Robert Berdella was a strange kid who wore thick, black rimmed glasses before he was five. He did well enough in school but he was bullied by his classmates.
When he was just 16, his father died of a heart attack. His mother quickly remarried. Robert resented it and withdrew, becoming a loner of sorts.
Robert Berdella Becomes A Chef
In 1967, Robert enrolled in the Kansas City Art Institute and pursued a career as a chef. It was during this time that torture and murder reared it's ugly head. Three times. First Robert tortured a duck and then a chicken. Then came the dog. This time he added sedatives and tranquilizers to enhance the experience. In 1969, he was kicked out of college after killing a dog, that he said was for the sake of art. The college didn't quite see it that way.
But it made little difference to Robert and he went on to be a successful chef. He was a member of a local chefs' association and helped with a training program for aspiring chefs. He was a member of his local crime‑prevention and neighborhood‑watch associations. Life was moving along in a productive and positive direction for Robert Berdella. Or so it would appear.
Robert Berdella Makes A Sudden Shift
When Robert was 32 years old, he made some drastic changes. He revealed openly that he was gay and, for a brief time, was in a relationship with a man. He also opened 'Bob's Bizarre Bazaar' , in which he sold oddities and antiques. His relationship ended and he started spending time with male prostitutes.
In 1984, Robert drugged Jerry Howell. Jerry was one of Bob's 'friends' and a male prostitute. Robert imprisoned Jerry in his basement and repeatedly raped and tortured him throughout the night. Then he suffocated him to death.
The following year, in 1985, Robert again invited a 'friend' over to spend a few days. His name was Robert Sheldon. Just as with Jerry, Robert drugged his friend and held him prisoner in his basement. And, just as with the man before him, Robert Sheldon suffered repeated rape and torture. But this time it would last over several days and nights, not just one, before he too was finally suffocated.
The Killings Began To Escalate
Next came Mark Wallace, who had helped Robert Berdella with yard work. Like the two men before him, Mark would be drugged and dragged to the basement. After hours of unspeakable torture, he was killed in the same fashion as those before him.
Next came James Ferris, a gay man he met at a bar and invited him home. After weeks of sodomy, rape and torture, he too was killed.
Then came Todd Stoops. This man was held captive for six weeks, then murdered as the others were.
Larry Pearson would be next. After bailing the man out of jail and holding him captive in the basement, Robert Berdella would be beat until unconscious. Later he would be suffocated by means of a plastic bag and cord.
The Torture Tactics of Robert Berdella
During the course of confinement, Robert Berdella would inject the victims vocal cords with drain cleaner and puncture their anal canals with his fist or large objects.
He would apply bleach to their eyes and electric shock to their bodies. One man suffered through Robert actually trying to gauge his eye out just so he could see what would happen.
In 1988, Robert Berdella abducted a male prostitute. His name was Chris Bryson. Like the others, Chris was drugged and taken to the basement of Robert's house. And, just like the others, unspeakable horrors befell him at the hands of his captor.
The One That Got Away
One afternoon, while Robert was away at work, Chris managed to free himself and escape by jumping out of a window. He fled to a nearby neighbors house. He was naked, save but for the dog collar that was locked around his throat. They quickly called 911 and Chris told them everything.
The Kansas City Butcher
The torture chamber in Robert Berdella's house was revealed, as were the hundreds of pictures of all of the victims taken with a Polaroid camera. Several, methodical and meticulously kept tortures logs were also discovered. Every sadistic perversion applied to his victims was documented in perfect, disgusting detail.
Some remains of his victims were scattered in shallow graves about his property. For the majority of his victims however, Robert Berdella, now dubbed The Kansas City Butcher
, would place the dead man in the bathtub and slash his body open, allowing the blood to gush from the corpse and down the drain. Then he would dismember his victim, load the parts into garbage bags and simply toss it out for the garbage men to collect. Several of the heads were buried and a few were stashed in the house on the second floor. None of the victims bodies were ever able to be recovered.
Not A Serial Killer
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Robert Berdella gave a full confession. He also said, that as a youngster, he had watched a movie that had made a lasting impression on him. That movie was The Collector.
Robert also added that he did not understand why he was being considered a serial killer. He was a good human being who had done some bad things.
He was given two life sentences without parole. Robert Berdella died at age 43 of a heart attack after serving only 4 years.
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