I: The Creation of a Serial Killer

I: The Creation of a Serial Killer

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by Jack Olsen

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Prize-winning journalist Jack Olsen, armed with unprecedented access to one of the most infamous serial killers in American history, provides a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a murderer in the killer's own words . . .

In February 1990, Oregon State Police arrested John Sosnovke and Laverne Pavlinac for the vicious rape and murder of Taunja Bennet, a

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Prize-winning journalist Jack Olsen, armed with unprecedented access to one of the most infamous serial killers in American history, provides a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a murderer in the killer's own words . . .

In February 1990, Oregon State Police arrested John Sosnovke and Laverne Pavlinac for the vicious rape and murder of Taunja Bennet, a troubled 23-year-old barfly who had suffered mild retardation since birth. Pavlinac had come forth and confessed, implicating her boyfriend and producing physical evidence that linked them to the crime. Authorities closed the case.

There was just one problem. They had the wrong people.

And the real killer wasn't about to let anyone take credit for his kill. Keith Hunter Jesperson was a long haul truck driver and the murderer of eight women, including Taunja Bennet. As the case wound through police precincts and courts--ending in life sentences for both Sosnovke and Pavlinac--Jesperson began a twisted one man campaign to win their release. To the editors of newspapers and on the walls of highway rest stops, Jesperson scribbled out a series of taunting confessions:

I killed Tanya Bennett . . . I beat her to death, raped her and loved it. Yes I'm sick, but I enjoy myself too. People took the blame and I'm free . . ..Look over your shoulder. I may be closer than you think.

At the end of each confession, Jesperson drew a happy face, earning for himself the grisly sobriquet "The Happy Face Killer."

Based on access to interviews, diaries, court records, and the criminal himself, I: The Creation of a Serial Killer is Jesperson's chilling story. It chronicles his evolution from angry child to sociopathic murderer, from tormentor of animals to torturer of women. It is also the story of the fate that befell him after two innocent citizens were imprisoned four years for one of his killings.

Edgar Award winner Jack Olsen lets the killer to tell his story in his own words, offering unprecedented insight into the twisted thought process of a serial murderer. Olsen takes his readers along on Jesperson's vicious cross-country killing spree, letting him describe how he played his "death game" with eight innocent victims and how he finally came to grips with the fate he deserved.

I: The Creation of a Serial Killer is one of the most revealing and insightful pieces of crime reporting ever published.

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Editorial Reviews

In 1990, Oregon State Police arrested a couple for the savage rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman. One newspaper reader realized that the cops had made a grievous error and began a solitary campaign to win freedom for the wrongfully accused couple. But the man was no zealot libertarian or maverick investigator; he was the killer. In several chilling letters, Keith Hunter Jesperson reenacted the gruesome attack and slaughter of not just one woman but eight. At the bottom of each taunting confession, he drew a crude happy face, earning him an ironic nickname. Using those documents and exclusive interviews, award-winning true-crime author Jack Olsen takes us into the mind of one of the most sadistic serial murderers in our history. A riveting, heart-stopping book.
Publishers Weekly
Veteran true-crime writer Olsen (Salt of the Earth, etc.) takes the profiling of a psychopath a step farther than usual; drawing on interviews and his subject's own diaries to intimately reveal the life and inner workings of Keith Hunter Jesperson, currently serving life in prison for the murders of eight women in the 1990s. Jesperson was called the "Happy Face Killer" for his token symbol on taunting letters sent to authorities. Cutting between Jesperson's rough rural childhood in the Pacific Northwest (with a hard-drinking, belt-swinging father who put him to work and charged room and board), and his mad glee in hunting down, raping and strangling women, the book plays more like a carefully detailed autobiography than a neutral investigation. While the gruesome details are nailed down with morbid precision, some readers may be disturbed by Olsen's abandonment of the objective narrator's voice in chapters where the first-person account puts the reader right inside the madman's mind it's a distinctly unpleasant place, where women are "lot lizards" and "bitches" paraded toward rape and death. Even chapters in the third person clearly represent Jesperson's viewpoint. Olsen's writing is clear and concise, but the voyeurism of the murder scenes will disturb some readers, and the attempt to create understanding of a serial murderer might be interpreted by others as an attempt to create sympathy. Eight pages b&w photos not seen by PW. (Aug. 20) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
During the 1990s, the Pacific Northwest was besieged by a serial killer, Keith Hunter Jesperson, who taunted the police for incarcerating the wrong people for one of his eight victims; he signed his letter to the police with a happy face and hence became known as the Happy Face Killer. Renowned true-crime author Olsen (Hastened to the Grave) uses diaries, court records, and interviews with the killer himself to present Jesperson's version of why he became a serial killer and how he killed his victims. As a truck driver, he was able to travel cross-country and kill young women who, he thought, were going to present a problem for him. With each of his victims, he played a "death game" in which he choked them, then revived them a few times before killing them. The book's flaw is that it is one-sided. The reader is not told how law enforcement officers caught on to Jesperson or about the trial. Nor does it provide details as to what happened to the wrongly convicted. Nevertheless, Olsen's popularity in the genre will make this a popular choice for public libraries. Michael Sawyer, Northwestern Regional Lib., Elkin, NC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Veteran true-crime author Olsen (Hastened to the Grave, 1998, etc.) explores the crimes and motivations of a truck-stop murderer. In an alternating first-person/third-person account, Olsen relates the story of Keith Hunter Jesperson, a.k.a. The Happy Face Killer, who murdered eight women in the early- to mid-1990s in the West and Pacific Northwest. The narrative flashes back and forth between a suspenseful chronicle of the murders and Jesperson's dysfunctional childhood. The black sheep of his family, brutalized physically and psychologically by his father, he grew into a powerful six-and-a-half-foot galoot capable of volcanic rage and with a penchant for torturing small animals. He drifted into a career as an over-the-road trucker, which offered the perfect half-invisible lifestyle for an angry loner. At first indulging his taste for rough, domineering sex with truck-stop prostitutes, Jesperson began to have homicidal fantasies and ultimately started murdering them by slow strangulation. Women who sold their bodies deserved their fate, he believed. He successfully eluded detection or suspicion but began to be plagued by guilt because two innocent people were wrongly jailed for his first murder; he deliberately became careless so that he could be tracked down and caught. The author examines various possible reasons why Jesperson became a serial killer, but his conclusion seems to be that given the right combination of harsh life experiences, rage, opportunity, and lack of self-control, almost anyone could go that route. The pretense of exploring and understanding Jesperson's psychology is a bit of a sham, as the real purpose here seems to be to serve up a titillating account of squalidmurders and violent sex. But for the genre, this is crackerjack stuff. Olsen obviously had thorough access to Jesperson (who is currently doing life), his family, and friends. One unexpected reward is the fascinating insider's glimpse of the world of long-haul truckers. True-crime entertainment at its best.
From the Publisher

“This book is like an avalanche: it starts strong and rapidly gains momentum as it cascades downward on its destructive journey of serial murder. Truly insightful.” —Maury Terry, bestselling author of The Ultimate Evil

“It is probably impossible for any law-abiding citizen like the author and most of his readers to understand a homicidal psychopath-especially one not only driven to kill but also driven to get caught. Given the odds, Olsen explains [Keith Hunter] Jesperson to an amazing degree.” —Seattle Times/Post Intelligencer

“Olsen was the most prolific, innovative writer of serious true crime books in recent memory.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“For the genre, this is crackerjack stuff. Olsen obviously had thorough access to Jesperson...his family, and friends...True-crime entertainment at its best.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Veteran true-crime author Olsen takes the profiling of a psychopath a step farther than usual...the gruesome details are nailed down with morbid precision...Olsen's writing is clear and concise.” —Publishers Weekly

“Jack Olsen has hit the target again...a valuable, illuminating look into the phenomenon of the murdering mind.” —Maury Terry, best-selling author of The Ultimate Evil

“The most disturbing and illuminating book ever written. Bar none. 'I' is not for the faint of heart, but for those willing to go to the darkest depths of human depravity to understand the incomprehensible.” —Gregg Olsen, bestselling author of Abandoned Prayers

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St. Martin's Press
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BETWEEN THE PANELS (Eye of the World: The Art of Chase Conley)by Chase Conley

Chase Conley, the penciller and inker for The Eye of the World graphic novel, shares his approach to designing the beloved and well-known lead characters of Robert Jordan’s New York Times bestselling epic fantasy series, the Wheel of Time.

When starting the character design phase of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time: Eye of the World, I wanted to establish a unique visual that was a mixture many traditional fantasy worlds and combine them in a way that had not been achieved before. One could simply look at the covers of the novels and see that Robert Jordan was trying to create an original visual approach to his world.

For this story, it was essential to get the main characters correct because we follow them throughout the majority of the story. Rand al’Thor and his friends Mat Cauthon, Perrin Aybara, and Egwene al’Vere will be seen almost the entire volume. They are from Emonds Field, a small village where fashion isn’t the first thing on people’s minds. They are simple farmers and sheepherders who dress in more neutral colors, and they would be outfitted similarly since there’s only one dressmaker and one cobbler and they would probably only make a few select styles.

Rand al’Thor was a little tricky to get down at first. There are a lot of subtle visual qualities that help suggest personality. Rand is nineteen. He is a head taller than his father. His eyes look blue or gray depending on the light. (Women in these books can get quite lyrical about Rand’s eyes!) His hair is unruly, with a reddish tint. His skin is lighter than the other Emond’s Field folk, but his farmer’s tan covers it. He is about six foot five inches and roughly 235 pounds with broad shoulders, a deep chest, and a narrow waist. He is a very good looking man; a good many female characters think him either pretty or beautiful. Now, at first glance I thought, “this guy is very attractive and has the build of a superhero, how am I going to make him look timid and unimposing?” What makes Rand difficult is the fact that he’s just the son of a farmer. He hasn’t seen much in his life and he’s pretty naive when it comes to the outside world. His character and posture must reflect that.

Here’s my first pass at Rand. I went for the country boy look, but I believe it was a little too country. Also, his proportions and stature did not reflect those traits given to me in the description. I went back to the drawing board.

The second time, I kept thinking of the superhero-like build, and I suddenly thought of Superman. Clark Kent is from Smallville and grew up on a farm—very similar to Rand’s background. With that in mind, I had my direction. There’s no way to hide that Rand is huge, but that’s the important aspect. There is no need to hide it; he should look entirely out of place. I realized at that point that the key would be in Rand’s facial expressions. I looked at some of Glen Keane’s work (one of the best character designers and animators living today) and finally established a nice range of emotions. Rand would have to walk around everywhere looking somewhat confused and frightened at all times, which in the story he pretty much is most of the time.

I went through a similar process with the rest of the main characters. They were pretty easy to design. Egwene would be wearing a plain dress. Mat and Perrin would be dressed very similar to Rand, only with slight variations. I think I even nailed these three on the first pass.

After the main characters were approved, I moved to the supporting characters. There were a ton of cool characters, but there were a few I focused on primarily. Lan Mandragoran and Moiraine Damodred were the next two that I wanted to tackle. Lady Moiraine must reflect the opposite aesthetic of the Emond’s Field folk. She’s elegant, powerful, and extremely beautiful. She’s also outfitted in a vibrant blue dress, and cloak. I decided to style her hair slightly, just for the contrast while she’s in Emond’s Field. She has natural curls, but I took some artistic liberty made them a little more uniform. Lan is a strong, skilled, and seasoned warrior who has the gaze of a wolf. He has to look stern and ready for action at all times. He wears a cloak that helps him blend into the environment around him, but I wasn’t sure how to handle that at first. The Jordan estate suggested I reference the “Predator” movies for a better idea. Then it dawned on me that I could allow the colorist to simply paint whatever’s in the background in a given scene in the colors of the cloak. I didn’t draw any lines for the objects behind Lan, so that when you see the objects painted on the cloak they look blurry—this way, Lan’s cloak is perfectly in line with its description in the book.

Some other very cool characters in this massive world are the Trollocs. There are many different kinds of these half-man half-beast creatures. According to the books, they should look like a failed science experiment, not seamlessly blended together. They could have human eyes and brows, but the muzzle of a wolf, ram, goat or eagle. Some may have hooves for feet and some may not. They are built like eight-foot tall NFL linemen in scale and proportion. It was difficult finding the correct approach. In the early stages I made them too animalistic. I was told to make sure the eyes were human, so I softened them more than I otherwise would have, so they would contrast with the vicious-looking muzzles.

My favorite design was the one I did for the Myrddraal. These guys have long, greasy, oily hair. They sport jet black armor and swords, and they have no eyes. Initially I wanted to have the hair pulled back, so we could see the creepy face, but according to the books, they don’t even have eye sockets—it’s just a smooth surface. I didn’t know how to accomplish that with it looking to alien, so I opted to have that creepy hair fall in their faces. I wanted the feeling you get when Brandon Lee peers through the part in his hair as it falls in his face in the movie “The Crow.” I also initially designed them with these curvy looking blades to suggest their sinuous nature, but that didn’t get approved. Afterwards, I just inked the blade in completely and made it long and narrow. I also, added some more belts and things to the armor and clothing just to break up the design some.

There are so many characters and creatures in this huge world created by Robert Jordan. I could spend years simply designing them all.

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Meet the Author

Jack Olsen is the award-winning author of Son, Doc, Hastened To The Grave and other highly acclaimed works of non-fiction. The Philadelphia Inquirer called him"an American treasure." His work has been cited in the New York Times Notable Books of the Year.

Jack Olsen (1925-2002) is the author of thirty books published in fourteen countries. A former bureau chief for Time, he has written for Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated, People, Paris Match, and Reader's Digest. He has won the National Headliners Award, citations for excellence from Columbia and Indiana Universities, three Edgar Award nominations, and the 1990 Edgar for Doc: The Rape of the Town of Lovell.

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I: The Creation of a Serial Killer 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is sincerely one of the better true crime books published today. It's not just a recount of facts from a file, it's a look inside the head of a serial killer. It's a gruesomely detailed account of what makes one serial killer click. This was a great read and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to see why True Crime Fans, love their True Crime!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I went to high school with the Jesperson kids. I was interested how the author was going to portray their growing up. I remember Keith to be quiet but very likeable. I was shocked to hear and read about his morbidly twisted adult life. The authors accuracy was right on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was one of the best true crime books I read so far. It started of scary and it didn't really stop. I liked how they talked about his childhood so that you can kind of see why he is the way he is. This book was well written from the author and the happy-face killer, I like how the happy-face killer was talking a lot in his own words.
tattooedmommie More than 1 year ago
As a True Crime fan, I have to say this book made my "True Crime Must Reads" list! This is a fast read because you won't want to put it down. You learn the intricate details of one man's life and how all of these puzzle pieces seemed to have fit together to create this horrible person. The accounts of his crimes are truly from the perspective of a cold blooded murder and it will make you look at things very differently after this read.
Hair_Metal_Lover More than 1 year ago
This is definitely Jack Olsen's best work. This read is on my all time greats list and its a MUST read. I was not able to put it down until I had finished it! Its thrilling, frightening, detailed and traggic. I could just go on and on. Totally enthralling. I read this several years ago, and to this day have a hard time being comfortable if a truck pulls up next to me at a stop light!! Its hard to believe that people are that nutty out there! Scary!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've recently started reading True Crime, I have several books under my belt, but this book is just unbelieveable, I finished it in 4 days. It was almost impossible to put down, Jack Olson is such a captivating author. If your into True Crime this is definatly a 'page turner'
Suzanne Lovett More than 1 year ago
ive read this book about 300 times and it is still one of my faves. i love the work that the author and Keith Jesperson done. it still shocks me on how a loving father cud turn into such a monster. but i think we all have that monster inside and its up to us to keep it in. :). love ya keith
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was enthralled by the writing but at the conclusion had serious doubts of the honesty of Jesperson's explanations of the crimes. Seemed to be a self centred promotion of his skills with women and ability to outwit the police. Self praise is no recomendation and he does a good deal of that. However, the book was an absorbing read. Probably Olsen's best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was hard to put down,and easily recommended to many friends. The details were ghastly graphic. Putting you in the same room. Showing his opinion of his take on his child-hood and giving his fathers take as well. Often contrary. Each chapter starts with a quoted reference from other works often giving a great source of insight into the mind of a sociopath.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read it from cover to cover and certainly wasn't bored, but I believe the book would have been truly fascinating if Mr. Olsen had written the story in the style of his previous excellent books. He is an author whose name alone guarantees a good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am really not sure how to describe this book. Keith Jesperson's words are sometimes a little hard to believe. It sometimes feels like you are reading how he wishes his murders would have happened, without flaw and under control. It is a good look at how he saw things and what may possibly go through the mind of a serial killer but it is hard to establish truth from fiction. I would still definitely recommend this book for the insightful invite into the twisted mind and life of a serial killer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jack Olsen was the only person to get the truth from the 'Liar' Keith Jesperson, He told the story as the ' Happy Killer said it The best Book 0n true crime I have ever read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Only 2 stars for this book. Obviously the author published the killers words and correspondence, giving him the attention he was looking for. Makes me wonder if money was offered.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good flow of information in this story I liked the details
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good crime book.....
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed in this true crime. Found the writing difficult to read and I thought this book lacked a lot of info on the actual cases. It is more of a psychpath's ramblings and while normally I like that insight into the killer's mind I felt this book lacked in a lot of areas. Very disappointing.
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Maribel Abanto More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down, if you enjoy true crime books this is the book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago