Starting this month, Oxygen will begin a tradition of themed months and we are kicking it off with Crimes of the '80s. So, bring out your crimpers and your scrunchies and get ready to read about the biggest crimes of the decade.
The '80s was one of the deadliest decades and it was the peak of serial killers. The number of serial killers exceeded 200 in the '80s. That’s way more than the previous decades, and it dropped below 200 by the ‘90s. Take a look at our list of 8 of the most lethal serial killings from the decade. Spoiler: Jeffrey Dahmer, the .22-Caliber Killer and the Night Stalker are made the list, but there’s a few that may surprise you—including a duo that claims they are responsible for killing hundreds.
‘80s Stars Who Got In Legal Trouble
Learn about what ‘80s stars got in trouble with the law: from the infamous Pee-wee Herman adult film theater incident to an ‘80s idol who technically killed two people. We’ll give you the details of their crimes and what they’re up to now.
How A 13-Year-Old Caught The Night Stalker Killer
Learn how a 13-year-old boy helped police catch the Night Stalker—the infamous serial killer that paralyzed Los Angeles with fear during the late ‘70s and ‘80s. In 1985, this child took an action that led to the capture of the murderer. Now, 32 years later, the then-teen is opening up and sharing his story.
Riveting True Crime Movies
Oxygen made a list of 10 of the best true crime films of the '80s. The list features films like A Cry In The Dark, starring Meryl Streep and Sam Neil, which depicts the infamous death of Azaria Chamberlain, an Australian baby who vanished during a 1980 camping trip with her parents. The true crime inspired the infamous quote “A dingo ate my baby.” Another film that made the list: Small Sacrifices starring Farrah Fawcett who plays Diane Downs, a woman who murdered one of her children in 1983 and attempted to kill her other children after engaging in an affair with a married man who told her he didn’t want children.
‘80s Songs Inspired By True Crimes
We compiled a list of '80s songs inspired by crimes. They are mostly influenced by murder, but there’s an alleged sex ring in there too. We have a Bruce Springsteen song inspired by a killing spree committed by two teenage lovebirds and a song by The Smiths, also about murder.
Suzan Carson & Michael Carson
Read and listen to our Martinis & Murder podcast about the bizarre case of the couple dubbed the “San Francisco Witch Killers.” The couple killed multiple people but when they were arrested all they wanted to talk about was ESP, witches and their DIY religion. In a jailhouse interview, Michael and Suzan described themselves as “religious warriors involved in a holy war against witches.” When police tried to get an on-the-record confession from the Carsons, they said they would only do it with a press conference, and so a press conference was held. During the conference, the murderous couple ranted about everything from George Orwell’s 1984, President Reagan being the devil, and why witches needed to be killed. Michael said that Suzan had the power to identify witches through visions she got directly from Allah.
Keddie Cabin Murders
In 1981, four people were brutally murdered and the case went cold. Now, investigators have uncovered new evidence and want to crack this case once and for all. Listen to Oxygen’s Martinis & Murder podcast about the unsolved California quadruple homicide that took place in Cabin #28. Glenna Sue Sharp, her son and her son’s friend were found killed in the room. Sue’s daughter went missing and a few years later her skull and bones were recovered at a different site.
When a newly married woman is killed at home, police believe it’s a robbery gone wrong. But 20 years later, an LAPD officer opens the cold case file and sees the crime in a new way. Stay tuned for features and a podcast on this unbelievable case.
The Green River Killer
Over a period of 20, years four-dozen women were murdered in Washington State, many of them prostitutes. Five of the victims are found in the Green River. The notorious killer evaded identification for decades, despite being arrested twice, taking a polygraph test, and submitting DNA samples. We will be writing and podcasting about this twisted case later in the month.
The Preppy Murderer
In 1986, 18-year-old Jennifer Levin’s body was found by a cyclist in Central Park. She had been strangled. Robert Chambers, a good-looking 20-year-old who had attended several elite prep schools was arrested for the crime. The infamous case was soon dubbed “The Preppy Murder.” Chambers’ defense argued that Levin’s death had occurred during “rough sex.” Check back for more in-depth coverage of this notorious case.
The Cheerleader Murder
Kirsten Marina Costas, a varsity cheerleader was lured to a fake dinner for the Bob-o-Links, a sorority-like high school group in 1984. When she learned she was tricked she fled, only to be stabbed to death by “Bob-o-Links” member Bernadette Protti. In 1994, the story was made into a television movie entitled A Friend to Die For (also known as Death of a Cheerleader), with Tori Spelling. Though unconfirmed, it is believed that the crime influenced the 1988 cult classic Heathers.
The Miami Drug War
We’re also taking a look back to the very violent ‘80s Miami. By 1980, a Miami morgue had more dead bodies than it could handle. The murders were a result of shootouts among rival drug lords. The city saw 621 homicides in ‘81 alone. The medical examiner's office had to lease a refrigerated truck from Burger King to handle all the cadavers.
The Crack-Cocaine Epidemic
Similar to Miami, New York City reached a deadly peak during the 1980s. In 1980, the Big Apple saw 1,814 murders. Between 1984 and 1989, the homicide rate for black males aged 14 to 17 more than doubled, and the homicide rate for black males aged 18 to 24 increased almost as much. During this ‘80s crack-cocaine epidemic, the black community experienced a 20–100% increase in fetal death rates, low birth-weight babies, weapons arrests, and the number of children in foster care.
Enjoy Oxygen’s look back at the ‘80s and stay tuned for upcoming themed months!