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Richard Chase mugshot
|Birth name||Anthony Richard Trenton Chase Turner|
|Also known as||The Dracula Killer
The Vampire of Sacramento
The Vampire Killer
|Born||May 23, 1950
Santa Clara County, California, United States
|Died||December 26, 1980(aged 30)|
|Cause of death||Suicide by overdose|
|Number of victims||6|
|Date apprehended||January 27, 1978|
Richard Trenton Chase (May 23, 1950 – December 26, 1980) was an American schizophrenic serial killer who killed six people in a span of a month in Sacramento, California. He was nicknamed "The Vampire of Sacramento" because he drank his victims's blood and cannibalized their remains.
Abused by his mother, Chase exhibited by the age of 10 evidence of the Macdonald triad: enuresis, pyromania, and zoosadism. In his adolescence, he was known as an alcoholic and a chronic drug abuser. He suffered from erectile dysfunction due to "psychological problems stemming from repressed anger".
Chase developed hypochondria as he matured. He often complained that his heart would occasionally "stop beating", or that "someone had stolen his pulmonary artery". He would hold oranges on his head, believing Vitamin C would be absorbed by his brain via diffusion. Chase also believed that his cranial bones had become separated and were moving around, so he shaved his head in order to watch this activity.
After leaving his mother's house (believing she was attempting to poison him), Chase rented an apartment with friends. Chase's roommates complained that he was constantly intoxicated on alcohol, marijuana, and LSD. Chase would also walk around the apartment nude, even in front of company. Chase's roommates demanded that he move out. When he refused, the roommates moved out instead.
Once alone in the apartment, Chase began to capture, kill, and disembowel various animals, which he would then devour raw, sometimes mixing the raw organs with Coca-Cola in a blender and drinking the concoction. Chase reasoned that by ingesting the creatures he was preventing his heart from shrinking.
In 1975, Chase was involuntarily committed to a mental institution after being taken to a hospital after injecting rabbit's blood into his veins. He often shared with the staff fantasies about killing rabbits. He was once found with blood smeared around his mouth – hospital staff discovered he had been drinking the blood of birds; he had thrown the birds' corpses out of his hospital room window. Staff began referring to him as "Dracula".
In one of the many incidents in which he was held at the institution, he substituted the blood from the therapy dog to curb his addiction. He claimed he obtained the syringes from cracking open the disposable boxes left in the doctor's offices. Occasionally, he defecated on himself and smeared the walls of the institution with his feces.
Chase was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. After undergoing a battery of treatments involving psychotropic drugs, Chase was deemed no longer a danger to society and, in 1976, he was released under the recognizance of his mother.
Chase's mother weaned him off the medication and got Chase his own apartment.
Later investigation uncovered that in mid-1977, Chase was stopped and arrested on a reservation in the Pyramid Lake (Nevada) area. His body was smeared with blood and a bucket of blood was in his truck. The victim was found to be bovine and no charges were filed.
On December 29, 1977, Chase killed his first known victim in a drive-by shooting. The victim, Ambrose Griffin, was a 51-year-old engineer and father of two. After the shooting, one of Griffin's sons reported seeing a neighbor walking around their East Sacramento neighborhood with a .22 caliber rifle. The neighbor's rifle was seized, but ballistics tests determined that it was not the murder weapon.
Two weeks later, he attempted to enter the home of a woman but, finding that her doors were locked, walked away; Chase later told detectives that he took locked doors as a sign that he was not welcome, but that unlocked doors were an invitation to come inside. He was later chased off by a returning couple as he pilfered belongings from their home and urinated and defecated on their beds and clothing.
Teresa Wallin was Chase's next victim on January 23. Three months pregnant at the time, Wallin was surprised at her home by Chase, who shot her three times, killing her.
Two days after killing Wallin, Chase purchased two puppies from a neighbor.
On January 27, Chase committed his final murders. Entering the home of 38-year-old Evelyn Miroth, he encountered her friend, Danny Meredith, whom he shot with his .22 handgun. Stealing Meredith's wallet and car keys, he rampaged through the house, fatally shooting Miroth, her six-year-old son Jason, and her 22-month-old nephew David Ferreira. As with Wallin, Chase engaged in necrophilia and cannibalism with Miroth's corpse.
A six-year-old girl with whom Jason Miroth had a playdate knocked on the door, startling Chase, who fled the scene in Meredith's car, taking David's body with him. The girl alerted a neighbor, who then alerted the police. Upon entering the home, police discovered that Chase had left perfect handprints and shoe imprints in Miroth's blood.
In 1979, Chase stood trial on six counts of murder. In order to avoid the death penalty, the defense tried to have him found guilty of second degree murder, which would result in a life sentence. Their case hinged on Chase's history of mental illness and the suggestion that his crimes were not premeditated.
On May 8, the jury in the highly publicized case found Chase guilty of six counts of first degree murder and Chase was sentenced to die in the gas chamber. They rejected the argument that he was not guilty by reason of insanity. His fellow inmates, aware of the graphic and bizarre nature of Chase's crimes, feared him, and according to prison officials, they often tried to convince Chase to commit suicide.[unreliable source?]
Chase granted a series of interviews with Robert Ressler, during which he spoke of his fears of Nazis and UFOs, claiming that although he had killed, it was not his fault; he had been forced to kill to keep himself alive, which he believed any person would do. He asked Ressler to give him access to a radar gun, with which he could apprehend the Nazi UFOs, so that the Nazis could stand trial for the murders. He also handed Ressler a large amount of macaroni and cheese, which he had been hoarding in his pants pockets, believing that the prison officials were in league with the Nazis and attempting to kill him with poisoned food.
On December 26, 1980, a guard checking cells found Chase lying awkwardly on his bed, not breathing. An autopsy determined that he committed suicide with an overdose of prison doctor-prescribed antidepressants that he had saved over several weeks.
The CSI episode "Justice Is Served" was based on Chase's crimes.
The Criminal Minds episode "Blood Hungry" was based on Chase's crimes.
An identification card with Chase's identity can be found in the video game Deadlight.
Mentioned in Season 1 Episode 3 of the BBC Crime Drama Luther while the main character is listing notorious serial killers.
Notes and references
- "Richard Trenton Chase Vampire Of Sacramento". Slideshare.net. Retrieved 2011-07-29.[unreliable source?]
- Amanda Howard, Martin Smith [disambiguation needed]: River of Blood, Universal Publishers (August 30, 2004), ISBN 978-1-58112-518-4, pp. 82 accessed via Google Books[unreliable source?]
- Bovsun, Mara (January 3, 2010). "Just crazy for blood: Richard Trenton Chase, a.k.a. the Vampire of Sacramento". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- Ressler, Robert; Thomas Schachtman (1992). Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI (First ed.). St. Martin's. p. 14. ISBN 0-312-07883-8.
- "Richard Trenton Chase". Crime Library.
- "Richard Trenton Chase - Profile of Serial Killer Chase". Crime.about.com. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- Haunted America Tours. "The Vampire of Sacramento Richard Trenton Chase". Hauntedamericatours.com. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- Investigation Discovery. "Lore: Deadly Obsession: The Vampire Of Sacramento". investigation.discovery.com. Retrieved 2011-05-13.