As Ed Gein once said, every man needs a hobby.
Some people play sports, some people build model train sets, and some people collect items relating to the most depraved criminals in human history.
Welcome to the world of serial killer memorabilia, aka murderabilia, where it’s common for people to buy, sell and trade crime scene relics, prison letters, and locks of hair cut from the head of famous serial killers.
You might have heard stories about murderabilia in the past. Victims advocate Andy Kahan has been outspoken about the effects that online true crime relics may have on victims families. He was successful in getting true crime items removed from sale on eBay in the early 2000s, but that just paved the way for more niche online sites to take its place.
There are quite a few websites out there which specialize in the buying and selling of letters, artwork and other such artefacts. However, the murderabilia world isn’t known for its sensitivity. Anything relating to a famous crime is fair game, including such items as:
· Peter Kurten’s head
· Jeffrey Dahmer victim doll
· Ángel Reséndiz’s fingernails
· William Marwood’s calling card
· Hadden Clark’s earwax
· Issei Sagawa’s used chopsticks
· John Wayne Gacy’s death painting
· Heaven’s Gate bunk beds
· Ed Gein’s ghoul car
· Danny Rolling’s ‘Mystery Rider’
· William Burke’s skin
Here are the 11 weirdest serial killer murderabilia items in the world.
Peter Kurten’s head
When it comes to the weirdest murderabilia items, why stop at materialistic objects? Why not go the whole hog and display a serial killer’s actual human remains?
Well, if you head over to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum in Wisconsin Dells, that’s exactly what you’ll see. Peter Kurten, affectionately known as the Vampire of Dusseldorf, was responsible for the murder of at least 9 women and young girls in the early 1900s.
Kurten, who acquired his nickname due the fact he drank the blood of some of his victims, was fuelled by a series of unquenchable perversions, many of which involved mutilation, blood and fire. He claimed that his kills were retaliation for the brutal upbringing he endured as a child.
Upon his arrest, it was found that he might have been responsible for anywhere up to 75 murders. He was sentenced to death by beheading. It was quite ironic, then, that head is the only thing that remains of this sex-obsessed psychopath.
Jeffrey Dahmer victim doll
Murderabilia doesn’t have to be an adult-only hobby. Children are free to join in too.
Introducing the Jeffrey Dahmer victim doll, which according to the interesting packaging, is ‘fully dismemberable’ and ‘100% cannibal approved.’
Jeffrey Dahmer is one of the most prolific serial killers of all time, and surprisingly, authentic murderabilia items relating to him are quite rare. Very few letters of his still exist, and all that really remains are rocks and dirt from the area around his apartment.
However, Dahmer fans need not worry, because Cleotus the victim doll is on sale for only $295. According to the link up above, the doll is both anonymous and named Cleotus, so make of that what you will. Also, of the 17 people Dahmer killed, none of them were named Cleotus.
It’s a confusing item to say the least, especially given that the cutlery is almost as big as Cleotus himself, but who said cannibal memorabilia had to make sense?
Ángel Reséndiz’s fingernails
Have you ever bitten your fingernails and flicked them onto the floor? Does your wife ever shout at you and say it’s gross? Well, if this sounds familiar, you now have the perfect excuse. “Those nails aren’t mine. They belong to an axe-murdering Mexican rapist.”
Yes, the website murderauction.com, branded as the world’s premier murderabilia for sale site, is currently selling the fingernails of Ángel Maturino Reséndiz, also known as the Railroad Killer. For thirteen years, Resendiz train-hopped around the United States, shooting, stabbing and pummeling various men and women in their homes. Most victims he killed so that he could steal their possessions, but he also progressed to raping his female victims when he became more confident in his abilities.
In total, Resendiz killed 15 people and was finally apprehended in 1999. He was executed in 2006. However, for the bargain price of only $300, you can be the only person in the world to claim ownership of his dead skin cells.
William Marwood’s calling card
This particular piece of morbid history lies in the collection of New York outsider artist Joe Coleman. Coleman is quite the collector of murderabilia, claiming ownership of some of the most unique items in existence. He owns the infamous Albert Fish letter, various pieces of artwork by Gacy, some of Charles Manson's hair, and even a screwdriver used by Gary Heidnik to insert down his victims’ ears.
However, Coleman claims that there’s one piece in his collection that surpasses everything else, and that’s the signed business card of William Marwood.
Marwood was a British hangman in the 1800s who devised the ‘long-drop’ method of execution; a way of killing criminals in a more humane manner than previous executioners. Allegedly, Marwood was the only hangman in history to create business cards for his niche service, and only two are known to still be around today.
One is in a University museum in Nottingham, England, and the other is with Coleman.
Hadden Clark’s earwax
Hair clippings are a huge part of the murderabilia world, but serial killer Hadden Clark has taken things a step further.
Unfortunately, this weird murderabilia piece is part of a private collection, so it’s not for sale, but you can see the item in all its glory here. Hadden Clark was a double-murderer from Maryland, having killed a 6-year-old girl in 1986, then a 23-year-old in 1992. Once caught, he confessed to killing dozens more, even producing a trinket box full of women’s jewelry to corroborate his claims.
Hadden Clark has actually become quite the murderabilia architect, pumping out artwork and letters at a high volume. Some of his artwork is actually quite good, but a piece of his earwax is undoubtedly a real collector’s item.
Issei Sagawa’s used chopsticks
Japan is a pretty unique place, and it may be the only place in world where a convicted cannibal is able to become an author, food critic and porn star. However, that’s a whole other story.
Issei Sagawa was a 32-year-old Japanese man who shot, killed and ate one of his classmates in 1981. He had a fascination with cannibalism from an early age, even telling psychiatrists that he himself wanted to be killed and eaten. However, as one can expect from a man who was still at school at age 32, he wasn’t the smartest tool in the shed. He was caught by police when he tried to dump his victim’s mutilated body into a nearby river.
Interestingly, Sagawa is no longer in prison, and regularly corresponds with murderabilia collectors who want to buy items from him. One such item is this pair of used chopsticks, although it’s probably best not to ask exactly what they were used on.
John Wayne Gacy’s death painting
John Wayne Gacy was a terrible artist, but he didn’t let that stop him.
Often credited with planting the seeds for what would become the murderabilia industry back in the 1980s, Gacy pumped out quite a lot of artwork from behind bars. Most of these were ‘Pogo the Clown’ paintings, Gacy’s colorful depiction of his own alter ego. Over the years, these paintings have become quite the status symbol, finding their way into the personal collections of people like Johnny Depp, Marilyn Manson and John Waters.
However, Gacy also painted a few unique pieces too. This piece seems particularly personal to Gacy, as it showcases Pogo the Clown in a casket surrounded by the Seven Dwarves, painted only weeks before Gacy’s execution. It may have been the last painting he ever did.
Heaven’s Gate bunk beds
Okay, so this isn’t serial killer-related, but it’s still one of the weirdest pieces of murderabilia out there.
The Heaven’s Gate cult were a group of religious crazies who, in 1996, believed that the earth was about to be wiped out by a comet. So, what they did was find a way to ascend to the spacecraft above the earth which would save their lives, something they termed ‘graduation from the human evolutionary level’, alternatively known as committing ritual suicide.
Dressed in matching black clothing and Nike trainers, 39 Heaven’s Gate members took pills and vodka and tied bags around their heads. All suicides took place on bunk beds in the cult’s headquarters, and these bunk beds can be seen still be seen today at The Museum of Death in Hollywood.
Ed Gein’s ghoul car
Interestingly, the origins of murderabilia go way back into the 1800s when hangmen would cut up the rope used in executions and sell them to the public. However, the first large-scale piece of murderabilia cropped up in the summer of 1958.
Bunny Gibbons, a carnival promoter from Illinois snatched up a real bargain at a local auction: Ed Gein’s Ford Sedan.
More than a simple vehicle, this was the same car which Gein used to transport the dead bodies he unearthed from local cemeteries back to his home. Furthermore, he also used it to bring home the bodies of Bernice Worden and Mary Hogan after killing them.
Gibbons bought the car to the Outagamie County Fair and charged 25c per person to see it. However, backlash from citizens at Gibbons’s exploitation of the dead soon put an end to this attraction. Quite strangely, there are no photographs of the car on display, and like most murderabilia items relating to Gein, its current whereabouts are unknown.
Ed Gein murderabilia is naturally quite hard to come by. Not only did the crimes occur 70 years ago, but all of Gein's personal belongings, including the strange items he crafted from skin, were destroyed after his death.
Danny Rolling’s ‘Mystery Rider’
This murderabilia piece is unique in that it’s not a physical item. Mystery Rider is actually a song recorded by Danny Rolling, the Gainesville Ripper.
Here is the song:
Serial killers recording music is nothing new. Hell, Charles Manson was a singer and guitarist. However, there’s a difference – Danny Rolling was actually quite good. The song was recorded by Danny Rolling at a campsite in the woods in August 4th, 1990. Three weeks later, he began his violent murder spree.
After he was caught, police scoured Rolling’s campsite, and there they found a cassette of Rolling’s songs.
Mystery rider, what's your name / You're a killer, a drifter gone insane / Mystery rider, what's your game? / You're a rebel, no one can tame.
Alongside a haunting acoustic melody, these lyrics possibly alluded to Rolling’s murderous intentions. The song was played in court to highlight that Rolling’s murders were premeditated, eventually awarding him a death sentence. He was executed in 2006.
William Burke’s skin pocketbook
The trope of books being bound in human skin is quite common in horror stories, but wind the clocks back two-hundred years and it actually happened.
Edinburgh, 1828. William Burke and William Hare murdered 16 people over the span of one year. With every murder, they sold the bodies to medical schools with the excuse that they’d robbed the bodies from graves.
However, their true activities were soon revealed, and Burke and Hare were arrested. Hare was set free, but Burke was sentenced to death.
He was hanged in 1829, but mere death wasn’t enough to satisfy the locals’ thirst for vengeance. After he was executed, his body was taken to a dissection room where he was stripped of his skin. It was then bound into a small pocketbook (a small pouch for holding money used in the 1800s). The item is on display in the Surgeon’s Museum in Edinburgh.
Do you know of more serial killer murderabilia? Let us know in the comments below!