It’s very common to bring a souvenir back home with us from a vacation as a nice reminder of the great trip we had. Serial killers often do something similar, only much creepier. Serial killers will often keep an item (or trophy) from their victim so each time they look at or touch the item, they are taken right back to the murder they committed and the sick pleasure they got from it. Psychologist Joel Norris explains that serial killers often experience something known as a “totem phase” after they commit a murder that results in a depression only cured by reliving the power they felt when they murdered someone. And the best way to relive that experience? By keeping mementos from the murder, and often from the victim’s body itself. Here are 10 of the creepiest trophies serial killers kept from their victims.
Ivan Milat is an Australian serial killer who was given the name “The Backpack Killer” due to the seven (and likely more) backpackers and hitchhikers he murdered in the 1990’s. Milat would stab (and sometimes also shoot) his victims to death, with a trademark wound to the spine that likely left them paralyzed, but still alive, as he continued to stab the rest of their bodies until their eventual death. Milat’s victims were often found with their pants undone, indicating likely sexual assault, but this was often difficult to determine because the bodies were usually very decomposed from the elements by the time they were found. When police narrowed in on Milat and eventually caught him at his mother’s house on May 22nd, 1994, they also found the sleeping bags, clothing, and other camping supplies from the victims that Milat kept. Milat kept those camping supplies as trophies so he could re-experience the pleasure he felt when he first killed them.
In 1969, Jerome Brudos, AKA the Lust Killer, was finally apprehended after killing four women. At the age of 5 Brudos found a pair of women’s shoes in a junkyard and kept them until his mother found and subsequently destroyed them. Brudos’ obsession with women’s shoes continued to escalate, and he would later stalk women and follow them home simply based on their shoes. Brudos would keep trophies from his victims that ranged from their shoes, to their breasts, and finally, to taking a victim’s foot with him so he could put it into other women’s shoes he had acquired. Brudos was found guilty of four murders and he even admitted to other assaults he had committed, although he said he was not guilty due to insanity, but mental health experts disagreed. Although he repeatedly tried (and failed) to appeal his conviction, Brudos eventually died of natural causes in an Oregon prison in 2006 . We’ve all heard of having a foot fetish, but Jerome Brudos took that to a whole new level.