Sunday, May 15, 2011
While reading about the Long Island Ripper the other day, I became curious about who the most prolific serial killer ever in this country was. It turns out that exact numbers are hard to come by: many serial killers are convicted for only a fraction of their actual murders, so their exact tallies are never known. Most confess to fewer than they are actually responsible for, whereas others, like Henry Lee Lucas, who claimed 600 murders, turn out to merely to be trying to burnish their fearsome reputations. (Albert DeSalvo, the "Boston Strangler," is thought by many to have falsely confessed as well.)
One of the candidates for the most prolific serial killer in US history is Carl ("Coral") Eugene Watts, pictured above. I wondered why I hadn't heard of him.
According to Wikipedia and other sources, Watts was extremely hard to catch, for a number of reasons. He did his deadly work in many different counties in several different states. He used different methods of killing, including strangulation, stabbing, bludgeoning, hanging, and drowning. (Most serial killers leave a more consistent signature.) He did not use his victims for sex, and therefore left no DNA. And the vast majority of the women he killed were white. (Serial killers almost always stay within their race.)
He was eventually caught after breaking into the home of two young women in Houston. One broke free and managed to get help. She reported that when Watts was trying to drown her roommate, he jumped up and down and clapped his hands in glee.
Watts eventually confessed to the killings of twelve women in Texas. But he later implied that there were 80 other murders he committed, and police actually consider him the prime suspect in 90 more.
Compare that number to such infamous killers as Ted Bundy, with his 35 (or more) killings. Or John Wayne Gacy, with his 33. Or Jeffrey Dahmer, 17. Richard Ramirez ("The Nightstalker"), 13. Or Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono (the "Hillside Stranglers"), 12 and 10, respectively.
All these men are household names. Yet Watts is not.
It's hard to believe that we wouldn't have heard of a white man who had killed close to 100 black women. In fact not only would he be a household name, he would be synonymous with racism as well.
But Watts was a black man who killed up to 100 white women. So you'd never heard of him, until now.