The 'Mindhunter' Season 2 Serial Killers Are All Real. Here Are Their Stories

Josh St. Clair
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From Men's Health

  • Like its first season, Mindhunter season 2 features depictions of several real-life serial killers.
  • Some, like Edmund Kemper and BTK, are returning.
  • Many others, like Wayne Williams and Son of Sam, are terrifyingly new.

Killers jail walk into Mindhunter like a cast of featured vocalists on a pop star’s album: often times, they steal the show. Season 2 saw some of the best performances yet, including Damon Herriman as Charles Manson, like, sitting on top of a chair, man. And, once again, Cameron Britton as Edmund Kemper. (Sure, we missed you, Ed … in a weird way.) And just like last season, the killers this go-around are all real convicted felons, many of which interviewed with FBI agents John Douglas and Robert K Ressler.

Here are their stories.

Dennis Rader ("BTK")

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Rader’s killing spree lasted decades. During that time, he worked for the ADT security company, a job that allowed him to move about the Wichita area and gain access to homes. In total, he murdered 10 people between 1974 and 1991. After his last murder, Rader moved to Park City, working as a Boy Scout leader and church council president. He wouldn't be arrested until 2005, after he resumed his goading communication with the press. “BTK,” Rader’s self-assumed name, stands for “bind, torture, and kill.” He is currently serving 10 life sentences.

William Henry Hance

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A former U.S. marine, Hance was convicted for three murders that occurred on Georgia military bases in the 1970s. (At least four women had been murdered during this time.) After the third conviction–in civilian court–Hance received the death penalty, a decision that begged questions of Hance’s mental competency. Hance had asked for clemency, saying he was mentally “retarded.” He was put to death on April 1, 1994, executed via the electric chair.

Elmer Wayne Henley

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In the 1970s Dean Corll (known as “ The Candyman”) abducted, tortured, and raped at least 28 boys across the Houston area. Henley acted as an accomplice to the abductions, helping Corll select and kidnap victims. But when Henley was 17, he shot and killed Corll. Henley was then convicted of murdering six of Corll’s victims. He was sentenced to six 99-year prison terms. He is currently serving out those sentences in Texas.

David Berkowitz ("Son of Sam")

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Born in 1953, Berkowitz was given given up for adoption and then raised by foster parents. He grew up in the Bronx and then at 18 joined the Army. He was honorably discharged before moving back to New York and working in the Bronx Post Office. He attacked his first victims four months later, when he was 23. Over the next year, Berkowitz would attack over a dozen people, killing six and wounding several others. His MO included firing a gun into the passenger window of parked cars or shooting at young men and women walking the streets. He left notes at the crime scenes signed “Son of Sam.” The murders spawned one of the largest manhunts in New York City history. He is now 66, serving out his term of six life sentences.

William Joseph Pierce, Jr.

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Like other killers on the list, Pierce was arrested prior to his killings. He had been convicted of burglary and arson and sent to Georgia prison. Disregarding concerns by prison psychiatrists, the state released him in 1970. A month later, Pierce killed his first victim. He would murder seven more before his arrest in 1971. Pierce only confessed to three of the murders, however. He is currently serving out his life sentences at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison.

Paul Bateson

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In the late 1970s, Village Voice columnist Arthur Bell reported on several grisly killings in New York City’s gay communities. Men were being picked up in bars and then found murdered. In a phone call with Bell, Paul Bateson confessed to one of the murders. During the trial, prosecutors claimed that Bateson had boasted of several other killings. He was convicted, however, for only one of the murders and has since been released from prison in 2003.

Edmund Kemper ("The Co-ed Killer")

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Kemper was first arrested in 1964. At only 15, he murdered both of his grandparents and was sent to a mental facility where he stayed for six years. He was later released, and between 1972 and 1973 killed 8 more people, including 5 college students. He would remove their body parts before performing sexual acts. His final murder was his mother, who he killed on Good Friday in 1973. After the murder, he called the police to turn himself in. As in the series, Kemper became a valuable interview source to the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit.

Tex Watson

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Charles Manson was one of the most notorious cult leaders in American history and helped orchestrate several murders, most notably the Tate-LaBianca killings. He was given the death penalty in 1971, along with Tex Watson, one of the followers who perpetrated the killings. Manson and Tex's sentences, however, were later reduced to life, following California's outlawing of the death penalty. Manson would die in prison in 2017 at the age of 83. Earlier this summer, he was depicted on-screen in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood, which incorporated an actual line that he allegedly uttered before committing the murders. Watson. now 73, remains incarcerated in California.

Wayne Williams

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Between 1979 and 1981, Wayne Williams is suspected of kidnapping and murdering dozens of children across the Atlanta area. Williams, however, was only convicted of two murders. In total, 29 children went missing and died during those years. FBI agent John Douglas believes Williams is not responsible for all the killings. In Mindhunter, on page 238, Douglas writes that evidence suggests Williams is only responsible for some of the killings. Williams, now 60, continues to maintain his innocence as he serves out his two life sentences.


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