The Last Victim: A True-Life Journey into the Mind of the Serial Killer

( 74 )

Overview

The twisted, but fascinating, mind of a serial killer is revealed with terrifying consequences in this astonishing and shocking exploration. with 20 b&w photos.

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The Last Victim: A True-Life Journey into the Mind of the Serial Killer

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Overview

The twisted, but fascinating, mind of a serial killer is revealed with terrifying consequences in this astonishing and shocking exploration. with 20 b&w photos.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The subtitle is a slight bit of misdirection: Moss offers us a journey into his own mind, into the mind of someone obsessed with the minds of serial killers. As a UNLV freshman, he corresponded with John Wayne Gacy, then on Death Row. He also accepted collect calls from Gacy, who attempted to talk him into committing incest with his younger brother. Enthralled by his proximity to sociopathology, Moss expanded his list of "psycho pen pals" to include Charles Manson, Richard Ramirez (aka the Night Stalker) and Jeffrey Dahmer. His impulse was to get inside the criminal mind. To do so, he sometimes found it necessary to tailor the truth about himself to fit what he felt the killers wanted to hear: he claimed to be the "grand priest of a cult" in his letters to Ramirez. Despite suffering nightmares triggered by his grisly correspondents, Moss, after contacting the FBI agent who handled Gacy, flew to Illinois to spend his spring break "alone in a locked, unmonitored room with a psychopath who'd raped, tortured, and strangled many boys just like me." Moss succeeds in contrasting his family life and his prisoner contacts, but the insight he offers into the internal logic of the serial killing mind is limited. Moreover, some readers will wonder about his own motivations, especially when he holds forth about the market value of Dahmer's autograph and otherwise participates in the strange, ghoulish culture of serial killer celebrity. Psychotherapist Kottler, one of Moss's UNLV instructors, contributes both a prologue and an afterword. Eight pages of drawings and photos. Major ad/promo. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
A bizarre first-person account of a young man's nearly disastrous obsession with serial killers. As a freshman at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, Moss, who dreamed of a career in law enforcement, conceived the idea of writing to serial killers on death row, hoping to gain their trust and discover what made them tick. His most extensive contact was with John Wayne Gacy, who had raped and murdered 33 teenage boys. He also corresponded with Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez (a.k.a. the Night Stalker), and other killers whom he admired for their nerve. To gain Gacy's attention—death-row inmates of Gacy's notoriety are besieged by would-be correspondents—Moss posed as a sexually confused and highly impressionable boy, matching himself to the profile of Gacy's victims. When this ploy worked, Moss felt that he had psyched out the killer and assumed that he would be able to manipulate and control him. Soon, however, Moss found himself identifying with, even sympathizing with Gacy, who began telephoning him regularly. When Gacy invited him for an expense-paid visit, Moss discovered that the guards behaved more like servants and left him alone and unobserved in the same room with the convicted murderer. Though aging and handcuffed, Gacy was able to break Moss down and turn him into the confused and compliant young man he had been pretending to be, demonstrating for him not only how a predator operates but how a potential victim feels. Fortunately, Moss, who could easily have become Gacy's last victim, escaped with only his ego bruised. A prologue and afterword by psychologist Kottler comment on both Moss's behavior and society's propensity for glorifying violence andturning serial killers into celebrities. An engrossing and gut-wrenching read. (20 b&w photos) .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446523400
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/24/2004
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 1,126,283
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One


The Bookstore

There's a little strip mall in an older, residential area in Las Vegas, far from the chaos of the other, more famous Strip. From the university, it's a straight shot down Flamingo Road, a major artery of the city named after Bugsy Siegel's original resort.

Typical of such malls, the row of shops contains an insurance agency, a hobby shop, an army recruiting office, a tuxedo rental outlet, a beauty shop, a used bookstore, and the obligatory Chinese restaurant with a $4.75 lunch special. There's also a kickboxing studio, which is why on this particular day in August 1993 I happened to be there.

I was early for my appointment with my karate instructor and I needed a place to escape the heat. Assessing my options, the bookstore seemed especially inviting—cool and quiet inside, and with plenty to occupy my attention. I was already feeling a bit stressed from my first week as a university student, so I welcomed a few minutes to literally chill out.

As I began strolling the aisles, I noticed I was one of the store's few customers. Even so, I was invisible to the bored cashier, who was alternately thumbing through a book and taking inventory of others lying on the counter. In fact, there were books everywhere, some still resting in boxes, others neatly organized on the shelves. It was as if the owner couldn't quite figure out how to make inflow and outflow mesh.

Because true crime had been an interest of mine since my early teens, I soon found myself in the store's crime section, staring at titles that somehow seemed familiar: Killer Cults, FBI Killer, Evil Harvest, Brother inBlood. I couldn't help noticing that, more often than not, "blood" was the common denominator: Blood Echoes, Blood Games, Blood Lust, Blood Sister, Blood Warning. Whoever came up with these titles seemed to have a thing for blood.

Like many people, I was secretly—and a bit guiltily—fascinated by such material. It can be exciting to peek through your fingers at something forbidden and terrible. Just ask the millions of rubberneckers who slow down at accident scenes, hoping to catch a glimpse of a body.

Among the hundreds of books that screamed with promises of blood and pain, one in particular caught my interest: Hunting Humans. A big, thick encyclopedic volume, it presented profiles of some of the world's most famous serial killers. As I stood in the narrow aisle turning pages, I began reflecting on how well camouflaged these predators are, prior to being caught. They look like anyone else, live apparently normal lives, often appear charming, sociable, and productive. But at the same time, they stalk and kill people, sometimes torturing and mutilating them.

I wondered what it must be like to look in the mirror and realize you are the bogeyman. How are these people able to live with themselves?

I was jolted out of my reverie by the sound of voices coming from across the aisle. "Do you have a store credit?" I could hear the cashier ask someone. I didn't catch the answer because, in my mind, an idea was beginning to form. It was something on the edge of my consciousness—something I couldn't grab on to.

The title of another book captured my attention: The Killer Clown. Now, that's interesting, I thought, reaching for it. I'd always been afraid of clowns.

As a child my most frequent nightmare took place at my grandparents' house. In the dream I was supposed to be taking a bath, but a strange sound drew me out of the tub to investigate. I started walking toward the stairs when I heard a scream, followed by a liquidy cackle. Looking down the stairs, I saw my grandmother sprawled out on the floor, blood slowly dripping from her mouth. Somewhere close, I heard an eerie laughter.

I turned in the direction of the voice and was startled to see a clown sitting on the stairwell's balcony, laughing at me. I particularly remember the big red smile on his face. At that point, I'd always wake up.

My parents and grandparents tell me that, as a kid, whenever I'd see a clown, I'd start crying in fear. Even today, there's something about that painted-on happy face and exaggerated show of good cheer that I don't trust. There's something about the masks that clowns wear—I can't help feeling that the intention is to deceive. Call me paranoid, but I find myself wondering: Who's the real person hiding beneath that makeup?

The idea that a killer would dress himself up as a clown to entertain sick children by day, and then stalk the streets for prey at night, seemed inconceivable to me. Yet I could identify with people who led double lives. How many times had I exuded confidence when taking an exam, or engaging in a debate, when, in fact, I was less than sure of myself?

I decided to buy both books—the one about hunting humans, and the other about the killer clown—even though it would put a crimp in my student budget. At the time, I had no idea the true cost would ultimately be much higher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 74 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(38)

4 Star

(21)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 74 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2002

    HARD TO SWALLOW

    I have read many books on serial killers. This one bored me. Moss takes way to much time telling the reader about how great he is and how intelligent he is. He also feels the need to keep telling the reader that he is not gay and is sickened to write the things in his letters. I also have a very hard time believing that this one peron gained confidence of so many killers. I believe that he had extensive contact with Gacy, but the others I believe he had to embelish. I would not recommend this book. There are so many great books on serial killers. This is about the self absorbed author.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2005

    This book made the hair on my neck stand up!

    The story grabbed and pulled me in, just as John Wayne Gacy pulled Jason Moss into his sick world and mind. Jason Moss took a huge risk with this adventure. I'm not sure if it was a brave or foolish undertaking. I would like to believe he is living well today, mentally and physically. I hope he was able to execute John Gacy from his mind and sole the way Gacy was executed from his own life on earth!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2007

    Great read.

    Truthfully, I was initially hesitant about reading this book as I am more interested in the crimes rather than examining the perpetrator. But this book caught my attention from start to finish. The insight into the criminal mind was amazing and I recommend this book 100% to anyone interested in true crime.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 7, 2012

    Keeps you on the edge of your seat

    I, too, thought the book dragged a little in the beginning and Moss talked about himself too much; however, after he started writing these serial killers in prison it took on a life of its own. I found myself staying up at night to read the entire book. Here is a 17 year old kid doing a "school project" on serial killers and it's amazing he got these people to write him back. However, I do believe they did write him because what else are they going to do in prison? The book mainly focuses on the Jason's relationship with serial killer John Wayne Gacy (the Killer Clown). It becomes very intense and that's what keeps you on the edge of your seat. How that relationship develops and what happens. This was one of my book club's picks. I wasn't sure I'd like it, but we always read these kinds of books and I found myself wanting to know more and more about what was going on in the life of Jason Moss and John Wayne Gacy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book Couldn't Put it down

    If you're into true crime books you're going to love this book. I read it a while back but literally couldn't put it down! Definitely recommend this book. Trying to get my husband to read it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2008

    Interesting

    I found this book to be wonderful. I love true crime stories, picked this one up one day and absolutely loved it. This is a great book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    I enjoyed the hell out of this book!

    I enjoyed the hell out of this book!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2000

    a disappointing book ABOUT Jeffrey Kottler

    Jeffrey Kottler,his life and times,,,,,,, would be a better title for this book, mostly boring, and about how smart he is, his college training, and how spoiled he was growing up, there were some good aspects when he was interviewing john wayne gacy, but all in all, it was a hard book NOT to put down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2000

    My B.S. detector is going off!!

    I find Jason Moss's book circumspect at best. I wanted copies as proof of the letters supposedly written by Gacy, Dahmer and Manson. I never sensed the power of academic or other research to corroborate Moss's story. Possibly Moss had the ability to correspond with serial killers on some level. However, for Moss to play chameleon for each, and dupe them into confidential correspondence seems to lend him an air of credibilty he did not establish for me. I will admit to having nightmares last night about serial killers, most likely from Moss's obsession. I did sense that!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2000

    Outstanding

    Jason is an incredible human being, extremely gutsy. I read this book in 1 day so hard to put it down. This book is an absolute must READ.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2014

    Wow....

    I really enjoyed this book. I am not easily scared and this book made it impossible for me to sleep. As you read you can see the psychological damage these killers inflict on jasons mind. You can tell, with the last line of the book, these killers are the reason jason kills himself in 2002!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2014

    Awesome book - he really was playing with fire going to see Gace

    Awesome book - he really was playing with fire going to see Gacey. Poor soul years later committed suicide in 2013. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2014

    Omg

    I can't believe these reviews. One said this was the best he ever read. Omg-that is so scary. I do agree with those that said the author was braggard.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2013

    A little vivid...but a great read

    I couldnt set this book down...i read it in 2 days. It gets a little raunchy at times and very vivid but i loved it. It really makes you think about what goes on in serial killers minds and lets you into their heads :)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012

    This book scared the heck out of me!! One of the best books i've

    This book scared the heck out of me!! One of the best books i've read in a VERY long time!!!
    And then I saw the movie, "Dear Mr. Gacy."  Naturally,  not nearly as intense as the book, of course,
    but something worth watching.
    I had actually thought about doing what this young man did, and write to major killers incarerated, but will NEVER
    after reading this book!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

    Incredible

    Contains real raw terror. Shows that real monsters arn't Freddy and Jason. But it very explict. But I loved it!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2012

    Wow

    This book was great couldnt put it down. It is difficult to read at times because the details were vivid but great read

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  • Posted June 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great read. This book was hard to put down. It takes you into th

    Great read. This book was hard to put down. It takes you into the crazy minds of serial killers and how they can still effect a person from behind bars.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2012

    Wow

    Great if you like true crime. A little too much for me at times...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Captivating

    Interest in book was peaked after watching movie recently on Netflix and reading about Jason and the taking of his own life...what a read this book was...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 74 Customer Reviews

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