I’m a criminologist – serial killers lurk in this ‘dangerous place’

Strange but true

March 18, 2023 | 1:54 p.m

Christopher Berry-Dee, who is also a true crime writer, says the internet is a “dangerous place”. Courtesy of Christopher Berry-Dee

A British criminologist and true crime writer has uncovered the ideal hunting ground for serial killers – and it’s closer to home than you might think.

Christopher Berry-Dee, who has faced notorious killers, says the internet has become a powerful tool for criminals to identify victims.

“Many men [are] like serial killer John Edward Robinson, the first killer to use the internet for serial killing purposes,” Berry-Dee, who has been linked to the murders of eight women from 1985 to 2000, told The Sun of Robinson.

These killers typically enter online chat rooms “as someone else,” impersonating, for example, a businessman in order to “lure lonely women back to them” and strike.

“People underestimate the internet. It’s becoming a trawl hunting ground for predators,” Berry-Dee said. “Whether scammers or men who prey on lonely hearts [of] Women… it goes way back.”

John Edward Robinson used online chat rooms to lure women and was later nicknamed “the internet’s first serial killer”.

Before there were dating apps, newspapers had “Lonely Hearts” columns where people could advertise that they were looking for love.

Harvey Carignan, known as the “commercial serial killer,” used paper ads to find victims in need. He died earlier this month in prison, where he had been serving nearly 50 years before for the murders of three women in Minnesota and Alaska.

The ‘Lonely Hearts Killers’, Raymond Martinez Fernandez and Martha Jule Beck, found their victims from newspapers promoting singles and are believed to have killed 20 people – although the couple was only convicted of one murder.

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They were executed at Sing Sing Prison in New York in 1951.

Carignan used help-wanted ads in the newspaper to identify or lure victims. The notorious killer died earlier this month at the age of 95.

From print to pixels, the “MOs” have remained constant over the decades, claims Berry-Dee.

“The internet is really just an extension of that, it hasn’t changed. It’s just the way to do it electronically now,” he said, calling the internet a “dangerous place.”

Chase Seneca used Grindr, a popular dating app for gay men, to locate victims, mirroring the gruesome crimes of notorious serial killer Jeffery Dahmer.

Seneca pleaded guilty to kidnapping and attempted murder of a gay man last year and was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Authorities say he intended to eat and preserve the bodies of his victims, as Dahmer had done.

Gacy was convicted of the murders of 33 young men and boys in the Chicago area in the 1970s. Getty Images

John Wayne Gacy, convicted of murdering 33 young men and boys in the Chicago area in the 1970s, targeted male prostitutes, teenagers who wanted to work for his company, and hitchhikers.

“Gacy knew where to look,” Berry-Dee said.

“He knew where these weaker people are.”

Despite advances in technology, serial killers’ approach has remained consistent, finding their “hunting territory like an animal” where they know “prey” might be, Berry-Dee said.

The killers lurk, ‘patient’ until it’s time to ‘strike’.

“They know where their intended prey is swimming in schools, they sniff it out and they’ll watch and they’ll wait,” he continued, “and then they select the weaker of the herd or the one who left the group, the one.” walking to a taxi in the rain and waiting.”

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