September 27, 2007 in Nation/World

Bill would ban killer keepsakes from mail

Les Blumenthal McClatchy
 

WASHINGTON – State and federal prisoners would be barred from using the mail to sell personal items under a bill introduced in the House of Representatives by the man who caught the Green River Killer.

Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., a former King County sheriff who spent nearly 20 years tracking Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, believes serial killers and other murderers shouldn’t be allowed to profit from the sale of so-called “murderabilia.”

A handful of Web sites market the items, ranging from a hub cap off Ted Bundy’s 1968 Volkswagen Beetle to a Charles Manson fingerprint chart to a Zodiac Killer wanted poster. One murderabilia site is offering for $1,700 a four-page letter Ridgway wrote three weeks after he was arrested. The top bid at another Web site has reached $900 for what’s reputed to be Bundy’s last Christmas card.

Some of the killers willingly participate in the sales, while others are duped by dealers into providing drawings, letters and other personal items.

“The families of these victims can be assured the federal government, Congress, believes this is a sick, sick practice,” Reichert said.

While King County sheriff, Reichert at one point interviewed Bundy – who was on Florida’s death row – seeking insights into who was killing young women and dumping their bodies along the Green River in Washington state. Ridgway eventually confessed to murdering 48 women.

Reichert said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Ridgway try to profit from sales of his personal items.

“Ridgway is a guy who would take advantage of every opportunity to make his star rise,” Reichert said.

Bundy, who grew up in Tacoma, was executed 18 years ago in Florida for killing two Florida State University sorority sisters and a 12-year-old girl. He confessed to 40 murders, but the real number may never be known. Along with Manson, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer and David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz, Bundy items are among the most sought-after in murderabilia.

Reichert’s bill is similar to one introduced in the Senate earlier this year by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. The measure prohibits inmates from using the mail to sell personal items.


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