A small boy lays in bed, the covers pulled up to his chin. He eyes are shiny with unshed tears of fear. "You know those little hairs that stand up on the back of your neck?" he asks.
The understanding, but unbelieving, child psychologist nods.
If you thought the restless undead of The Sixth Sense were scary, wait till you meet the folks who put them in their graves. Forensic psychiatrist Ronald Markman doesn't see dead people, but he sure talks to a lot of murderers. And we're not talking your run of the mill stab-and-slab killers - we're talking major freakazoids here.
How about this sweetie, who murdered his wife when he suspected her of cheating on him?
"Finally, I thought of a knife to kill her. I only had a butter knife and I tried to stab her in the stomach and chest, but the knife didn't go in. I almost gave up. She looked too sick, pale and bloody. She said to me she wanted a crazy guy to kill her.
"I took the butter knife and stabbed her in the neck many times. I got a big hole in her neck and the knife bent. Her neck bones cracked. I finished cutting the veins and had her head off.
"I changed my clothes. I was ready to leave and I heard her voice telling me, 'Don't leave me here,
"Take me with you, Orlando," he heard her say.
"I put her head in a bag, and put her next to me in the front seat of the car. She kept on
talking. She asked me what I was going to do. She wanted to know what I was going to do with her head."
One of the most disturbing stories for me to read was the chapter on the notorious "Vampire of Sacramento." Richard Chase, an extremely disturbed young man, started out - as so many killers do - with animals. He killed a succession of his mother's pets. Once he was living on his own, the murder of his mum's Fluffys and Luckys still didn't stop - there is a truly chilling passage in the book which describes his mother answering a knock on her door, only to discover her blood-drenched son standing on the stoop holding her eviscerated pet cat by the intestines. Nothing was done, though Chase was occasionally on medication. Unable to hold a job, his parents supported him, paying his rent on an apartment a few blocks away.
Once Mum got wise and stopped keeping pets, Chase moved on to the classifieds. He often took puppies "free to a good home" and hung them in his apartment. Then he would drink their blood and sometimes eat their organs. Not only seriously disturbed, Richard Chase was a sadist. If he stole a dog or cat in the neighborhood, he would keep on the lookout for "Lost Pet" signs posted in the area. Then he would telephone the distraught owner (preferably a child) and describe the pet - and its demise - in great detail. This was in the 1970's, before star-69 and caller ID. Had those things been available now, I can't help but wonder if a peeved pet owner might have turned vigilante and stopped Chase before he moved on to humans.
Alas, that did not happen. Chase was an opportunist. His first human victim was seen from across the street - when she walked into her house, Chase ran across the road and followed her inside. He immediately shot her twice in the head, then while she was still alive ("but most likely unconscious," Markman writes - gawd, I hope so!) he vivisected her, pulling out her spleen and loop after loop of intestines. He threw them to the floor, did something really disgusting to her nipples, then he dipped an empty yogurt container into her open belly and filled it with blood. He drank it, then he defecated and stuffed the steaming feces into her mouth, and left the scene.
Theresa Wallin's husband found her violated, defiled body a few hours later.
Chase, being a seriously screwed up head case, didn't escape detection for long, but he wasn't caught before he had a chance to kill again in the same hideous fashion.
Lest you think Alone With the Devil is just a gruesome gorefest, I'll tell you it is not. Yes, it's chilling, disgusting, and terrifying. But it's also insightful. Why do these people do the things they do? How do they snare their victims? How does the
"Forensic psychiatrists," Markman says, "are called many things, not all of them kind. We're called forensic experts, courtroom shrinks, apologists for criminals, doctors for hire, voodoo doctors, magicians... We're maligned, mistrusted, vilified, and courted by attorneys."
Alone With the Devil is a fascinating, very well-written, well-rounded look at some of the most heinous crimes committed in
Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson