Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Website selling coat rack killer used to hang self

Canadian's mom blasts 'sick' vendor

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Hair from Charles Manson's head. A postcard from Jeffrey Dahmer. A tire iron that once belonged to Ted Bundy.

Those are just some of the items available for auction on a website dedicated to selling bizarre and macabre collectibles associated with some of the most infamous killers in the history of the criminal justice system.

So although the appearance for auction of a motel-room coat rack that Canadian former reality-TV contestant and fugitive from justice Ryan Jenkins used to hang himself might shock, it shouldn't surprise.

The coat rack is just one item in a long list of oddities associated with killers and their crimes up for sale on a site called ghoulslikeus.com.

Days before he was found dead in a Hope, B.C., motel room on Aug. 23, 2009, police in the U.S. issued a first-degree murder warrant for Jenkins, accusing him of killing his wife, Jasmine Fiore.

Authorities found Fiore's naked body the morning of Aug. 15, stuffed inside a suitcase that was placed inside a garbage bin in Buena Park, Calif., 30 kilometres southeast of Los Angeles.

The online auction brought swift condemnation from Jenkins' mother, Nada, who said Friday the unidentified seller is trying to profit from a tragedy.

"What kind of sick mind would want to buy something like that? What kind of person would sell something like that?" she said from her home in B.C.

A user on a website catering to collectors of serial-killer and true-crime memorabilia posted the ad Wednesday and is asking US$1,750 for the metal rack, described as coming from Jenkins' room at the Thunderbird Hotel in Hope, B.C.

"I have full documentation and progressive photos of the removal," the seller states.

It's not clear who the seller is or how they came into possession of the item, but reports suggest the motel removed it shortly after an employee found Jenkins dead inside a room after complaints from guests.

At first, authorities weren't able to identify Fiore because her fingertips had been cut off and her teeth removed.

The medical examiner eventually identified Fiore, a former bikini model, using the serial number on her breast implants.

Jenkins joins a fraternity of killers whose crimes drew intense media attention, turning their horrific acts into a morbid public spectacle.

Notorious murderers -- famous Canadian examples include Jenkins, Paul Bernardo and, more recently, Russell Williams -- have long fascinated the public, Don McGill, an executive producer for the long-running U.S. crime drama CSI, said in a recent interview.

Aside from being "great general plot devices... serial killers let us shine a light into the dark places," McGill said.

In fact, one of the most popular shows on cable television these days is Dexter, which follows an Everyman plodding through the banal aspects of life, such as traffic and grocery shopping, while spending his spare time as a meticulous killer.

But television drama isn't the only place where killers become stars.

Inmates who will never see the outside of a prison have been known to receive plenty of fan mail. Some, like Kyle and Erik Menendez, brothers who brutally murdered their parents in 1989, have even managed to get married.

So if dirt from the burial plot of grave-robber Ed Gein or the licence plate of serial killer John Wayne Gacy is a must-have collectible, it can be had -- for the right price.

 

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 14, 2011 A31

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