Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods


The Evil Apprentice

Robin Gecht had once worked for John Wayne Gacy, and it was his contention that Gacy's single mistake was not to kill 33 young men but to keep most of the bodies under his house.

During the 1980s, according to one member of the gang, Gecht led a group of three other men known as the Ripper Crew or Chicago Rippers in killing an estimated 17 women. They would kill a victim, severe one or both of her breasts with a thin wire, clean it out to use for sexual gratification, and then cut it into pieces to consume. Ostensibly, they were worshipping Satan, and eating the female's flesh was a form of ancient devilish communion. One person said that Gecht sometimes had sex with the breast on the spot.

Robin Gecht, Ed Spreitzer & Kokoraleis
Robin Gecht, Ed Spreitzer &

Gecht had a real ability to draw others to him and get them to do his bidding. No matter how sick or disgusting it was, he inspired others to get involved. He got his start by molesting his sister, which resulted in him being sent him to live with his grandparents. During adolescence, he developed a keen interest in Satanism and its secret rituals, believing that they offered some sort of power over others.

When Gecht was 30, he met Ed Spreitzer, 21, and the teenaged Kokoraleis brothers, Andrew and Thomas. All three were easily led by a charismatic personality, and together they roamedChicago at night in Gecht's van hunting for female victims. When they got one, they raped her, beat her up, tortured her, and then strangled her. They also took a breast for Gecht's altar. One person admitted that they consumed it while Gecht read verses from the Bible.

The gang got away with this for several years, but were finally caught when a survivor identified the van and Spreitzer offered a full confession. They were charged with various offenses, but Gecht was never convicted of any murder. He was not the one who had killed. Like Charles Manson, he had merely inspired the others to do the actual killing. Two of the others received the death sentence, while the third man got 70 years in prison.

Book cover of The Serial Killer Letters
Book cover of The
Serial Killer Letters

Jennifer Furio, editor of The Serial Killer Letters, wrote to Gecht in prison to ask him why he'd been so obsessed with women's breasts. While he denied that he'd murdered or harmed anyone, he did say that the obsession was a "thing" with his family, going back to his great grandfather. He didn't offer any details.

Eric W. Hickey, a criminologist who wrote extensively about a study involving over 300 serial killers, said in Serial Murderers and Their Victims that "for some multiple killers, murder must be simultaneously a participation and a spectator endeavor; power can be experienced by observing a fellow conspirator destroy human life, possibly as much as by performing the killing. The pathology of the relationship operates symbiotically." The killers each add something to the other's excitement. Perhaps what they could not do alone, they could do within the chemistry of the dangerous association.

Book cover Serial Murderers and Their Victims
Book cover Serial
Murderers and
Their Victims

According to the study, 74% of team killers are white; female killers participate with males around one third of the time; and the majority of cases involve only two offenders working together. Of victims of serial murder, some 15% were murdered by team killers and in the majority of cases, the victims were strangers. Sometimes the team leader or dominant partner sends the others out to do what he wants, and sometimes he participates. At times they're related or married, and other times they're strangers who happen to spark the right chemistry. When females are involved, it's generally the male who masterminds the homicides, unless the female is dominant, such as in a mother-son team. There is always one person who maintains psychological control.

Christopher Robin Worrell and James William Miller
Christopher Robin Worrell and
James William Miller

The rare team involves a person who just goes along, as James William Miller insisted happened with him and his heartthrob, Christopher Robin Worrell on a 51-day spree in the late 1970s in Australia. Worrell would have Miller drive to pick up girls, and after he had sex with them and killed them, he'd make Miller help him dump the bodies. Miller claimed complete innocence in the murders, although it was clear that in most instances, he knew what Worrell planned to do. Seven women died and one was buried alive before Worrell was killed in a car accident while driving under the influence of alcohol. Thanks to a tip from Worrell's girlfriend, police arrested Miller and he led them to three of the bodies that had not yet been found. He loved his friend, he claimed, and so he could not turn him in. Helpless or not, he still got six life sentences.

Miller is a rare one. Generally when things get hot, psychopaths save themselves by turning on the other person, or at the very least, they spread the blame.


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