“LEOPOLD, LOEB, AND THE GHOST OF BOBBY FRANKS” and More Scary True Horror Stories! #WeirdDarkness

“LEOPOLD, LOEB, AND THE GHOST OF BOBBY FRANKS” and More Scary True Horror Stories! #WeirdDarkness

Listen to ““LEOPOLD, LOEB, AND THE GHOST OF BOBBY FRANKS” and More Scary True Horror Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: Leopold and Loeb believed themselves to be more intelligent than everyone and planned to commit the perfect murder. But it would be their pride that brought them down in the end, and it would result in a ghost story! (Chicago’s Thrill Killers) *** A woman visiting her mother in the hospital takes an unexpected trip when stepping into the elevator. (Elevator Opens Into The Twilight Zone) *** Even 24 doors couldn’t give Charles Lapham a way out of his seemingly-cursed life. (No Exit – The Lapham Patterson House) *** A nightmare is frightening, we can all agree on that. But what if you have a nightmare within a nightmare? One woman tells her terrifying story. (My Real Life Nightmare) *** Robert Berdella. Behind his friendly demeanor lurked a deadly obsession with torture and murder. (The Butcher of Kansas City)

SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“Chicago’s Thrill Killers” by Troy Taylor: http://bit.ly/32z2mLe
“Elevator Opens Into the Twilight Zone” by Lisa Gibson: http://bit.ly/2VURTHJ
“The Butcher of Kansas City” by Orrin Grey: http://bit.ly/30sRCwJ
“My Real Life Nightmare” by Alicia Zapata, submitted at http://www.WeirdDarkness.com
“No Exit – The Lapham Patterson House” by Jessica Ferri: http://bit.ly/2pCMety
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library.
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46

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Originally aired: December 21, 2022

PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT:
DISCLAIMER: Ads heard during the podcast that are not in my voice are placed by third party agencies outside of my control and should not imply an endorsement by Weird Darkness or myself. *** Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.

INTRODUCTION=====
On May 21, 1924, the sons of two of Chicago’s wealthiest and most illustrious families drove to the Harvard School on the city’s South Side and kidnapped a young boy named Bobby Franks. Their plan was to carry out the “perfect murder.” It was a scheme so devious that only two men of superior intellect, such as their own, could accomplish. These two were Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold. They were the privileged heirs of well-known Chicago families who had embarked on a life of crime for fun and for the pure thrill of it. They were also a pair of sexual deviants who considered themselves to be “brilliant” — a claim that would later lead to their downfall.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.

SHOW OPEN=====
Welcome, Weirdos – (I’m Darren Marlar and) this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.

Coming up in this episode…

A woman visiting her mother in the hospital takes an unexpected trip when stepping into the elevator. (Elevator Opens Into The Twilight Zone)

Even 24 doors couldn’t give Charles Lapham a way out of his seemingly-cursed life. (No Exit – The Lapham Patterson House)

A nightmare is frightening, we can all agree on that. But what if you have a nightmare within a nightmare? One woman tells her terrifying story. (My Real Life Nightmare)

Robert Berdella. Behind his friendly demeanor lurked a deadly obsession with torture and murder. (The Butcher of Kansas City)

But first… Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold believed themselves to be more intelligent than all others, and had a plan to to commit the perfect murder. But it would be their pride that brought them down in the end – and it would also result in a ghost story. We begin there. (Chicago’s Thrill Killers)

If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, listen to my other podcasts like “Retro Radio: Old Time Radio In The Dark”, “Church of the Undead” and a classic 1950’s sci-fi style podcast called “Auditory Anthology,” listen to FREE audiobooks I’ve narrated, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression, dark thoughts, or addiction. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!

STORY: CHICAGO’S THRILL KILLERS=====
Nathan Leopold, or “Babe” as his friends knew him, had been born in 1906 and from an early age had a number of sexual encounters, starting with the advances of a governess and culminating in a relationship with Richard Loeb. He was an excellent student with a genius IQ and was only 18 when he graduated from the University of Chicago. He was an expert ornithologist and botanist and spoke nine languages fluently. Like many future killers, his family life was totally empty and devoid of control. His mother had died when he was young and his father gave him little personal attention. He compensated for his lack of fatherly direction with expensive presents and huge sums of money. Leopold was given $3,000 to tour Europe before entering Harvard Law School, a car of his own and a $125-a-week allowance.
Richard Loeb was the son of the Vice President of Sears & Roebuck and while he was as wealthy as his friend was, Loeb was merely a clever young man and far from brilliant. He was, however, quite handsome and charming and what he lacked in intelligence, he more than made up for in arrogance. Both of the young men were obsessed with perfection. To them, perfection meant being above all others, which their station in life endorsed. They felt they were immune to laws and criticism, which meant they were perfect.
Loeb fancied himself a master criminal detective, but his dream was to commit the perfect crime. With his more docile companion in tow, Loeb began developing what he believed to be the perfect scheme. He also constantly searched for ways to control others. Leopold, who was easily dominated, agreed to join him in a life of crime. Over the course of the next four years, they committed robbery, vandalism, arson and petty theft, but this was not enough for Loeb. He dreamed of something bigger. A murder, he convinced his friend, would be their greatest intellectual challenge.
They worked out a plan during the next seven months. The plan was to kidnap someone and they would make it appear as though that person was being held for ransom. They would write the ransom note on a typewriter that had been stolen from Loeb’s old fraternity house at the University of Michigan and make the family of the victim believe that he would be returned to them. Leopold and Loeb had no such plans though —- they intended to kill their captive.
In May 1924, they rented a car and drove to a hardware store at 43rd and Cottage Avenue, where they purchased some rope, a chisel and a bottle of hydrochloric acid. They would garrote their victim, stab him with the chisel if necessary, and then destroy his identity with the acid.
The next day, they met at Leopold’s home and wrapped the handle of the chisel with adhesive tape so that it offered a better grip. They also gathered together a blanket and strips of cloth that could be used to wrap up and bind their victim. Leopold also placed a pair of wading boots in the car because the boys planned to deposit the body in the swamps near Wolf Lake, located south of the city. They packed loaded pistols for each of them and looked over the already typed ransom note that demanded $10,000 in cash. Neither of them needed the money but they felt the note would convince the authorities that the kidnappers were lowly, money-hungry criminals and deflect attention from people like Leopold and Loeb.
They had only overlooked one thing —- a victim.
They first considered killing Loeb’s younger brother, Tommy, but they discarded that idea. It was not because Tommy was a family member but only because it would have been hard for Loeb to collect the ransom money without arousing suspicion. They also considering killing Armand Deutsch, grandson of millionaire philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, but also dismissed this idea because Rosenwald was the president of Sears & Roebuck and Loeb’s father’s immediate boss. They also came close to agreeing to kill their friend, Richard Rubel, who regularly had lunch with them. Rubel was ruled out, not because he was a good friend to them, but because they knew his father was cheap and would never agree to pay the ransom.
They could not agree on anyone but did feel that their victim should be small, so that he could be easily subdued. With that in mind, they decided to check out the Harvard Preparatory School, which was located across the street from Leopold’s home. They climbed into their rental car and began to drive. As they drove, Leopold noticed some boys near Ellis Avenue and Loeb pointed out one of them that he recognized — 14-year-old Bobby Franks. He was the son of the millionaire Jacob Franks, and a distant cousin of Loeb.
Chosen by chance, he would make the perfect victim for the perfect crime.
Bobby was already acquainted with his killers. He had played tennis with Loeb several times and he happily climbed into the car. Although at their trial, both denied being the actual killer, Leopold was at the wheel and Loeb was in the back, gripping the murder weapon tightly in his hands. They drove Bobby to within a few blocks of the Franks residence in Hyde Park and then Loeb suddenly grabbed the boy, stuffed a gag in his mouth and smashed his skull four times with a chisel. The rope had been forgotten. Bobby collapsed onto the floor of the car, unconscious and bleeding badly.
When Leopold saw the blood spurting from Bobby’s head, he cried out, “Oh God, I didn’t know it would be like this!”
Loeb ignored him, intent on his horrific task. Even though Bobby was unconscious, he stuffed his mouth with rags and wrapped him up in the heavy blanket. The boy continued to bleed for a time and then died.
With the excitement of the actual murder concluded, Leopold and Loeb casually drove south, stopped for lunch, and then drove for a little while longer. They had supper as they waited for the sun to go down. Eventually, they ended up near a culvert along the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks. It emptied into a swamp along Wolf Lake.
Leopold put on his hip boots and carried Bobby’s body to the culvert. They had stripped all of the clothes from the boy’s body and then after dunking his head underwater to make sure that he was dead, they poured acid on his face in hopes that he would be harder to identify. Leopold then struggled to shove the naked boy into the pipe and took his coat off to make the work easier. Unknown to the killers, a pair of eyeglasses were in the pocket of Leopold’s coat and they fell out into the water when he removed it. This would be the undoing of the “perfect crime.”
After pushing the body as far into the pipe as he could, Leopold sloshed out of the mud toward the car, where Loeb waited for him. The killers believed that the body would not be found until long after the ransom money had been received. With darkness falling, though, Leopold failed to notice that Bobby’s foot was dangling from the end of the culvert.
They drove back to the city and parked the rental car next to a large apartment building. Bobby’s blood had soaked through the blanket that he had been wrapped in and had stained the automobile’s upholstery. The blanket was hidden in a nearby yard and the boys burned Bobby’s clothing at Leopold’s house. They typed out the Franks’ address on the already prepared ransom note. After this, they hurried back to the car and drove to Indiana, where they buried the shoes that Bobby had worn and everything that he had on him that was made from metal, including his belt buckle and class pin from the prep school.
Finally, their “perfect crime” carried out, they drove back to Leopold’s home and spent the rest of the evening drinking and playing cards. Around midnight, they telephoned the Franks’ home and told Mr. Franks that he could soon expect a ransom demand for the return of his son. “Tell the police and he will be killed at once,” they told Mr. Franks. “You will receive a ransom note with instructions tomorrow.”
The next morning, the ransom note, signed with the name “George Johnson,” was delivered to the Franks, demanding $10,000 in old, unmarked $10 and $20 bills. The money was to be placed in a cigar box that should be wrapped in white paper and sealed with wax.  After its arrival, the Franks’ lawyer notified the police, who promised no publicity.
Meanwhile, Leopold and Loeb continued with the elaborate game they had concocted. They took the bloody blanket to an empty lot, burned it, and then drove to Jackson Park, where Loeb tore the keys out of his stolen typewriter. He threw the keys into one lagoon in the park and the typewriter into another. Later in the afternoon, Loeb took a train ride to Michigan City, leaving a note addressed to the Franks in the telegram slot of a desk in the train’s observation car. He got off the train at 63rd Street, as it returned to the city, and rejoined the waiting Leopold. Andy Russo, a yardman, found the letter and sent it to the Franks.
However, by the time the letter arrived, railroad maintenance men had already stumbled upon the body of Bobby Franks. The police notified Jacob Franks and he sent his brother-in-law to identify the body. He confirmed that it was Bobby and the newspapers went into overdrive, producing “extra” editions that were on the street in a matter of hours.
One of the largest manhunts in the history of Chicago began. Witnesses and suspects were picked up in huge numbers and slowly the “perfect crime” began to unravel. Despite their “mental prowess” and “high intelligence,” Leopold and Loeb were quickly caught. Leopold had dropped his eyeglasses near the spot where the body had been hidden and police had traced the prescription to Albert Coe & Co., who stated that only three pair of glasses with such unusual frames had been sold. One pair belonged to an attorney, who was away in Europe, the other to a woman and the third pair had been sold to Nathan Leopold.
The boys were brought in for questioning and began supplying alibis for the time when Bobby had gone missing. They had been with two girlfriends, they claimed, “May and Edna.” The police asked them to produce the girls but the killers could not. Leopold claimed that he had apparently lost the glasses at Wolf Lake during a recent bird-hunting trip. The detectives noted that it had rained a few days before but the glasses were clean. Could Leopold explain this? He couldn’t.
Then, two novice reporters, Al Goldstein and Jim Mulroy, obtained letters that Richard Loeb had written with the stolen typewriter — which had already been found in Jackson Park. The letters matched the type on the ransom note, which was a perfect match for the typewriter that Leopold had “borrowed” from his fraternity house the year before.
Loeb broke first. He said that the murder was a lark, an experiment in crime to see if the “perfect murder” could be carried out. He then denied being the killer and claimed that he had driven the car while Leopold had slashed Bobby Franks to death. Leopold refuted this. Finally, the boys were brought together and admitted the truth. Loeb had been the killer, Leopold had driven the car but both of them had planned the crime together — they were both guilty of Bobby Franks’ murder.
The people of Chicago, and the rest of the nation, were stunned. It was fully expected that the two would receive a death sentence for the callous and cold-blooded crime.
After the confession, Loeb’s family disowned him but Leopold’s father turned to Clarence Darrow, America’s most famous defense attorney, in hopes that he might save his son. For $100,000, Darrow agreed to seek the best possible verdict that he could, which in this case was life in prison. “While the State is trying Loeb and Leopold,” Darrow said. “I will try capital punishment.”
Darrow would have less trouble with the case than he would with his clients, who constantly clowned around and hammed it up in the courtroom. The newspaper photographers frequently snapped photos of them smirking and laughing in court and the public, already turned against them, became even more hostile toward the “poor little rich boys.”
Darrow was fighting an uphill battle, but he brought out every trick in the book and used shameless tactics during the trial. He declared the boys to be insane. Leopold, he said, was a dangerous schizophrenic. They weren’t criminals, he railed, they just couldn’t help themselves. After this weighty proclamation, Darrow actually began to weep. The trial became a landmark in criminal law. He offered a detailed description of what would happen to the boys as they were hanged, providing a graphic image of bodily functions and physical pain. Darrow even turned to the prosecutor and invited him to personally perform the execution.
Darrow’s horrifying description had a marked effect on the courtroom and especially on the defendants. Loeb was observed to shudder and Leopold got so hysterical that he had to be taken out of the courtroom. Darrow then wept for the defendants, wept for Bobby Franks, and then wept for defendants and victims everywhere. He managed to get the best verdict possible out of the case. The defendants were given life in prison for Bobby Frank’s murder and an additional 99 years for his kidnapping.
Ironically, after all of that, Darrow only managed to get $40,000 of his fee from Leopold’s father. He got this after a seven-month wait and the threat of a lawsuit.
Leopold and Loeb were sent to the Joliet Penitentiary. Even though the warden claimed they were treated just like all of the other prisoners, they each enjoyed a private cell, books, a desk, a filing cabinet and even pet birds. They also showered away from the other prisoners and took their meals, which were prepared to order, in the officers’ lounge. Leopold was allowed to keep a flower garden. They were also permitted any number of unsupervised visitors. The doors to their cells were usually left open and they had passes to visit one another at any time.
Richard Loeb was eventually killed by another inmate, against whom he had been reportedly making sexual advances. The inmate, James Day, turned on him in a bathroom and attached him with a razor. Loeb, covered in blood, managed to make it out of the bathroom and he collapsed in the hallway. He was found bleeding by guards and he died a short time later. It was later discovered that Day had slashed him 56 times with the razor. When Clarence Darrow was told of Loeb’s death, he slowly shook his head. “He is better off dead,” the great attorney said, “For him, death is an easier sentence.”
Leopold lived on in prison for many years and was said to have made many adjustments to his character and some would even say rehabilitated completely. Even so, appeals for his parole were turned down three times. Finally, in 1958, the poet Carl Sandburg, who even went as far as to offer Leopold a room in his own home, pleaded his fourth appeal. Finally, in March of that year, he was released.
He was allowed to go to Puerto Rico, where he worked among the poor and married a widow named Trudi Feldman Garcia de Quevedo, who owned a flower shop. He went on to write a book about his experiences called Life Plus 99 Years and continued to be hounded by the press for his role in the “perfect murder” that he had committed decades before. He stated that he would be “haunted” by what he had done for the rest of his life.
Nathan Leopold died of heart failure on August 30, 1971, bringing an end to one of the most harrowing stories in the history of the city.
Sending Leopold and Loeb to prison, according to many people, did not bring about an end to this macabre case, thanks to two restless ghosts that continued to walk for many years afterward. The spirit with the most horrible connection to the case was that of Bobby Franks, who took nearly 50 years to find peace.
During this time, visitors to Rosehill Cemetery on the north side of Chicago often reported seeing the ghost of a young boy standing among the stones and mausoleums in the Jewish section of the graveyard. It is here where the Franks family mausoleum is located, although its location is not listed on any maps of the cemetery and employees are instructed not to point it out to curiosity-seekers. Even so, this tomb can be discovered within the confines of the beautiful burial ground and starting in the 1920s, maintenance workers and visitors alike encountered the ghostly boy. Many came to believe that it was the ghost of Bobby Franks, unable to rest in the wake of his bloody and violent death.
The boy was often seen wandering here but only from a distance. Whenever he was approached, the apparition would vanish. These sightings continued for years but eventually, they seemed to fade away. It’s been noted that the encounters ended at nearly the exact same time that Nathan Leopold died in Puerto Rico. Could there be a connection between these two events? It certainly seems possible and perhaps Bobby Frank can now find peace on the other side.
The other ghost from this case was that of famous attorney Clarence Darrow. When Darrow died in 1936, his ashes were scattered over the lagoon at Jackson Park, just behind the Museum of Science and Industry. While standing on what has been named the Clarence Darrow Bridge, many people have somewhat regularly spotted what is likely Darrow’s ghost on a veranda that spans the back of the museum. This wide stone area is at the bottom of the steps leading into the rear entrance of the museum. The ghost is reportedly seen dressed in a suit, hat and overcoat and bears a striking resemblance to the attorney. The figure is reported to stand and stare out across the water before disappearing.
Is this the ghost of Clarence Darrow, finally making his presence known from a world beyond our own? There are no other ghostly manifestations connected to this site and certainly none that look like Darrow did in his last days, as he strolled through the park admiring the “prettiest view on Earth.”

BREAK=====
Coming up… Robert Berdella. Behind his friendly demeanor lurked a deadly obsession with torture and murder.
Plus… a woman visiting her mother in the hospital takes an unexpected trip when stepping into the elevator.
But first… even 24 doors built into his house couldn’t give Charles Lapham a way out of his seemingly-cursed life! These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns!

STORY: NO EXIT – THE LAPHAM PATTERSON HOUSE=====
Having barely escaped the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 when he was 19, shoe merchant Charles Lapham built his unusual winter home in Thomasville, Georgia complete with at least 50 exits.
Construction began on this ornate Queen Anne-style mansion at 626 North Dawson Street in 1884 and was completed in 1885. The unique architectural touches include fish-scale shingles, a double-flue chimney, a walk through stairway, a cantilevered balcony, and a unique hexagonal shaped dining room. Lapham equipped the home with modern amenities such as a gas lighting system, hot and cold running water, indoor plumbing and closets.
Another unusual architectural flourish? The home possesses an overabundance of exits—the result, it seems, of Lapham’s deep fear of fire and being trapped inside a burning building. There are at least 50 exits to the mansion, including 24 exterior doors for its 19 rooms. Many of the mansion’s fifty-three windows are low to the floor and extend to the ceiling, providing additional ways out. In addition, the Lapham-Patterson house is noticeably asymmetrical. It contains just two true rectangular rooms and clean right angles rarely occur in its many windows, doors, and closets. For naturalists of the Victorian era, this skewed approach was healthy; the lack of right angles imbued the home with spiritual balance and harmony.
Still suffering from post-traumatic stress and a fear of fire, Lapham made sure that his new winter retreat included plenty of ways to escape. But his superstition about the Great Chicago Fire didn’t stop there. A decorative bargeboard hangs from the roof of the mansion, embellished with cutout designs. In the center is the shape a horned animal head. On the spring and autumn equinoxes of each year, sunlight shines through this opening and into a third-floor window, casting a bovine-shaped silhouette upon a small stage in the third-floor billiards room.
Historians claim the cow is an homage to Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, the infamous animal that allegedly kicked over a lantern and started the Great Chicago Fire. Perhaps Lapham intended the symbol of the cow as a way to communicate that he was prepared for any bad luck that might befall his second home.
Though Lapham and wife Emma were Quakers, the pair harbored interests in séances and the occult. Of the three photographs that survive of Lapham, one is a spirit photograph with Lapham in the foreground, surrounded by the “spirits” of those who had passed away. Spirit photography was a common practice at the time; mediums used dark room manipulation to add additional images to an original photo. Lapham seems to have believed that being in tune with the spiritual world would protect him from further harm.
Sadly, Lapham’s misfortune continued. He and Emma had five children while they lived at the Lapham-Patterson House, but his daughter Lydia, whom they called Dollie, died, and two others were institutionalized for intellectual disabilities. Eventually, Lapham’s business faltered and his marriage similarly ended up on the rocks. Though they never officially divorced, Emma moved to Arizona with her living sons where she died in 1917 … in an accidental fire.
Lapham sold the house in 1894 to a James Larmon—but shortly thereafter Larmon died of a heart attack on a business trip. His wife Harriet sold the house to the Patterson family. The new owners lived at the unusual abode until 1970. In 1975, the house became a National Historic Landmark and was opened to the public as a museum. Since then, staff and restoration workers have reported strange, unexplained activity. Some believe that the house is haunted by little Dollie, Lapham’s daughter who died after an illness in 1886.
Lapham died in 1919 in San Diego. He was cremated, and his ashes were buried alongside his daughter Dollie in the family plot in Chicago. Today, you can visit the eerie Lapham-Patterson House while in Thomasville. From the multitude of doors to the flue system that resembles a firefighter’s hat, it’s impossible not to feel Lapham’s otherworldly compulsions pressing down on you.

STORY: ELEVATOR OPENS INTO THE TWILIGHT ZONE=====
“Back when my mom was in the hospital, I stayed with her for about 5 days. She was on the 6th floor whereas the food court and snack machines were on the basement floor. I live in a small town so our hospital is the only place that has 6 floors. I went up and down the elevator so much that I knew this place like the back of my hands. Anyway, one day I was going down to get a drink and a Kit Kat. Everything was normal except the card reader on the coke machine didn’t work. I got on the elevator and selected the 6th floor when I got off, there was just empty walls. No nurses stations, no rooms, no painting, furniture, nothing. I walked towards one end to see random size white buildings and the other end to see tall skyscrapers and a shiny, metal window type building. I called out over and over but no one replied. I went to the stop where the elevators were and they were gone. I took out my phone to call the hospital to tell them I was lost but my phone didn’t have any bars (this was a few years ago with the flip phones) I kept looking at the windows hoping to find some sort of person that I can alert but no one was down there; no cars for miles. After realizing that I was literally screwed, my panic attacks kicked in.
I laid on the ground, staring at the wall, trying to calm myself down for a half hour. When I woke up, the place all looked the same except for the elevators, they were back and I felt a sigh of relief. I got in, pushed the 5th floor which was the maternity ward and the doors shut. When they opened, there was the basic light colored walls, borders trimmed with little duckies and the sounds of people talking and babies crying. I found the fire escape and figured I’ll take my chances on getting to mom’s floor. I opened the door and I was back on the 6th floor, the real one. I walked into mom’s room and she said ‘That was fast’. I told her I must have been gone for over an hour but she said I had been gone for less than 5 minutes. I looked at the TV and The Bold & The Beautiful was still on (it’s a 30 minute show). I don’t know what happened to me or where I was but I still don’t trust elevators.” – Lisa Gibson

STORY: ROBERT BERDELLA=====
April 2, 1988. The day before Easter Sunday. A naked man with a dog collar around his neck leaps from the second-story window of a house in Kansas City’s Hyde Park neighborhood. A neighbor finds the man crouched on his porch and calls 911. When police break open the unassuming white house on Charlotte Street, they find a torture dungeon like something straight out of a horror movie.
Inside the home, the police found more than 200 Polaroid photos and detailed “torture logs” documenting the kidnapping, torture, and eventual murder of at least six young men—most of them male prostitutes—between 1984 and 1988.
They also seized torture devices, an extensive library on witchcraft and the occult, a “Satanic ritual robe,” and a human skull in an upstairs closet. That weekend, residents in the quiet neighborhood were awakened to the sound of the police excavating the home’s back yard, where they found bone fragments and an additional human head.
The house belonged to Robert Berdella, the man who would become Kansas City’s most notorious serial killer. Prior to his arrest, Berdella was that serial killer cliché, someone neighbors described as a nice man who kept to himself. He helped start a neighborhood watch program, had worked as a chef, and ran his own booth at the Westport Flea Market.
Called Bob’s Bizarre Bazaar, the booth was a Kansas City fixture that sold everything from human skulls and shrunken heads to occult books and antiques. On the weekend that Berdella was captured, the Final Four tournament was happening in Kansas City, and Berdella displayed four human skulls—some say actual skulls, but more likely only models—in the window of Bob’s Bizarre Bazaar, along with a sign that read: “The Final Four.”
In spite of the overwhelming and gruesome evidence found in Berdella’s Hyde Park home, he was initially only charged with “sodomy, felonious restraint, and first degree assault.” It took time for the authorities to realize the extent of Berdella’s crimes, because the majority of his victims’ bodies were never found.
The list of atrocities that Berdella perpetrated on his victims would not be out of place in a movie like Saw or Hostel, including applying bleach to their eyes with cotton swabs, injecting their vocal cords with drain cleaner, and gouging one victim’s eyes out “to see what would happen.” Once they were dead, he dismembered the bodies in his bathtub and put the body parts out for the garbage men. If his seventh victim hadn’t escaped, there’s no telling how long he would have gone on killing.
Once Berdella’s case became public knowledge, popular rumor would have it that he cooked and served some of his victims as food at his shop, though there is no actual evidence to suggest that was the case.
After his arrest, Berdella cited the 1965 film adaptation of John Fowles’ novel The Collector—in which a man kidnaps a young woman and holds her captive in his basement—as an inspiration to his murders. Berdella described his crimes as “my darkest fantasies becoming my reality.”
Berdella’s own crimes inspired their share of movies, books, and even songs. A local radio personality wrote a parody song called “They Call Me Bob Berdella” to the tune of Donovan’s 1966 hit “Mellow Yellow.” The parody played on local radio stations, which also gave out prizes to listeners who attended events wearing dog collars.
In one of the only interviews he ever gave before his death, Berdella expressed his displeasure over the songs and the media coverage of his murders, claiming that the media “dehumanized” him just as he had dehumanized his victims. Berdella referred to himself as “the neighbor next door, who reached a point in his life where he could do monstrous acts; that’s not the same thing as being a monster.”
Robert Berdella died of a heart attack in prison in 1992, after writing letters claiming that prison officials were not giving him his heart medication. Other accounts have since implied that Berdella was poisoned while behind bars, but no official investigation of his death was ever conducted.
For whatever reason, Berdella never attained the national notoriety of killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, or John Wayne Gacy. These days, he is largely forgotten outside of KC, but those who grew up around here can still remember where they were when they first heard about the Butcher of Kansas City. If you go to the Westport Flea Market today, there is no plaque or sign to commemorate the spot where Bob’s Bizarre Bazaar once stood, but most locals can still point it out.

BREAK=====
When Weird Darkness returns… a nightmare is frightening, we can all agree on that. But what if you have a nightmare within a nightmare? One woman tells her terrifying story, up next.

STORY: MY NIGHTMARE=====
My weird darkness story started at my daughters apt. I fell asleep on the sofa with a blanket and my arms streched over the top of my head. Suddenly I was dreaming the exact same thing in my dream. With the same blanket, clothes, and position of my body. And in my daughters apt. Within seconds I could feel something come in through her sliding glass door looming in the corner. That end of the couch became dark . I could hear growling and snarling come from the same corner of that couch. All of a sudden something grabbed both my wrist and was holding me down. Then the blanket began to hold me in and I could feel an evil presence pressing on the top of the blanket. It started at my feet and made its way up to my face. I was totally paralyzed with fear , thinking that what ever it must not see my face. I tried prayer and pleading for god and jesus to help me but it blocked my thoughts and prayers. I was total physically and mentally paralyzed. Finally my prayers and pleas for help must have reached the heavens because the evil presence and feeling disappeared. When I woke up I was grasping at the air with my hands and could hear myself purging the word Jesus out of my mouth. A few other things have happened when I spent the night there, I often wonder if her apt . is haunted. But then again I have had other bazaar dreams in other places . Nightmares really. The realism of the dreams is what makes it so awfully scary. It really felt like it was happening to me and there was nothing I could do about it.

SHOW CLOSE=====
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at darren@weirddarkness.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to FREE audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Retro Radio: Old Time Radio In The Dark”, “Church of the Undead” and a classic 1950’s sci-fi style podcast called “Auditory Anthology”. Also on the site you can visit the store for Weird Darkness tee-shirts, mugs, and other merchandise… plus, it’s where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression, addiction, or thoughts of harming yourself or others. And if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell of your own, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.

“Chicago’s Thrill Killers” by Troy Taylor from AmericanHauntingsInk.com

“Elevator Opens Into the Twilight Zone” by Lisa Gibson for PhantomsAndMonsters.com

“The Butcher of Kansas City” by Orrin Grey for The Line Up

“My Real Life Nightmare” by Alicia Zapata, for WeirdDarkness.com

“No Exit – The Lapham Patterson House” by Jessica Ferri for The Line Up

WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright, Weird Darkness.

Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” — Ephesians 4:25

And a final thought… “You’re better off changing your mind than hoping something will eventually change.”

I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.

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