8 – The Vampire of Sacramento
If we’ve learned one thing about serial killers in our perusal of the worst people of 1977, it is that they tend to have had horrendous childhoods and a history of abuse. There is a scientific theory that backs this up as well: the Macdonald Triad. The Macdonald Triad holds that those who exhibit homicidal or sociopathic behaviour, particularly violent ones, particularly one of a serial nature and particularly those with sexually predatory behavior, often display the same set of symptoms in their early life. Those symptoms are bed-wetting at an age beyond most children, cruelty to animals and pyromaniacal tendencies – all three of which are very visible in the early life of Richard Chase, aka the Vampire of Sacramento.
Chase, who killed 6 people in 1977 and early 1978 in California, had all three behavioral patterns and plenty more besides. He was abused by his parents as a child, was a severe hypochondriac in his adolescence and, by the time that he was at college, an alcoholic, drug addict and exhibitionist. He would capture, murder and eat animals raw – often mixed in a blender with Coke – before, eventually, he was committed to an asylum in 1973 at the age of 23. Even in the mental institution, he would capture birds and drink their blood, earning him the nickname of “The Vampire” among hospital staff.
Richard Chase would be released back into society in 1976 after an intensive schedule of treatments. He was forced to live with his mother, whom he long suspected of wanting to poison him, and finally managed to move out on his own. He was clearly not cured off his obsession with blood – he was arrested in the summer of 1977 covered in cow’s blood – and by the end of the year, he would begin killing.
His MO was, even by the standards of our list, horrendous. He would kill his victims with guns before engaging in necrophilia, cannibalism and mutilation of their corpses, always involving blood drinking. His final victims were a 38-year-old mother, her friend, a child and a baby. Chase left so much blood that when the police arrived, they were easily able to take fingerprints and when they tracked him down, everything in his home was soaked in blood.
Chase attempted to plead insanity but was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. His strange behavior would continue: he began to claim that his crimes had been orchestrated by the Nazis and by UFOs, while he also hoarded food that he thought was being poisoned by the guards. After over a year on death row – where even the other inmates in the prison were scared of him – he managed to store up enough of his anti-depressants to kill himself with via an overdose.