Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Harvey Murray Glatman: First of the Signature Killers

Phantom Delights

Harvey Glatman served eight months of his twelve-month sentence before being paroled from Colorado's state prison. He walked out the gates on July 27, 1946. One of the first things his mother did was bring him to a psychiatrist as a means to ward off further rash acts such as the ones that sent her boy to the calaboose. The doctor recommended that Harvey's problem was based on his abnormal fear of the opposite sex. Solution? That Harvey begin activities, such as dancing, that set him right in the midst of women to squelch that fear.

Harvey listened well. He returned to his native New York state and partook of many activities that involved women however, not the kind that the good professional had in mind.

It had been mother Ophelia's wish that Harvey leave Denver because of the black mark on him there. She earnestly believed that he could get a fresh start in a new climate among new faces; meet friendly people, get a job and make something of himself. Leaving Albert at home for a few weeks, Ophelia escorted her son to and set him up in a tidy little flat in Yonkers. She even stood by as he got a job in a television repair store. He had learned the trade in prison workshop and could now put that knowledge to good use, she told him.

Convinced that Harvey was on his way to a normal life, Ophelia returned to Denver.

As for Harvey, once mama was gone, he set out to the streets in search of excitement. Not taking the chance to try to procure a gun possession of one would send him back to prison for a long, long time he instead bought a cap gun from a five-and-dime that he thought looked authentic enough to pass for real. The pocket-knife he carried, though, was not a toy. And the rope, of course, too, that was the best-made hemp, guaranteed not to slip:

There was no imitating the embracing powers of real hemp.

Around midnight of August 17, 1946, lovers Thomas Staro and Doris Thorn were approached by a man they later described as being a bit shorter than six feet, 140 pounds, with messy hair, horn-rim glasses, large ears and pock-marked. The stranger, brandishing a pistol, ordered the couple off the sidewalk and into the darkness under a grove of trees. Removing Staro's wallet from his trousers, he tied his legs together and made him lie on the lawn. Turning to Thorn, he began touching her breasts, keeping her in place and quiet with the threat of the gun barrel at her abdomen. Immersed in the wonders of womanhood, Harvey failed to see that the boyfriend had worked himself free from the sloppily tied knot and was tip-toeing from behind.

Staro grabbed Harvey, but the latter wiggled free from his grasp, simultaneously producing his pocket-knife. With a slash, he caught Staro's shoulder, a cut that even though not lethal sent the other recoiling in terror. Harvey escaped into the umbrage.

He didn't stop running until he was safe on the first train to Albany.

Denver, Yonkers, Albany, it was all the same to Harvey Glatman. The place didn't matter, as long as it had women to caress. Renting a flat in his new town, he spent the next couple of days scouring the neighborhood around his flat on Commercial Street in preparation for more adventure. By August 22nd, he was ready.

His first target in Albany was off-duty nurse Florence Hayden. Coming up behind her from the darkness of Main Avenue, he grabbed her purse straps and shoved her into an adjacent yard. Jostling her, he dug his gun barrel into her side and demanded that she remain quiet while he bound her wrists together. But, as she told police later, "I realized he was using both his hands (to tie the rope) and no longer held the gun. So I wheeled around, pushed him hard, and screamed but loud."

The mugger absconded, Hayden said, more frightened than she.

Not discouraged by his latest run of bad luck, Harvey determined to succeed when he took a stroll along Hollywood Avenue the following evening. For a while, the cupboard looked bare as every woman he saw was with a male companion and he had had enough with scrapping with muscular males after that Yonkers incident. His libido itching, he impulsively went after the only unescorted females he saw passing him on a deserted street corner two women walking together, Evelyn Berge and Beverly Goldstein. But, once he had cornered them with his toy gun, he lost nerve. Two women were too much! Mumbling, fumbling, he ordered them to turn over their pocketbooks, and after they obliged he again mumbled, again fumbled before shrinking into the shadows.


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