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Murderabilia, also known as murderbilia, is a term identifying collectibles related to murders and murderers or other violent crimes. The term was 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 or created by mass murderers or serial killers can be marketed, such as vehicles, artwork and weapons used in crimes. Clothing is also in high demand, particularly clothes worn during crimes themselves.
Sale and display of murderabilia items
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.
Zak Bagans, host of the Ghost Adventures television show, owns a "Haunted Museum" in Las Vegas, Nevada where he displays artifacts relating to murderer Charles Manson, suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian and the death of Michael Jackson, among others. His Manson exhibits include what are said to be bits of bone and ash from Manson's cremation, as well as his blood-stained hospital gown, the sheet which covered his dead body, and the toe tag from his corpse. He says these items were given to him by Jason Freeman, who was adjudged Manson's next of kin by a court.
Attempts to restrict sale of murderabilia items
Andy Kahan, director of the Houston-based Mayor's Crime Victims Office, has lobbied strongly against the sale of murderabilia material. In May 2001, eBay banned the sale of murderabilia items, but sales continued on other websites. As of 2007, the sale of such items was banned in five states: Texas, California, New Jersey, Michigan and Utah. 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 was 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. The bill died in committee.
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