Killers and Kids
When you hear the term serial killer, what comes to mind?
You likely think of one of history’s most notorious serial killers, someone along the lines of the BTK, Ted Bundy, or Jack the Ripper. And while it’s easy to imagine some horrible, disfigured killer tracking down victims in the dark, the fact is that serial killers often use their personalities to disarm their victims.
Think of American Psycho‘s Patrick Bateman, a charming and debonaire young man who seems to be the definition of ‘normal’ on the exterior, but who behind closed doors is a cold-blooded killer.
That’s the case with so many of even the most famous serial killers of our lifetime, such as John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy, who depended on their personalities and looks to seduce their victims before killing them. In the case of people like Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, some murderers even used their own children to lure victims in.
Terrifying, but true. Now, many of these children have come forward.
Michael Kallinger — Son of Joseph Kallinger
Joseph Kallinger was also heavily abused and sexually assaulted as a child. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia while in jail in his 40s, but he was later released and went on worse crime sprees.
The father of seven children, Kallinger is believed to have killed several of them, but he used his son Michael as an accomplice. Starting in 1974, Michael helped his father break into several residences, rob, assault, sexually abuse, and kill several people and families. After they were caught, Michael was sent to a reformatory, but he was released at the age of 21, changed his name, and moved out of state.
Melissa Moore — Daughter of the Happy Face Killer
Keith Jesperson raped and murdered at least eight women in the early 1990s before being caught in 1995. He was a troubled youth, facing abuse at home and taking out his anger by strangling animals, but nonetheless he was married at 20 and soon had three children. When the murders began, Jesperson felt he was not getting enough media attention, so he started drawing happy faces on his confessions.
In recent years, his daughter Melissa Moore has taken it upon herself to make amends not only with her father’s victims’ families, but with hundreds of children and relatives of other murderers. Their stories have directly helped the show Monster in My Family on LMN.
“It shows that these people that are monsters in society are loving fathers at home,” she told 20/20. “They’re the ones playing with their children… They’re loving, they’re doting, they’re caring, but then there’s a whole another side.”
Matthew Ridgway — Son of the Green River Killer
Gary Ridgway, also known as the Green River Killer, is believed to have killed over 90 people in the 1990s, although he may have killed up to the time he was captured in 2001. Sexually abused as a child and a frequent bedwetter, Ridgeway had a very low IQ and showed signs of violence as a teen, but he married his first wife when he was 20. He kept his obsession with prostitutes, sex, and murder a secret from his family.
After his arrest, his son Matthew reflected on his father’s kindness. “Even when I was in fourth grade, when I was with soccer, he’d always, you know, be there for me.”
Little did Matthew know that his father would often use the boy’s photograph as a way to meet victims and give them a false sense of security. Although Matthew doesn’t remember, he was even present for some of his father’s murders, asleep in a nearby car.