Murderabilia, also known as murderbilia, is a term identifying collectibles related to murders, murderers or other violent crimes, coined by Andy Kahan, director of the Houston Police Department's Crime Victims Office.
Buyers typically seek collectibles that are either artifacts used or owned by murderers and items (often artwork) created by them. According to crime writer Leigh Lundin, buyers may be interested in the macabre, but many believe such artifacts offer power and control.
Virtually anything once owned by mass murderers or serial killers can be marketed, such as vehicles, houses, and especially weapons used in crimes. Clothing is also in high demand, particularly clothes worn during crimes themselves.
Serial killer art
Killer art is defined as poetry or artwork created by mass murderers and serial killers while in prison. Often, this process is used as a therapy device, or for further understanding a particularly disturbed psyche, while in other instances it is purely a method of time spanning entertainment for imprisoned individuals. The artists vary dramatically in skill and themes covered.
John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, Glen Edward Rogers, and Henry Lee Lucas are a few of the better known American serial killer artists. Perry Smith, the mass murderer known from Truman Capote's famous work In Cold Blood, was also a prolific artist.
In May 2001, eBay banned the sale of murderabilia items, forcing the industry underground. One of the more prominent dealers of murderabilia who sold on eBay launched their own web site, Supernaught, the first of its kind dedicated to selling true crime collectibles.
In 2005, a serial killer's artwork was sold online in Massachusetts. State lawmakers proposed to block the activity, setting off a debate on free speech rights of prisoners. In 2007, American school shooter Wayne Lo caused controversy after it was found that he was selling his artwork on a web site.
In 2010, Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota teamed up to introduce a bill in Congress that would outlaw the sale of murderabilia. The bill is called the "Stop the Sale of Murderabilia to Protect the Dignity of Crime Victims Act of 2010," and came after several individual fights over the issue.
Eric Gein, whose murderabilia web site Serial killers ink is often in the news for selling items belonging to serial killers, is an outspoken opponent of the bill, has enlisted the help of the ACLU and claims the bill is an anti-civil liberties bill.
In June 2011, the United States Government auctioned off personal items which belonged to Ted Kaczynski which were found in his Montana cabin upon his capture in 1996. The auction took place entirely online. The proceeds went to victims and victims' families of Kaczynski's crimes.
- Macdonald, Sally (July 16, 2010). "Crime Victims Advocate Moved From Mayor's Office to HPD". Retrieved July 22, 2010.
- Barrett, Grant (2006-05-23). The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English: A Crunk Omnibus for Thrillionaires and Bampots for the Ecozoic Age. McGraw-Hill. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-07-145804-7.
- Hylton, Hilary (2007-06-05). "Cracking Down on 'Murderabilia'". TIME. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
- Lundin, Leigh (2012-10-15). "Merchandising Murder". Murderabilia. Orlando: SleuthSayers.
- Hylton, Hilary (May 13, 2007). "Cracking Down On "Murderabilia"". Retrieved June 5, 2007.
- Gottfried, Mara (August 13, 2000). "Web Auctions Raise Big Questions About 'Murderabilia' Profits". St. Paul Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Mn: Guy L. Gilmore). Retrieved 9 April 2016.
- Graham, Marty (December 8, 2006). "Making a 'Murderabilia' Killing". Wired. Retrieved December 8, 2006.
- "Sales Add To Pain Of Victims' Families". The Spokesman Review (Spokane, Washington: William Stacey Cowles). November 3, 2004. Retrieved November 29, 2004.
- "Online auction of killer's art spurs debate". CNET News. November 16, 2005. Retrieved June 23, 2009.
- Copulsky, Dan (May 16, 2007). "Wayne Lo 'murderabilia' site causes controversy". Llama Ledger. Retrieved June 23, 2009.
- Schneider, James (June 18, 2010). "Senators Try to Halt Sale of Gruesome 'Murderabilia'". Fox News. Retrieved July 22, 2010.
- Lohr, David (February 13, 2010). "Murderabilia: Art or a New Form of Victimization?". Retrieved July 22, 2010.
- Puente, Mark (January 22, 2010). "Letters from accused killer Anthony Sowell for sale online; authorities say it's legal". Retrieved July 22, 2010.
- Skrzypek, Jeff (May 19, 2010). "Website Sells Kip Kinkel Letters". Retrieved July 22, 2010.
- Romero, Dennis (April 2, 2010). "Creep-tastic: A Jail Letter By Serial Killer Alcala Put Up For Sale". Retrieved July 22, 2010.
- Lohr, David (June 10, 2010). "Outraged Lawmakers Move to Block 'Murderabilia' Sales". Retrieved July 22, 2010.
- Lohr, Kathy (May 24, 2011). "Unabomber's Criminal Collectibles Up For Auction". Retrieved June 7, 2010.
- Vinciguerra, Thomas (June 4, 2011). "The ‘Murderabilia’ Market". The New York Times. Retrieved June 7, 2010.