California · Serial Killers

Serial killer Richard Trenton Chase dies in prison

December 26, 1980
California
Serial killer Richard Trenton Chase dies of an overdose in prison

Chase killed six people from December 29, 1977 to January 27, 1978; five of the murders occurred between January 23 and 27. Among the victims were two children: 6-year-old Jason Miroth and his cousin 22-month-old David Ferreira. Most of the victims were shot and mutilated, with some being cannibalized and/or raped. In addition, the victims killed in January were selected after Chase found their doors unlocked. When questioned about this, he replied “Oh, if the door is locked, that means you’re not welcome.”

Chase was arrested on January 28, 1978 after leaving handprints and shoe impressions in his final victim’s blood. During questioning, he admitted to being obsessed with blood and confessed to have ingested the blood of some of his victims, which he believed would purify his body of the poisons Nazis had subjected him to. When asked why he murdered his victims he responded, “Because I couldn’t stand life any more. I was being tortured, poisoned all my life. They kept saying I was Jewish. … They were all my enemies, all fascists.” Chase mentioned these thoughts — as well as other conspiracy theories involving Nazis, the FBI, and UFOs — at trial. In addition, testimony was brought against Chase disclosing an incident in which he ate live birds and another involving Chase being found naked and covered in cow’s blood. It was hoped these instances would help during an insanity plea attempt, which was unsuccessful.

Chase was convicted and sentenced to death in May of 1979. On December 26, 1980, Chase was found dead in his cell after taking an overdose of his antidepressant medication which he had been hoarding for several weeks.

Sources:

  • Ressler, Robert K. and Shachtman, Tom. “Driven to Kill.” The San Francisco Examiner. July 19, 1992.
  • “Richard Chase, convicted California ‘vampire murderer’.” The Courier-News [Bridgewater, New Jersey]. December 27, 1980
  • “Jury to set date of vampire killer.” The Windsor Star. May 16, 1979
  • “‘Vampire’ Convicted of 6 Slayings.” The Town Talk [Alexandria, Louisiana]. May 9, 1979
  • “‘Vampire’ murder trial nears jury.” The Central New Jersey Home News [New Brunswick, New Jersey]. May 4, 1979

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