When Bob George, a lifetime Dodge City resident, first wrote a letter to Charles Manson, he had no idea it would become a decades long fascination spreading to other mass murderers and serial killers.
"I was teaching psychology at the high school," George remembers, "and we were about to start a chapter on cults. I had just happened to read in the paper that day that Manson was denied parole once again. I thought 'what a great visual aid for this topic- a letter from Manson himself'."
So, George wrote Manson a letter in 1997. He didn't respond.
But George didn't give up. He decided to write one more letter and hoped for a response.
Again Manson didn't respond. But someone else did. At the time Manson was receiving over 60 letters a day in prison, so he had his own personal 'secretary', a man named Roger Dale Smith, a fellow prisoner. Smith just happened to be a born again Christian, and George had included a Fellowship of Christian Athletes card with his letter. Smith saw the card and wrote back to George.
George and Smith began corresponding for several years. The relationship ended only when Smith passed away in 2004.
Before he died however Smith convinced Manson to write to George as well, and George finally received his first letter from Manson. According to Wikipedia, Charles Manson is an American criminal and musician who led what became known as the Manson Family, a quasi-commune that arose in California in the late 1960s. He manipulated members into committing brutal murders on his behalf. The letter, scrawled on yellow and pink paper and written in crayon, made no sense. Since then, George has continued to periodically receive more letters and drawings from Manson.
George was most fascinated with serial killers, out of all the topics he covered in psychology, this was the most interesting for him.
"I wanted to understand how their minds work," George said. "How they can do horrific things to other human begins, and get pleasure from it."
When Dennis Rader, BTK, was captured in 2005, George took notice.
George knew that Rader was being held in Sedgewick County Detention Center and began writing him immediately. He received about 10 letters as his trial approached. Before the trial, George asked if he was on the visitors list to see Rader. He wasn't, but was allowed to visit anyway because he does jail ministry.
"I was so nervous when I was about to talk to him," George said. "When Rader walked in he high-fived the glass between us, and within 30 seconds I was completely at ease."
George went on to say that this is one of the talents of a serial killer, they can become whoever you want them to be. This is often how they get people to trust them before they attack.
Page 2 of 2 - Over the years George has become pen pals with several other serial killers including Son of Sam, Rock n Rolling Stewart, BTK, Charles Manson, Mikhail Markhasev and countless others. All the letters are carefully organized and preserved in his house.
Learning from their actions
George, although now retired from teaching, still lectures at the high school twice a year, and speaks at other meetings and events when asked.
"I want to teach others, especially women, that these people are out there. Everywhere," George said. "I want them to know so they can better protect themselves, and prevent themselves from becoming the next victim."
George brings several of his letters and artwork as visual aids to his lectures. And tells horror stories of what these people have done.
"I always tell people you can't trust anyone," George added. "BTK had a wife and family, was the leader of a Boy Scout troop, and active in the church. And look what he did in his spare time. Ted Bundy pretended to be handicapped to capture victims. You can't trust anyone."
To schedule a presentation with George call (620) 225-1612.
Looking inside Evil Minds
A few weeks ago George discovered a museum known as the Evil Minds Museum located at the FBI training Academy in Quantico, Va. The museum is not open to the public, only to FBI agents and other experts, including handwriting analysts, artwork experts, and serial killer researchers who may be able to provide insight into what makes a serial killer.
George has decided to donate his letters and other artifacts to the museum to try and help the researchers.
"I hope that my letters can help the experts find something, some link that connects the killers, so that in the future we can prevent things like this from happening," said George.
So, after over a decade of corresponding with several killers what has George learned?
"I've learned that the more I study these letters and try and find patterns and similarities, the less I know," said George. "I don't think there's one common link between people like this. I think you can have 100 people, all with personalities like Dennis Rader, but for one person one thing slightly different happens at some point in his life and his brain changes. What that one thing is, I have no idea. It's probably different for each person."
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