susan whitney

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Jerry Brudos 

Murders

In 1968, Jerry Brudos, known as the ”The Lust Killer” and “The Shoe Fetish Slayer”, would launch his first attack on a 19-year-old woman named Linda Slawson who was selling encyclopedias door-to-door. Walking down the block, she approached Jerry who was in his yard and asked him whether he was the person who was looking to buy encyclopedias. Jerry invited Linda to his basement, telling her that his mother and daughter were upstairs playing. As soon as they made it to the basement, Jerry pulled up a stool for her to sit on. Once she sat down, Jerry came up behind her and slammed her on the head with a two-by-four. Linda was knocked unconscious and fell of the stool. Jerry climbed on top of her and choked her to death with his bare hands. He then undressed the corpse and started redressing her in various undergarments he had been stealing since he was a teenager. Before finishing off with the body, he amputated her left foot and slipped her shoe on it, storing it in his freezer as a trophy. Ever since he was a teenager, Jerry had had a deep fetish for women’s shoes.

To dispose of Linda’s body, he tied part of an engine to her body, drove out to a bridge, and tossed her into the water, with the weight of the engine submerging her immediately. Linda’s disappearance had never arouse any suspicions; it was merely assumed that she had quit her job. 

Jerry’s second victim was a woman by the name of Jan Susan Whitney. On November 26, 1968, Jan began experiencing problems with her car on the Interstate and had to stop. Jerry spotted Jan and stopped his car, too, to aid her. That was the last time Jan would ever be seen, although her disappearance was never suspected to be linked with Linda’s.

A few months later, 19-year-old Karen Sprinkler failed to show up for lunch with her mother, alarming her mother. Her mother sensed that something was wrong, knowing it was not in her daughter’s nature to run away, and quickly reported her missing to police after searching for hours. The police searched for Karen a day later and were lead to her abandoned car. As police interviewed people in the area, several witnesses reported seeing an unusually tall and heavy man dressed as a woman. 

One month later, yet another young woman would go missing. Linda Salee failed to show up at a meeting with her boyfriend. When she was a no-show at work the next day, alarm bells sounded. Linda Salee’s murder was confirmed on May 10 when a man fishing in the Big Tom River spotted her body floating under the water. Investigators found that she had been weighed down with a transmission tied to her body with a nylon cord. Two days later, the body of Karen Sprinkler was found in the same river; she had been weighed down in a similar fashion. This prompted a widespread investigation as police now believed a serial killer was on the lose.

Capture

After weeks of interrogation, three women reported having received eerie calls from a man who addressed them by their first named and identified himself as a Vietnam veteran. He had asked them if they were available for ‘’Coke and conversation.’’ Two of the girls turned down his offer, but one girl met up with the man, who’s name she said was Jerry. She described him as being a 6′0′’ tall, about 30-years-old, with red hair and freckles. In a separate investigation, a man that matched that exact description had recently tried to wrestle two young girls into a car, so police were interested. 

The police told the woman that if the man ever called her again, she was to stall him until they could get to her. Sure enough, the man did call a couple weeks later and asked her if she could be ready to meet him in fifteen minutes. The woman said she would, but told him he would have to wait another hour. He agreed, and as soon as the phone call was over, she alerted police. 

Jerry showed up only to be greeted by police, who demanded his name, which he truthfully provided. Police didn’t immediately detain him, but upon examining his background, they found he had an extensive history of sexual assault. On May 30, 1969, the officers pursuing Jerry found him loading up his car with luggage, perhaps planning on running away, so they arrested him. 

Confession

Going against his lawyer’s advice, Jerry spilled information on his first killing of the encyclopedia saleswoman, and further admitted to being the culprit behind the disappearances of Jan, Karen, and Linda. His grisly MO was to lure them into his garage where he bound them and tied a noose around their necks, and with the rope secured to an overhead beam, winched them off the floor and strangled them. He also admitted he liked to photograph his victims as they died and even made paperweights out of the breasts of some of them. The whole time, his wife, Darcy, had been clueless to her husband’s double life. 

Imprisonment

Jerry Brudos was convicted of the killings of the four women and sentenced to consecutive life terms. In 1969, he was confined to the Oregon State Penitentiary, with eligibility for a parole hearing once every two years. Although Jerry was described as a model prisoner, he had gotten into many altercations with the other inmates, one of which left him with a fractured neck.

While incarcerated, Jerry’s cell contained piles of women’s shoes catalogues, which he claimed were a substitute for pornography. 

Death

Jerry Brudos died of liver cancer on March 28, 2006, after serving 37 years, making him the longest incarcerated inmate in the Oregon Department of Corrections.

Whitney Houston at the American Music Awards, 1986

Susan Howe’s poems on view in the 2014 Biennial draw on a wide variety of texts, spanning American, British, and Irish poetry and folklore as well as critical and art historical sources. She cuts out sentences and fragments of pages, pasting and taping them to create a new text that retains the typefaces, spacing, and rhythms of the originals. These compositions are then made into letterpress prints.

Susan Howe, Untitled (from Tom Tit Tot), 2013. Letterpress print, 12 × 9 in. (30.5 × 22.9 cm). Collection of the artist. © Susan Howe