Jerry Brudos The Making Of The “Shoe Fetish Slayer”

Remember Jerry Brudos the man on Mindhunter with the shoe fetish? When detectives go to interview the serial killer, the true face of the lust killer comes out. Jerry Brudos was a type of murder who gained a lot of sexual satisfaction with a kill. This could be clearly seen in Mindhunter when he masturbated into a fresh pair of large shoes, with no regard for the people around him. But he was also shown repairing the tape of the detectives who came to interview him, as Jerry once worked as an electronics mechanic. So who was he? How did the intelligent man end up as one of the most prolific serial killers? 

Jerry Brudos The Making Of The “Shoe Fetish Slayer” 

Who is Jerry Brudos?

Jerome Henry “Jerry” Brudos (January 31, 1939 – March 28, 2006) was an American serial killer and necrophile who was convicted of murdering four women in the late 1960s between 1968 and 1969.

In 1944, when Jerry Brudos was five years old, he found a woman’s stiletto shoe at a junkyard. The shoe wasn’t even part of a matching pair, but Brudos was fascinated by it and brought it home. The discovery sparked his infatuation with women’s shoes and throughout his childhood, Brudos attempted to steal shoes from his teachers and his mother in order to satisfy his growing fetish. It would lead to physical assaults by his mother, who had hoped for a girl child when Jerry was born.

Jerry’s troublesome childhood radiated to his adulthood, and he turned out to be a sexual predator, fueled by his deadly obsession. He claimed his first victim in early 1968 and then embarked on a murderous spree. All the murders appeared to be sexually motivated. It seemed that when he was unsuccessful in making sexual relations with his victims when they were alive, he murdered them and raped their corpses, thereby indulging in necrophilia. He was imprisoned with three consecutive life sentences, in 1969, for his heinous crimes. He was kept in the ‘Oregon State Penitentiary,’ where he died of liver cancer in 2006.

Why is Jerry Brudos a lust killer? 

A lust killer is someone who gains a lot of sexual satisfaction with a kill. During the murder, the suspect will only gain erotic arousal satisfaction through the death of the human being. Whether it’s mutilation or torture this is the only thing that got the killer going. 

Jerome Henry Brudos born on January 31, 1939 was the youngest son of Henry and Aileen Brudos. The very average family in Webster, South Dakota had two sons in total: Larry Brudos and Jerry. Like many fetish, lust or serial killers, his early upbringing was far from ideal as he didn’t have a good childhood. 

Early Life and Schooling

  • He was the youngest child in the family, he was an accidental birth, and he never received enough love and care from his parents. His mother had wanted a girl for her unplanned pregnancy and was very displeased that she had another son instead. It caused her to treat Jerry poorly: She would also constantly subject him to emotional and physical abuse. The adverse impact of his mother’s behavior on his psyche, following years of physical and mental abuse, had him grow up to be a hateful and socially awkward individual.
  • As a child, Brudos and his family would move into different homes in the Pacific Northwest, then California before settling in Salem, Oregon. His dad was never around a lot, which subjected his mother to do whatever she pleased with the unwanted child. 
  • Driven by the fact that his mother wanted him to be a daughter instead of being born as a son, Jerry Brudos started to form some disturbing attractions. At the age of 5, in Portland, Jerry Brudos had a fetish for women’s shoes after playing with stiletto heeled shoes at a local junkyard. Little Jerry even walked home in those high heeled shoes and when his mother witnessed this, she scolded him furiously and took the shoes off his feet and burnt it. This kind of gives you an idea of how one over-reaction and how berating a small child for something so benign is stuck within the psyche of Jerry Brudos. 
  • Next, his family would leave for Riverton, California where in nursery school, Jerry Brudos was caught stealing his first grade teacher’s shoes. She used to keep a second pair in her classroom, fascinated by this Brudos decided to hide them so that he could take them home. However, he was caught and was reprimanded. Besides that, he also developed a crazy obsession with women’s underwear. Between the age of 8 and 12, Jerry’s family moved twice: Grant Pass, Oregan and then later to Wallace Pond Oregan. At Grand Pass his family had neighbours who had teenage daughters. He used to sneak into the girls room and play with their clothes, stealing a lot of them too, which he would later claim while he was in prison.  As you can see his fetish for shoes was expanding to women’s bras and underwear. 
  • As a result of his weird behaviour, Jerry Brudos was a regular visitor at the psychiatric hospitals all through his teenage years. Once he hit puberty, his mother showed disgust for anything sexual in nature and even went on to make Jerry wash his stained sheets by hand.  Without the proper guidance of counselors, a father figure or motherly advice, he would have a twisted relationship with girls. In his teenage years, he often stalked young girls his age. He would knock them unconscious, steal their shoes, and run away. 
  • As a 16 year old, he even had a fantasy of kidnapping a girl, forcing her to obey him and then have her beg for mercy? (He wanted to be in the shoes of his mother- a deadly role reversal). When his family moved once again to Corvallis, Oregon, Jerry’s violent fantasies became a reality. The child started to grow into his dark maniacal ways. At the age of 17, he kidnapped a girl and threatened to kill her if she did not fulfill his sexual fantasies. He then forced her to strip and took nude photographs of her. During this time, he was dressed in a black mask and held a knife. When the victim was allowed to wear her clothes again, Jerry bumped into her and said that the same intruder had locked him up in “a barn”. You can see how the child was calculating and yet smart enough to put him out of the scene. Some reports suggested that he even beat her brutally and that she was not his first victim. He was sent to the psychiatric ward of ‘Oregon State Hospital’ for a while. 
  • During his time in the hospital, his initial diagnosis was “adjustment reaction of adolescence with sexual deviants and fetishes”. He was allowed to attend school although he was diagnosed with borderline schizophrenia and was discharged after 9 months. 
  • Reports suggest that once out of high school in 1957, he was in the army at age 20 for a while but was suspended for his bizarre behavior and obsessions. After he left he was back living with his parents in Corvallis but was forced to live in the shed. The college student who showed an interest in advanced technology would commit his second crime during this time. 

Marriage and Abusing His Wife

  • Brudos eventually started with a radio station and met his wife, a 17-year-old girl,  there. In 1961 Jerry Brudos married her and he would father two children with her, and settle in a Salem suburb. His new wife paid him a lot of attention which his parents did not give him. Although they had a good relationship at first, the marriage did start to crumble when he asked his new bride to do housework naked except for a pair of high heels while he took pictures. 
  • His wife also confessed that he would wear numerous women’s underwear around the house, which she thought was very strange and he had to move downstairs to the basement. 
  • At age 23, he becomes a father to a girl named Meghan. They moved around a lot for employment and Jerry settled in Portland becoming an electrician.  
  • When his wife becomes pregnant again with their son Jason, she’s adamant about not having him around for the birth. During this time, Jerry began complaining of migraine headaches and “blackouts,” relieving his symptoms with night-prowling raids to steal shoes and lace undergarments. 
  • After Jason was born, he used the blackouts excuse to stalk a woman in Portland, and raped her in her house, stole her shoes but Jerry would not be connected to this crime until much later. 
  • Jerry Brudos kept the shoes, underwear, and (for a time) the bodies of his victims in a garage that he would not allow his wife to enter without first announcing her arrival on an intercom that he had set up.

Crimes

  • At the age of 17, Jerry Brudos lured another 17 year old girl for a drive. They drove till they reached a deserted farm house and then beat her profusely. You can see him going from scarring and subjecting victims to his games to a shift of violence. A couple driving by witnessed the horrific act and contacted police and eventually he was caught. During the search of his car and home, the police discovered women’s undergarments, photographs and photo equipment. Jerry would go on to get arrested for assault and battery.
  • In May 1967 while living in his parent’s shed, Jerry Brudos followed a woman to her house only because he “liked her shoes.” He barged into her house, strangled her till she lost consciousness, and then brutally raped her. Before moving out of her house, he took some of her shoes with him, and proceeded to sleep with them at night. Although this was one of the very first of his crimes, he could not be connected to it until he was imprisoned, much later.

  • Jerry Brudos’s first murder, took place on January 26, 1968 in Portland. He invited an encyclopedia saleswoman, Linda Slawson, to his house, faking an interest in buying books from her. The woman could not read his sinister intentions and entered his basement garage, unaware of the misfortune that she was about to face. Jerry hit her on the head and killed her. Before disposing of her body Jerry dressed her corpse in female undergarments from his collection. He would repeat the cycle of undressing her and re-dressing her. He then used a hacksaw to cut her left foot and kept it in the freezer, often trying to fit it in the women’s shoes that he had collected. After fulfilling his fantasies with the corpse, he dumped the body. 
  • In May 1968, dressed in women’s clothes, Brudos kidnapped his next victim, Karen Sprinkler. He held her at gunpoint, from a parking lot and brought the 19-year-old university student to his home. The nineteen-year-old college student was killed in Brudos’ garage after kidnapping her from a department store parking lot. It is reported that Brudos made her model women’s underwear and pose for photos. He raped her, strangled her to death, then killed her by hanging her from a hook in his ceiling, then had sex with her corpse too. Lastly, he surgically removed both of her breasts to make plastic moulds from them. He finally threw her body into the river tied to a car engine to weigh her down.
  • Avoiding and escaping the cops brought Jerry dangerous self-confidence. His next horrific crime happened in November 1968 where the victim Jan Susan Whitney, was driving home for Thanksgiving. When her car broke down, Jerry “offered” her help. Always the manipulator, he later got her into his car,  then strangled her to death and had sexual relations with the corpse. Jerry’s fetish was not limited to necrophilia. He brought the corpse back to his workshop and dressed it nicely. Continuing with his tradition of photographing his victims and keeping one of their body parts with him, he photographed her before carrying her severed breast with him.
  • In April 1969, Linda Salee became his next victim. He repeated the same process: he abducted her, brought her to his home, raped her, killed her, and then played with the corpse.

Trial & Conviction

Jerry Brudos made one mistake with his killings: he threw away the bodies in a river: the Willamette River was his favorite spot for sinking his victims’ dead bodies. 

In May of 1969, a fisherman discovered a body floating in the river, as he was scouting for fishing locations. Two days later, police found another body. Linda Salee’s body was washed away and was found in the Long Tom River, weighed down by a heavy car part. After further investigations, the authorities located Sprinker’s remains too. Both were mutilated and had been tied to car parts to help them sink to the bottom of the river. Though the river had washed away almost all of the evidence, the police found a lead, in the form of one of the dead women’s roommates.

The police went to ‘Oregon State University,’ conducted further investigation, and found evidence about a man who looked like a war veteran and often called up female students and asked them out on dates. One of the students had actually agreed to go out with him, and she told the police how the man talked about murdering women and strangling them. The police decided to set a “honey trap” for catching Jerry.

The police interrogated him and looked for evidence at his home. They found a lot of evidence that proved Jerry’s involvement in the crimes. They found photographs of the victims and a nylon rope that he had probably used to strangle his victims. He was arrested in May 1969.

On June 28, Jerry Brudos pled guilty of three first-degree murders and was given three consecutive life sentences. He was not convicted for Slawson’s crime because her body was never found. His wife also divorced Jerry and moved to another city.

In his time in jail, Jerry’s fetish with women’s shoes did not subside, and he often asked for catalogues of women’s shoes, saying they served as pornography for him. His request for parole was rejected in 1995.

On March 28, 2006, Jerry died in prison due to liver cancer. His life was featured in Netflix’ series ‘Mindhunter’ which has two episodes dedicated to him in the first season. He is regarded as one of the most prolific serial killers of all time alongside Ed Kemper who would help to catch the BTK Killer. 

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