lange, The Dating Game

One of the last places you'd ever expect to find someone meeting a serial killer is on a dating show—but that's exactly what happened in the 1970s. Serial killer Rodney Alcala, who was a rapist and serial killer known for taking photos of his victims before he killed them, was a contestant. 

Worse still, he was in the middle of his killing spree when he was invited onto the show. The television clip of his answers is pretty unnerving to watch, especially when you hear him allude to doing something pretty horrible in the night.

The other bachelors were visibly nervous around Alcala, with one of the bachelors on the show calling him a "very strange guy." Despite the bizarre answers he gave, Alcala won the contest.

His date then refused to go out with him, calling him "creepy" after she noticed his body language. Though the (very) lucky lady may have dodged a literal bullet, criminal profilers believe her rejection may have exacerbated his serial killer rage.

According to investigators, he killed three other women shortly after his Dating Game appearance. It's believed that it may have been his way to act out the rage he felt from rejection.

Debbie Harry was offered a ride by Ted Bundy, but refused because she got a bad feeling about him.

"I wiggled my arm out of the window and pulled the door handle from the outside. I don't know how I did it, but I got out. He tried to stop me by spinning the car but it sort of helped me fling myself out. Afterwards I saw him on the news. Ted Bundy." —Debbie Harry

With his devilishly handsome looks and a job at a suicide prevention hotline, it's hard to believe that a guy as seemingly respectable as Ted Bundy could possibly be a serial killer. As you probably know though, he was, and a rather vicious one at that. 

His modus operandi was feigning injury to make women drop their guards, then overpowering them until he could rape and kill them. Around 30 of Bundy's victims have been identified, with the potential for more even still being floated by police. 

Debbie Harry, of Blondie fame, claimed that she met Bundy while walking through New York City in the middle of the night. Bundy, who smelled a bit foul at the time, pulled over near her and asked her to get in the car. 

His odd insistence seemed to be out of concern, so she got in. Everything seemed fine until Harry noticed that his car was stripped bare and the door handles on the inside were removed.

She somehow managed to jump out of Bundy's car while it was moving and escaped. Had she stayed in the car, Debbie Harry would probably have been Ted Bundy's first victim.

One Redditor knew Dennis Rader as a kind man who would drive boy scouts home to protect them.

Surprisingly, not all people who recall meeting a serial killer have bad things to say about them. One Redditor, who goes by the name of drunky_crowette, remembered Rader as a member of her grandmother's church.

The thing is, Dennis Rader was known as the BTK Killer. He would bind his victims, torture them, and then, when he had decided that his victims had enough, he'd kill them. Around 10 people died at his hands, but like with other killers, the full number remains uncertain. 

This Reddit user noted that her family actually used to visit him, that he used to give her cookies, and that he seemed fairly normal. Needless to say, it's really unsettling thinking that Rader could appear so normal, isn't it?

Though it's hard to imagine how Rader was able to blend in with friends, it's actually pretty easy. He was married and had a child of his own, and that gave him the perfect "family man" cover that he needed.

Nowadays, his daughter is one of the few people we can speak of when people wonder what happens to children of famous criminals, as she openly speaks about her life after her father was arrested for his murders. How she copes is beyond me.

One girl explained that she was friends with Satanic serial killer Mike Hensley.

Meeting a serial killer doesn't always have to carry a big name to be terrifying. Or, at least, that's what we would assume it'd be like. One Reddit user by the name of crazyrockerchick explained that her family actually befriended him.

Mike Hensley was a lesser-known serial killer who murdered three girls and a Bible study teacher in the Midwest. Later on, it was also discovered that he killed a fellow inmate in prison, as well.

Crazyrockerchick's parents were the ones who decided to be friends with the guy—and she always felt like he was creepy. One day, he asked her mother to hang out. She didn't, and eventually, he backed away. 

Later on, it came to light that Hensley had killed several people, including a member of their church. Chances are that this user's mother was one of his original targets.

Jeffrey Dahmer was described as a very lonely teenager who had a tendency of acting out.

My Friend Dahmer is one of the creepiest books about serial killers, talking about what it was like to befriend a serial killer, and it's written by someone who attended high school with Jeffrey Dahmer.

Jeffrey Dahmer was one of the most insane serial killers of the 70s, and was known for his attraction to dead men. Along with killing his victims, he was known for dismembering them and eating parts of their corpses. Some even believe he may have served body parts to others!

Many of the people who knew Dahmer in high school said that something wasn't right about the way he acted. He was known for drinking heavily throughout the school day, staying very emotionless around others, and for having a pretty bad home life.

Among high schoolers, people tended to use Dahmer's outbursts as a way to cause chaos. They'd also sneak him into photos and comics, claiming it was the work of the "Jeffrey Dahmer Fan Club."

Those who did hang out with him noticed that he had violent and morbid tendencies—and so did the book's author. He was known for pickling and dissecting dead animals as a way to study "what was inside" of them.

People have mixed reviews on James Holmes.

"James Holmes did a presentation at my middle school to teach us about the brain and nervous system. He seemed really smart and he joked around really well with all of us. He was the guy that let us hold a preserved brain, if that makes sense lol. Yeah, would have never known there was anything wrong with him but I only interacted with him briefly.”—Rimbaya

James Holmes was the man who carried out the Aurora movie theater shooting that ended the lives of dozens and wounded upwards of 50 people. The once-promising biotech student was arrested and charged with mass shootings.

Redditors remember their encounters with the killer, and it seems like there are mixed reviews. User Rimbaya noted that he seemed like a perfectly normal dude who let kids hold a preserved brain. (Uhh, what?)

Mambutu_OMalley, on the other hand, didn't quite get the "perfectly normal" vibe from the guy. He explained it as such:

"I worked at university of Colorado at the same time as James Holmes (Aurora theater shooting). Had a couple friends that worked closely with him and met him once in passing. I remember thinking when I met him that there was something definitely weird about him." —Mambutu_OMalley

Another person who knew Holmes as a fellow sports team player. He believes that Holmes was mentally ill:

"My mom would sometimes give kids rides home from practice that lived nearby—he was consistently the only one that would thank her for the ride home. He was a nice, quiet, smart guy. Sometimes people just snap.” —DonnyRedcoat1776

Serial killer Fred West was known as a "lonely man" by those who knew him.

One thing that seems to stand out with all the talks about what it's like meeting a serial killer or a mass murderer is how often they're described as lonely.

Fred West, who had killed a total of 12 people, was famous for raping and killing women alongside his wife, Rosemary. Rosemary ran a prostitution ring, and at times, would also make victims into unwilling slaves.

One person whose family members knew Fred went onto Reddit to talk about what he was like. This is what Goalskjar had to say:

"My dad knew Fred West. He says that he acted like a kind man who would always offer his help. My dad was put off by how he would talk to children, especially his own.

He also thought it was weird how many men would enter Fred's house, little did he know they were having sex with his wife Rose. It still haunts him that he did not live far away from a man who tortured his own children, and is thankful that nothing ever happened to my sisters.

My grandfather also worked with Fred. He would talk about how he would always buy him coffee, in an attempt to build a friendship, which led my grandfather to think of him as friendly, but lonely; but there was obviously a much darker side to him." —Goalskjar

John Wayne Gacy was an unsettling individual who also managed to climb to the top of society nonetheless.

In his tiny suburb outside of Chicago, John Wayne Gacy was known as a pretty standup guy at first glance. He was a leader in the Boy Scouts, worked as a contractor, owned a couple of KFC franchises, and also did fundraising for the Democratic Party.

Of course, when police found the bodies of over 30 men under the floors of his basement, that illusion of a well-meaning man who played Pogo the Clown at parties faded.

What's interesting about Gacy is that he was a very well-known person in his area, which means that many locals recall meeting a serial killer in their times. 

Barry Bocelli, who was his childhood friend, explained that Gacy was a man who was seriously tormented—and plagued by anger issues. He believes that Gacy snapped when he began his killing spree.

"The tea-kettle started perking. And as it perked through his life, it got heavier and heavier until finally his rage exploded." —Barry Bocelli

Most other people who had met him in passing called him a mild-mannered man who was pretty likable, if a bit strange from time to time. People felt safe enough to invite him to their children's parties as Pogo the Clown, after all.

Gary Ridgway was actually fairly kind to those he met.

Gary Ridgway was the Green River Killer, and allegedly hunted down as many as 50 victims during his time painting trucks. He would typically find sex workers and runaways, trick them into getting into his car, rape them, kill them, and then have sex with the dead bodies. \

People who met him noted that he was deeply religious and often would read the Bible. He also was fairly quiet and kept to himself for the most part.

“I lived next to Gary Ridgway, aka the Green River Killer. Odd guy and overly friendly. Found out from my mom, who called me minutes before it broke on the news. It was so surreal. The killings were an unsolved mystery for years almost to the point of supernatural.” —Freakin_Jedi

Karla and Bernardo Homolka really did look and act like Barbie and Ken.

Canada's most terrifying serial killer couple are pretty decent proof that meeting a serial killer isn't always scary. Bernardo and Karla Homolka were known for being a couple that raped and killed underage girls for their own sexual satisfaction.

People who knew them saw them as very nice, sunny individuals. Some who knew of Karla's domestic violence problem may have also seen them as a slightly troubled duo.

One Reddit user remembered their interactions with the Homolkas as follows: 

“Karla Homolka was the veterinary technician at the vet we took our dog to. I was super young and barely remember her, though my parents said she was sunny, vibrant. You’d never expect a thing. Paul Bernardo was the same—sunny disposition.

The two of them earned the nickname of the Ken and Barbie Killers for this reason, they both seemed lovely and you’d never expect a thing. This veterinary clinic was the same place she stole tranquilizers, with which she drugged some of the victims.” —oooooooooof 
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