There are many infamous serial killers and murderers who have given strange interviews that get sensationalized for decades. Charles Manson, Richard Ramirez, and others can all be found in classic videos lining the annals of true-crime history. But in the last decade or so, the ubiquity of video uploading has also allowed for some lesser-known sadistic killers to appear in some disturbing but fascinating candid footage. We’re particularly riveted by police interrogations that are released to the public.
We’ve watched countless hours of such videos. The following are 5 stunning interviews with murders and serial killers that were caught on video. Be forewarned, most of these contain disturbing and graphic language.
Col. Williams isn’t grinning anymore
When Col. Russell Williams woke up in his bed in his luxurious new home on February 7th, 2010, he was a decorated military pilot and colonel of the Canadian Armed Forces. By the time he went to bed in a jail cot that night (his new final home), he was a confessed rapist/murderer who would spend the rest of his life in prison. What happened in between is a case study in brilliant police interrogation tactics. And because the video was released to the public, we can watch the stunning, second-by-second transformation of a powerful, arrogant man whose life is reduced to a pile of ashes right before his eyes.
On that day, Feb. 7, Col. Williams was called into the Ontario Provincial Police precinct to answer questions about the recent murders of Marie-France Comeau and Jessica Lloyd. Because of his status and the way police worded the call, Williams assumed these would be standard questions put to someone who lived near the scene of a crime. Believing he had gotten away with his heinous acts and was untouchable, he walked into the interrogation room with a grin on his face and an air of arrogance. He had no idea he was the prime suspect, much less that police had compiled a thick file of damning, air-tight evidence against him that OPP investigator Jim Smyth was about to methodically unveil to him like a wild animal entrapping its prey.
By the time Smyth has finished showing Williams the evidence, all the creature can do is sit and silently stare at the ground for minutes at a time. He ends up confessing to the rapes and murders of both women–as well as hundreds of other crimes. In order to spare his wife the humiliation of police raiding their new home and finding his trove of deranged, sadistic photos (what a gentleman), he gives a horrifyingly detailed, step-by-step account of each crime and even draws Smyth a detailed map of where he buried the bodies.
Chris Watts tricked into partial confession
Anyone even vaguely interested in true-crime has heard copious details of the hideous and tragic murders committed by Chris Watts, who killed his wife and two young daughters. You’ve probably also seen the video of him being interviewed by a local news channel before he was arrested, when he begged in a monotone voice for his family to return. But it’s something else entirely to hear him on video, confessing to police.
Granted, this is only a partial confession, as he is tricked into saying he caught his wife killing the children and then killed her in rage, which of course was a complete and total malevolent lie. The investigators, who spent hours grooming Chris for a confession, slipped this narrative into his mind, knowing there was a good chance he would seize on it in desperation. They then trotted in his father to the interrogation room as the final sledgehammer. Chris would eventually begin to tell his father part of what happened that night and listening to him is a case study in how a sadistic but pathetic sociopath spins a narrative when his back is to the wall.
As you listen to this (the confession starts at around 4:50:00), consider that in order to avoid the death penalty Chris eventually gave a full confession in which he described smothering his kids with a pillow, only to find out that they weren’t dead (it takes a surprisingly long time to totally asphyxiate someone, even a child). They apparently walked into the master bedroom just after he had strangled their mother. He then drove them—still alive and no doubt terrified—out to the oil field near his work, strangled them, buried Shannon, and stuffed his daughters into an oil tank.
Afterward, he stopped off for a breakfast sandwich before work.
Killer learns on live TV that victim’s body was found
We published a comprehensive article on the horrifying and tragic murder of Lauren Gidding, who was stalked, killed, and dismembered by a truly psychotic young man named Stephen McDaniel. The police interrogation of Stephen, which was released to the public, is pretty fascinating to watch in its own right, though Stephen does not confess and actually says virtually nothing to detectives (which frustrates the hell out of them).
But it’s a video of Stephen before he was a suspect (which, in fact, is one of the reasons he became a suspect) that is a must-watch. Stephen, who lived in the same apartment building as his victim, was interviewed by a local news anchor live about Lauren’s disappearance. Suddenly, the interviewer reveals that police just discovered a body in the building’s dumpster. Stephen’s face freezes over and he has to sit down and hyperventilate for a few minutes. He resumes the interview having a panic attack.
This video is what it looks like when a killer finds out the body he thought he disposed of has been found on live television.
LAPD detective realizes she’s going down for murder
Like Col. Williams above, Stephanie Lazarus thought she had gotten away with murder: the cold-blooded shooting of her ex-boyfriend’s wife, Sherri Rasmussen, almost 30 years earlier. Since then, Officer Lazarus had built herself a solid career and reputation as a stolen art detective in the LAPD. Also like Williams, Lazarus had no idea that new evidence had been gathered, specifically a positive ID of her bitemarks confirmed by cutting-edge forensic DNA technology, which linked her unequivocally to the murder.
It is extremely rare for LAPD detectives to go down for murder, especially in a decades-old cold case. It’s even rarer to be able to watch the interrogation in which she suddenly realizes her life as a free woman is over forever.
Serial killer is contestant on dating show
Serial killer Rodney Alcala was convicted in 2010 for the murders of five California women, then pleaded guilty to murdering two more women in New York in the 1970s. Police described Alcala as “a killing machine” who toyed with his victims, choking them to the point of unconsciousness and then bringing them back for more, repeating this process several times before killing them.
Since his convictions, authorities have released hundreds of haunting photographs of missing women and children they found in Alcala’s storage compartment, hoping to receive information about them. Police believe Alcala is likely responsible for dozens of additional murders, though we will probably never know how many.
What we do know is that Alcala appeared as a contestant on a dating show in 1978 in front of a live studio audience. As you watch this, remember that at the time Alcala was in the midst of his murder spree. Unsurprisingly, another contestant described him as “creepy.”