Is daddy shoveling late in the night? Have you seen your folks acting strangely each time a police siren passes through the neighborhood? If at least one answer is “yes” chances are you could be the child of a serial killer.
Looking beyond the apparent savagery, we simply cannot resist the urge to snoop in the private lives of some of the worst criminals in history. Did their kids turn out to embrace a similar “hobby?” Enter the dark world of dual identities and decade-long lies.
1. Melissa Moore
“Could my father have killed me?” That has been a huge question mark for Melissa Moore once she found out her father’s backstory.
Keith Jesperson, more widely known as “The Happy Face Killer,” engaged in a murder spree that lasted throughout the 1990s. Although the investigation confirmed only eight victims, the man claims to have killed as many as 160 people.
His preferred targets were prostitutes and homeless people. Jesperson attracted the nickname because he sent multiple letters to the media and the police, all ending with smileys.
Melissa got the first hint about her father’s “hobby” when she saw killed stray cats at the family farm. It was not until 1995 that she learned daddy would stand trial for murder.
Jesperson’s daughter became a celeb once she unveiled her drama at the “Dr. Phil Show” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Coming to terms was not easy, but Melissa went on to condemn his father and publish “Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter.”
2. Rebecca Lafferty
“I don’t want to believe it.” Rebecca Lafferty said these exact words to herself after they arrested her father for murder.
Utah is the home state of Mormons and extreme interpretations of religion trigger bizarre acts from otherwise ordinary people. Dan Lafferty (Rebecca’s father) and his brother Ron killed their sister-in-law and her daughter. The two cut the throats of their victim after claiming a strange revelation from God.
Contrary to what you might expect, Rebecca still considers her father innocent. For 32 years, she went on to visit him in jail, genuinely believing his prophecy. Dan Lafferty foresaw the walls of the prison would crumble and he would walk out as the prophet Elijah.
Rebecca might not be the daughter of a serial killer, but her father’s actions shocked the public opinion strongly enough. Even now, the 1984 murders are well remembered by the local community.
3. Becky Babcock
Becky Babcock was eight years old when she found out the horrible crimes of her natural mother.
You should think twice next time you see a soccer mom waiting for her kids to finish school. Maternal love turned bloody when Diane Downs decided her life would be much better without the three in the backseat.
However, shooting the kids while they were asleep did not turn as expected. Surviving 9-year-old daughter Christie testified against her mother, who was found guilty.
Nevertheless, this story is about the child that was born in between the murder and Diane’s arrest. Rebecca (Becky) came to being while her mother faced trial and went straight to adoption. While the two surviving children chose private lives, Becky took the limelight.
“She is not a Mother. She is a murderer!” This is how Becky labeled Diane once given primetime at Oprah’s show. Becky herself is not a role model after becoming a broke teen mother that needed to give her son up for adoption.
4. Giuseppe Cianciulli
Giuseppe Cianciulli was a mama’s boy drafted to serve in the Italian army during WW2.
Fearing the worse, his mother, Leonarda Cianciulli, appealed to an incredibly gross ritual to keep him safe. Leonarda felt that human sacrifice was needed. Therefore, she killed three mid-aged women from the neighborhood.
If you stop the story there, you would have most of the audience yawn in boredom. However, the strange gods of this genuine Italian cannibal asked for more. Leonarda used the bodies to manufacture soap, and she even baked cookies from the collected blood. Given the name of the village where the crimes took place, Cianciulli became the “Soap-Maker of Correggio.”
Few details survived to tell us what happened to Giuseppe, but it seems that the man survived the war. At this point, it is hard to draw a line and say how much was luck and how much relied on the fat and white flesh of Virginia Cacioppo. It was this third victim that finally attracted the neighbors’ suspicions.
5. Matthew Ridgway
“I don’t think I ever remember him not being there.” are Matthew’s exact words told during his father’s trial.
Gary Ridgway joined the list of America’s greatest serial killers under a very unusual name – The Green River Killer. The man convicted for 49 murders is believed to have a “portfolio” twice as big.
Details of the investigations went as far as suggesting that on some occasions, Matthew slept just tens of meters away from the place of incredible desecration. Targeting mainly prostitutes, Ridgway often had sex with their dead bodies.
As far as the relationship evolved, Gary wanted to offer Matthew a normal childhood. Baseball lessons and camping trips in the vast stretches of wilderness in Washington help him hide his double life.
The Ridgway case proved once again that serial killers could be fully working parents. The stereotypes that they are unstable, mentally ill individuals is just media’s way of making things worse.
6. Jenn Carson
Imagine how your childhood would have looked like if you knew your father was a criminal wanted for multiple homicides.
For eight-year-old Jenn Carson, this nightmarish scenario became a reality when her father, Michael Carson, was revealed part of the Witch Killers. Together with Suzan, he adopted the “Bear” surname and went on to kill at least three people. Delusion was an important part of these crimes, as the ones targeted appeared as witches.
Jenn and her mother ran away from home after Michael became violent. The decision was arguably lifesaving, as the two avoided the carnage that followed.
Jenn acknowledges the fact that she was extremely unlucky. The odds of having a psychopathic father that kills people out of genuine belief are close to zero. However, this did not lead to despair. Jenn embraced the motto “We are not our parents” and chose to write her existence from scratch.
7. Francis Weaver
Contrary to what we showed until now, the instinct to kill can run a family. Francis Weaver is the third Weaver to commit homicide.
It all started in 1984, when Ward F. Pete Weaver Jr, the grandfather of Francis, killed two people. What followed was a more mediatized case that covered the suspicious deaths of Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis.
Ward Weaver III (the father of Francis) killed the 12-year-old girls in 2002 and attempted to replicate the same way of disposing of the bodies used by his father – hiding them under a concrete slab. However, Francis became aware of his father strange behavior and alerted the cops.
You might say that this is the end of it. Moreover, Francis himself got involved in a killing in 2014. Although he was not the one to pull the trigger, he did receive a life sentence for complicity.
With the grandfather in death row and the father and boy given life sentences, the Weavers are likely out of business.
8. Christopher Shipman
Christopher Shipman is one of the four children that inherited the terrible legacy. Harold Shipman was “Dr. Death” for an estimated count of more than 250 victims.
Although striving to live a different life after his father conviction and suicide in prison, Christopher met an incredible opponent. Back in 2004, tabloids were waging their mass murders. The victims were this time private information.
In an unusual twist that sounds more like a James Bond movie, the now defunct News of The World hacked Christopher’s e-mail account. Everyone wanted to know how the son and wife were dealing with the terrible events that struck their family.
However, the chase for profit ended before the judges. The newspaper had to pay substantial damages, as well as to take the pledge that they will never disturb the Shipman family again.
It seems that the hardest part of being related to a serial killer is avoiding the intense scrutiny coming your way. With the myth that “killing genes” run in the family still alive and well, Christopher will have little hopes for quiet.
9. Carmina Salcido
With a scar across her neck, Carmina Salcido survived her father’s madness and became a symbol of hope.
To tell the story, we have to go back to 1989 Sonoma County. Suspecting his wife was cheating on him with a coworker, Mexican-American Ramon Salcido took justice into his hands. He killed his wife, two of his daughters, as well as other relatives.
With the knife blade going inches away from her carotid artery, Carmina survival was a real miracle. She was found near the dead bodies of her two sisters, 36 hours after the attack.
Many years in the future, Carmina’s life is far from taking a permanent turn for the better. Incapable of going past her childhood trauma, Carmina struggles to earn a living for herself and her family. To make things even worse, drug abuse and domestic violence triggered the authorities to place her daughter with a foster family.
Going full circle, Carmina asks herself whether Zoe (her 5-year-old daughter) is safe in her hands.
10. Michael Kallinger
Some say that the years of close contact with your parents are enough to develop a personality that will be with you until the end.
If this were true, we might have a serial killer on the loose. Michael Kallinger was only 15 when he accompanied his father in a killing spree. The two messengers of death ravaged communities in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Maryland.
It all started when the senior attempted to collect a life insurance set on his younger son – Joseph. Kallinger went as far as killing him and staging his death. However, because the policy entered into effect just two weeks before the mysterious death, the insurance company refused to pay.
The police arrested the Kallingers in 1975. Because Michael was a minor, the jury concluded he was under his father’s control. Therefore, he had to go to a reformatory until the age of 21. The father, on the other hand, received a sentence of life in prison.
11. Yury Odnacheva
Changing your surname to erase the past does not always pay off.
Yury Odnacheva is the son of the biggest Russian serial killer – Andrei Chikatilo. To be more precise, the Rostov Ripper operated at a time when the Soviet Union was still alive. The man raped, mutilated, and murdered 56 victims, women and children.
The ghosts of the past resurfaced once they arrested Yury for attempted murder. The 39-year-old stabbed multiple times an acquaintance, repeating his father’s favorite method of killing.
Although the victim survived, Yuri ended up with enough years behind bars. The incident occurred in 2009, in the Donbass region of Ukraine. If you do not remember, the same area landed in the news for its enduring separatist conflict.
12. Ekaterina Popkova
“I do not believe any of this. I always felt as Daddy’s girl”. These are the exact words used by Ekaterina Popkova when she appeared on a live TV show.
Even though the 28-year-old is a math teacher, her ambition is to become a criminologist one day, so that she can prove everyone wrong. Ekaterina and her mother Elena had to relocate after the story radicalized the entire Siberian town of Angarsk. Even today, the two believe that Mikhail Popkov is innocent.
Also called the “Werewolf,” Popkov allegedly killed 22 women, to cleanse the streets of prostitutes. However, the former cop did no settle with taking lives and delivering this strange form of justice. Mikhail sexually abused his victims both before and after taking their lives. Details of his “work” are too hideous to include here.
13. Kerri Rawson
When you are 27 and learn that your father is a serial killer that started at 29, you ask yourself whether you will act in the same way.
This was the mental trauma Kerri, daughter of the BTK Killer, had to go through. The dilemma brings us to the common mentality that some people are predisposed to become mass-murderers. True or not, it is impossible to resist the urge of taking a closer look at blood relatives.
Dennis stands out from the pack as being a survivor on the most wanted list. His crimes span more than two decades between 1974 and 1991. Like many of his kind, he extracted immense satisfaction from leaving behind letters. Teasing investigators eventually played against him, and they caught him in 2005.
14. Steve Hodel
The story of George Hill Hodel and his son, Steve Hodel, is by far the most twisted and mysterious on the list.
If the names do not ring a bell, is because George Hodel was never formally charged with his presumed crimes. Hodel was one of the suspects in the Black Dahlia case, the assassination of American Elizabeth Short in 1947.
Although his father died in 1990, his son turned detective Steve Hodel, did not give up the chase. He went as far as accusing his dad of resurfacing as the famous Zodiac Killer. Just to refresh your mind, the Zodiac operated in California in the 1960s and 1970s and was never caught.
We do not know what made Steve chase his father with unflagging enthusiasm. However, new light on the case might prove he was right. The undecipherable signature of the Zodiac killer turned out to be Hodel.
15. Kenny Kimes
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
The old saying is incredibly fit to describe a family of criminals that confirmed the myth that reality is sometimes stranger than fiction. Kenny Kimes joined his mother and father to receive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
When you are a millionaire, and you still engage in killings for financial gain, there is a better tag than that of “serial killer.” Sante Kimes, the mother of Kenny, is one of the most famous con artists in recent American history.
Alongside her son, and with the episodic implication of the father, Sante developed highly sophisticated schemes. Arson, Forgery, theft, and forced slavery were all steps in a ladder that eventually concluded with murder. Unlike other serial killers, they did not settle for ordinary folks. Bankers and socialites gave the murderers a glamorous trait.
You have to admit that a son’s love for his mother survives even the toughest conditions. Kenny agreed to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for a deal. Thus, Sante avoided the death penalty. Nevertheless, she died in prison in 2014, 105 years before the release date.