Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Serial Killer Movies

The Demon Within

Danny Rolling
Danny Rolling

In Gainesville, Florida, during the summer of 1990, there were five gruesome rape-murders in quick succession. The first crime scene involved two freshmen at the University of Florida who'd been repeatedly stabbed, mutilated and posed for shocking effect. That same night, investigators found a missing eighteen-year-old in her bedroom: her head was propped on a bookshelf and her nude mutilated body set on the edge of the bed. Two days later, a mile away, a male and female student were found murdered in their apartment. As with the others, a pry tool was used to gain entry.   

Exorcist III
Exorcist III

An FBI profiler indicated that the perpetrator had probably watched each apartment from the nearby woods. Near one scene, the police found a campsite and a black bag with a screwdriver, money taken during a bank robbery, duct tape, a cassette recorder, and clothes. But when the screwdriver initially failed to match the pry marks from the scenes, these items were forgotten...until Danny Rolling was arrested for robbing a store. They listened to the cassette in the recorder, which began, "This is Danny Rolling." He sang a song about being insane and signed off with "something I gotta do." Confronted, Rolling confessed but blamed an alter ego, Gemini—inspired by a movie, Exorcist III.

In this 1990 film directed by William Peter Blatty, a demon that had variously possessed the child Reagan and a priest had migrated into a wandering lunatic, who was locked up. But fifteen years later, murders begin in the place where he's kept with the same MO and the police are confronted with the sadistic Gemini Killer. His favorite method is to paralyze his victims with succinlycholine, which leaves them alert and aware of their torture. Gemini is the "thing" inside the killer, using the man's body to perform his gory deeds.

Jeffrey Dahmer
Jeffrey Dahmer

Rolling was unable to use the multiple personality excuse. Instead, he was convicted and sentenced to die, and later wrote a book about his crimes. He was not alone in being inspired by this movie. Jeffrey Dahmer, the cannibalistic killer of seventeen men in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, said it was his favorite film as well.

Sensational murders such as these often draw tourists of the macabre, and have done so for centuries, a phenomenon that itself inspired a film.

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