Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Harvey Murray Glatman: First of the Signature Killers

The Call of the Wild

His crimes so far being small potatoes, the Albany Police Department nevertheless considered this phantom a danger. His modus operandi was striking at women, and that scared the bejesus out of Police Commissioner James Kirwin. Descriptions given to the authorities by Hayden, Berge and Goldstein matched, so they knew it had been the same assailant in all cases. He had already attempted to sexually molest the nurse. Kirwin assembled his forces and commanded, Get this clown!

Patrolmen moved quickly. Within two days they had Harvey Glatman in custody. Two officers had spotted the suspect, description matching to a T, following a woman down Western Avenue. Pausing him, they frisked him. In his pockets, they found a toy gun, a pocketknife and a roll of rope. Scared, he confessed.

Yonkers wanted him returned to face charges of assault on Thorn and Staro, but the city of Albany was rejoicing in its professional squelching of this goon and flat-out refused. Four days after his arrest, Glatman was indicted in Albany's Municipal Court for the attack on Flo Hayden. Even though the other women did not file charges, the city DA knew that this Glatman, who had already done time in Colorado, was no spontaneous small-timer. Harvey suddenly faced a prison term in the big league category.

Ophelia and Albert Glatman were stunned when they heard the bad news. All this time they had thought their son had reformed and was living clean, still in Yonkers. Ophelia rushed east to plead for leniency, but her tears won no results.

Glatman in custody
Glatman in custody

In October, her and Harvey's fears materialized. Judge Earl Gallup, with prodding from the DA's office, hammered the gavel down on the two-time loser: Five to ten! he proclaimed. Harvey was going back up the river, this time to the rock pile. Because Harvey was not yet 21 years of age, Judge Gallup recommended that the convicted begin his term in Elmira (New York) Reformatory, but, in due course, be committed to serve the remainder of his time at maximum security Sing Sing.

Prisoner Number 48337 spent nearly two years in Elmira. During that time, he was medically researched and evaluated. At the end of that time, Dr. Ralph Ryancale diagnosed Harvey as a "psychopathic personality schizophrenic type" having "sexually perverted impulses as the basis of his criminality." He strongly recommended that further studies on Harvey Glatman be resumed after his removal to Sing Sing.

Unfortunately, no records of his psychiatric examinations at Sing Sing have survived, apart from a case study performed just after his ingress. That perfunctory report apprises the new inmate as "not definitely mental defective or psychotic," but suggests that he should be "psycho-educated and if still anti-social should be segregated even if schizophrenia does not seem developed."

Parole reports which have survived the years show that Harvey was a model prisoner, had a high IQ, demonstrated ability and eagerness in his prison duties and responded positively to sporadic medical exams. Crime author Michael Newton who, for years, has studied Harvey Glatman and the serial killer mind in general, is unimpressed. He states, "Sociopathic sex offenders learn to 'play' the system early on, sometimes as children. After they have been arrested several times and spent time in jail, as Harvey had, they know exactly what to say and how to act in any given situation, whether dealing with police, attorneys, or psychologists. Despite solemn assurances to the contrary, many sociopaths...are fully capable of 'beating' polygraphs, manipulating the results of psychological evaluation tests and making therapists believe they have been 'cured'."

Harvey evidently played the game very well. Benefits accrued for "good behavior" severed a percentage of time off his minimum five-year sentence; after only two years, eight months behind bars, Harvey Glatman was paroled. Stipulations, however, decreed that he must return to the care of his mother, acquire a full-time job and remain under court observation for another four and a half years.

Going home to parental custody in Denver, Harvey worked a number of odd jobs and generally stayed out of mischief. Parole follow-ups refer to a spotty employment record, citing difficulties adjusting to a full-time work life. Harvey lived with his parents until after his father Albert passed away, at which time mother and son began to bicker. Allowed space to go on his own, he rented his own flat, continued to find on-again-off-again employment and visited his parole officer regularly and on time.

In September, 1956, Harvey Glatman received full liberty. With no more monthly updates to complete, no more authority-contrived check-ups, Harvey did what he'd been dying to do for years. Put Denver and Ophelia and courts and police records behind him.

With dust rising at his heels, he left the Mile High City and went west. Perhaps the horizon was blurry, but as he drove and drove down dirty highways, somewhere along the way he decided that Los Angeles was the place to go.

The call of the wild. 


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