James P. Riva
Just 23 years old when he killed his disabled grandmother in Massachusetts in 1980, James P. Riva claimed to be a 700-year-old vampire who killed her just to drink her blood. When questioned, he later changed his story to say that he had killed the old lady in self-defence.
A native of a town called Marshfield, James P. Riva went from drinking his grandmother’s blood to claiming that she was the vampire and that she used an icepick to drain his blood while he slept at night. It didn’t take long for the jury to decide whether or not he was guilty. In 1981, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for shooting his grandmother four times with bullets made of gold and stabbing her repeatedly through the heart before burning the house down.
Best known as “The Vampire of Hanover,” Haarmann was one of the first documented serial killers. Between 1918 and 1924, he is known to have killed at least twelve people. Many of those he killed died of wounds to their necks. Haarmann was eventually captured and sentenced to death for his grisly crimes. In 1925, he was beheaded and his brain studied by scientists. His head was preserved in a jar and by all accounts was kept at a medical school deep in the German heartland.
Roderick Ferrell took role-playing to the next level when he led a group of his followers called “The Vampire Clan” from Kentucky to Eustis, Florida. The clan meant to kill the parents of Ferrell’s girlfriend so she could become part of his coven. Arriving in Florida, Ferrell and a friend beat his girlfriend’s father with a crowbar and took part in a ceremony, which included burning a large “V” into his chest. When arrested, Ferrell told the police that they would never be able to keep him locked up because he was an all-powerful, 500-year-old vampire named Vesago. Ferrell eventually became the youngest American to enter death row in 1998. Recently, his sentence has been commuted to life without parole.
A fascination with blood led to a month-long horror spree between 1977 and 1978. Richard Chase was dubbed “The Vampire of Sacramento” after he killed, disemboweled and drank the blood of six victims. Chase, by all accounts, attacked randomly and only entered homes where the door was unlocked or wide open. He said that a locked door meant that he wasn’t welcome. Chase was sentenced to the death penalty after being found guilty of first degree murder six times. He eventually took his own life in prison in 1979.
Obsessions sometimes lead to more grisly affairs. When Allan Menzies became hooked on the vampire movie “Queen of the Damned,” he started to believe he was the main character from the movie “Akasha.” At his trial, he admitted that he knew he had to kill somebody and had decided on his best friend, who had lent him the film in the first place. When his friend McKendrick insulted the main character of the film, Menzies flipped and stabbed him 42 times. Then he hit him with a hammer and finally consumed part of his brain. Menzies was sentenced to life imprisonment but committed suicide after a year of incarceration.
In 2011, a young lady called Josephine Smith attacked a defenceless 69-year-old homeless man as he slept in St. Petersburg, Florida. By all accounts, she told the poor man, “I am a vampire. I am going to eat you.” She then bit off pieces of his arm, lips and face. The homeless victim managed to escape and called the police who eventually found the young vampire covered in blood with no memory of ever having committed her vampirisitic acts.
Vanessa A. Ryan is a writer/actor in Southern California
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