Serial Killer Dies In Gas Chamber - 9/18/1959

History |

On September 18th of 1959, a serial killer named Harvey Glatman was executed in the California state gas chamber of San Quentin State Prison, for the murders of three women in Los Angeles. He resisted all appeals to save his life, declaring in writing, “I only want to die.”

He had been known as a photographer, and had lured two of his murdered victims with the promise of a modeling career. The third one he met from a lonely hearts ad placed in a local newspaper. All three women were tied up, sexually assaulted, photographed, and then strangled. Their bodies were dumped in remote areas, where the corpses were eventually found. This caused the media to give Glatman the nickname of “glamour girl slayer,” and “the lonely hearts killer.”

According to his family, from a very early age, Harvey Glatman exhibited antisocial behavior and sadomasochistic tendencies. As a teen, he would break into women's apartments, tie them up, rape them, and take pictures to take home as souvenirs. One time, in 1945, he got caught in the act, and was charged with “attempted burglary.” Rape was not exactly illegal back then.

Soon after his court appearance, Glatman immediately continued kidnapping women and raping them, while still on probation and awaiting trial. Caught again, Glatman spent eight months in prison. During his time in prison, Glatman was diagnosed as a psychopath, but still was released in 1951. At that time, he moved to Denver, where he worked as a TV repairman for about six years.

Sometime in 1957, Glatman started trolling around Los Angeles, in search of his next victim. He began scouting modeling agencies and approaching models with phony offers of magazine covers and acting work. His two known victims of this ploy were Judith Dull and Ruth Mercado. Shirley Ann Bridgeford was another one of his victims. Glatman had met her through the lonely hearts classified ad.

Harvey Glatman is also suspected in the slaying of “Boulder Jane Doe,” a woman whose identity remained a mystery for about 55 years, until DNA testing positively identified her. She was Dorothy Gay Howard, an 18-year old woman from Phoenix. She was in Colorado at the time of her death, and so was Glatman. Glatman drove a 1951 Dodge Coronet at the time. The injuries on the body of Dorothy Gay Howard were consistent with being hit by the same car. Also, she had died in an eerily similar way.

Glatman was finally stopped in 1958, when he was caught in the act of kidnaping the woman who would probably have been his fourth (known) murder victim. However, lucky Lorraine Vigil managed to escape. Glatman was arrested, tried, and convicted of two counts of first degree murder. He was executed in the gas chamber about a year later. 

Harvey Glatman, who seemed to take delight in recounting the details of his killings, is supposed to have told police that he killed those women because they had asked him to. In his own (supposed) words, “They said they'd rather be dead than be with me.”

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