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Mystery TV - Court TV - Serial Killers

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Court TV Crime Stories
Serial Killers
The Boston Strangler, John Wayne Gacey, Richard Ramirez
135 minutes
VVS Films 2006

Court TV Crime Stories is a really cool series of Biography style documentaries. If you like mystery and crime, you will enjoy the three crime stories on this Court TV DVD. It features the stories of The Boston Strangler, John Wayne Gacey, and Richard Ramirez. Each Serial Killers episode features archival footage, interviews with people associated with the cases, and opinions by a couple of pundits.

When it comes to being a serial killer and as Court TV Crime Stories shows, John Wayne Gacey did not clown around. This outwardly religious man and good neighbor was responsible for 33 bodies. What is really scary about the John Wayne Gacey story is how many times he could and should have been caught. Gacey did not kill the first young men he sexually attacked but when they complained to Chicago police their story was dismissed as homosexual lovers' quarrels. When parents went to police to report their sons missing, the police dismissed them as gay or runaways.

It was only when a model student was reported missing by his parents that the Chicago police took such a complaint seriously and investigated the last person believed to have seen him alive, John Wayne Gacey.  Although this episode of Court TV Serial Killers is just as fascinating as those on the Boston Strangler or Richard Ramirez, it would have been more interesting if this crime story had focused on why the police so badly mishandled the many missing persons cases that were later solved by the discovery of so many bodies in Gacey's basement.

The first serial killer featured on Court TV Serial Killers is Albert Henry DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler. DeSalvo was a seducer who, before he killed so many women, was able to talk young women into disrobing, posing for him, and even having sex with him.  Soon, however, DeSalvo moved on to talking his way into the homes of Boston little old ladies and killing them and then reduced his age requirement. 

This serial killer biography does not really resolve the uncertainty about whether or not DeSalvo was the Boston Strangler or if he used information from one of his cell mates to boast he was the killer.  The DeSalvo Boston Strangler story is also one of a very intelligent man who was able to easily escape from the mental institution he was sent to. The bizarre thing is DeSalvo, unlike many other serial killers, did not claim insanity and even strongly objected to being declared insane.

Was Albert Henry DeSalvo the Boston Strangler?  The Court TV feature on him and the experts who are interviewed seem to think he was. The most concrete proof is that when DeSalvo was behind bars, the strangler killings stopped.

Last but not least on Court TV Crime Stories Serial Killers is the story of Richard Ramirez, also known as the Night Stalker who terrorized L.A. and its area in the summer of 1985. What makes Richard Ramirez different is he constantly changed his methods and targets. This baffled police but this serial killer kept leaving his footprints.

The Night Stalker case is bizarre because he is one of very few serial killers who were not geographically challenged or did not get their newspaper name immediately. Richard Ramirez is also the only serial killer to marry while in prison -and you learn that they do not say "until death do you part" in death row marriages. He also has quite a fan club.  Though sentenced to death, Ramirez is still, unfortunately, alive and well. He has of course appealed his case and hopes to be set free one day. If that is not an insanity defense, what is?

Court TV Crime Stories Serial Killers is a well-made interesting series of Biography style proviles on multiple murderers.

Other Court TV Reviews

Controversial Trials: Court TV crime documentaries on Sam Sheppard, The Chicago Eight, and Jeffrey MacDonald

Mobsters: Biography style documentaries on Hoffa, Capone, and Gotti for crime fans.

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