Friday, June 26, 2009

Guest Post: The Most Notorious Criminals to Base Characters On

Today's guest post comes from Megan Jones, a writer who contacted me recently because she was interested in having some of her work displayed as part of her new freelancing career. I couldn't say no because 1) I love helping writers when I can, and 2) her articles are excellently written and well researched. Enjoy! ~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Let’s face it, we all draw examples from real life into our writing life, and what better way to do this than by exploiting the inane acts that some criminals have committed over the past century? Some of these criminals have participated in many atrocious acts of violence over the past years that I could never even dream of conceiving, and have even paved the way for famous cinematic serial killers such as Leatherface and Hannibal Lector. While most of these villains were not directly based on specific killers, they had attributes of many different criminals of the time. Some of the criminals and serial killers from up to a century ago continue to infiltrate society in a number of ways, mostly through film, but have also been known to appear in many crime books.

Bonnie & Clyde

How many movies have been based on this unlikely duo? Outlaws and bank-robbers, Bonnie and Clyde served to almost romanticize the notion of criminals during the Great Depression and many movies have been made regaling audiences with their string of terror during the height of their crime spree. While they were part of a mass shoot out by police forces in the end (they were shot over 50 times), the duo came to represent a Robin Hood of sorts during a time period where many throughout the country had lost everything they owned. While they left terror and destruction in their path, Bonnie and Clyde represented a new shift in criminal activity in the early twentieth century.

Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy has become one of the most iconic serial killers in history, mostly because he lured all his victims away in pure daylight due to the charm he emitted onto many. The exact number of women he killed is still unknown, though it is estimated to range between 35 and 100. While Bundy exhibited some traits that made him similar to Silence of the Lamb’s Hannibal Lector, in his high intelligence (law school) and his willingness to help police with other cases regarding killers, there has been no direct parallels between Bundy and any film serial killer. However, there have been a number of films made about the killer, as he brought about a reign of terror on the Pacific Northwest for a number of years, continuing on to Florida in the end.

Amy Fisher

Everyone knows the story of this young girl from Long Island (the “Long Island Lolita”) who shot her married lover’s wife and thereafter became the subject of many made-for-TV movies and documentaries. Mary Jo Buttafuoco answered the door on May 19, 1992 to find Amy Fisher at the steps telling her that her husband was having an affair with her sister. When Mary told Amy to leave, she shot her in the temple. While she survived the attack, Amy served 7 years in prison for first-degree aggravated assault.

Jack the Ripper

This killer existed before the time of DNA evidence or even any modern form of technology and terrorized England during the late nineteenth century. This killer has fascinated crime buffs for years due to the fact that no one was ever arrested or tried for the murders. There is still some dispute over how many victims were killed during this time, ranging from 5 to 9, but Jack the Ripper continues to captivate audiences around the world, as many movies and books have been released about the killer.

This post was contributed by Megan Jones, who writes about the bachelor degree online. She welcomes your feedback at Meg.Jones0310 at

1 comment:

Eileen Schuh: said...

Ah, the criminal mind--so fascinating to so many of us!

Victims and their families often complain that the criminal receives more ink than his/her victim/s--a complaint I took to heart, albeit reluctantly at first.

In my novel, 'Noraebang', I explore the mind, heart, and soul of a woman who succumbed to the charm of a psychopath. I was surprised to find that the heroine's story is at least as compelling as the antagonist's.

Eileen Schuh