Eric Holler had written a few letters to Richard Ramirez before the serial killer known as the Night Stalker called him from prison with a proposition. Ramirez suggested Holler could be his 'art dealer' and Holler, who was in his 20s at the time, quickly accepted.
Now 48, Holler remembers getting the first packet of about 10 pieces of Ramirez's art in around 1993. After he put them up on eBay, they sold fast. He doesn't remember how much he made from those sales, but it was enough to encourage Holler to reach out to other infamous convicted criminals to see if they wanted him to sell their artwork, too.
'I was a young kid and that was an easy way to make money,' he tells DailyMail.com 'Fast forward 25 years later and it's basically what I've turned my life into. It's my career. It's what I do for a living.'
Holler is one of a handful of dealers in what has been dubbed the 'murderabilia' market, where people buy, sell and collect items related to serial killers and other infamous criminals. Much of the market revolves around their letters and artwork, but other items for sale can include locks of hair or fingernail clippings, personal belongings, crime scene photos and legal documents.
Though this niche market has only about seven websites for buying and selling items, it is incredibly controversial. Those who deal in the industry refuse to say how much money they make and sometimes even disparage each other. The industry has also drawn criticism from the families of murder victims and victims' advocates who claim the market glorifies the high-profile killers who should, in fact, be punished. Most of the people involved also know each other by name, despite the fact that they live in various places across the country.
Murderabilia has received even more attention than usual in recent months after the death of 83-year-old Charles Manson on November 19. Since Manson passed away, at least four people have come forward to claim the rights to Manson's remains and estate including murderabilia collector and dealer Michael Channels. Channels, who claims to have been a friend of Manson's for 30 years, filed a will from 2002 that leaves Channels as the beneficiary of Manson's estate.
Another murderabilia dealer, Benjamin Gurecki, has come forward with a supposed will with Gurecki as the executor and naming Matthew Robert Lentz as a son of Manson, though there has been no other evidence to prove their relationship. Two others, Michael Brunner who claims he is Manson's son, and Jason Freeman who claims he is Manson's grandson, have come forward alleging they have the rights to Manson's body and possessions. The Kern County Coroner's Office will continue to hold Manson's body until the courts decide who has the rights to it, which could happen at the next hearing on March 7.
William Harder (pictured right visiting Charles Manson) is a true crime memorabilia, or 'murderabilia' collector and dealer. He says his favorite part of the hobby is meeting with and befriending inmates. He says: 'Meeting Charles Manson, my questions tailor made, that I've conjured up to ask and getting those answers. You can't replace [it]. No crime documentary, no letter or piece of artwork can compare with that. And even if I never visited a prison again, those memories will be with me for the rest of my life. I absolutely love it. That's really why I do what I do'
Eric Holler, 48, (pictured with a John Wayne Gacy painting of 'Pogo the Clown') is also a 'murderabilia' dealer who loves heavy metal music. He used to collect items in his home in Jacksonville, Florida, but has since stopped. He says: 'This is a business. It's how I make my money, so no, I'm not really interested in collecting, I'm interested in cashing in'
The 'murderabilia' industry is where people buy, sell and collect items related to serial killers, which can include items such as letters, artwork, personal belongings, crime scene photos, legal documents and even locks of hair and fingernail clippings. One of the most infamous serial killers with items on the market is Richard Ramirez (left) known as the Night Stalker. Right is one of his drawings
Though there are only about seven websites that deal in 'murderabilia' internationally, it is a controversial market where the dealers within the market often disparage each other while also receiving criticism from people outside the market, most publicly from the relatives of murder victims and victims' advocates. Pictured is a piece of Charles Manson's art which is on display in dealer William Harder's home in Fresno, California
'IT CONSTITUTES BLOOD MONEY, PLAIN AND SIMPLE': A VICTIMS ADVOCATE CONTINUES TO TAKE ON THE 'INSIDIOUS' MURDERABILIA INDUSTRY EVEN AFTER ALMOST 20 YEARS
Andy Kahan, (pictured) 58, the Victims Advocate for the City of Houston, Texas, has spent almost 20 years trying to shut down the 'murderabilia' industry by speaking out publicly against the trade and trying to work with states to pass notoriety for profit laws
Back in the early days of the internet, the murderabilia market thrived on eBay, where Holler first sold Ramirez's artwork. By 2001, the auction site banned the sale of those items, leading dealers like Jacksonville, Florida-based Holler and William Harder, from Fresno, California, to launch their own websites. Harder, 40, started his site, Murder Auction in 2005 and Holler started Serial Killers Ink in 2008. Today there are about seven murderabilia websites internationally.
In 1977, New York state enacted the very first 'Son of Sam' law, which prevented accused or convicted people from making money from speaking or writing about their crimes. At the time there were suspicions that New York City serial killer David Berkowitz, also known as Son of Sam, was going to sell the story of his killings. The federal government and 41 other states quickly followed in passing their own Son of Sam laws.
However, in 1991 the Supreme Court struck down the New York law because of First Amendment free speech restrictions in the law. Though a handful of states have redrafted and passed notoriety for profit laws, most states have done very little since the New York law was deemed unconstitutional.
That hasn't stopped Andy Kahan from doing everything he can to shut down the controversial industry. As the Victim Advocate for the City of Houston, Texas, who, for the past 25 years has worked with victim's rights organizations, put crime victims in touch with support and advocacy groups, represented victims before the Parole Board and worked with legislatures to support victim's rights, 58-year-old Kahan says he knows how horrible the families of murder victims feel when they hear that their loved one's killer has items for sale online.
'I can tell you from a victim's perspective, there is absolutely nothing more nauseating and disgusting to find out the person who murdered one of your loved ones now has personalized items being hawked by third party dealers for pure profit,' Kahan tells DailyMail.com. 'It's like being gutted all over again by our justice system.'
After David Berkowitz (pictured at his arrest in 1977) was arrested, there were suspicions that he would try to sell the story of his murders, so New York state legislature enacted the first 'Son of Sam' law to prevent accused or convicted people from making money from talking or writing about their crimes. The federal government and 41 other states quickly followed in passing their own Son of Sam laws – named after Berkowitz, who was also known as the Son of Sam killer. In 1991, the Supreme Court struck down the New York law because of First Amendment free speech restrictions within the law
John Wayne Gacy (left) murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men in Illinois from 1972 to 1978. He was known as the 'Killer Clown' because he performed as a clown at children's parties and events under the alter ego of 'Pogo the Clown', which was the focus of many of the paintings he would go on the make when he was in prison. One of his 'Pogo the Clown' paintings is pictured right
Kahan first found out about the murderabilia industry in 1999 when he was visiting New York City. He was skimming through a newspaper and found an article about how serial killer Arthur Shawcross, who killed two children in 1972 and 12 women in 1988 and 1989 in New York state, had artwork for sale on eBay before prison officials found out and restricted his art-making.
'In my warped and demented mind, I'm thinking where there was one serial killer, there had to be others,' Kahan says. 'And I simply went over to eBay, clunked a search in for serial killers and items came pouring out. And I was under the false delusion that you can't be making money off committing some of the most cold-blooded, diabolical murders in this country's history. That can't be legal.'
- Andy Kahan, Victim Advocate
He reached out to eBay's public affairs person who essentially told him that it wasn't their job to police sales as long as the sales were legal. The person challenged him: 'If you don't like it, feel free to do something about it.'
Kahan adds: 'And I've been on it ever since.'
He felt it would be 'egregious' to ignore the market and do nothing, so with his tough-guy attitude and dry, almost cynical sense of humor, Kahan has taken on the task of eradicating murderabilia.
'I'm kind of like the lone wolf or the dark knight, depending on how you want to look at it,' he says, half joking. 'Frankly, it's the strangest project I have ever encountered in my 30-plus years of being involved in the justice system.
'There's no way I'm going to totally eradicate this market, but if I can make it as difficult as I can for buyers and sellers to get together, then I'll have achieved some sort of goal. This type of industry has grown by leaps and bounds for obvious reasons. This was once an underground market and now it's opened up to the mainstream world through the advent, of course, of the internet.'
In the early days of the internet, the murderabilia market thrived on eBay. However, by 2001, the auction site banned the sale of those items. Dealers then had to create their own websites in order to stay in business. Today there are only about seven websites that deal in murderabilia internationally. Pictured are two John Wayne Gacy paintings of skulls, another common theme in his artwork
Though they deal in the controversial industry of murderabilia, dealers William Harder and Eric Holler claim they have their own codes. Holler says he draws the line at pedophiles and child killers with only one exception: John Wayne Gacy because of the incredible popularity of his paintings. Meanwhile, Harder has three items he won't allow to be sold on Murder Auction: items relating to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, items relating to the burial sites of murder victims and photographs of the children of offenders or victims. Pictured is a drawing of Pennywise the clown from It by serial killer Keith Jesperson, who killed at least eight women across the US in the 1990s
Over the course of the past 19 years or so, Kahan has made himself a thorn in the side of murderabilia dealers like Holler and Harder, by speaking out publicly against their trade and trying to work with states to pass notoriety for profit laws. So far only about eight states have passed revised laws that focus on the money-making aspect of the industry as opposed to the artwork itself, which constitutes protected expression. Kahan has even filed a federal bill several times, but it hasn't had a hearing yet, which makes his work more difficult.
'The only way you're really going to eradicate this insidious industry is through federal legislation, because for the most part, you're dealing with inter-state commerce,' he says.
The other way Kahan hopes to make a dent in the industry is by informing prison officials, who are allowed to prevent inmates from sending out their artwork to dealers for a profit. Kahan, who has a state-by-state list of all the killers who have murderabilia for sale in the online markets, says it shouldn't be hard for officials to monitor their incoming and outgoing activities, since there aren't more than 'a couple hundred high-profile murderers'.
'I don't care if they make one cent, one dime or one dollar,' Kahan says. 'It constitutes blood money plain and simple and you shouldn't be able to rob, rape and murder and then turn around and make a buck off of it. What kind of message are we sending out to the populous that you can commit some of these atrocious crimes and then profit from it? I'm a firm believer in free enterprise and capitalism, but I do believe you gotta draw the line somewhere and this is where the buck has to stop.'
Richard Ramirez (right) killed at least 14 people and tortured others. In the mid-1980s, Ramirez went on a crime spree across California where he broke into people's homes, raped and murdered them and burglarized their homes, often leaving behind Satanic symbols, before he was caught on August 31, 1985. Pictured left is one of Ramirez's drawings
Andy Kahan who has been trying to shut down the 'murderabilia' industry says: 'I don't care if they make one cent, one dime or one dollar. It constitutes blood money plain and simple and you shouldn't be able to rob, rape and murder and then turn around and make a buck off of it.' Pictured is a drawing by serial killer Andre Crawford
As a dealer, Harder agrees with Kahan's opinion that murderers should not make money from their crimes, but he says that's a non-issue. Harder says inmates are not profiting from any of his sales and that anything inmates send him directly, he refuses to sell. Instead, he says Kahan is just making the industry seem worse than it is.
'When an item pops up, [Kahan] will then contact the victim's family and say, look, the inmate who murdered your loved one is selling items and is making money off of the notoriety they achieved,' Harder says.
'Well of course if you say it like that, people will be outraged. And rightfully so. Inmates should not be able to profit based on their notoriety. But that's not what's happening. Usually a gentleman in their 20s or 30s will write to an inmate as a woman and con them out of items and then turn around and sell them online, unbeknownst to the inmate.'
However, Kahan says many victims' families have Google notifications on their relative's killer in order to stay up to date. So when the killer's items are up for sale, they're then notified by Google.
'That's the reality that we have in a digitalized world,' Kahan says.
On the other hand, Holler doesn't see anything wrong with helping out killers if they're helping him make a living. While Harder only buys and sells items from other collectors, Holler does the same but also asks inmates directly for personal effects he can sell.
'I don't pay these guys outright for their items, but if these guys send me a packet of artwork and just say hypothetically say I make $1,000 off a criminal, I'm going to help him out. I'm going to send him some money,' Holler says in his Southern accent. 'If they're helping me pay bills, regardless of if they deserve it or not, they're helping me out, so I'm going to help them out.
'These guys, yeah they're monsters, I don't condone what they've done, not at all. They're doing their time. They're in their cells 24/7. Most of these guys are on death row, quite a few guys have been executed that I've known personally over the years. So they're paying for their crimes… Yeah, they've done some heinous, horrible sh**. They've murdered people. But they are humans. And if they're helping me, yes, I am going to help them.
'I have a good relationship with these guys. It is business, but we talk about other things… So if they need 20 or 30 or $50 put on their commissary account and I'm making thousands of dollars off of them, yeah, I'm going to help them. And I have no qualms about saying that at all.'
Dealer William Harder says he refuses to sell items or letters sent directly to him from inmates. Instead, he buys items from other collectors, which he turns around and sells from his website. He has his own personal collection on display in his home, which includes the piece on the right created by Charles Manson (pictured left)
FROM SATANISM TO FRIENDS OF THE NIGHT STALKER: HOW HARDER AND HOLLER GOT STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY BY BEFRIENDING RICHARD RAMIREZ
Though both men are dealers in the murderabilia industry, Harder and Holler couldn't be more different. While Holler is laid-back and casual, Harder is passionate about everything he says. He is quick to be clear that the true crime memorabilia market is just something he does on the side for fun. His main source of income comes from one of the other two retail websites he runs.
'While I do this as a hobby, it's not my income. There are people who this is all they do to get by,' he says. 'It's not something you could sustainably live on. I mean, I'd make more money working at McDonalds, in reality.'
- Eric Holler
Meanwhile, Holler refuses to comment on other dealers, preferring not to 'delve into other people's business'. He does claim that murderabilia is his career, but he won't say how much he makes beyond that he is 'comfortable'. He is somewhat detached from what he sells, most often referring to the memorabilia simply as 'items' and discussing them as products. He doesn't seem to prize them beyond what they earn him on his website.
'It all sells,' he says. 'It might not sell tomorrow, but it's going to sell. It's eventually going to sell. Everything sells, but I would say the most in-demand items is artwork by far.'
Though he used to also cultivate his own collection of murderabilia, Holler has since given that up, keeping his website business-only.
'I've had it all,' he says. 'I mean, I've had Gacy's stuff, I've had Ted Bundy's stuff, I've had oodles of Ramirez stuff, David Berkowitz. So I've had it all and this is a business. It's how I make my money, so no, I'm not really interested in collecting, I'm interested in cashing in.'
Holler got his start in the murderabilia industry because Richard Ramirez (pictured in 1985) had suggested Holler be his 'art dealer' after they had written back and forth for a while. When Ramirez was on his killing spree, Holler was in high school and was interested in heavy metal music and LaVeyan Satanism, like Ramirez. When the killer's case finally came to trial in 1989, Ramirez was known to make satanic references during the proceedings and even drew a pentagram on his hand, which he flashed to the court. The allusions to Satanism interested Holler, so when his friend gave him a list of serial killers' addresses, he wrote to Ramirez first, which began an almost 20-year friendship before Ramirez died in 2013 from cancer
Growing up, Holler says he was always interested in true crime and even wanted to work in law enforcement as a police detective, but as he got into junior high and high school, he says he didn't 'necessarily take that course'.
'I started playing in bands and just got mixed up with people that were not the kind of people that you think would want to be cops,' he chuckles.
Holler became interested in heavy metal music and LaVeyan Satanism, which he describes as 'basically a mockery of religion'. By the time Holler was in high school in the mid-1980s, Richard Ramirez was on his crime spree, breaking into people's homes across California, raping and murdering the residents and burglarizing their homes, often leaving behind Satanic symbols. He killed at least 14 people and was caught on August 31, 1985.
When his case finally made it to trial in 1989, Ramirez was known to make references to Satanism throughout the proceedings and even drew a pentagram on the palm of his hand, which he flashed to the courtroom. The blatant satanic references intrigued Holler, who decided to write to him when he got a list of addresses of infamous killers in the '90s.
Ramirez was the first person he wrote on the list and Holler got a reply right away. Eventually, Ramirez suggested Holler should sell his artwork, launching Holler's career and their friendship.
Holler says he also became friends with Sean Sellers (left), who killed his mother, his stepfather and a convenience store clerk when he was 16. Sellers claimed he committed his crimes while under demonic possession and was also interested in Satanism and heavy metal music like Holler, which is why Holler wrote to him in the '90s. Pictured right is a painting by Sellers
Though Holler is somewhat detached from his work and the items that he sells today, he still talks almost wistfully about the friendships he's made with different inmates, many of whom have since died.
'I was really close with Ramirez, but I sold for him for 20 years. It just depends on level of friendships. Some guys are just strictly business oriented and they're not friendly, but they're interested in the business. When their items stop selling, there's no friendship really there. But some guys you're close with and even if their items aren't selling, you still stay in contact with 'em. It depends on the inmate.
'There was a guy named Sean Sellers... I was very close with him. He was like a brother to me. He was awesome.'
Sellers, who killed his mother, his stepfather and a convenience store clerk when he was 16 and claimed he committed his crimes while under demonic possession, was also interested in Satanism and liked heavy metal music, which is why Holler wrote to him in the '90s, even before Holler had started dealing murderabilia.
'We just formed a bond. And when he was executed in '99, I mean, I remember that clearly. I was sad when he was executed… He paid for his crimes, but losing that friendship, losing that bond, you know that was sad for me.
'Same thing when Ramirez died a couple years ago. Ramirez died in 2013. He died of cancer. When he died, that was,' Holler pauses with a short sigh, 'I was extremely sad because I was close to Ramirez for almost 20 years at the time. So when he passed away, that was like losing a very close friend.
'Regardless of the crime… if you had a brother or sister that was in prison that did some really f***ed up sh**, and f***ed their life up and killed people and ruined people's lives, they're still your family. You're still going to care for them and like with Ramirez and I, we formed a bond. We were close. We were very close and when he died it was sad. It's still sad. I miss that guy. I do miss him.'
After a pause, Holler chuckles: 'I bet that sounds crazy, doesn't it?'
Holler says about murderabilia: 'It all sells. It might not sell tomorrow, but it's going to sell... Everything sells, but I would say the most in-demand items is artwork by far.' Holler is pictured holding a three-foot yarn doll made by Charles Manson. Holler says it is currently on sale for $10,000
Today Holler still loves heavy metal music and does appreciate the imagery of Satanism, but he says the ideology was just something he was interested in as a rebellious teenager. Harder, however, is a practicing Satanist and his interest in the religion is what drove him to write to Ramirez, like Holler. That also got Harder, who was in his 20s at the time, started in the true crime memorabilia industry.
Another of Harder's favorite parts of this hobby is the hard work it takes to find different items, such as this piece by Manson. Harder says: 'You couldn't just write Manson and say, Hey Chuck, can you do a painting for me? Thanks. No, that's now how it works… It takes a lot of effort and a lot of looking and research… I like the fact that you can't get this stuff from Wal Mart. If you want this stuff, you have to really put your little thinking cap on and it's hard to get'
In 1997 at the age of 20, Harder had gotten 'wrapped up in drug life and drug culture' and spent two years in state prison for the possession of a controlled substance (meth) for the purpose of sale before he was paroled at the age of 22. By the time he got out, Harder was familiar with how to write letters to inmates, so he found Ramirez's prison number and the two started corresponding. Within a few years he met Ramirez in San Quentin State Prison and the next year, 2006, he visited Charles Manson in California State Prison at Corcoran.
Today, Harder claims he has visited more than 90 inmates in prison, which is one of the main reasons he loves this hobby.
'My favorite piece in my collection is the intangible experience. Meeting Charles Manson, my questions tailor made, that I've conjured up to ask and getting those answers. You can't replace [it]. No crime documentary, no letter or piece of artwork can compare with that. And even if I never visited a prison again, those memories will be with me for the rest of my life. I absolutely love it. That's really why I do what I do.'
Though the idea of befriending a serial killer might seem outrageous, Harder, a self-described 'ethical vegetarian', says it's just as difficult for him to be around friends and relatives who eat meat.
'When you take the average person, I think it's what, 95 percent of Americans, 97 percent of Americans eat meat. They're completely indifferent to the suffering of living things. Yet I mean, I love my mother just the same. But do I like that particular aspect, that quality she has? Her indifference to suffering? No, I find it reprehensible and disgusting because people who claim to be compassionate or caring, that compassion goes right out the window when it comes time to eat… So to talk to a person who's killed human beings 30 years ago, I mean I have a harder time dealing with a person who eats foie gras or veal or lamb.'
'I don't judge people for their past actions,' he adds. 'They've been arrested. They've been sentenced and they are being punished. It's not for me to condemn them. And I'm not here to give them any breaks. I don't believe that death row inmates should be set free.'
That doesn't stop Harder from befriending serial killers, though.
'It is what it is. It is who they are. I mean, that's just the way people are… People have flaws and people commit crimes. And I know that I'm actively pursuing to make friendships. I consider myself a collector of friends and I want to share experiences and memories and laugh and joke… It's what I enjoy doing.'
However, not everyone Harder has met has become a friend. He says: 'Some of the people I have met, though, they aren't likeable. They're extremely dishonest. I'll use an example of someone who's dead. Tommy Lynn Sells from Texas was one of the most [disingenuous], unloyal [sic]... he was just one of the worst human beings I've ever met.'
Sells, who was executed in 2014, is believed to have killed at least 22 people from 1980 to 1999 in at least five states across the country before he was arrested in 2000.
'He caused me so much angst dealing with him,' Harder says. 'He's one of the few people I said I was glad he was executed. I remember saying I hope it hurt. And I'm very adamant against the death penalty. And certainly, if I had to choose between having the death penalty abolished and sparing his life, of course I would have it abolished, but I lost no sleep, no love lost. He was just an awful person.'
Even Kahan has a 'collection' of murderabilia, though he keeps his items stuffed in a duffel bag and brings them out only for lectures to prove that there is actually a market for the strange items. He says: 'I have an assortment of what I need. It's been years since I purchased anything. I have pretty much what I use just to showcase the industry and to show it actually exists.' Right is some of Charles Manson's hair that Kahan has in his collection. Manson is pictured left
As far as the items themselves go, Harder loves the challenge that goes along with the 'true crime memorabilia' market, which he prefers to the term 'murderabilia', a name he says 'the victims' advocacy just drummed up to make it sound worse than it is'.
'You couldn't just write Manson and say, Hey Chuck, can you do a painting for me? Thanks. No, that's now how it works… It takes a lot of effort and a lot of looking and research… I like the fact that you can't get this stuff from Wal Mart. If you want this stuff, you have to really put your little thinking cap on and it's hard to get.'
'I ENJOY INMATE ARTWORK… MY HOUSE IS LIKE A LITTLE MUSEUM': WHAT COLLECTIONS LOOK LIKE AFTER YEARS IN THE MURDERABILIA INDUSTRY
One of the main staples of the murderabilia industry is writing letters to infamous convicted criminals – and that even includes those who oppose it. When Kahan first found out about the market, he reached out to about 20 high-profile serial killers to ask them if they knew their items were being sold online. Though some of the 12 responses he got back were 'illegible', there were a few he says 'stood out', including David Berkowitz and Susan Atkins, one of the women involved in Charles Manson's 'Family', who was convicted for participating in eight murders in 1969.
'I've cultivated relationships with several serial killers, believe it or not, in a very unique alliance to work with me on this,' Kahan says. 'They've been quite helpful because as you well imagine the research, it's difficult to get into the mindset of how this whole industry works.'
Though Atkins has since died, Kahan still partners with Berkowitz and another inmate who has remained anonymous for the time being. When dealers write to inmates asking for memorabilia to sell, these 'partners' of Kahan's just forward the letters to him.
Though it isn't unusual for dealers and collectors in the industry to correspond with serial killers, even Kahan, who is trying to shut the market down, writes to inmates. He has made partnerships with several high-profile killers, including David Berkowitz (pictured), and another inmate who is anonymous for the time being. Whenever dealers write to Berkowitz or the other inmate, they forward the letters on to Kahan so he can 'get into the mindset' of the murderabilia industry
Even collectors, such as Michael Maschmann, from Hamburg, Germany, write letters to inmates. The 24-year-old car mechanic has always been interested in true crime documentaries and books, but when he found out people actually wrote to serial killers, he decided to take his hobby to the next level back in 2013.
'I thought reading and watching documentaries, it's not enough. I wanted to make more out of this hobby,' he says.
Today he says he has more than 350 letters from different inmates around the world, but he only corresponds with one or two convicted criminals at the moment because of how long it takes to maintain the written relationships.
'At the beginning it was like a thrill... I wrote to eight, nine different inmates, but I can say, it [takes] time. When they write five to six pages, you can't respond just with one page, you know? And so it does slow down a little bit.'
Maschmann's full collection, which he claims is the biggest he's seen in Europe, includes six John Wayne Gacy paintings, a signed court document from Ted Bundy and letters from Richard Ramirez, among 80 to 90 other items and artifacts openly displayed in his home.
Andre Crawford (left) killed 11 women from 1993 to 1999 in Illinois. He also attacked a 12th woman who survived in 1997. He was arrested in 2000, convicted of murder and given a sentence of life imprisonment. Right is a drawing by Crawford
Harder says: 'I enjoy inmate artwork. I mean, you want to call it murderabilia, fine. I call it art. And it's all over my house. My house is like a little museum.' Pictured is a John Wayne Gacy painting of Elvis
Harder's collection, which is also largely on display in his home, includes a photograph of him and Charles Manson, some of Manson's 'string art', a collection of Manson's hair from different places – including directly off Manson's head – and one of the oldest David Berkowitz signatures Harder has ever seen, among plenty of other items. In the course of his time buying and selling true crime memorabilia, Harder says he has purchased more than 15,000 letters not including those he has received personally from inmates.
'I enjoy inmate artwork,' he says. 'I mean, you want to call it murderabilia, fine. I call it art. And it's all over my house. My house is like a little museum.'
Even Andy Kahan has a 'collection' of murderabilia, though he keeps his items stuffed in a duffel bag and brings them out only for lectures and talks, just to prove that there is actually a market for the strange items.
'I have an assortment of what I need,' he says. 'It's been years since I purchased anything. I have pretty much what I use just to showcase the industry and to show it actually exists.'
'Crime is a big business,' he adds. 'Murder, for some reason, has seemed to achieve a status as a form of entertainment globally… We continue to give [serial killers and mass murderers] infamy and immortality they richly don't deserve by continuing to give them platforms and the murderabilia industry is another