Many folks collect things as a hobby. Pins, baseballs, cards, model airplanes, little ceramic pigs, toys, dolls, movie posters, stationery, cars, the list is endless. But among these collectors, there are those whose passions run a little darker than the rest of us. For those people who are fascinated with the dark and morbid, their collections need to be edgier, even a little disturbing.
Murder memorabilia or murderabilia is the term used for collectible items related to violent crimes, usually those that involve murder. Buyers who seek out these types of items are looking to own either something that was once owned by a killer or that they have created. Serial killer artwork is one of the most common items and depending on the notoriety of the killer these pieces can fetch exorbitant prices.
Virtually anything ever owned by a killer has value in this underground market and items in high demand include houses, vehicles, personal effects, weapons, and clothing. But a quick search on a website that specializes in these sorts of collectibles reveals that almost anything a killer has touched can have value – even a half-eaten packet of biscuits or a pocket calculator.
Obviously, the sale of items such as these is loaded with controversy because most people find it morally reprehensible to profit from murder. In 2001, eBay put a ban on the sale of murderabilia merchandise on their site but because there is such a high demand for the items they can be still be found relatively easily on the internet. So what sorts of things are people buying? Let’s take a look…
15. Johnny Depp Once Bought A Painting By John Wayne Gacy
Murderers serving long (well-deserved) prison sentences don’t have many options when it comes to activities to fill their days and so many of them opt for art. Creating art is also considered to be a form of therapy and these works often allow us a glimpse into their twisted minds. Serial killer artwork is one of the best selling items on underground murderabilia websites because it is easy to obtain from the prisoners.
John Wayne Gacy was one such prisoner who created a slew of disturbing paintings while serving on Death Row. Some of these paintings now fetch as much $133,000.00! Who would want to own something like this and actually hang it on their wall? Well, actor, Johnny Depp reportedly invested in one of the killers’ paintings but became so freaked out by it that he soon got rid of it. Can’t say we blame him.
14. Robert Berdella’s “Bobs Bizarre Bazaar” Stamped Box
Some killers have day jobs that will make your blood run cold. The infamous Kansas City Butcher was one of them. Robert Berdella was a chef for many years before he left the industry in his mid-thirties to start his own business. He owned a shop called Bob’s Bizarre Bazaar, which sold oddities and antiques. Nowadays items from this shop are sought after by murder memorabilia enthusiasts.
Recently one of these items surfaced on the internet and it didn’t take long before it was snatched up. The item was a vintage style necklace but it wasn’t the necklace that the buyers were after. It was the box it came in because the box had an original Bob’s Bizarre Bazaar stamp in red on the inside. The box and necklace set fetched $1,495.00.
13. Ted Bundy’s Christmas Card – $5,000
Theodore Bundy was a serial killer that shocked the world not only with his grisly murders but more so with his charming demeanor. He was a predator in every sense of the word – drawing his victims in with handsome good looks, a glib smile, and well-articulated speech. At the time of his execution, he had confessed to the murder of 28 women although some believe his real victim count could have been as high as 100.
One of the stranger pieces of Ted Bundy memorabilia that has come up for sale is a Christmas card signed by the notorious rapist and killer. The card (dated December 19th, 1988 – one month and four days before Bundy’s execution) is signed “God Bless you, Peace Ted.” And what would a card like this set you back? Well, this one sold for an incredible $4,999.99.
12. Charles Manson’s Left-Over Snacks – $750
Charles Manson’s power comes from the fact that he was a brilliant master manipulator and through the power of coercion he managed to get his followers to commit gruesome acts for the sake of his cause. At the age of 82 he continues to serve a life sentence at Corcoran State Prison and in all likelihood, he will never taste freedom again.
Go onto any murder memorabilia website and you’re bound to find a few items related to Charles Manson. Almost anything he touches has value in this dark underground market and we’re not exaggerating when we say that. There are photographs, postcards, and letters that can set you back up to $300.00 and if you want to own a piece of his artwork expect to pay up to $6000.00. Even food packages left half-eaten by Manson during prison visits are up for sale – a half-eaten packet of biscuits is currently selling for around $750.00!
11. Jeffrey Dahmer Original Booking Polaroid – $6,500
Murder photographs are also hot ticket items for those with murder memorabilia collections but you better have deep pockets if you want something authentic. And of course, the more well-known a killer is, the more expensive the photo. These often include booking photos, like the one of Jeffrey Dahmer taken after his 1991 arrest. This original 2 1/8″ x 1 1/4″ Polaroid picture recently sold for $6,500.00. It came complete with a one-page handwritten signed letter by a police officer which detailed Dahmer’s time in county jail following his arrest.
Dahmer was found guilty on fifteen counts of first-degree murder and cannibalism in 1992 and received fifteen life sentences for his crimes. Just two years later he was beaten to death in prison by another inmate making any memorabilia related to him extremely valuable and rare. Although I’m not sure if a picture of Jeffrey is the sort of thing you’d want to display in your home.
10. The Ed Gein Ghoul Car
Ed Gein enjoyed his own kind of mementos – he used skin taken from bodies that he stole from cemeteries to fashion all kinds of items including bowls and lampshades. He was only convicted of one murder but it’s suspected that he had more victims. And what did all his victims have in common? At one stage or another, he transported them in his car, a Ford Sedan.
After Gein was arrested for his crimes in 1958, the car was sold at an auction for $760.00. It was purchased by a local carnival sideshow owner who included it in his show and would charge visitors 25c to see the “Ed Gein Ghoul Car”. Following a number of complaints the attraction was banned and the car mysteriously disappeared. It has yet to be found but chances are it would fetch an astronomical amount today.
9. Charles Ng FBI Wanted Poster
Now I don’t know about you but old Wanted posters are not the sort of thing I’d like hanging on my walls at home. But Wanted posters – especially originals that are in good condition – are worth top dollar in the world of murderabilia.
Charles NG and his accomplice Leonard Lake were guilty for the rape, torture, and murder of 11 to 25 victims over a two-year period, between 1983 and 1985. He and Lake were eventually apprehended and in the end, NG received the death sentence for his crimes. He’s currently on Death Row at San Quentin State Prison. An original 1985 FBI poster, measuring 11” X 16” recently went up for sale and the asking price was $325.00 and you can be sure it won’t stay on the market very long before being snapped up by a true crime fan.
8. Carpet Fibres From Fox Hollow Farm
Herbert Baumeister might be a name you’ve never heard before. That’s because when police closed in on him, he chose to kill himself rather than face the consequences of his murderous actions. During the 1980s and 1990s, police suspect that he may have killed upwards of 25 men. When his home, Fox Hollow Farm in Indianapolis, was raided in 1996 police discovered the remains of at least 11 men. Shortly afterward Baumeister, who had escaped to Canada, shot himself in the head. He never confessed to a single murder.
Items from the Fox Hollow Farm often pop up for sale online. These include checks and written documents as well as strange items such as carpet fibers. Expect to pay around $75.00 for a small plastic packet of these fibers – not sure what you’re going to do with them, though.
7. Joseph Druce’s Worn Nike Shoes
Joseph L. Druce was an attention seeker who craved notoriety. He killed his first victim because the man had made a pass at him after picking him up hitchhiking along the road. For this crime, he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. While serving his sentence he carried out another murder and this time the murder put him in the spotlight. Just what he wanted.
In August 2003 he trapped John Geoghan, a former Roman Catholic priest who was convicted of sexually abusing children, in a cell and proceeded to stomp and strangle him death.
One of the items currently offered for sale on a murder memorabilia site is a pair of Druce’s shoes listed as “personally owned and worn men’s size 10.5 Nike ‘Wild Trail’. This item is complete with a handwritten letter of authenticity, signed and dated by Druce. The site does make it clear however that these are not the same pair of shoes “worn during the 2003 incident with John Geoghan”.
6. Jeremy Jones’ Prison Shirt
Jeremy Bryan Jones was a good looking, charming man who could have been anything that he wanted but he chose a life of crime. From his teenage years, he embraced the “thug life” noting that these were the people who had all the money, cars, and women in his neighborhood. In 2004, after years on the run under a false identity Jones was finally arrested. It’s suspected that he could have raped and killed up to 20 women. He received the death sentence for his crimes.
Even though Jones may not be as well known as some other, more notorious serial killers, items related to him are still in demand. Currently one of his prison shirts is up for sale. The XL white T-shirt (unwashed) has been signed by Jones and costs $275.00.
5. Locks Of Killer Hair
Okay, this one genuinely freaked me out. A lock of hair is something mothers keep to remember their children or two lovers exchange. Owning a piece of hair belonging to a serial killer is just beyond macabre but judging by the demand for hair it seems that many people would disagree with me on this one.
You can expect to pay between $40.00 and $275.00 for about 5 strands of hair from killers like Arthur Shawcross (The Green River Killer) and lesser known murderers such as Ramon Salcido and Douglas Clark. If you want hair from more famous killers such as Aileen Wuornos you better get out your checkbook because it’s not going to be cheap – you’ll pay upwards of $4,500.00 for that. A hair-tie used by Charles Manson is also currently up for sale – for just $1,500.00 you could add it to your collection…
4. Spree Killers Fingerprints
Isaac Zamora is classed as a rampage killer. This type of murderer, sometimes also known as a spree killer, is defined as someone who kills multiple people in a short space of time, with little or no cooling off period in between. On September 2nd, a drug addict with serious mental health issues, went on such a rampage and his killing spree left six people dead. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a mental-health facility for treatment. If he ever recovers he will go on to serve four life sentences in prison.
Those that are interested in spree killer memorabilia might be interested in owning his fingerprint chart with verified signatures. The real thing (not a copy) was one of the items we discovered for sale at the moment.
3. Lee Harvey Oswald’s Gold Wedding Band – $118,000
Some people may seek out murder memorabilia in an attempt to own a piece of history, in the same way that people buy rocks from the moon or pieces of the Berlin wall. If you’re looking at killers who changed the course of history, Lee Harvey Oswald is surely close to the top of the list. His actions on November 22, 1963, changed America forever; the day he assassinated John F. Kennedy.
On that fateful morning, Oswald removed his gold wedding band and placed it in a dresser drawer knowing that he would never return. The ring has had many owners since then and in 2013 it went up for auction again. It was purchased by a man in Texas who paid over $118,000 to own this macabre item.
2. Pogo The Clown Busts
Looking for something new for your nightstand? How about a Pogo the Clown (AKA John Wayne Gacy mask) hand painted bust? Not quite your thing? Don’t worry – the site that we found this item on is advertising that they will have full resin busts of Ed Gein and Richard Ramirez available soon as well. Maybe you could even start a little collection! Okay, maybe not, unless you want to give yourself permanent nightmares.
Busts like this were never owned by the actual serial killer but memorabilia such as busts, serial killer trading cards, and even board games are always for sale. These items are usually a little cheaper – perfect for someone just getting started with a collection. Busts such as this one will usually cost around $135.00.
1. Unabomber Paraphernalia
Ted Kaczynski (AKA The Unabomber) held a nation in terror between 1978 and 1995 when he started sending letter bombs. His grisly actions earned him eight life terms which he continues to serve today.
Before his arrest, Ted had been living off the grid in a small cabin without running water or electricity. The items left behind in his cabin made up the most high-profile murderabilia auction to date. In 2011 some of the items included in an online auction were his hoodie, sunglasses, a Smith Corona typewriter, and of course his infamous handwritten manifesto. The hoodie and sunglasses fetched $20,000 while the manifesto sold for $17,000. The proceeds of these sales were passed on to the victims’ families. If you ever get the chance to read the manifesto you should do so, it’s truly fascinating.