Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Harvey Murray Glatman: First of the Signature Killers

The Arraignment

By now it was daylight. After securing this spot, the detectives returned Harvey to town. When, on the following day, the murderer brought them to the site where he slew Judith Ann Dull, there was not much to find, surprisingly; some shreds of clothing, nothing much more. But, then investigators learned that many months previously a skeleton of an unknown woman had been found at that locale by hikers. Forensic odontologists were now able to re-examine those bones, still on file, as well as examine the skeletal remains of the other two victims, and make positive identification.

On Monday, November 3, Harvey Glatman was officially arraigned in San Diego County. Here his trial would take place, even though three other counties had wanted him badly: Orange County, for the assault on Miss Vigil that occurred within its jurisdiction; Riverside County where Miss Dull had been killed; and Los Angeles County, claiming (rightfully so) that all of the victims had been abducted there. But, says author Newton, "it finally came down to numbers, at least as far as San Diego County DA James Don Keller was concerned. His county had two corpses, compared to Riverside's one."

Once the arraignment was over, Keller assembled a task force prosecuting team to see that justice was served well on the mad dog. (The mad dog was already yelping to be put out of his misery, and these men agreed that he should be obliged.) They wanted a fair process of law, of course, but they wanted it to be done expediently. The team consisted of Keller and members of the San Diego County DA's office, as well as representatives from the other counties and the city of Los Angeles. Included in this last were homicide detective (LAPD) Pierce Brooks.

One of the things these men wanted and needed for legal prosecution was the history of each crime on tape as recorded by Harvey Glatman himself: how he killed the girls, and why. Harvey had already confessed and, in effect, surrendered his right to a trial. But, for purpose of the prosecuting team's full understanding of what occurred and most certainly for the purpose of studying a kind of mind the world had yet to realize the recording was mandatory.

Brought to a room in the County Sheriff's building, Lieutenant Tom Isbell and Sergeant Robert Majors conducted the session. Explaining to the prisoner what they were doing, and the reasons for it, they flicked on the machine. As a legal technicality, Majors prefaced the dialogue. Bending over the mic, he spoke. "Harvey, before you make any statement here that will be recorded on this tape, I would like you to know that everything you say is being recorded...and that everything you say here can be held against you in your prosecution for murder. Do you understand that?"

"Harvey nodded. "Yes, sir."

Over the next four hours, Harvey addressed each murder at a time, as well as his planned murder of Lorraine Vigil, relating a story the likes of which the two other men in that room had never heard and may have called preposterous had they seen it played out in a movie. He stated dates, addresses, deeds, details in gory Technicolor. He told how the idea of the killings seeded in his mind, how they grew; he confessed that he craved sex with the women, and when the sex was through how he needed to kill them. All based on a sexual urge to control.

When Harvey spoke it was without drama or malevolence or even regret; his speech was a monotone, even while it gushed the gruesome incidentals of murder. Perhaps his attitude was, thought the detectives watching him, one of relief. Since his arrest, the prisoner had been begging for his death. Maybe he figured that this was his final testimony before the grave, the only way to get what he wanted now.


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