Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Harvey Murray Glatman: First of the Signature Killers

Judith Ann Dull

Working as a TV repairman by day, Harvey was able to afford rent for a small flat/studio apartment on quiet Melrose Avenue and a used car, a used 1951 black Dodge Cornet. He also found the cash to buy an expensive Rolleicord camera, complete with a Schneider Xenar zoom lens and a tripod. With the proper equipment, all he needed now was a pseudonym something snappy that sounded like a real professional photographer like those who took those saucy pictures in his favorite crime magazines. Weighing the decision like it was the most important one in the world, he finally conceived the alias Johnny Glenn. Sounded pert. Sounded suave. Sounded persuasive.

For months he hung out at the models' studios, snapping away to his libido's content, amazed and titillated at how easily these broads stripped bare for twenty bucks an hour.

But, it wasn't enough. He had to touch...to have...to control...to...

Judy Dull the night of her murder
Judy Dull the night of her murder

His first victim was Judith Ann Dull, a 19-year-old wide-eyed babydoll divorcee taking on whatever assignment she could get to pay for a lawyer in a child custody battle with her ex. Having obtained her phone number through her agency (it was customary in the Fifties for agencies to release personal numbers), Harvey called Dull the morning of August 1, 1957, to explain that he had seen her model before and was interested in having her pose for a layout for a popular true crime magazine. It was a great opportunity, he stressed. Her line of business urged caution, but she thought he sounded nice enough over the telephone and the fact that he agreed to do the shoot at her own apartment sounded convivial. She agreed to pose for him at two o'clock that afternoon.

"Wear a tight skirt and sweater," he directed before hanging up.

When he arrived at her Sweetzer Avenue flat, early, he asked her if she would mind posing at his studio instead. The lighting was better. Surveying the floppy-eared, bespectacled wimp, she tossed off all caution and followed him to his car. He drove her to his "studio," actually his own apartment. Once inside, he explained that since the shots would accompany a story about bondage, he would have to illustrate by tying her up. If she had any doubts, the thought of $20 an hour overrode. She consented, throwing out her wrists as he bound them, sitting back in his armchair as he wrapped her ankles, and slinking back seductively this way and that way.

When she was fully strapped and muzzled, he drew a .32 Browning automatic from his pocket. "In 1957, California had no waiting period for firearms purchases," says author Michael Newton in Rope, "no background checks, no pesky licenses. You didn't even have to show ID. It was a cash and carry business..." Harvey had had the cash, and he carried.

Waving the steel-blue weapon under her chin, he untied her hands and ordered her to strip slowly as he snapped her in various poses, some bound, some free, all depicting her in control of someone off-screen. Like a movie director, he barked out, You're frightened! You're curious! Be scared, but be tempting! Lift a leg! Drop a strap! Snap snap whirr, snap, snap whirr. The poses varied and grew more erotic more emphatic to Harvey's personal soul as the shoot progressed..

In a chapter devoted to Glatman in his book, Signature Killers, Robert D. Keppel, Ph.D., explains how Harvey's photographs were his "personal signature of murder". Keppel finds Harvey's use of photography telling: "(His photos) were more than souvenirs because, in Glatman's mind, they actually carried the power of his need for bondage and control. They showed the women in various poses: sitting up or lying down, hands always bound behind their backs, innocent looks on their faces, but with eyes wide with terror because they had guessed what was to come."

When the pictures were taken, he had his way with Judy Dull. Oblige, he commanded, or die. Whimpering at her foolishness, the girl obeyed. As the outside world dimmed through Harvey's window shades, Johnny Glenn raped her several times, binding her limbs at the conclusion of each session. Relaxing, satisfied for the meantime, he made her sit beside him and nuzzle him on the sofa as he watched his favorite TV comedies. A few more shows, he promised, and he'd take her home.

But, Harvey had no intention of taking her anywhere except to a perfect little spot in the desert he had discovered one day while cruising near the vicinity of Indio. Way out, amongst the coyotes, and far, far away from the cops who could send him back behind bars for evermore. Really, he kept telling himself over and over again, he didn't want to kill anyone, but, what else was there to do? He had to have her, had to possess her, had to glutton on her. Damn, it wasn't his fault! And damn it, nobody was going to send him to prison for something he couldn't help.

How else was he supposed to get a woman?

At 10:30 p.m., Harvey announced that he would let her go, but he would have to dump her off out of town for her to find her own way home. She probably reasoned that he wanted time to escape, and she did not argue. Tying her wrists once again, he led her to his car, his gun in one hand as he steered the vehicle down the freeway, south to San Bernardino, east to Mission Road, into the open flatland of Riverside County lit only by stars. He kept on driving, miles more to go, and didn't pause until he had passed Banning and Palm Springs, finally slowing down once he passed Thousand Palms. A hundred miles from Los Angeles, here in the middle of nowhere, he stopped the car. Around them was night and nature.

Pulling Dull from the car, he acted as if he was about to untie her. She sighed. Then, in a single move, he lassoed her neck, shoved her to her knees, twirled her on her belly and rung the other loop of the cord around her ankles. Pulling up, her body snapped below him. A single groan, she was dead.

But, Harvey needed a few more photos by flash, something to remember his conquest. He molded Dull like a clay figure; an arm here, an arm there, a leg spread, a knee turned this way. Dead no matter how she was shaped. He wanted it to appear that way.

Of the victim's death photos, Dr. Keppel adds, "They were even more horrifying to police (than the in-life ones) because they revealed Glatman's true nature. They showed the ways the killer had positioned his victims, and the psychological depravity they evidenced was deeply revolting. That a human being could so reveal the depths of his own weakness and feelings of insignificance through photographs was something investigators had not seen before."

 

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