Keith Jesperson: Serial Killer
Keith Hunter Jesperson (born 6 April 1955) is a Canadian-born American serial killer known as the „Happy Face Killer“ for the smiley face he drew on his many letters to the media and prosecutors. He had a violent and troubled childhood under a domineering, alcoholic father. Treated like an outcast by his own family and teased by other children for his large size at a young age, Jesperson was a lonely child who showed a propensity for torturing and killing animals. Despite consistently getting into trouble in his youth, including twice attempting to kill children who had crossed him, Jesperson graduated from high school, secured a job as a truck driver, got married, and had three children. In 1990, after 15 years of marriage, Jesperson was divorced and saw his dream to become a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman dashed following an injury. It was that year, after returning to truck driving, that Jesperson began to kill.
Jesperson is known to have killed eight women over the course of five years. Strangulation was his preferred method, the same method he often used to kill animals as a child. After the body of his first victim, Taunja Bennett, was found, media attention surrounded Laverne Pavlinac, a woman who falsely confessed to having killed Bennett with her abusive boyfriend. Jesperson was upset that he was not getting the attention, and first drew the smiley face on the bathroom wall where he wrote an anonymous confession for the murder, hundreds of miles away from the scene of the crime. When that did not elicit a response, he began writing the letters to media and prosecutors. Many of his victims were prostitutes and transients with no connection to him; however, his final victim was his long-time girlfriend. That connection is ultimately what led to his downfall. While Jesperson has claimed to have killed as many as 160 people, only eight murders have been confirmed.