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Crime News Serial Killers

Law And Horror: Cops Who Became Serial Killers, And Serial Killers Who Were Obsessed With Cops

A few of these serial killers even used badges to lure victims into cars, in an attempt to make them feel like they safe were the good guys.

By Gina Tron

Police officers are supposed to protect and serve, but that isn’t always the case. Of course, there are a few bad eggs amongst any profession (hence this round-up of creepy cops) but in law enforcement, there are definitely a few homicidal ones lurking. We’re talking serial killer eggs here.

Not only were many of the men on this list leading a double life — theoretically helping people by day, killing some of those same people by night — but some of them actually used their badge as a tool to rack up their body count.

Others didn’t make the cut. They didn't officially become police officers, but they either posed as cops to lure their victims or were so obsessed with the local police that they hung around at bars just to feel close to them and their work.

John E. Douglas, a retired FBI special agent and unit chief, and one of the first criminal investigators, said that many of the people he interviewed, including Ed Kemper and David Berkowtiz, had a desire to be in law enforcement.

“If they could pick a job, police officer always comes out as a top profession they would like,” Douglas, the inspiration for the Netflix series “Mindhunter” recently told Oxygen.com at Death Becomes Us, a true-crime festival in Washington, D.C.

Police officers are typically the ones you want to go to when you want help with a serial killer, not the other way around, but these five murderers can definitely be considered corrupt cops.

Joseph DeAngelo

Golden State Killer suspect Joseph DeAngelo worked as a cop in the mid-to-late 1970s in the California towns of Exeter and Auburn. That’s around the same time he went on his alleged heinous and infamous crime spree which spanned six California jurisdictions between 1975 and 1986.

Earlier this year, he was charged with 13 counts of murder and some of the 50 rapes police believe he’s responsible for. Also this year, police in the city of Visalia, along with Tulare County prosecutors, announced their belief that DeAngelo was also the elusive "Visalia Ransacker." During his later crimes, the Golden State Killer/Ransacker became notorious for attacking couples and tying them up. It has long been theorized, before DeAngelo’s arrest, that in order to physically restrain a couple in the way he did that he likely had a job that required him to be in good shape: like a cop. Though he reportedly also ate like a cop — er, pig, too.

True crime podcasters Tim Pilleri and Lance Reenstierna (Missing Maura Murray and Crawlspace) heard that DeAngelo had the nickname "Junk Food Joe" while working as a cop.

“We heard that he had a reputation when he was a cop in the mid to late ‘70s, that he was known as ‘Junk Food Joe,’ and he would always be eating potato chips and drinking sodas,” Pilleri told Oxygen.com.

Edmund Kemper 

Edmund Kemper desperately wanted to be a cop and even attended college in hopes of becoming an officer. However, he claimed he was rejected because of his large stature; he stood at a whopping 6’9."

Even though the cops didn’t want him, he remained thirsty for the cop life. He reportedly had a relationship with police officers in Santa Cruz. He’d hang out at a bar called the Jury Room, a known cop hangout where he would chat with police and live vicariously through them. But at the same time he was conversing with cops, he was picking up female hitchhikers and murdering them.  Between 1969 and 1973, he killed 10 people, including his own grandparents and his own mother, who he beheaded. He had killed his grandparents before his interest in police work, back when he was just a teen. He was let out on parole on his 21st birthday. Although he never became a cop, he did secure a job with the State of California Highway Department.

Ted Bundy

Notorious serial killer Ted Bundy may not have become a cop, but he did pose as one. Prosecutors said he lured some of his victims into his Volkswagen Beetle by posing as a police officer, according to the Associated Press. He also famously would pose as an injured person, wearing a cast or holding crutches as an attempt to appear non-threatening. He was known for getting women in his car before beating them unconscious and taking them to another location where they were raped, tortured, and murdered. After disposing of their bodies in remote wooded areas, he would often revisit their corpses to perform sexual acts. In total, Bundy confessed to 30 murders, some of which remain unconfirmed, but many people fear his actual body count is more than 100. 

David Stephen Middleton

David Stephen Middleton was a police officer with the Miami Police Department. After being fired from the department, he worked as a cable television installer. He didn’t use his power as a police officer to lure murder victims, but he did take advantage of his job as a cable guy as a way into his victims' homes.

He was convicted for the murders of Sun Valley teacher Katherine Powell and Circus Circus Reno employee Thelma Amparo Davila. Police also linked the murder of Buffy Rice Donohue, Middletown’s ex-girlfriend, to Middletown but he was never formally charged with her murder.

“The similarities between Powell and Davilla were that both were unmarried of about the same age and physical stature, alone at home when they disappeared and their homes had been serviced by T.C.I. Cable Company,” according to the book based on his crimes, entitled “Beware of the Cable Guy: From Cop To Serial Killer.”

When Middleton was arraigned, the local newspaper played up his law enforcement background, with the headline in bold print reading, “Ex-Cop Charged in Double Murder!” according to that book. It claimed, "The task force detectives figured there just wasn’t enough sensationalism in reporting the arrest of a cable guy, so an ex-cop was better for sales.”

Angelo Anthony Buono Jr., aka the Hillside Strangler

Angelo Anthony Buono Jr., later identified as one of the two men behind The Hillside Strangler murders, used to stop women while posing as an undercover police officer with his killer cousin Kenneth Bianchi. Using fake badges, they would lure the women into Buono's car, claiming it was an unmarked police vehicle, and then drive them to Buono's house to torture and kill them. According to The Associated Press, Bianchi had hopes of becoming a police officer and took part in several ride-alongs with the Los Angeles Police Department. One LAPD sergeant said that during a ride, Bianchi "discussed the series of strangulation murders and said Bianchi expressed a desire to be shown the sites where the bodies had been found." Bianchi later dropped out of the LAPD program and moved to Washington, where he worked as a security guard. Shortly after arriving in Washington, Bianchi was arrested for the murder of two college students from Western Washington University and was implicated in the Hillside Strangler killings.

Together, the cousins killed 9 people together, though it has long been speculated that Bianchi killed a few additional victims in Washington State.

Gerald Schaefer

Gerald Schaefer tried and failed at a few different jobs — he even was rejected from the priesthood — before being hired by the Martin County Fla. Sheriff’s Department in the early 1970s as a patrolman. 

“He was picking up hitchhikers and he would drop them off, and then would go back later on with his personal car, sometimes his police car,” explained profiler John Douglas, who worked on the case. 

Schaefer’s fetishes included getting women he kidnapped to drink a lot of beer, and then would photograph them urinating. He then would strangle them and photograph that as well, Douglas said.

Schaefer was believed to be responsible for about 30 deaths. He was stabbed to death by another inmate in jail, according to the New York Daily News.

Gina Pace contributed to this report.

[Photo: Getty Images]