Jerry Brudos, (31 January 1939 – 28 March 2006) was a serial killer and a necrophiliac also known as “The Lust Killer” and “Shoe Fetish Slayer”.
Brudos was born in Webster, South Dakota. His mother had wanted a girl, and often ignored and belittled him. He had a fetish for women’s shoes from the age of five. He spent his teen years in and out of psychotherapy and state hospitals. He began to stalk local women as a teenager, knocking down or choking them unconscious, and fleeing with their shoes.
At age 17, he dug a hole and kept girls as sex slaves. Shortly after he was found out and taken to a psychiatric ward of Oregon State Hospital for nine months. There it was found his sexual fantasies revolved around his hatred and revenge against his mother and women in general.
Brudos suppressed his obsessions long enough to graduate from high school and become an electronics technician. In 1961, he married and settled in a Portland, Oregon suburb. It was at about this time, however, that he began complaining of migraine headaches and “blackouts,” relieving his symptoms with night-prowling raids to steal shoes and lace undergarments.
Between 1968 and 1969, Brudos bludgeoned and strangled four young women. The only initial evidence was witness sightings of a large man dressed in women’s clothing. Brudos kept trophies from his victims, such as amputated breasts and a foot. After committing a murder, he would dress up in high heels and masturbate.
Police investigation and interviews of local coeds led them to Brudos, who confessed to the murders in detail. He was charged with three counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
While incarcerated, Brudos had piles of women’s shoe catalogues in his cell — he wrote to major companies asking for them — and claimed they were his substitute for pornography. He lodged countless appeals, including one in which he alleged that a photograph taken of him with one of his victim’s corpses cannot prove his guilt, as it is not the body of a person he was convicted of killing.
He died in prison in March 2006.
Jerome Henry Brudos, a Salem electrician whose torture-murder of at least three young women in the late 1960s gave law enforcement nationwide fresh insight into the dark forces that create a serial killer, died Tuesday in the Oregon State Penitentiary. He was 67 and the state’s longest-serving inmate.
The Oregon Department of Corrections released few details other than to say Brudos died at 5:10 a.m. in the prison infirmary. A relative of one of Brudos’ victims said Tuesday she learned that he had suffered from liver cancer.
Brudos was serving three consecutive life sentences for the murders of Linda Dawn Salee, 22, of Beaverton; Karen Elena Sprinker, 19, of Salem; and Jan Susan Whitney, 23, of McMinnville. Brudos later confessed to the murders of Linda Slawson, 19, and Stephanie Vikko, 16, but police did not have enough physical evidence to charge him. At the time, Oregon did not have the death penalty.
“He was one of the true monsters of the United States or the world perhaps,” said James Stovall, the Salem detective who tracked down Brudos.
Married with two children, Brudos either lured or kidnapped the young women, sometimes with a uniform and badge. He took them to the garage of his Salem house and, usually within an hour, strangled them.
He photographed the women as they died and after their deaths. He dressed their bodies in lingerie and had sex with them. He then cut off body parts. One foot he preserved and used to model his collection of high-heeled shoes. He cast a severed breast in resin for a paperweight.
Stovall and the Salem police got onto Brudos’ trail in May 1969 when the bodies of Salee and Sprinker were found in the Long Tom River. Their bodies were weighted down with old automobile parts.
On Tuesday, Stovall said the break in the case came when Brudos tried to kidnap a 12-year-old girl. She escaped and identified him for police from a photo lineup. Brudos was arrested just ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, and through those three days, Stovall lived at the old City Hall as Brudos dropped hints.
Stovall said Brudos at first would profess innocence, then would ask, “So how would you know?”
“And I would tell him: ‘There are things that you know, Jerry, and things that I know that nobody else knows.’