Richard Chase was a serial killer who murdered at least six people in Sacramento over the span of a month in the late 1970s; he’s known as the “Vampire Killer of Sacramento” after drinking the blood of those he killed.
Richard was born on May 23, 1950 in Sacramento, California; he started to show signs of mental illness at a young age though his father who was both strict and physically abusive at times, pursued no treatment for his mental health. He lived with his mother & father who eventually divorced & the two didn’t appear to have a happy marriage while together. He had a sister who was four years younger. Richard’s unhappiness and disturbances worsened as he reached adolescence; he set small fires, showed cruelty to animals & continued to wet the bed. These three factors are referred to as the Macdonald triad, named after psychiatrist J.M. Mcdonald in a 1963 article in the American Journal of Psychiatry & links these three traits to violent behaviors, specifically homicidal & sexually predatory behavior. However, further studies suggest that these behaviors have more to do with parental neglect, brutality or abuse which can then lead to “homicidal proneness.”
During high school, Chase did have some girlfriends though was never able to maintain a relationship, likely due to the fact that he was unable to achieve an erection or become aroused in the presence of females. After meeting with a psychiatrist, he was told that this was likely due to suppressed rage or mental illness. After this diagnosis, he did not voluntarily pursue further mental health treatment though it was later determined that Chase had an aversion to conventional sex & could only be aroused through violence or disturbed acts such as killing animals or necrophelia.
Richard began to self medicate with alcohol & drugs, mostly smoking marijuana or taking LSD; when he started using psychotropic drugs, his mental illness symptoms were exacerbated. At age 25, in 1975, Richard was hospitalized for blood poisoning after injecting himself with blood from a rabbit; he believed that his blood was turning into powder & that this was the treatment. When he got sick from the blood poisoning, he believed it was because the rabbit had ingested battery acid that had then seeped into his stomach. He escaped from the hospital & went to his mother’s home where he was apprehended & involuntarily committed to a mental institution for the criminally insane. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia though one doctor believed he may have been suffering from drug-induced toxic psychosis. Here, he often spoke of his fantasies of killing rabbits. At one point staff found Richard with blood smeared across his face & he claimed it was from cutting himself while shaving. In actuality, they discovered that he managed to capture two birds through the bars of his bedroom window, biting their heads off & drinking their blood. With that, he earned the nickname “Dracula.”
Richard was given a cocktail of psychotropic drugs & in 1976 it was determined that he was no longer a danger to society & released to his parents. His mother, believing that he no longer needed the medication for schizophrenia, took it upon herself to wean him off.
While living with him mom, who was divorced from Richard’s father by this time, he began to believe that she was trying to murder him by poisoning. From here, his father purchased an apartment for him & forced him to move out of the house. He had a court appointed conservatorship that expired in 1977 & his parents did nothing to renew it, leaving Richard on his own. Though at one point, he did live with roommates though his bizarre behavior became quickly apparent; he would walk around the house naked & once nailed his closet door shut, believing “people” were invading his space from that location. He was promptly asked to leave.
While alone, with no friends or a social life, he was left to his devices in the privacy of his own place, Richard began to capture, torture & kill rabbits, dogs & cats. He would eat them raw or blend their organs with soda & drink the concoction. One one occasion he even killed & ate a neighbor’s pet & then called the neighbor to confess what he’d done. He also became fascinated with firearms & purchased several handguns, practicing shooting obsessively. He became fixated on the crimes of the Hillside Strangler & believed the Strangler was the victim of Nazi/UFO conspiracy that he believed he was also the victim of.
Chase’s personal hygiene was neglected; he stopped bathing & brushing his teeth. He also stopped eating & dropped to only 145# at 5’11”, extremely thin in appearance.
As his drug use continued, Chase became a hypochondriac & believed that he had a vitamin C deficiency, so he rubbed whole oranges over his forehead, believing that his brain would directly absorb the nutrients. He also believed that the cranial bones of his skull began to shift apart & split, shifting like puzzle pieces. In order to more closely monitor the moving puzzle pieces, he decided to shave his head. He started to believe that his heart would stop at times & at one point, went to the ER, looking for the person who had stolen his pulmonary artery & he believed that during these times, he was a walking corpse.
On August 3, 1977, Richard was found by Nevada police in a field near Lake Tahoe; his pickup truck was stuck in a sand drift. Richard was outside the truck, naked & covered in blood, screaming. Richard claimed that the blood was his own & it had leaked out through his flesh. Inside the truck, police found two rifles, a pile of clothes, a bucket full of blood that contained a liver. Because they discovered that the blood & organ belonged to a cow, they let him go.
Around this time, he also went to his mom’s house, rang her doorbell & presented her with a dead cat. He threw the cat to the ground, ripped its stomach out with his bare hands & smeared the blood all over his face while screaming. His mother’s response was to close the door, walk away & pretend the incident didn’t happen.
Allowed to continue to live on his own, his mental health spiraling, Richard’s hobbies became much more sinister. On December 27, 1977, Chase fired a .22 handgun into the home of a Sacramento woman though luckily no one was hurt. After searching the home, police were able to recover the shell in her kitchen.
Things quickly escalated two days later, on December 29, 1977; Richard was feeling angry after his mom wouldn’t allow him to come home for Christmas. Chase drove down the road & noticed an innocent bystander, 51-year-old Ambrose Griffin outside, helping his wife bring in groceries. Chase drove by & fatally shot Griffin in the chest with a .22 caliber pistol. Ambrose was an engineer & a father of two. One of his sons had seen a neighbor walking around their East Sacramento neighborhood, carrying a .22 rifle earlier in the week. Police obtained the weapon in question though ballistic tests showed that it was not the murder weapon. The bullet did, however, match the shell found in the kitchen of the Sacramento home from two days earlier.
On January 11, 1978, Chase asked a neighbor for a cigarette; the woman thought he was generally odd & noticed he had brought three animals into his apartment recently, which was against the rules & noted that she never saw the animals again. She gave him a cigarette & he stopped her from walking away until she gave him the whole pack.
Two weeks later, he attempted to enter the home of a woman though gave up when he found the door locked. While wandering, he came across a woman he had gone to school with; he asked her for a ride though the woman was put off by Richard’s unkempt appearance & denied him.
From there, he continued to walk & broke into an unlocked home, stole some belongings, entered the infant’s bedroom & urinated into an open drawer that held the baby’s clothes & then defecated on their son’s bed. When the family returned home, Chase was still in the house; the husband attacked him but Chase was able to get away.
On January 23, 1978, less than a month after murdering Ambrose Griffin, Chase slipped into the home of 22-year-old Teresa Wallin who was three months pregnant. She was taking the garbage out & her door was left unlocked. Using the same gun he used to murder Griffin, Chase shot Teresa three times; once in the palm from a defensive wound & twice in the head. He dragged her body into the bedroom where he raped Teresa post-mortem while repededly stabbing her with a butcher knife. He then removed several of her internal organs, cut her nipple off & drank her blood, using a yogurt container as a cup. He collected Teresa’s blood in a bucket & brought it to the bathroom where he bathed in it. Before leaving, he gathered dog feces from the yard & placed it in the mouth & throat of Terese’s corpse. When Teresa’s husband, David, came home from work, he was met with the absolutely horrific scene.
Two days later, Chase purchased two puppies from a neighbor; he killed them, drank their blood & left their bodies on the neighbor’s porch.
On January 27, 1978, four days after murdering Teresa Wallin, Chase came to the home of 36-year-old Evelyn Miroth; again, her door was unlocked. Inside the house was her six-year-old son Jason Miroth, her 20-month-old nephew David Ferriera who she was babysitting & a family friend & neighbor, 51-year-old Dan Meridith who had come over to check on Evelyn. With Dan keeping an eye on the kids, Evelyn decided to take a bath. As Richard entered the home, he found Dan in the front hallway & fatally shot him in the head using his .22 handgun, the same gun used to kill Griffin & Wallin. He turned Dan’s body over, stealing his wallet & car keys.
Six-year-old Jason, scared of the sound of gunshots, ran into his mother’s bedroom where he was shot twice in the head.
Next, he fatally shot Evelyn with a gunshot wound to the head. He brought her body to the bed where he sodomized her while slicing her back and neck, drinking her blood. He then stabbed her body at least six times, he then sliced through her abdomen & drank the blood that had pooled in this area. After, he brought David’s body into the bathroom & split his skull open into the bathtub, consuming some of the brain matter.
Richard’s rampage was interrupted when a six-year-old neighbor girl knocked on the door, hoping to play outside with Jason. Startled, Chase fled the home, stealing Dan’s car. The girl alerted the neighbor who broke into the Miroth home & discovered the nightmare of a scene & contacted authorities. As the police investigated the scene, they noted the perfect bloody hand & footprints that Richard left behind.
20-month-old David was missing from the scene of the crime. They found the baby’s playpen covered in blood & contained a pillow with a bullet hole through it. It was later discovered that Chase had brought the baby’s body to his home where he consumed some of his organs in the form of a smoothie. The baby’s mummified & decapitated body was found months later in a box near a vacant lot behind a church.
FBI agents Russ Vorpagel & Robert Ressler were called to investigate & began to form a profile of the killer. They determined that the killer would be tall, malnourished, a loner with poor hygiene & at high risk to continue to kill.
Five days later, Nancy Holden, hearing of the FBI profile, contacted the police & speculated that Richard Chase could be the murderer as he fit the profile perfectly. The police ran a background check on Richard & noted his purchase of the .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol. A team of police went to Richard’s apartment though he refused to speak with them. Police hid in the hall, waiting & arrested Chase as he fled the apartment, carrying a bloodstained box, his jacket & shoes also bloodstained. Inside, they found the wallpaper shredded & soaked in blood as well as the bloodstained .22 murder weapon. Chase claimed that the blood stains were the result of him killing several dogs. After searching Richard himself, they found he was carrying Dan Merideth’s wallet.
On further search of his apartment, police found the kitchen utensils, floors, ceilings & refrigerator covered in blood. On the counter was the blender Chase had used to make his smoothies; it was caked in coagulated blood & rotting matter of internal organs. Inside the refrigerator were foil wrapped packages of animal parts, David’s brains were in a Tupperware container & parts of his body were wrapped in Saran Wrap. Several of Evelyn Miroth & Teresa Wallin’s internal organs were also found. Various dog collars were located as well as several diagrams showing different aspects of human biology.
Chase was arrested & his trial began on January 2, 1979 & lasted five months. He indicated that he chose all of his victims randomly & felt that if the doors of their homes were locked, it was a message that he was not welcome. At the time of the trial, Richard’s weight had dropped to 107# & he had a skeletal appearance. He claimed that he was semi-conscious during Teresa Wallin’s murder & described, in detail, how he was mistreated most of his life. He said he recalled little from the mass murder of Evelyn, Dan, David & Jason though remembered that he shot baby David in the head & then decapitated his body. He said he thought the baby was something else though didn’t elaborate further.
Chase pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. However, he was deemed legally sane at the time he committed the murders & it was argued that he was a sexual sadist & a monster who knew what he was doing.
After five hours of deliberation, on May 8, 1979, the jury found Chase guilty on six counts of murder & he was sentenced to death via the gas chamber. His fellow inmates feared him because of the nature of his crimes & were disgusted by his presence & often encouraged him to kill himself.
During his imprisonment, Richard participated in a series of interviews with FBI agent, Robert Ressler; he spoke of his fear of Nazis and UFOs & claimed that although he committed murders, it was not his fault. He felt he had been forced to kill in order to keep himself alive. He told Ressler that he needed access to a radar gun so he could apprehend the Nazis & UFOs so that they could stand trail for the murders. As he spoke with Ressler, he removed wads of macaroni & cheese he had been hoarding in his pant pockets, believing that the prison officials were in a league with the Nazis & were attempting to kill him.
Richard began to stockpile his anti-anxiety meds given by the jail staff until he had enough to form a lethal dose. On the day after Christmas, December 26, 1980, Chase was found dead in his jail cell.
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