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Talking with Serial Killers
The Most Evil Men in the World Tell Their Own Stories
By Christopher Berry-Dee
John Blake Publishing LtdCopyright © 2003 Christopher Berry-Dee
All rights reserved.
HARVEY LOUIS CARIGNAN
'The guy's the fuckin' Devil. They should have fried him years ago, period, an' they would have queued up to pull the switch. When he was dead, they should have driven a stake through his heart and buried him, digging him up a week later to ram another stake in, just to make sure he was fuckin' dead.'
RUSSELL J KRUGER
CHIEF INVESTIGATOR, MINNEAPOLIS PD
It was 24 September 1974 and early morning in Minneapolis. The sun was up and patrolmen Robert Nelson and Robert Thompson were cruising along 1841 E 38th Street when they spotted the 1968 black-over-pea-green Chevrolet Caprice. It was parked across the road from a diner. Thompson made a slow circuit of the block, while his partner checked the police bulletin details issued the day before.
'That's it,' said Nelson. 'That looks like the car. All we gotta do is find the driver. He's a big guy and, according to this, he's built like a gorilla.'
The two officers peered through the Caprice's window and scrutinised the interior. Sure enough, there was the red plaid car rug, pornographic magazines, and a bible. By the gearshift, they noticed several packs of Marlborough cigarettes; all items that had been detailed by a previous rape victim of the man the police were searching for.
While Nelson telephoned his precinct, requesting assistance, Thompson wandered into the diner, asking the owner if he knew who had been driving the car.
'Yeah, sure,' came the suspicious reply. 'He just saw you guys and high-tailed it out back.'
Minutes later, Harvey Louis Carignan was stopped, briefly questioned then arrested. He was taken downtown, read his Miranda Rights, and booked on charges of homicide and rape.
With up to 50 kills, one of America's most vicious serial murderers would never use his hammer again.
* * *
'Even now, it sometimes seems my childhood was short, only a few days long. There is nothing about it I cling to and nothing to look fondly backwards toward. From where I sat then, and sit now, it was, and is, truly a pit of despair.' CARIGNAN, IN A LETTER TO THE AUTHOR, 14 APRIL 1993
Born on the wrong side of the tracks at Fargo, North Dakota, on 18 May 1927, like so many serial killers, Harvey was an illegitimate child who never knew his genetic father. His 20-year-old mother, Mary, was ill-equipped to care for her sickly boy who failed to thrive and, in 1930, during the lowest point of the Great Depression, she started farming him out to anyone who would look after him. Thereafter, the youngster was moved from pillar to post, and school to school, unable to form family roots or enjoy a solid education.
Very early in his formative years, Harvey developed a facial twitch and suffered from bed-wetting until he was 13 years old. He also suffered Saint Vitus' Dance – or childhood chorea – a disease which manifests itself with uncontrollable spasmodic jerking movements.
At the age of 12, he was sent to a reform school at Mandan, North Dakota, where, according to his FBI 'Rap Sheet', he remained for seven years. During this time, he alleges that he was constantly bullied and sexually abused by a female teacher. In a letter dated 12 June 1993, he writes:
'... I had a teacher who used to sit at my desk and we would write dirty notes back and forth. I was either 13 or 14 at the time – and just show me a 14-year-old boy anywhere who wouldn't willingly and happily sit in a schoolroom and exchange porno notes with his teacher. I never got to lay a hand on her without getting slapped, but she would keep me after school and make me stand before her while she masturbated and called me names and told me what she was going to make me do – none of her threats she ever kept, damn it! The bitch wouldn't even let me masturbate with her! I took my penis out and she beat the living shit out of me! She had enormously large breasts. She was truly a cruel woman ...'
Harvey Carignan stayed at the Mandan reform school throughout his teenage years, then in 1948, at the age of 21, he joined the US Army, who welcomed him with open arms. Harvey was no longer the weedy little runt who, allegedly, had suffered mental and sexual abuse since the age of four. The high-carbohydrate and well-balanced diet at Mandan had helped him grow into a strapping, well-nourished and immensely powerful young man.
Carignan began his murderous career in 1949 when, during the early evening of Sunday 31 July, he killed 57-year-old Laura Showalter following an attempted rape in a small park at Anchorage, Alaska. Death came swiftly after he smashed her head, causing terrible brain injuries. The victim's face had been virtually destroyed from chin to forehead, bone and tissue crushed to a pulp under a battering from his massive fists.
'This killer was so strong,' said a police officer, 'with one punch he blasted a hole through her skull like a rocket slamming into a tank.'
On Friday, 16 September 1949, Carignan attempted to rape a young woman called Dorcas Callen who managed to escape his assault. The soldier, who was clearly drunk, although it was only 11.00 am, had confronted her near a tavern in Anchorage Street. When the man asked Dorcas to take a ride with him, she refused and turned away.
'Hey,' he shouted, 'I think I know you ... maybe.'
'Please go away,' Dorcas pleaded. 'You don't know me.'
She was now very scared. She knew that a woman had been bludgeoned to death in the neighbourhood only weeks before. But the big soldier confronting her was angered by her refusal, and she could not get away from him. Before she could move, the man grabbed her and began to drag her away from the street. They fell into a ditch beside the road, and he was all over her, tearing at her clothes, his hands touching her breasts, and between her legs. In moments he could rape her.
Dorcas fought frantically to find a handhold in the soft dirt walls of the ditch. He was very strong, almost inhumanly strong. Screaming, she managed to clamber out of the ditch and ran across the street to the tavern where she phoned the police.
In hospital, she relived the terror of the attack in detail through a bloody mask of bruised and bloodied facial skin. 'He turned into something from Hell. His fury came out of nowhere, like he was suddenly switched on with evil,' she said through swollen lips.
It was her description of her attacker that led to the arrest of Carignan later the same day. He stood trial for the first-degree murder of Laura Showalter in 1950 in the District Court for the Territory of Alaska, Third Division, Justice George W Folta presiding. The prosecution held as their ace card, a confession to murder given to Marshal Herring. Harvey Carignan was found guilty and sentenced to hang. At the subsequent appeal in the Supreme Court of the United States, Justices Reed, Douglas, Black and Frankfurter agreed that Harvey Carignan's conviction had come about because of a breach of the McNabb Rule. This held that confessions should be excluded if obtained during an illegal detention due to failure to carry a prisoner promptly before a committing magistrate. Because this rule had been violated, the Justices ruled Carignan's confession as inadmissible. Thus Harvey escaped the hangman's noose but forfeited his freedom with a 15-year sentence. Prisoner #22072 was transferred from the Seward Jail in Alaska to the US Penitentiary at McNeil Island, Washington State.
During his interview with the author, Carignan stated, 'Laura Showalter ... Dorcas Callen? Those names mean nothin' to me.'
* * *
Carignan was transferred to US Prison Alcatraz, California, on 13 September 1951, where he spent the next nine years. On 2 April 1960, at the age of 32, he was paroled. Except for his few years in the Army, he had not been at liberty since he was a child of 11.
After landing at San Francisco's waterfront jetty wearing a cheap prison-issue suit, with his bag of belongings at his feet, he watched as the small prison launch chugged its way back across the bay to 'The Rock', as Alacatraz is universally known, then he boarded a train for Duluth, Minnesota. There he moved in with one of his three half-brothers but, on 4 August 1960, just four months after his release, he was arrested for third-degree burglary and assault with intent to commit rape.
Fortunately for Carignan, the rape charge was dropped through lack of evidence. If the rape charge had been proven, he would have returned to prison, never to be released again. However, as a parole violator, he was sentenced to 2,086 days in the Federal Prison at Leavenworth, Kansas.
Carignan was back in the community in 1964, and moved swiftly to Seattle, where, on 2 March, he registered as a parole convict C-5073. On 22 November that year, he was arrested by the Sheriff of King County for traffic vagrancy and second-degree burglary.
20 April 1965 saw him in the dock once again when he was sentenced to 15 years in the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla, one of the tri-state cities comprising of Richland and Kennewick, on the south-east border of Washington and Oregon.
Now locked up in one of the oldest and most notorious prisons in the United States, Carignan applied his mind to making up for his earlier lack of education. He obtained a high school diploma, took many college courses in sociology and psychology, and submitted papers on sexual psychopathy, the paranoid personality, and the well-adjusted individual. He read constantly, gained top marks, and studied journalism – all of which impressed his tutors. But there was a darker side that surfaced when he was alone. When talking with his fellow inmates, Harvey fantasised about nubile, young girls and he had a fixation about young flesh. He has often stated, and maintains even today, that young girls have to be his ultimate choice, which for a man now aged 74, is a very unhealthy desire indeed.
* * *
Middle-aged, and an ex-convict with unappealing physical characteristics, Harvey's chances of dating a teenager following his release from prison were remote, so he met and married Sheila Moran, a divorcee with three children. She had her own house in Ballard, the Scandinavian district of Seattle, where they made a home together. Coming from a decent upbringing, Sheila was soon left under no illusions about the personality of her new husband who hung around with a bunch of villains. He was always out until the late hours, tearing around in his car at breakneck speeds. Then, following Carignan's vicious assault on her aged uncle, she decided to pack up her things and take her children. She would simply run away. For his part, Harvey decided to kill her, and waited in vain for an entire night with a hammer clutched in his hand, but, fortunately, Sheila did not return home.
Harvey married again on 14 April 1972. Alice Johnson, a somewhat dim-witted, plain woman in her 30s fell for him, and this naïve and gullible cleaning woman with few friends thought she'd met a hard-working, decent man. Alice had been married before and had a son, Billy, aged 11, and a pretty daughter, Georgia, aged 14, whom Harvey was soon lusting after.
By this time, Carignan had managed to lease a Sav-Mor gas station from the Time Oil Company, and it came to Alice's attention that he always had a string of young girls working the pumps. But no sooner had one started, she left, to be replaced by another girl just as young and pretty. While this behaviour aroused her suspicions, gossip led her to the confirmation that her husband was totally obsessed by teenage girls. He would approach any girl he saw, with obscene suggestions and remarks, and when Alice confronted him with reprimands, he screamed and shouted at her, beat her son, and skulked away throwing lurid glances at Georgia, which made his stepdaughter feel decidedly uncomfortable. Not surprisingly, the marriage collapsed soon afterwards.
On 15 October 1972, Carignan raped and killed a teenager called Laura Brock, near Mount Vernon, Washington State.
* * *
A 'wanted' ad placed in the Seattle Times on 1 May 1973 provided the first link in a chain of gruesome events. Help was required at a local gas station and the notice caught the eye of 15-year-old Kathy Sue Miller. She wasn't looking for a job for herself, but for her boyfriend, Mark Walker. Next morning, however, when she rang the contact number advertised, Kathy was intrigued when the man who answered said he was looking for girls. She gave him her address and telephone number and agreed to meet him after school. They arranged that he would pick her up in his car outside the Sears Building in Seattle, then drive her over to the gas station to fill out a job application form.
Kathy's mother was worried. She did not like the fact that her daughter had given her number to a stranger and she felt uneasy about the way the interview had been arranged. In particular, she disliked the thought of Kathy getting into a car with someone she had never met before. Running through her mind was a recent news article about Laura Brock, who had been raped and murdered while hitchhiking.
'I mean it, Kathy,' Mary warned her daughter. 'Don't even think about meeting him.'
Impatiently, Kathy promised not to and left for her classes, a stack of schoolbooks under her arm.
Mother and daughter shared the same bus that morning and Kathy got off first near Roosevelt High School. Mary watched through the grimy window as her beautiful daughter hurried away, turning once with a smile to wave back.
That afternoon, Kathy disobeyed her mother's orders, and met Carignan as arranged. He had been waiting with growing impatience and his heart skipped a beat when he saw a tall, strong, athletic girl walking in his direction. Her blonde hair was darkened to a burnished butterscotch colour and fell to the middle of her back in thick waves. Kathy had green eyes, and just the faintest suggestion of freckles sprinkling over her fair skin. She stopped opposite Carignan's car to cross the road, and he watched as the young woman, wearing a blue-and-white jumper, a navy-blue blouse and blue-tinged nylons waved in his direction.
Carignan leant across the front passenger seat and pushed the door open. However, Kathy walked to his side of the car and spoke to him through the window. Her first sight of Carignan was somewhat unedifying. He was an unattractive man with a peculiarly domed forehead. He had a receding chin and a deep scar over one eye. In fact, Carignan looked years older than his true age of 46, with his skin deeply lined, and bags and wrinkles beneath his eyes. His usual expression was a glowering frown, and to smile, he had to make a concentrated effort. But, this time, he turned on all the charm at his disposal.
'Hi! You must be Kathy,' he asked, with a broad smile beaming across his face.
Kathy noticed the dimple on his chin, then smiled back. 'Sure, that's me.'
Motioning her to get into the car, he said, 'We need to fill in the application forms and they are back at my office, just hop in. I'll drop you off home when we've finished.'
Kathy felt uncomfortable. 'My mom isn't too happy about this,' she explained, and Harvey moved up a gear.
'Can't say that I blame her. I've got children of my own. Married, too. Nice house, lovely woman. Yep, we can't blame your mom for being careful.'
Kathy was almost convinced by the man's reassurance. 'You sure this is OK?' she asked.
'Absolutely. Tell ya what, I'll even introduce myself to your mom when I drop you off. Everything will be fine then.'
Kathy Sue Miller was never seen alive again. Carignan, whose violent record was known to the police, was questioned at length and his movements watched for 24 hours a day, but there was insufficient evidence to charge him with abduction, let alone murder. Then, on Sunday, 3 June, two 16-year-old boys driving their motorbikes through Tulalip Reservation, just north of Everett, found Kathy's body. It was wrapped in black plastic and was naked. It had decayed so badly it was initially impossible even to tell its gender. When the autopsy was carried out, it was found that the teeth matched Kathy's dental records. From the damage to the skull, it was clear that death had resulted from a severe battering.
Excerpted from Talking with Serial Killers by Christopher Berry-Dee. Copyright © 2003 Christopher Berry-Dee. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
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