Victim Studies 005: Richard Trenton Chase

on November 8, 2011 in Serial Killers, Victim Studies, Victimology by

Richard Trenton Chase was charged with first degree murder for the killing of six people. Chase’s serial series is began in 1977, at the age of 27 and continued until 1978 in California. This serial series lasted 3 months before he was apprehended. Although it is believed that all of his victims had been found there is no way of knowing if Chase had victims prior to his serial series.

Unlike many serial killers, Chase did not show a preference between murdering men or women, children or adults. He did not have a specific body type or any physical features that he favored. This lack of preference suggests that he had a large variety of victims, leading many to believe that his victim selection was mostly at random. Although Chase murdered both males and females he would only engage in intercourse with his female victims after they had been murdered.

Humans were not the only victims of Chase. He was known to have bought and stolen many animals from shelters and around his neighborhood. According to records, Chase would shoot the animals and then drink their blood. Police have stated that Chase would often call and taunt the people he had stolen animals from. At one point in his life Chase became extremely ill because he had injected rabbit blood directly into his veins. After Chase became ill from injecting the rabbit blood he was taken to an asylum, where he would continue to drink the blood of birds which came to sit on his window sill. When he was released from the mental hospital he was caught with a rifle and a dead cow. He was naked and had removed the cow’s liver to cover himself in blood. It was later discovered he believed that ingesting the organs of others made his organs become stronger and repair themselves. Chase had made multiple claims that people had been stealing his arteries and his stomach was backward.

After Chase’s arrest he claimed that people who left their doors open were inviting him into their homes. Before his serial series began he stated that there were a number of houses that he tried to enter, but upon finding the locked door he took it as a sign that he was not welcome. Before his first murder, Chase was known to have gone into an unlocked home to urinate in a child’s clothing drawer and defecate on the child’s bed. The doors to all of his victim’s houses had been unlocked, with the exception of his drive by shooting.

Chase’s method of murder remained the same throughout his serial series. He always shot his victims to death. Although this remained the same, the closeness between him and his victims grew each time. His first known victim, Ambrose Griffin, was shot to death in a drive-by. Since Chase was a far distance away, it is believed that he was trying to test his skills. His second victim, Teresa Wallin, occurred nearly a month later. She was shot to death at close range in her home and had been 3 months pregnant at the time of her murder. Chase’s last 4 victims were shot to death at close range in their home. His victims were Evelyn Miroth and her son Jason, Evelyn’s nephew, David, and their family friend, Danny Meredith. David was the only victim to be brought back to David’s apartment after he was murdered. Chase considered this to be very personal.

As his method of murder became more personal he began to treat the bodies of his victims differently as well. The body of his first victim remained untouched by Chase, however, Chase engaged in sexual intercourse with victims Teresa and Evelyn, after they had been murdered. After the murder of Teresa, Chase also began to experiment with the blood of his victims. He was known to bathe and drink in the blood of his victims. His final murders would end with Chase ingesting and removing the organs of two of his victims. The body of Evelyn was found raped and sodomized both sexually and with a knife. Various organs had been removed and her stomach was cut open. 22 month old David was considered to be the most Chase had mutilated a human body. Chase murdered David at Evelyn’s house, but upon being startled by a neighbor he carried David’s body back to his apartment. At the apartment Chase disemboweled David and ate his organs, including his brain. It is believed that as Chase’s mental state deteriorated he felt the need to move from animal organs to human organs. The police later located David’s remains in a cardboard box at a local church.

The body of David was the only one which Chase tried to hide. All of Chase’s previous victims had been left at the crime scene, with no attempt to move or hide the bodies. Since Chase believed that he was ingesting organs and blood to benefit his own health, he did not feel any remorse for the murders, he instead saw ingesting them as a necessity.

When police investigated Chase’s home they found totems which he had collected from his victims. They were able to locate Meredith’s keys and wallet, kitchen knives from Wallin and many leashes and collars from animals he had murdered over the years. Many serial killers keep items from their victims as a way to remember the victim and the feeling they have when they kill. A totem represents their success and the power serial killers hold over their victims.

On May 8, 1979 Chase was found guilty on all 6 counts of first degree murder. He was sentenced to death by the gas chamber. The jury nor the judge believed that he was insane at the time of his crimes, and so found him completely responsible for his actions. It was noted by the guards that the majority of inmates were scared of Chase due to the violent and bizarre nature of his crimes. They would often try to convince him to commit suicide. While the other inmates tried to convince him to commit suicide his mental health continued to deteriorate. He often made claims about UFOs and that the guards around the prison were Nazis. On December 26, 1980 Chase committed suicide by overdosing on antidepressants. It is not known if he did this on his own accord or if the other inmates ha actually convinced him.

Sources:
“Richard Trenton Chase” at the Radford University Serial Killer Timelines
“Richard Chase” on Wikipedia
“Profile of Serial Killer Richard Chase” by Charles Montaldo on About.com
“Richard Chase” on the Serial Killer Calendar

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