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Serial Killer Quarterly Vol. 1, Christmas Issue: “Body Harvest - Prolific American Killers”

Serial Killer Quarterly Vol. 1, Christmas Issue: “Body Harvest - Prolific American Killers”

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Serial Killer Quarterly Vol. 1, Christmas Issue: “Body Harvest - Prolific American Killers”

4/5 (1 rating)
187 pages
3 hours
Jan 6, 2015


With nearly 200 victims  between them, the seven compulsive killers in Serial Killer Quarterly’s special Christmas 2014 issue, “Body Harvest: Prolific American Serial Killers,” not only destroyed countless lives and families, but Thanksgivings, Christmases, and New Year’s.

Author and criminologist Judith A. Yates attributes a minimum of 20 victims to America’s first serial killers, Micajah & Wiley Harpe, who rather than bringing “peace on earth and good will to all men,” sought to exterminate the entire human race. Similarly, whenever Ted Bundy went “walking in a winter wonderland” it was in the snowy mountains of Washington or Colorado – landscapes strewn with the ravaged corpses of his 30+ female victims.

Kevin M. Sullivan – author, Bundy researcher, and retired preacher – looks at arguably the most infamous serial slayer in American history, and his victims – known and potential. In her true crime debut, forensic psychologist Joan Swart goes above and beyond to tell us the tale of America’s most prolific homosexual sadist. With possibly a higher body count than Bundy and the Harpes combined, Randy Kraft may have actually rung in the New Year by torturing, killing, and mutilating several of the over 60 young men whose lives he appears to have extinguished.

Lee Mellor, author, criminologist, and SKQ editor-in-chief, writes of the 22 strangulation-slayings and post-mortem rapes perpetrated across the USA and in Canada by “Gorilla Murderer” Earle Leonard Nelson during the mid-1920s, as well as 10+ cold-blooded murders linked to  “Coin-Shop Killer” Charles T. Sinclair throughout the Eighties. Spokane prostitute killer Robert Lee Yates – another necrophile – has admitted to shooting 16 victims and defiling their bodies, but author and journalist Karen D. Scioscia asks: were there more?

Are you full of holiday cheer yet? Well, at least we know that Christmas was truly a time for family in the Bender household – even if their feasts were purchased with the money they stole from the people rotting under their floorboards.

Dane Ladwig looks at the more than 20 hammer murders believed to have been committed by The Bloody Benders in the mid-nineteenth century.

Cuddle up with a nice piping mug of hot chocolate, because after reading “Body Harvest” there isn’t a blanket in the world that will stop you from getting the chills.

‘Tis the Season to be Grinning.

Jan 6, 2015

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Serial Killer Quarterly Vol. 1, Christmas Issue - Lee Mellor

Serial Killer Quarterly

Vol. 1, Christmas Issue: Body Harvest - Prolific American Killers


Grinning Man Press

Serial Killer Quarterly Vol. 1, Christmas Issue: Body Harvest - Prolific American Killers

© 2014 Grinning Man Press

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9938232-4-4

First eBook Edition *January 2015


Published by Grinning Man Press

Editor-in-Chief: Lee Mellor

Editors: Lee Mellor, Aaron Elliott

Art Direction: Jonathan Whitehead, Northbound Creations

Cover Image: William Cook




The views expressed by the editor-in-chief of Serial Killer Quarterly do not necessarily represent those of its contributing authors, illustrators, or designers. Similarly, the views expressed by individual authors do not necessarily represent those of Grinning Man Press, or any of the other authors. Duplication and/or distribution of any portion of the ‘Body Harvest - Prolific American Killers’ e-magazine is prohibited by law, and may result in legal action by Grinning Man Press.

In this Issue Vol. 1, Christmas Issue: Body Harvest - Prolific American Killers

Introduction to Body Harvest - Prolific American Killers

A Quick Note on Style

Letters to the Editor

Micajah & Wiley Harpe: We are the Harpes! America’s First Serial Killers

Judith A. Yates

Ruthless, rapacious step-brothers rampage from state to state in 18th century America, shooting, slashing, bludgeoning, and gleefully gutting men, women, and children for fun.

The Bloody Benders: The First Family of Serial Killing

Dane Ladwig

Kansas family offers rooms and meals to weary travellers. These unsuspecting guests are then bashed over the head with a hammer, and their throats slit.

Earle Nelson: The Great Imitator

Lee Mellor

Simian strangler drifts across 1920s U.S. throttling females and raping their corpses. When he moves north of the border, he’s the one who chokes!

Artist Profile: David Van Gough

Ted Bundy: A Study of Evil

Kevin M. Sullivan

After raping, murdering, and mutilating 30+ women in Washington, Colorado, Utah, and Floridatwice escaping custodyAmerica’s most notorious serial killer finally fries.

Killer Flicks: Grinning Man Reviews Serial Murder Films, Past to Present

Randy Kraft: The Score

Joan Swart

Is a respectable mild-mannered California computer expert the most prolific homosexual murderer in American history? The scorecard found in his car seems to indicate yes.

Charles T. Sinclair: Pennies From Hell

Lee Mellor

Towering bandit blows coin-shop proprietors away to eliminate witnesses to his robberies. Soon, investigators discover there is more to his murders than just greed.

Robert Lee Yates: Two Men in One?

Karen D. Scioscia

Father, husband, and helicopter pilot moonlights as necrophilic murderer of at least 16 people in Washington State, many of them Spokane-area prostitutes.


Other Issues

Introduction to Body Harvest - Prolific American Killers

Ho ho ho ha ha HA HA! Welcome to the special Christmas issue of Serial Killer Quarterly—an unexpected treat from Santa to our subscribers. For the rest of you, well, there’s snow and mistletoe on the cover. Pour yourself some eggnog. Personally, I’m jollier than ol’ St. Nick to be introducing you to five terrific new contributors to our morbid little magazine: Judith A. Yates (The Devil You Know), Dane Ladwig (Dr. HH Holmes and the Whitechapel Ripper), Kevin M. Sullivan (The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History), Karen D. Scioscia (Kidnapped by the Cartel), and South African forensic psychologist Joan Swart.

As the holidays are a time for overindulgence, this issue focuses on American serial slayers who have claimed 10 or more victims. It is difficult to say which of these human disasters left the most lives devastated in their wake. When Ted Bundy was asked if the final number of females he had killed was 36, he cryptically responded add another digit, which could mean as few as 37 or as many as 369! Another Washington-state homicidal necrophile, Robert Lee Yates, was incarcerated for the murders of 14 Spokane area prostitutes over a ten year period, along with the 1975 double-murder of a teenaged couple in Walla Walla, but is also suspected of others. Though only convicted of murdering 16 young men, the notes of Scorecard Killer Randy Kraft seem to implicate him in up to 66 of the most sadistic homosexual homicides of the late 20th century!

As there was nothing even vaguely resembling the FBI, linkage analysis systems, or CSI units when Micajah & Wiley Harpe cut a swath of terror through 18th century America, it is impossible to say exactly how many men, women, and children were destroyed by these bloodthirsty bandits. Though legend tends to favour exaggeration, considering their notorious viciousness in a time of incredible violence, even 20 victims seems a modest estimate. The same principle applies to the Bloody Benders, though historians have managed to preserve more accurate and detailed records regarding this gore-some foursome. By the 20th century, improvements in criminology made it possible for investigators to reasonably ascertain that Earle Leonard Nelson’s murder victims were limited to 22, with his last two claimed in Manitoba, Canada. Or were there some that they missed?

Finally, there is Coin-Shop Killer Charles T. Sinclair—whose case was left over from one of my previous print publications. With a minimum of 10 victims, Sinclair met the criteria, and since the story was just sitting there on my laptop, I figured a moldy tangerine in your stocking couldn’t hurt. Could it?

Enjoy the issue and the holiday season (but not too much...),

Lee Mellor

Editor-in-Chief, Serial Killer Quarterly


A Quick Note on Style

For those of you who are new to Serial Killer Quarterly, I wish to explain Grinning Man’s unique stance regarding format and tone. Though our company is based in Montreal, Canada, the online nature of our business model allows us to publish for an international audience. For this reason, we have chosen not to select one style of English over another. American authors are free to lose the u’s and extra l’s, while Canadians and Brits can keep them. Thus, our magazines may contain alternate spellings of words such as behavior/behaviour or travelling/traveling in different articles. Let’s face it, we inhabit a globalized world, and bickering about correct language at this level is a futile and pedantic pursuit.

Any names followed by a * are pseudonyms, and are typically employed to protect the identities of surviving victims.

You will also observe that the tone of the individual articles in Serial Killer Quarterly range in degrees from the impressionistic/subjective to more traditional journalistic approaches. Though some readers will likely prefer one style over another, we have tried to incorporate a multitude of voices into Serial Killer Quarterly in order to keep the material varied, and to provide numerous lenses through which to view the topic. Charles Manson—incidentally, a psychopathic cult leader, NOT a serial killer—has been quoted as saying: Look down at me and you see a fool; look up at me and you see a god; look straight at me and you see yourself. In this spirit, we will look from whatever angle our contributors see fit, and maybe, one day, glimpse the full picture.

Letters to the Editor

Are you enjoying this issue of Serial Killer Quarterly? Hating it? Do you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the magazine or the cases in this issue? Well, dear reader, we’d love nothing more than to hear from you. In the coming issues, this section shall be your soapbox. However, unlike some fiery-eyed street preacher, we do get to respond to you. Sound like fun?

Please send any communications through email to lee@grinningmanpress.com. Enter "Serial Killer Quarterly—Letters to the Editor" into the subject line of your email, and we promise to publish and respond to as many emails as possible in our next issue. We also welcome suggestions for new stories, issue themes, films to review, etc.

Grinning Man Press also accepts manuscripts for full length books, short stories and articles in the genres of true crime, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, the paranormal, erotica and generally anything that pushes the boundaries of human thought, imagination, convention and comfort. Please send queries to grinningmanpress@gmail.com or befriend Grinning Man Press on Facebook, and shoot us a message.

Micajah & Wiley Harpe: We are the Harpes! America’s First Serial Killers

They were pirates, rapists, torturers, kidnappers, murderers, and thieves. In the late 1700s, the duo known as The Vicious Harpes, The Mad Harpes, or The Bloody Harpes cut a trail of bloodlust and fear through Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, the Carolinas, and Illinois. Cousins Micajah and Wiley Harpe left wreckage wherever they traveled. Historians call them America’s first known serial killers. They are at least the first documented serial killers.

The first account of their deeds came from James Hall, a judge in Shawneetown, who in 1828 wrote about how the Harpes spread death around the Tennessee and Kentucky area for about nine months. Then in 1855, T. Marshall Smith offered stories about their pre-rampage years. (Davis)

Like most serial killers, it is impossible to know how many people Micajah (pronounced Mick-ee) and Wiley (pronounced Why-lee) Harpe murdered. Because their story takes place so far back in history, truth intermingles with legend. Like the modern serial killer, they traveled extensively. They did not murder for profit so much as the experience. The Harpes appeared to have a psychological motivation for their crime spree; they professed to hating people with a desire to wipe out the human race, or as many as they could before being caught.

Almost nothing is known of their childhood. Like their adulthood, it is difficult to sift fact from fiction regarding the Harpes’ origins. Names, dates, and even events change with the telling of their story. It is documented that John Harpe was a Scottish immigrant who left his native land in either 1759 or 1760. The family settled in Orange County, North Carolina somewhere between 1761-63. John’s brother (William) and sister-in-law moved nearby. John and William were loyal to the British Crown, and this surely did not sit well with their neighbors. As did many immigrants upon arrival to the U.S., the Harpes changed their last name, and began spelling it Harp.

Micajah, the eldest, was possibly the child of John and a black slave woman. Joshua (later known as Wiley) was born two years later to William and his wife. Micajah was the taller of the boys and Wiley the smaller, thus they were nicknamed Big and Little Harp. Some accounts list them as brothers, but most historians and surviving family members agree that they were cousins. Regardless, there was nothing little about the future problems they would create.

Big Harpe grew to be over six feet tall. He is usually described as bony, ruddy (or mulatto), muscular, with short, kinky black hair. His clothing, like many of his contemporaries, stayed dirty and torn. He carried guns, a tomahawk, and hunting knives. Drawings depict him with a pointed, sharp nose and jaw, with hair past his neckline. Little Harpe, at about 5’0", looked much like his cousin except with red hair and is usually drawn with a full beard. He was also distinguished by his webbed toes, a trait passed down on his side of the family. Both are described as having dour or even fearful expressions. They would wear scalps on their belts and often dressed in buckskin. In a time where people usually bathed once a year, the cousins stayed disheveled and unkempt. Little Harpe is considered the schemer while Big Harpe is considered the brawn.

The world into which the Harpes were born was one where justice was carried out by either a gun, rope, or a band of men who had guns and a rope calling themselves a posse. Trials were swift, sure, and not always fair. Capital punishment was the norm, a sentence given for crimes ranging from stealing a horse to killing a man. A criminal would be beheaded, his skull placed atop a sharpened post and left to rot amid the buzz of blue-green flies circling about it. His empty eye sockets served to remind would-be bandits, thieves, and murderers of their fate. Frontiersmen, misplaced easterners, runaway slaves, trappers and hunters, land surveyors, and more walked and rode past those heads, the teeth bared as if daring them to commit a crime. For some it was a deterrence. For others, including the Harpes, it was a smelly invitation.

Accompanied by two of their sisters, Big and Little Harpe left North Carolina for Virginia in April or May 1775 to obtain jobs as slave overseers. The sisters claimed to be the wives of Big and Little, perhaps because the lie increased their travel safety. The overseer position itself could be one of cruelty, as their job was to get the most work out of the slaves as possible. However, if slaves complained of unfair treatment, their owner might release the overseer if only to protect his fiduciary interests. Virginia’s Slave Code of 1705 made it clear that slaves could be punished harshly and even killed with no reprimand. It was into this world the Harpes rode... on stolen horses.

Their career plans were interrupted with the American Revolutionary War. Big and Little Harpe sided with the British, and their true reign of terror began. Among other political issues, young America was tired of increasing taxation and wished to become independent from Great Britain, or the Red Coats. The Americans went to war against the British in 1775 (who would eventually surrender). In between skirmishes there existed a no-man’s land of anarchy, and it was here that both British loyalist gangs and American outlaws took advantage. The Harpes joined a Tory Rape Gang, not for revenge or political reasons, but to wreak havoc. They were more interested in causing panic and fear than winning the war. Reports indicate that they took great pride in pillaging, destroying farms, and raping women. It was the latter crime that resulted in Little Harpe being shot by Captain James Woods. Little survived, and the Harpes would have their revenge!

In 1780, the Harpes fought with the British military in North and South Carolina. They were observed by several soldiers in multiple battles, the accounts duly noted

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