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The First Signature Serial Killer

It was this day in history, September 18, 1959, that the first signature serial killer was put to death. Harvey Murray Glatman’s signature was taking photos of bound up women befoe and after he killed them. Harvey Glatman, would later become to be known as the Lonely Hearts Killer because he met his last victim in the lonely hearts personals section of a Los Angeles newspaper.

Henry’s parents knew he had mental issues from childhood when his mother found strange markings around his neck and it was also swollen and red. She was horrified to find out that he used a rope on several different occasions to choke himself and he said that he got a sexual pleasure from it. His parents took him to a psychiatrist, the doctor told them that it was just a phase he was going through and would outgrow it. He never did and the rope would later become instrumental in his killings.

Glatman eventually moved to New York State where he was caught and convicted of robbery and spent almost three years in Ossining State Prison (Sing Sing). He was released after two years and eight months and headed west to sunny California. Harvey Glatman then took up photography as a hobby and soon combined this hobby with his rope hobby to become a serial killer. He would use assumed names and hang around modeling studios and claimed to be a freelance photographer. Glatman would tell potential victims that he was a photographer for true crime magazines and other pulp fiction magazines. The modeling agencies and he models themselves knew that this meant they would probably have to nude or almost nude shoots but Glatman offered the models twenty dollars an hour for their work. In the 1950’s, struggling models and actresses would not be turning this kind of payday down.

Harvey Glatman would have the come over to his apartment, which he called his studio, stat taking pictures of them in various positions and then tie them up and rape them. When he was done, he would tell them that he was taking them home but instead, Glatman would drive them out to the desert and kill them. This worked well for him until his last victim got suspicious when they headed out of the city.

Lorraine Vigil was the fourth would be victim but she wrestled him as he tried to tie her hands. He pulled his gun and she wrestled it away from him after being shot in the thigh and he pulled his car over to the side of the road. As he wrestled her outside of the car, a highway patrolman saw them struggling and arrested Glatman. He never once tried to prove his innocence and had said that he just wanted to die so about a year after his arrest, he was put to death in the gas chamber. When he was first arrested, he admitted to the killing of the other three women and subsequently led the police to his toolbox where he had the pictures of the women he had killed.

Interestingly enough, the movie Dragnet 66 was made about this killer and it was this movie that led to the Dragnet television series, althought the movie itself was not shown until 1969.

Below this article is a link to the movie on Youtube.


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