On the surface, Harvey Glatman seemed fairly harmless and innocuous. He looked like a bit of a geek and had an IQ of 130. But not everyone is who they appear to be.
At the age of 12, Glatman hung himself from a rope - not as a suicide attempt, but simply because he enjoyed hanging there, finding it difficult to breathe. He literally seemed to take pleasure in his own physical suffering.
Glatman also had a penchant for making other people suffer - particularly females. When he was 17, he started to mug women for their purses, only to give them back straight afterwards. His intention, it seems, was not to steal from the women, but to scare them. Later that year, he threatened a young girl with a toy gun, ordering her to take off her clothes. The girl screamed and he ran. For this crime, Glatman was later arrested. But he escaped to the East Coast of America before he could be sentenced.
Eventually, however, Glatman was arrested again, this time for a robbery. The police soon learned that he was a fugitive from justice. He was sentenced to serve 5 years in the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York.
Glatman was released from prison in 1951. He moved to Los Angeles, where he found himself a job as a television repairman. He settled into the community, and appeared to have turned his back on crime.
But in 1957, Glatman was called out to repair the television of an attractive 19-year-old woman by the name of Judy Dull. She said that she was a model, at which point Glatman claimed to work as a part-time photographer (a lie, although photography was something of a hobby for him). He said that he happened to be looking for a model to pose for a bondage themed photo shoot - would she be interested? He offered to pay her $50 and she accepted.
Harvey Glatman picked Judy Dull up on August 1, 1957, on the pretense of taking her to a photography studio. But once she was in the car, Glatman pulled a gun. He took her to his apartment, forced her to strip, and proceeded to take photos of her. Next, he raped her, made her put her clothes back on, tied her up, and took more photos. Finally, he drove her 125 miles out into the desert, where he took yet more photographs, before strangling her to death and burying her in a shallow grave.
After killing his first victim, Glatman started looking for a second. He joined a singles club, where he met a woman by the name of Shirley Bridgford. They arranged a date, and she agreed to him picking her up in his car. He took her out into the Borego Desert State Park in San Diego, where he raped her. Glatman then tied the woman up and took photographs. Then he raped her again and strangled her to death. He did not bury the body this time, deciding instead to leave it out in the open to be eaten by wild animals.
Glatman's next victim was another model - Ruth Rita Mercardo. Glatman went over to her apartment on the pretense of offering her work. He raped her, then drove her out into the desert. Once there, he tied her up and took photographs. He proceeded to kill her, though this time he did deliberate somewhat. He had actually grown to be quite fond of her - in his own disturbed and unbalanced way. He didn't want to end her life. But she had seen his face and he decided that he had no real choice.
There is no knowing how long Harvey Glatman would have gotten away with his shocking crimes if it had not been for one woman by the name of Virgil. Glatman had lured her into his car and pulled out a gun. He went to tie her hands, at which point the plucky woman made a desperate bid to fight him off. The gun went off in the struggle, hitting Virgil in the leg. But she did manage to get it away from him.
The fight spilled out onto the road, and Virgil eventually got control of the gun. She levelled it at her assailant, at which point a police officer came running over. Glatman's reign of terror was finally over. He was sentenced to die in the gas chamber, a punishment that was carried out on August 18, 1959.
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