SALEM, OR — Born in 1939, Jerome Henry “Jerry” Brudos came by the sexual kink that would later mark his run of homicides early on. While playing in a junkyard at age five, Brudos discovered a heap of women’s spiky high-heel footwear. To put it mildly, he never got over that big event.
In addition to shoes, Brudos fetishized women’s underwear. He spent his entire youth in manic pursuit of such objects, to the point that he was regularly institutionalized. Unfortunately, somebody kept letting him back out.
Also unfortunately, Brudos’s mother mercilessly abused and humiliated her son over his peculiarities. He would go on to take out rage against his mother against other females.
When Brudos hit puberty, his garment fixation erupted into violence. He secretly stalked females and knocked them unconscious so he could make off with their shoes. At 17, he kidnapped a young woman and sexually assaulted her at knifepoint.
That attack got Brudos nine months in the psych ward, where doctors diagnosed him as schizophrenic. Once again, though, the authorities freed this ticking fetish-bomb to run wild in a world full of feet.
After high school, Brudos found work as an electronics technician. When he turned 22, he married a 17-year-old. At home, Brudos ordered his bride to wear nothing but high heels. He photographed her doing housework in that get-up obsessively.
Around that time, Brudos also started complaining of “migraines” that seemed to only dissipate when he broke into neighborhood homes to steal shoes and panties. He hid the burglaries from his wife, and stashed the bounty from those hauls out in his garage.
Not matter how many houses he hit, though, Brudos said his blackout headaches only increased. Naturally, then, his acting out to satiate his very specific lusts escalated as well — tragically, to the point of murder.
On January 26, 1968, Brudos beat and strangled Linda Slawson, 19, while she was selling encyclopedias in his neighborhood. Afterward, Brudos tossed the teen’s body in the Willamette River.
Brudos next killed Jan Whitney, 23, in November 1968; Karen Sprinkler, 19, in March 1969; and Linda Salee, 22, a month later. He snatched these victims off the street and from parking structures, bludgeoned and strangled them to death, then brought their bodies to his garage. Still more hideous acts happened there — he would often dress the corpses of his victims in lingerie and heels and photograph them, among other things.
Police had just one clue tying the disappearances together: Neighbors and passersby noticed a large man in women’s clothing driving slowly around college campuses and shopping areas. That, of course, was Brudos.
Back in his garage after each kill, Brudos strutted around the victim’s body in high heels and masturbated. He also got dolled up in lingerie and raped the corpses, photographing the horror as it happened.
Afterward, Brudos would amputate feet and other body parts to keep as “trophies.” He cast one woman’s breast in resin and used it as a paperweight. When he was finally finished, Brudos disposed of the remains in nearby waterways.
Intense, effective police work led authorities to Brudos on May 25, 1969. Detectives interviewed women in the areas around where the victims had been grabbed. Many described run-ins with Brudos and remembered his car and other details. One 15-year-old girl had just narrowly escaped his clutches.As the police closed in on him, Brudos made a frantic attempt to flee, speeding off toward the Canadian border. Cops found Brudos cowering under a blanket in the backseat of his car, clad in women’s underpants.
Once in custody, Brudos confessed to everything. As his day in court approached, he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, but just three days before the trial was scheduled to start, he changed it to guilty. As the body of Linda Slawson had not been recovered, the judge gave Brudos three consecutive life sentences, one for each of the women who had been found.
While he was locked up, Brudos collected women’s footwear catalogs, writing to hundreds of companies for their latest editions. He said he used them as pornography.
Brudos also filed a multitude of appeals, all of which got rejected quickly. In 1995, Oregon Parole Board chair Marva Fabien put an end to it, telling Brudos, “You will be in prison for the rest of your life, and there will be no further hearings.”
The rest of Brudos’s life lasted 1 years. He died in a prison hospital from liver cancer in 2006.
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Main photo: Jerome Brudos [Wikipedia]