Serial killers in movies feel far away, like pieces of fantasy that couldn't actually be a part of real life. Serial killers on the news inch closer to possible, but still remain at arms length.
But they are out there, and that means some people know them, and knew them before they were caught and began carrying that permanent identity.
A recent Reddit thread asked for stories from those out there who actually knew a serial killer. Particularly, they shared what that person was like before they began killing.
Or, at least, before the news broke. And that's the eeriest part of these responses. Many describe memories of well-adjusted seeming people, but tinged with the belated realization that those memories were made at the same time the person was committing such violent acts.
Ryfi12 asked, "Ex-Friends of a Serial Killer What Were They Like?"
"He was a jerk. His wife was my friend, and she started slowly telling me a few things about him. They came to our home for some gatherings we held, and he was simply 'off' and very controlling of her social life."
"When several of us reached out to her, she happily accepted our help to get her out of the marriage and into safety. Soon after, he showed up at my door one day demanding money, which I did not give him. He left, angry."
"A few months later, he was evicted from his rental in the next town over, and came back into our town, hell bent on killing everyone who helped her and who was associated with the rental situation and another circumstance that he was mad about. I was not home that night, thankfully."
"He hunted down and killed five people, one of whom was a friend of mine. He committed suicide when the police had him cornered. That was nearly 30 years ago."
"Andy, my friend, I still miss you and your goofy grin."
"Charming, had lots of friends. I remember sitting on the school bus thinking I should try to be more like him. He was always smiling, and girls would flirt with him."
"About 8-10 years after that, he was arrested along with another guy his age for the burglary and murder of a very old woman and her dog."
Hiding in Plain Sight
"He was fairly normal. My ex gfs brother. Nobody had a clue until the police gave their theory and then the whole family pretty much agreed it was him."
"They estimated 6 sex workers between Maryland and New Jersey."
Likely Caused by Trauma
"I went to school with the guy that murdered Chris Kyle (American Sniper) and Chad Littlefield. He was a pretty normal kid, kinda funny, had ADHD I believe and was in some of the academic assistance programs if I can remember right. Class clown type for the most part, don't remember him getting into a bunch of fights or anything."
"Nothing specific really stands out. His mom was one of our teachers in elementary. He left school early and joined the military. Did a couple tours, including the Haitian disaster relief in the early 2010s. Apparently fishing bodies out of wreckage is what messed him up really bad. After that he had horrible PTSD and developed some bad mental health issues."
"Chris and Chad were doing a range therapy business for veterans. Eddie snapped and murdered him for his truck (big modified diesel) and took off. Horrible story and outcome from someone who was once pretty normal. I knew him from 3rd grade or so until Senior year."
"Not great friends or anything but he seemed like a decent guy. We'd been out of school for about 10 years or so when it happened so a lot changed over that time I'm sure."
Suddenly Fell Off the Face of the Earth
"He was so sweet, he was basically my childhood friend. Then one day I stopped hearing from him, 1 or 2 years later he called me and asked me out. I said yes and was so happy. I really did love him. On the way to the restaurant someone hit my car and I wasn't able to go."
"The day before I was supposed to meet him, he got arrested for having 3 bodies of sex that had recently went missing, stored in his basement. all of them severely damaged and beaten."
A Breaking Point
"I worked with a guy who killed his wife and her new boyfriend (they were separated) and then himself. He broke into his wife's apartment (she called cops but they didn't get there in time) and lined them up along a wall, including their kids."
"Didn't shoot the kids thankfully but they witnessed this all, and were part of the lineup probably thinking they were next."
"He was the world's nicest, most easy-going guy. Never had an unkind word for anyone. Hard to believe he could do something like that."
"I think he bottled it up inside until he just snapped. I think losing your temper and spouting off at people who deserve it, once in a while, is probably good for you. Don't always pretend to be happy if you're not. Someday it might be too much for you."
On the Other Side of it
"Was roommates with one, He was a cool guy. Serial killer in the sense that he was born in crime and killed multiple people in his 'career.' He went to multiple prisons in multiple countries."
"He made a 180 and bettered his life in the way that he sits at home, watches tv all day and enjoys cooking. I was in a dark place during that time and him being able to better his life was a huge motivation to change my life for the better."
"Cool guy. Last I heard he was still on the right path. I still think about him sometimes, only wish him the best."
Tell Tale Warning Sign
"He was the nicest guy in the world. Everyone loved him. There was just one sign. His best friends family went on a week long trip when we were in middle school/early high school. They asked him to feed their bunny. When they got back, the bunny was dead under fairly disturbing circumstances."
"Everyone made excuses because we didn't want to believe it."
A Long-Held Secret
"Really great dad. When I was little I wished he was *my* dad. Dirt poor, but always took time - took us sledding when it snowed. Backyard barbecues. Took us fishing at the river once and we found these big old turtles. Beautiful. Probably ancient. And we ran to tell him."
"He came over with a machete and chopped their heads off. Made a game of it. With his 6 year old boys helping pull the head out and laughing. I was pretty traumatized by that incident."
"But other than that, he was just a guy. Liked drinking. And fireworks. He was a little bit drug addled, maybe mentally slow. There was a murder and not long after they picked him up for it."
"And while he was in jail, awaiting trial, he confessed to a bunch of other stuff. Other murders, dozens of assaults on women. I'm not convinced he did them all. He definitely did the last one - but the rest - i sometimes wonder if they didn't get him to confess because he just wasn't very smart, and was probably easy to manipulate. It was national news."
"His family had a hard time shaking the stigma, so I don't want to be too detailed. I feel like I owe it to them to let that time in our lives be forgotten."
When the Discovery Changes How You See Them
"He was like a big, goofy, brother. I loved him to bits but fell out of contact with him when I split with my ex. Last year his ex (we were friends through him) sent me an article via FB Messenger detailing how he murdered his new wife and her three young kids then set the trailer they were all living in on fire."
"The pictures of him in the article chilled me to the bone, the guy I knew back then wasn't there. There was just a cold blooded emptiness in his eyes. He's still waiting to be put on trial."
Of a Crowd
"Friends with him in high school. Normal kid. Smoked drank like usual delinquents nothing terrible. One day someone was picking on his friend in a park and he beat that dude nearly to death with a bat. Went to CYA for 4years , cal youth authority, until like 18 or 19."
"Saw him on his 2nd day back. He just sat there and watched porn like it was the godfather. Not jerking it or alone in a room. But just sat there quietly and watched porn."
"Anyways fast forward few years he moved to Minnesota or Michigan i forgot. Started some gang had some followers and went on like a 2 week rampage killing cops and store owners and sh**. I think 10 people in 2 weeks. His whole crew got caught and sentenced to hundreds of years."
"I knew he was busted for murder but disnt see the whole story until.it was on some NBC show. Im like thats @#$@"
"Sh** was sureal"
"He was one of those people that I looked forward to seeing everyday, one of them that I would be exited to be pairs up with during a project. Then he got roped into drug dealing, and I saw less and less of him everyday. When I did see him, he would be more grumpy, as if he had given up on life."
"One day I was watching a TV show, with not a care in the world, until I saw some commotion going on outside. Opening the curtains slightly, and was aghast to see him being tackled to the ground by the police."
"Apparently, he had stabbed 2 people in the eye and when I saw him being tackled to the ground, that was just when he had come back from hitting a child over the head with a sledgehammer."
"A relative. He lied, a lot, but they were always dumb little innocent lies. He babysat us from time to time. He was a 'gentle giant.' He was sent to prison before we even knew he had committed a crime (he committed murder in another country.)"
"He called on Christmas and we all passed the phone around to talk to him, with only his mom knowing he was calling from prison. We all figured it out when we read it in the towns news paper. I found out that his mom had sent him pictures of the family, including my toddler daughter."
"I absolutely lost my sh**. I want nothing to do with him."
"Best friend's dad turned out to be a hit man. I stayed at her house all the time because my parents were pretty bad. He was so nice, he even took us to driving school together so I could get my license. I remember her saying at one point, 'I can't imagine what it would be like to have dysfunctional parents.' "
"They had a seemingly fairytale marriage with four kids and two dogs. Then he randomly got busted for being a hit man and went to prison our senior year of high school. Everybody was shocked."
An Escalating Plan
"Not a serial killer, but I went to school with kids who wrote a kill list. I knew one of them pretty well and we were close. He would pass me snacks in class sometimes and check up on me when I was upset."
"Very caring, but he got rlly on edge the week him and his friend planned to go threw with their plan, he was less talkative and any time we talked he would tell me to be careful from now on and school isn't important rn, even suggested I should miss school one time he ended up dropping me altogether after I kept getting nosy."
"When I tried to talk to him for the first time in days he snapped on me. Once I found out what happened I pieced everything together."
Hiding in Plain Sight
"The most charming and 'innocent' person I have ever met. Only a master of manipulation can get away with any and all crimes."
"Look up psychopathy and narcissism and you will find many great explanations, from the predatory stare to how efficiently they frame others. The most vicious and dangerous people out there are the ones you would N E V E R expect to even harm a fly."
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