|“||I went back out later and had sex with her. Then I cut off both of her breasts to make plastic molds.||”|
— Brudos about the murder of Karen E. Sprinkler
Brudos was born on January 31, 1939 in Webster, South Dakota, as the youngest of two sons. During his childhood, he was constantly abused by his mother due to the fact that she always wanted a girl, and was displeased that she had another son instead. Brudos' fetish for women's shoes began when he was only five years old, after he played with spike-heeled shoes at a junkyard. Brudos later claimed that he attempted to steal his first-grade teacher's shoes. Besides having a fetish for women's shoes, he had also a fetish for women's underwear, which resulted in him stealing his female neighbors' underwear. As a teenager, he was a patient at many mental hospitals, receiving psychotherapy from them. He would also stalk local women, knocking down or choking them into unconsciousness, and fleeing with their shoes. When he was seventeen, he abducted and beat a young woman, threatening to stab her if she did not follow his sexual commands. Brudos was arrested shortly after and taken to a psychiatric ward for nine months. There, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and extreme misogyny.
Despite being institutionalized, Brudos managed to graduate from high school in 1957 and became an electronics technician. Four years later, he married a seventeen-year-old girl and had two children with her. They both lived together in a suburb in Salem, Oregon. Brudos would force his wife to do housework naked except for a pair of high heels while he took pictures. Sometime later, Brudos began complaining of suffering from migraine headaches and blackouts. To relieve the symptoms, he would steal shoes and lace undergarments during night-prowling raids. He kept all of the stolen objects, and for a time, the bodies of his future victims, in a garage that he would not allow his wife to enter without announcing her arrival on an intercom. In 1967, Brudos followed a woman to her home because he liked her shoes. He then broke into her house while she was asleep and raped her before strangling her to the point of unconsciousness, then left with some of her shoes.
Murders, Incarceration, and Death
On January 26, 1968, Brudos killed a girl named Linda Slawson when she was selling encyclopedias in the Portland neighborhood where Brudos lived with his wife and children. He approached her and pretended to be interested in buying a set of books. Once she lowered her guard, he subdued her by bludgeoning her, before strangling her to death. After killing her, he threw her body into the Willamette River from the Wilsonville bridge on Interstate 5, and her body was never found afterwards. Several months later, Jan Whiteney was driving home from a Thanksgiving feast when her car broke down, leaving her stranded on the road. Driving down the same road, Brudos spotted her and pulled over to offer assistance, but strangled her instead and engaged in necrophilia with her body. Her car was later found abandoned at a rest stop along Interstate 5 between Salem and Albany, while her body was found tied to a piece of railroad iron on July 27, 1969.
Next year, Brudos abducted Karen Sprinker from the parking lot of the downtown Meier & Frank business and took her to his home, where he raped and killed her. Her body was found on May 12 in the Long Tom River near Monroe. A month later, Brudos attempted to abduct another girl, Gloria Smith, but she managed to escape from him. A day later, he abducted Linda Salee from a Lloyd Center parking lot in Portland and killed her. Her body was found in the same river that Sprinker had been found in. After a tip from an Oregon State University student, Brudos was identified as a suspect in the murders and his house was searched. Inside, police found copper wire, rope, and pictures of his victims. Brudos was subsequently arrested and identified as the man who attempted to abduct Gloria Smith. He was charged with three counts of murder and pleaded guilty three days before the scheduled start of the trial. After being given three life sentences, he was transferred to the Oregon State Penitentiary. Brudos died of liver cancer on March 28, 2006 at 5:10 a.m. He was 67 at the time.
Brudos' murders were initially entirely opportunistic, but he began evolve his M.O. in later murders. He would abduct young women from public locations and take them to his home. There, he would strangle or bludgeon them to death. After killing them, he would engage in acts of necrophilia with their bodies and dress up in his victims' clothing. Brudos also kept trophies from his victims, such as a pair of amputated breasts that were used as paperweights and a severed left foot that he used to model the shoes he collected. After satisfying his desires with the bodies, he would dump them into local rivers, having tied mechanical parts to weigh them down.
- Unspecified date in 1956 or 1957: Unnamed woman (abducted, beaten, and threatened with a knife; was rescued)
- May 1967: Unnamed woman (strangled to the point of unconscious, then raped; survived)
- January 28: Linda Kay Slawson, 19 (bludgeoned and fatally strangled; cut one of her feet off post-mortem)
- November 25: Jan Susan Whiteney, 23 (strangled; engaged in necrophilia with her corpse and removed one of her breasts post-mortem)
- March 27: Karen Elena Sprinkler, 19 (raped, fatally strangled, and removed both of her breasts post-mortem)
- April 22: Gloria Jean Smith, 15 (attempted to abduct)
- April 23: Linda Dawn Salee, 19 (bludgeoned and fatally strangled)
On Criminal Minds
While Brudos was never directly mentioned or referenced on the show, he appears to have been an inspiration for the following unsubs:
- Season Three
- Jeremy Andrus ("Limelight") - Both were serial killers and rapists (Andrus serial) who had jobs as electricians, targeted women, abducted them (presumably in Andrus' case) from public places, strangled them, both deviated from their original M.O. somewhat in their last murder (Andrus unintentionally killed his last victim through excessive torture, while Brudos also bludgeoned his last victim before strangling her) and tended to dress in their victim's clothing after killing them. Their names also mirror each other slightly.
- Season Five
- Floyd Hansen ("Paradise") - Both were serial killers who were abused by maternal figures as children, were arrested for attacking women prior to their killings, primarily targeted women, had underwear fetishes and a sexual component in their crimes (Hansen raped his female victims, while Brudos engaged in sexual acts with his victims after killing them) and bludgeoned their victims to death.
- Season Six
- Lee Mullens ("Remembrance of Things Past") - Both were serial killers who had jobs as electricians, targeted young women in their 20s (though some of Brudos' victims were in their late teens), lured them with ruses, incapacitated them with blunt force trauma (though Mullens had his son do this instead), dumped their bodies outdoors, and were given nicknames by the media for their crimes. Additionally, the last scene of Mullens in what looks like an institution could be a slight nod to Brudos being institutionalized several times prior to his murders.