VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
These killer messages are not for the faint of heart. For this list, we'll be looking at the most shocking bits of communication ever conducted by killers. Our countdown includes The Manson Family, Son of Sam, Jack the Ripper, and more!
10 Disturbing Messages Left by Killers
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re examining 10 Disturbing Messages Left by Killers.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the most shocking bits of communication ever conducted by killers.
Which of these do you find the most disturbing? Let us know in the comments below.
The Manson Family
This cult is well known not only for their killings, but for leaving behind various messages at the crime scenes. On July 27, 1969, family member Bobby Beausoleil killed a man named Gary Hinman and wrote the words “political piggy” on the wall. Susan Atkins later referenced this message during the infamous Tate killings, writing “pig” on the front door. Following the Tate home invasion, married couple Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were killed. Perpetrator Patricia Krenwinkel copied the prior two messages and wrote various words around the house, including “rise,” “death to pigs,” and perhaps most famously, “Helter Skelter” (misspelled “Healter” Skelter). This last one would later become the title for Vincent Bugliosi’s enormously popular and influential book about the case.
Micah Xavier Johnson
This Afghan War veteran had grown disillusioned with the police’s treatment of black individuals, leading to a massive shooting. On July 7, 2016, Johnson shot and killed five Dallas police officers. He also injured a further nine officers and two civilians. Shortly before he was killed, an injured Johnson wrote a message. Dallas Police Chief David Brown told the media that Johnson wrote the letters “RB” on a wall but that no one understood its meaning. Johnson also left behind some “rambling” messages in his journal. A leading theory posits that Johnson was trying to reference the Pan-African flag by writing “RBG,” standing for “Red, black, green.”
4chan has developed quite a negative reputation, as disturbing content is regularly uploaded to the site. In November 2014, an anonymous user posted photos of a dead woman to its infamous /b/ board, along with some horrifying proclamations like “she fought so damn hard.” He also explained that her son would find her after coming home from school. This kind of provocative stuff is often seen on 4chan, usually conducted by trolls just trying to get a rise out of people. But in this case, it was 100% real. Those were real photos, and a man named David Kalac - the same man who posted to 4chan - was later arrested in connection with the woman’s death. She was thirty-year-old Amber Lynn Coplin.
This young girl was just ten years old when she took the life of a boy named Martin Brown. Following Brown’s death, Bell and her accomplice, Norma Bell (no relation), broke into a nursery and left behind various notes. These were misspelled, but their messages and crude tone remain clear. Two notes claimed responsibility for the death of Brown, a third served as a warning, and a fourth cryptically read, “I murder SO That I may come back.” Following that incident, Mary maliciously called Brown’s mother and told her that “[she wanted] to see him in his coffin.” Two months later, now aged eleven, Bell took the life of her second and final victim, Brian Howe.
Jack the Ripper
Few serial killers are as notorious as Jack the Ripper. We don’t know much about Jack - not his identity, not his true number of victims, and not the span of his crimes. He allegedly corresponded with the police, but we don’t even know if that’s legitimate, either. Many of his supposed letters are believed to be hoaxes - minus a few exceptions. The “From Hell” letter is the most intriguing. Sent to the head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, George Lusk, it was mailed alongside half a human kidney. The letter itself taunted Lusk, and the author made an explicit reference to cannibalism. The authenticity of the letter has long stirred debate, but many experts believe it to be genuine.
Some serial killers have calling cards, and Richard Ramirez had the Satanic pentagram. Between 1984 and ‘85, Ramirez terrorized California with killings and home invasions and became known as the Night Stalker. On May 29, 1985, Ramirez brutally attacked Mabel Bell and Florence Lang in their Monrovia home. Using lipstick, he left behind various pentagrams on the walls. He did the same thing in San Francisco at the home of Peter and Barbara Pan. Alongside the pentagram, the Pan house message also included the phrase “Jack the Knife.” Following his arrest, Ramirez infamously flashed the pentagram in court, as he had drawn it on his hand.
Son of Sam
In the mid-to-late ‘70s, New York City was left horrified by serial killer David Berkowitz. Known widely as the Son of Sam, Berkowitz shot many people, killed six, and became the target of the city’s largest manhunt. Known originally as the .44 Caliber Killer, Berkowitz adopted his now-famous name following the Son of Sam letter. This was a rambling piece of text left at a crime scene, in which Berkowitz teases the police and claims that he’s “prowling the streets looking for fair game.” One month later, Berkowitz sent another letter to Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin, saying ominous things like “Sam's a thirsty lad.” Portions of the letters were widely publicized and helped fuel intense interest in the Son of Sam case.
The Lipstick Killer
The story of the Lipstick Killer is a controversial one. On December 10, 1945, a woman named Frances Brown was found in her apartment, having been violently killed. A disturbing message was written on the wall in lipstick, leading to the moniker the Lipstick Killer. It read, “For heavens Sake catch me Before I kill more I cannot control myself.” This eerie note is often linked to a man named William Heirens, who allegedly killed three people in the mid ‘40s. However, his controversial confession was the result of police torture, and his role in the Brown killing remains dubious. Whether it was Heirens or not, the message found at the Brown crime scene remains horrifying.
Going by names like the Gray Man and the Brooklyn Vampire, Albert Fish killed at least three young people throughout the 1920s, although his true body count could be much higher. One of his victims was a girl named Grace Budd, whom Fish took from her home in Manhattan. Six years after Budd’s death, Fish sent a provocative letter to her mother. The letter is incredibly graphic, detailing Budd’s death and what Fish did with her body. Making this even worse is the fact that Budd’s mother was illiterate, so her son - and Budd’s sister - was forced to read the letter aloud. This letter proved to be Fish’s downfall, as it directly led to his arrest, conviction, and eventual execution.
The Zodiac Killer
Like Jack the Ripper, much isn’t known about the Zodiac Killer. As of 2022, he’s still unidentified, and while he’s been officially linked to five killings, his true number of victims could be in the dozens. The Zodiac is an enduring figure in the cultural zeitgeist, and that’s helped by the taunting messages he left for the police and media. Sent over a period of years, these letters provided a multitude of functions. Some were of a goading nature, some explained his supposed motivations, and some were boastful, like when he confessed to killing thirty-seven people. He also made four ciphers (two of which remain unsolved), and ended his correspondences with the symbol of a crosshair.