Updated (Org. pub 9/30/17)
They often surprise us by being so ‘normal’. Learn about the occupational undertakings of famous serial killers.
Serial Killers are people just like us in many ways, aren’t they? Isn’t that what makes them so creepy and unsettling? Many earn degrees, run businesses, serve in the military and have quite normal sounding jobs. They often front as respectful, caring, financially responsible, law-abiding citizens. In addition, serial killers may have impressive creative talents that help them gain people’s admiration and manipulate their victims.
Before being busted, you may have been tempted to hire them, work with them, collaborate with them, or, gulp, even invite them to entertain your children.
Serial killer #1: Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer
Gary Ridgeway served in the U. S. Navy and saw combat in Vietnam. He went on to work the same steady job for 30 years as a painter for the Kenworth trucking company. Can’t get any more all-American than that can it?
Ridgeway was devoutly religious and routinely educated people on biblical scripture. He would have otherwise been considered a typical American person — although reportedly a little strange — a true understatement, all things considered.
Serial killer #2: Jeffrey Dahmer, aka, the Milwaukee Cannibal
Jeffrey Dahmer served in the armed forces as well. He was, of all things, a medical specialist in the U. S. Army. This training must have proven valuable to his later personal endeavors. After being kicked out of the army, he worked as a phlebotomist at a plasma center and later on assisted in making tasty confections at The Milwaukee Ambrosia Chocolate Factory. Eek!
Although considered to be an odd and apathetic person, he was generally deemed to be harmless by the community at large and was considered a rather likable class clown by his high school classmates. He even flew under the radar of local law enforcement for many years prior to being exposed as a brutal serial killer and cannibalist.
Serial killer #3: John Wayne Gacy, the Killer Clown
John Wayne Gacy earned a degree from Northwestern Business College in 1963. He went on to manage a shoe store, three Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants and his own construction company. He was bestowed the distinction of outstanding vice-president of his local civic organization, the Springfield Jaycees, and even served on its board of directors.
Famously, Gacy was an active volunteer in his community. He even dressed as a clown to boost the spirit of his community and bring cheer to sick children in hospitals. All the while he was engaging in his serial killer activities.
Serial killer #4: Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy is probably one of the most chameleon-like serial killers of all time. He was described as smart, well-liked, sympathetic and kind. He undertook many enterprising roles. He worked on the presidential and gubernatorial campaigns of prominent political figures, earned a degree in psychology and worked for Seattle’s Suicide Hotline crisis center.
Bundy was accepted and attended law school, which is probably why he later thought he could represent himself so well in court. Most shocking though, is that while amid his crime spree, at one point he worked for the Washington State Department of Emergency Services, an agency that assists in searching for missing women. What a helpful fella to have around, eh?
Serial killer #5: Charles Manson
If things had gone just a little different for Charles Manson, he may have become a famous musician rather than a famous serial killer. I myself was floored when I discovered that he was, at one time long long ago, an aspiring singer-songwriter. I was floored once again when I listened and thought, wow, he wasn’t half bad. He had sort of a Bob Dylan meets Engelbert Humperdinck thing going on. He had a decent voice and a musical ability that could have… blossomed? He even caught the attention of Beach Boy, Dennis Wilson.
Can you just imagine, if transported to another decade, Charles Manson trying out for The Voice? Yikes! Luckily Wilson wised up quick when he realized that Manson was straight up insane.
Serial killer #6: Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker
During high school Richard Ramirez briefly worked for the Holiday Inn. He used this as an opportunity to steal passkeys to gain access to people’s rooms and commit crimes.
Unlike many serial killers, Richard Ramirez lived a life that was pretty transparent. He didn’t go to too much trouble to try and live a double life, which probably explains why his murderous rampage was so much shorter lived than many of the other serial killers mentioned here. Ramirez was a Satanist and most likely was able to share details of his crimes with other Satanists, certain close friends, girlfriends and family members.
Ramirez had fans and romantic admirers even after going to prison for his despicable crimes. He later married one of them.
Truth really is stranger than fiction, isn’t it?