What is it like to know a murderer? Hopefully, not too many people know the answer to this question, but several Redditors claim to have known—or at least have loose connections to—some notorious killers, including Colorado theater shooter James Holmes and serial killer Ted Bundy.
By Friday morning, users had added 7,669 comments to the thread, asking “People who have known murderers, serial killers, etc. How did you react when you found out? How did it effect your life afterwards?”
Contributors spare no gory details, but all of the entries tell a story of people trying to come to terms with knowing people who have committed heinous, unnatural acts.
“Knew this guy since grade school. He joined the Marines right out of high school and did a couple tours in Iraq. Just wasn’t quite the same when he got home,” Redditor some1american shared. “Ended up killing his wife and then himself one night. He was barricaded in his house ready for a shootout with the police.”
It's really weird to think about. I always knew him as this happy kid, ready with a laugh and a dirty joke. Yeah, his temper would flare up sometimes, but it would always die out as quickly as it flared up.
In sixth grade, some1american says, the alleged murderer would give him his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when he didn’t have lunch.
Two users claimed having a one-degree separation from Ted Bundy, a notorious kidnapper and rapist who targeted young women in the 1970s.
“Sort of off topic, but when Ted Bundy was in prison (in Florida, I think?) his favorite reporter to speak with was my cousin. She still has the Christmas card he sent her one year,” Gwentastic wrote. “They had a falling out while he was on death row, and I think he sent her death threats.”
“Ted Bundy dated my aunt,” said Strayphoenix6. “They dated for a few months and it just sort of fell apart. She said that he was one of the most polite, nicest people that she had ever met. Freaky as fuck.”
“Successful murderous sociopaths are usually charming, gracious, attractive, humorous and charismatic. It's a skill they cultivate very young,” NotShirleyTemple added.
The same couldn’t be said for James Holmes, the man who opened fire during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 and wounding almost 60.
“I knew James Holmes in college. He was one year ahead of me, but same major. I remember taking classes with him, he also did a bit of research in the vivaria and so did I but in separate labs. So our paths crossed often,” said sirensongofdeath, adding that they remembered him as being “super paranoid.”
When sirensongofdeath found out Holmes was responsible for the theater massacre, they were chilled. “I remember feeling scared for some reason when I put the name to a face. My teeth started chattering wildly. I was shocked… It still freaks me out to this day remembering working in labs, and having class discussions with that guy.”
“One of my classmates was shot in the head at that shooting. It's interesting to hear from someone who knew him before that time,” replied FreezyPeeks.
Redditor IamaAholeAMA also shared a story about a former classmate and describes seeing him again years later:
In grade school I sat next to this guy named George. Super quiet kid, and occasionally I would go over his house after school. His mom would occasionally be our substitute teacher.
Fast forward to when I am in college and go to pick up a NY Post in the morning. I see the headline "THREE STRIKES, SHE'S OUT ... KID BEATS MOM TO DEATH WITH BASEBALL BAT". And there was a photo of George and his mom. It was big news in NY for a brief period, and last I heard he was sent to jail.
Fast forward a few years later and I am working in Manhattan and I literally bump right into him on the subway platform. Apparently he got out after a few years. It was seriously the most ackward small talk I ever made with someone in my life.
Other anecdotes told sad stories of loneliness and mental illness of family members long forgotten, such as the story of Aunt Tillie. According to fractalfay, they found out about Aunt Tillie while working on a family tree when their mom dropped some intense truth about their relative.
“And then there was old Aunt Tillie, who strangled a boy in her living room,” she said.
“Stop the press: say what?” fractalfay said, sounding perplexed. “She explained that Tillie started hearing voices, and there was a little boy who used to always come by in the afternoon for cookies. One day he came in and she strangled him to death, and was found wandering the streets, babbling to herself.”
Fractalfay continued: “Though I never knew this relative I found a newspaper article about it, and was haunted by the image of the little boy, and wondered about how many generations of his family were affected by this horrible event.”