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Richard Chase mugshot
|Born||Richard Trenton Chase
May 23, 1950
San Jose, California
|Died||December 26, 1980(aged 30)|
|Cause of death||Suicide by overdose|
|Other names||The Dracula Killer
The Vampire of Sacramento
The Vampire Killer
Span of killings
|December 29, 1977 – January 27, 1978|
|January 27, 1978|
Richard Trenton Chase (May 23, 1950 – December 26, 1980) was an American 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' blood and cannibalized their remains.
Chase was born in San Jose, California. He was abused by his mother, and 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.
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 and had thrown the birds' corpses out of his hospital room window. Staff began referring to him as "Dracula".
While he was held at the institution, he claimed to have extracted blood from a therapy dog to curb his addiction, having obtained the syringes by 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 blood was determined to be cow's blood, 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.
He attempted to enter the home of a woman two weeks later, but because her doors were locked, he walked away. Chase later told detectives that he took locked doors as a sign that he was not welcome, but unlocked doors were an invitation to come inside. He was once caught and chased off by a couple returning home as he pilfered their belongings. He had also 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 using the same gun he used to kill Griffin. He then raped her corpse while stabbing her several times with a butcher knife. He then removed multiple organs, cut off one of her nipples and drank the blood. Before leaving, he collected dog feces from the yard and stuffed it into the victim's mouth and down her throat.
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 persuade Chase to commit suicide.
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.
In 2002 Sacramento Rapper "Brotha Lynch Hung" released his eighth studio album Book III, which features the song "Refuse to Lose", in which at one minute and twenty-two seconds into the song the notorious rapper compares himself to "The Vampire of Sacramento" (Richard Trenton Chase) by saying "Im like Richard Chase mixed with Al Capone".
In March 2014, pseudonymous recording artist Trenton Chase released an extended-play, 12" dance record titled The Vampire of Sacramento via the German record label June.
Notes and references
- 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.
- Amanda Howard, Martin Smith: River of Blood, Universal Publishers (August 30, 2004), ISBN 978-1-58112-518-4, pp. 82 accessed via Google Books[unreliable source?]
- 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.
- "The Vampire of Sacramento Richard Trenton Chase". Haunted America Tours. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- "Lore: Deadly Obsession: The Vampire of Sacramento". Investigation Discovery. Retrieved 2011-05-13.
- "Book III by Brotha Lynch Hung". iTunes. 2002-09-24.
- "Brotha Lynch Hung - Refus...". YouTube.[dead link]
- "Houses of the Unholy". Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives.
- "Trenton Chase – The Vampire Of Sacramento". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-03-27.