Do You Know A Murderer – The Paranormal Podcast 822

Many murder victims know their killer. Do you know a murderer?

Richard Estep joins us to talk about cases where a friend or family member killed. Note, this is a departure from our usual format but Richard is always great, and I know many listeners are interested in true crime.

You can find Richard’s recent book on the subject, Family, Friends and Neighbors: Stories of Murder and Betrayal, at Amazon:

Thanks Richard!

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Jim Harold (00:00):

Family, friends and neighbors, stories of murder and betrayal. Today on the Paranormal Podcast.

Announcer (00:20):

This is the Paranormal Podcast with Jim Harold.

Jim Harold (00:24):

Welcome to the Paranormal Podcast. I am Jim Harold, and so glad to be with you today. And if you’re watching on video, you see we have a new look. We’re working on that. And if you not, check out the video, check it out at, a new thing we’re doing on the Paranormal Podcast. In addition to the audio version, we’d never get rid of that. So today we’re going to break format a little bit. We’re going to talk about true crime. Many of you know I did about 200 episodes of a show called Jim Harold’s Crime Scene, which is still out there if you want to listen to it. And by the way, if you like this, let me know. Maybe we could revive that show perhaps. But today we are going to talk about true crime. Our guest as you see him on the screen is Richard Estep, and he has a new book out and it’s called Family, Friends and Neighbors: Stories of Murder and Betrayal.


And Richard is the author of 20 books, most of them in the field of paranormal nonfiction, but he’s also made his mark in true crime with books like Serial Killers: The Minds, Methods and Mayhem of History’s Most Notorious Murderers, and The Serial Killer Next Door, the Double Lives of Notorious Murderers, and this latest book, Family, Friends and Neighbors: Stories of Murder and Betrayal.. He’s also a regular columnist for Haunted Magazine and has written for the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. Richard appears regularly on the TV shows Haunted Case Files, Haunted Hospitals, Paranormal 9 1 1, and Paranormal Night Shift, British by birth, Richard now makes his home a few miles north of Denver, Colorado where he serves as a paramedic and lives with his wife in a menagerie of adopted animals. And we’re always glad to talk to Richard Estep. Richard, thank you for joining us on the Paranormal Podcast. Although the topic isn’t paranormal per se. Thanks for taking time today.

Richard Estep (02:23):

Hi, Jim. It’s always a pleasure to be here.

Jim Harold (02:25):

So let me ask you on that subject, I always felt there was kind of a Venn diagram and an intersection of people who are interested in the unexplained and the supernatural and true crime, and it’s obviously the case for you. It’s the case for me. What do you think is behind that? Why do you think these shared common interests?

Richard Estep (02:50):

Well, I think that one thing is that both of them are case-based, whether you’re looking at a murder case or the case of a haunting, and I think it attracts people that are deeply interested in the how and why of both of these things work. What are the commonalities between them, what are the signs and symptoms, if you will, in each case? And I think that there is a great fascination with what makes a haunting kind of tick. And also with the mind of a murderer.

Jim Harold (03:24):

This is f Family, Friends and Neighbors: Stories of Murder and Betrayal. And I believe there’s some statistics out there that you;re X amount of times more likely to be killed by somebody. And I know you have to know those stats. So what are we looking at there?

Richard Estep (03:41):

So what gets really disturbing with those stats, because absolutely right, having written a couple of books on serial killers, I think that they hold a perennial fascination with people just turn on any streaming service. And the number of series you can see about serial killers kind of proves that point, doesn’t it? But the truth is that as scared as you might be of a Dahmer, a Bundy or a Gacy, you are overwhelmingly more likely to be killed by someone. What’s I think most frightening about this though is that certainly in the United States, a female is 10 times more likely than a male to be killed by someone that they have had a relationship with and not necessarily a romantic relationship either.

Jim Harold (04:23):

Interesting. I’m going to throw something on the screen. You asked me to do this and I think it’s great. So we’ll do this now and we’ll do it later, but a lot of these cases do delve into domestic violence, and you pointed out that’s a great resource for people up on the screen there if people need some help, right?

Richard Estep (04:42):

That’s the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE. And yeah, it was shocking if not surprising that domestic violence features so heavily behind family annihilation cases. Primarily this is a crime of angry white men. I mean, let’s call it what it is, whether they’re young or middle aged, but angry white men. So domestic violence is, as we all know, it’s an epidemic working as a paramedic, I see this far too often. There’s a reason many of us don’t like Super Bowl Sunday and sporting events and holidays, we see domestic violence peak. So I would ask anybody that’s watching the show or listening to the show, if you or someone you know is suffering with domestic violence, it can often end all too often ends tragically, please reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE and help is out there. And please don’t hesitate to get help.

Jim Harold (05:43):

And it’s also available on the web at When you’re doing these shows and video, you forget there’s way more people listening in the audio only. So I want to make sure we get that out there and we’ll repeat it again at the end of the show. So what are the typical motives when it comes to…. you called it, I think, family annihilation? I mean when you think about the romantic and the husband, wife, a boyfriend, girlfriend, people that are engaged to be married or live together, those kinds of things. You think about money, you think about jealousy, you think about all these different things. What are the motives for those who choose to do the unthinkable? What are some of the most common ones?

Richard Estep (06:29):

Well, you hit the common – dare I say classic –  motives for murder right there, Jim. The money romance, two of the most common, revenge being another with cases of family annihilation. Though I think we’ve run into many instances where the individual simply snaps. There is a build and a build and a build in escalation. And then there is often a precipitating incident, that straw that broke the camel’s back as the saying goes, and then the individual snaps and there is no going back.

Jim Harold (07:02):

Yeah, that’s terrifying. So I mean that brings about a question of, people will say, well anybody that does these kinds of heinous things must be mentally ill. How do you draw that line between saying, well, somebody’s mentally ill, they’re not responsible, they didn’t know what they’re doing. On the other hand, having accountability, where is that line? Because to me that seems like one of the most challenging things about this whole situation. It seems to me logical, if somebody kills their own family, they went at least temporarily insane. But where is the line of like, well, we should give this person kind of mental treatment and those kind of things and be very understanding because they didn’t know what they were doing, or this is a cold blooded killer and we ought throw the book at them. How do we draw those lines? It seems to me like a difficult thing to do

Richard Estep (08:02):

And the only answer that works is on a case by case basis. The insanity defense was given to us by Dan Sickles during the 19th century. And if you’re not familiar with Sickles, he was an absolutely awful human being. I wrote about him in one of my books. In fact, on corruption. Sickles was a general at Gettysburg that nearly lost the battle for the union, but he was best known for beating to death his wife’s lover on the streets outside Congress in Washington and I believe was the first American to play the insanity defense card because it often is a card that’s played successfully in court and did get away with it. And that the legal argument was that seeing this man, who had been conducting a pretty public affair with his wife, had temporarily unhinged and deranged him to the point where he was not held responsible for his actions.


Now, when these individuals do survive, because many take their own lives, some are killed by law enforcement in an attempt to apprehend them. Their motives can be varied. Jim, I mean, I’m thinking of the case of John List, who is a pretty well to do individual in finance in the financial realm. List, lost his job and had a big old mansion. You know, family lived the high life in this big old mansion and he did not have the heart to tell his wife and family that he had lost his job and they were about to lose their home and about to seriously downsize. So he used to fake going to work in the day, he used to go to the station, in fact, anywhere rather than home. And then finally when he couldn’t hide it anymore, he waited for his children to come home from school. He murdered them one by one, he murdered his wife, I believe also it was either his mother or his mother-in-Law, set the house on fire and fled, and List actually was gone and started a new life.


He got away with it for decades, was finally arrested in Denver after one of those TV shows which are looking, you know, they put out a photo fit of this is what John List would look like now if he was aged appropriately. And a coworker of his in his new life recognized him and turned him in and List said that his reason for doing this atrocity, for wiping out his entire family was that he could not bear the shame of what he’d done. His family would be so traumatized by this change in their lifestyle that they shouldn’t have to live with the shame. Which, you know, come on.

Jim Harold (10:30):

Well, I also wonder if it’s an ego thing. I’m the big provider, I’m the big man on campus and here I’ve failed. So rather than exposing himself for failing or maybe just bad luck, I don’t know the circumstances, but he internalized it and said, I can’t show that side of myself so I must kill them, which is totally illogical, insane. Put whatever adjective you want on it. But also wasn’t there, and you may or may not cover this in the book, I don’t know, but wasn’t there a thought that he was a potential suspect in the DB Cooper case? I mean kind of out there, but I had heard something like that. Have you ever heard that?

Richard Estep (11:11):

I had not, but now I’m going to go look into it. It’s kind of amazing when I’m writing a book, when I research what I don’t hear about. Just as a quick off topic, I’m researching a book now about the paranormal and was writing about the Yeti and I finished the chapter and then Aaron Mahnke, who does the excellent Lore podcast, social media’d me, he said, Hey, isn’t it crazy that Jimmy Stewart was supposedly smuggling in Yeti bones to the US? And I’m like, okay, wait one.


Turns out, that’s a thing. And so it’s amazing what sometimes you don’t learn. But in the case of List, to me, the most telling thing is he didn’t kill himself. He was perfectly happy to make that decision for his family, to murder them in cold blood, supposedly for their own benefit, but drew the line at taking his own life too. So he couldn’t even do what might have been considered the honorable thing in his case. And let me be clear, I’m not advocating for suicide, but a man who is weighing his options, even if there are a few left, murdering your entire family should not be on that list, let alone at the top of it.

Jim Harold (12:17):

No, of course not. And by the way, I just Googled it on my secondary computer here. As you were talking, Los Angeles Times June 30th, 1989, John List is one of any number of people suspected in the DB Cooper case. So there you go. There you go.

Richard Estep (12:34):

That is cool.

Jim Harold (12:35):

Yeah. And what’s interesting, List did his crime in early November, 1971, and the DB Cooper case happened in late November, 1971. Again, maybe just a coincidence, but interesting, interesting nonetheless,.. And I’ve got to guess that that happens when you go down the rabbit hole with these cases, they lead to places that you never expect, right?

Richard Estep (13:04):

They do. I mean, one case that I’d wanted to tackle, wanted to write about, we are on the Paranormal Podcast, so there is some overlap here, Jim, but it was Amityville. Oh yeah. And one thing that has stuck in my craw forever about Amityville is not just the sheer commercialization of it, but the fact that what people remember isn’t the tragedy of what happened to the DeFeo family. That first and foremost they remember the stories of the haunting, whether you believe them or not. We say the word Amityville, we remember the house, the eyes, the tales. We don’t think about the fact that again, an entire family was murdered in cold blood by one of their own.

Jim Harold (13:46):

Yeah, no, that’s a very good point. And wasn’t the one room all red? That was the idea that the one room was all red. That might’ve been part of the murder scene or something. I forget exactly. I’m shaky on it.

Richard Estep (13:59):

There was a very small area of the place that was red. Much was made of it. Let’s put it like that, far more than there was any reality to it. And the Red Room, as it’s called, barely worth the name and not connected with the murders.

Jim Harold (14:11):

Now you’ve done multiple books on this subject of true crime and murder, particularly murder by people. Do you believe that anybody can? I guess I will ask two questions. A, can anybody kill under the right circumstances? B, can anybody kill in cold blood? Two different questions. I think

Richard Estep (14:33):

It’s a great question to ask. I mean, so let’s approach it from a couple of different ways. Yes, we all have the potential to kill. We are fundamentally animals, even the very best of us. And animals, when provoked sufficiently will respond violently. It doesn’t matter how gentile or you may be. I believe we all have capacity within us. Some people have it under more control than others. Some people are quicker to temper, of course, than others. And we’ve all experienced that feeling of, usually it’s something like road rage, right? I’ll certainly admit to this. When somebody cuts you off, flips you off, just shows that blatant disregard for safety and that lack of respect to everyone else on the road. It’s easy to get that flash for just a second, isn’t it of, I could drive you down, run you off the road and teach you a lesson.


But of course, we restrain ourselves as the better angels of our nature, most of the time anyway. There are circumstances in which people are extraordinarily provoked, and I think a case can be made for those being mitigating circumstances. Sometimes. A lot depends upon the extent that the situation escalates out of control though. But the military has been in the years for business of taking everyday men and women and training them to kill. Right now, the idea is that it can be done in a good reason, but part of that comes down to depersonalization. One doesn’t think of the soldiers on the other side as human beings like us. They are combatants, they are the enemy, they are targets. And traditionally that’s the reason why soldiers have dehumanized the enemy with nicknames, derogatory nicknames, which we won’t repeat on air, but it comes down to depersonalization. But I do believe that everybody has the potential to kill if pushed far enough, fast enough.

Jim Harold (16:22):

It’s really interesting you mentioned that because I just finished watching. I was a little bit behind a 20-year-old miniseries Band of Brothers, which is excellent. And it tells the story of Easy Company that was at the forefront of Normandy, and they have little vignettes before each episode from the actual soldiers at the present day of the time, the early two thousands, many of them were still alive at that time. And one of them said, I think in the next to last episode, or maybe the last episode, I’ve often thought that those 18 and 19-year-old kids that I was fighting against, they were just like me in many ways. And maybe under different circumstances we could have actually been friends. Maybe they like to hunt, maybe they like to fish, things I like to do. But here we were. Now, again, I give all the credit in the world to the greatest generation.


And if there is such a thing as a just war, I believe World War II is about a just war as you can get when you’re fighting against the Holocaust in a country trying to absorb countries around it and absorbing countries around it. I think it was definitely justified, at least in my mind. That’s my opinion. Others may feel differently. But you get what he’s saying that plays very much into what you say is that if we’re trained in the right way and given the right justification, almost anybody can kil,l certainly to defend family and those kind of things. I think that’s that’s understandable. Now let me ask you this. When it comes to these cases you’ve looked at, whether it’s in this book or other books, how many of the cases are, okay, somebody snapped and they did something and then they tried to cover it up versus cold-blooded, premeditated planned this out to the nth degree, had the story going, set up alibis. What is the breakdown between those two different scenarios?

Richard Estep (18:18):

Well, I couldn’t give you a percentage, but it’s very noticeable when I have written about even some of the better known serial killers. I don’t think they actually set out or many of them don’t set out to be what they become. A case in point I like to use is John Wayne Gacy Gacy’s story. at least., and of course the man was a habitual liar, but this is one of the few things he said that I do believe Gacy’s story with his first victim was that he picked up this young man at a bus station, brought him home, they slept together, made sandwiches, and according to Gacy, the kid sleepwalked, the young man sleepwalked came into his room with a knife. There was a struggle. The kid got stabbed during the struggle and Gacy buried him under the floorboards of his house. And the reason I find this credible, Jim, is that if you look at all of Gacy’s other murders, 31 I want to say, they were murders of torture and strangulation.


So he would kill via strangulation. The only stabbing is the first one. So his MO changed completely, but what I believe happened is after that first accidental death, of course he panicked. He put the body under the floorboards and he’s waiting for that knock on the door from the police and he’s sweating and every time a car pulls up outside, I’m sure he was looking out of the window and the knock never came. And he slowly realized with this young man decomposing under his floorboards, Hey, I got away with murder and this is kind of awesome. This feels kind of awesome. And that’s when they begin the stalking, the planning. I’ve always wondered, had Gacy stayed home that day, had never gone to the bus station, had picked up somebody else. If the circumstances were just slightly different, would we ever have had the serial murderer that he eventually became? I mean, we probably would’ve had a sexual predator and an assaulter, absolutely. But would he have become a serial killer or was it just that there was that one accidental incident which sparked off the firestorm?

Jim Harold (20:20):

It makes you think these cases, they are disturbing yet fascinating. And we’ll be back with more with Richard desktop right after this on the Paranormal Podcast. 


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We’re back on the Paranormal Podcast. Our guest is Richard Estep. We’re talking about his new book, Family, Friends and Neighbors: Stories of Murder and Betrayal. We’re so glad to have him with us. It’s a disturbing subject, but there’s no one we’d rather talk about it with than Richard Estep because he does it in a very tasteful and a very informative way. And to that point, Richard, other than, I mean these are interesting cases, but I also think there’s a value in getting this out there. When I was doing a true crime show, I kind of struggled with it a little bit and I’m like, well, is this really kind of sensationalism and those kinds of things.


But I came down to this thought, if one person hears this show and they lock their doors and some madman tries to get in and they pass that house because the door was locked, if that happened one time over the several years I did that show, the 200 episodes, it would’ve been worth it. So I think there’s a cautionary tale perspective. I think there’s an educational perspective, in terms of understanding, maybe trying to figure out why these people do these heinous acts. What are your thoughts? Why is this an important exercise to look at these cases?

Richard Estep (24:55):

Yeah, thanks, Jim. I’m a big believer in I’m not interested in writing for titillation. If this is your kind of subject because you get off on it, please avoid my books and never buy another one and also go get help. I think trying to understand is what the point of me writing these books is. I just finished writing last week a 110,000 word manuscript on World War II, where I try and understand how the world gets involved in a conflict that big. Understanding how murders happen, whether it’s serial predators, whether it’s the family annihilator. If we can spot the signs, then just possibly they can be derailed or some of them can be derailed before they ever happened. And one thing that I do hope people take if they read this book or any of my true crime books is there are usually multiple steps in the narrative where somebody could have intervened and derailed a tragedy. There is usually something someone can do that would stop this from happening. And tragically it never happened in these cases.

Jim Harold (25:59):

And we talked about a little of this offline, but do you think that you’ve run across cases or things perhaps where maybe people should have stepped in and they kind of look the other way? Do you see that kind of happening? Maybe just saying, I don’t want to get involved in those kind of things. Have you come up with instances where somebody really should have said something?

Richard Estep (26:23):

Yeah, there are numerous instances in all of my true crime books of cases like that. I mean, a good example is in my first serial killers book, Dr. Harold Shipman, who was Britain’s most prolific serial murderer, was only finally caught when it was realized that the sheer number of death certificates coming in on Dr. Shipman’s patients was extraordinary. And somebody said something. Could it have been derailed prior to that? Yeah, I absolutely think it could have been. So I think we all want to stay in our lane. We all want to kind of mind our own business to an extent, but there are times when you simply can’t. It’s a matter of conscience. And I will add, just to piggyback on that though, Jim, there are cases as well, particularly in this book, when the system failed, that individuals were put on a restraining order and because of the mental pathologies at work, they stepped right through them and ignored them. So we see cases in which stalkers particularly are called out and the appropriate steps are taken, and the system isn’t rigorous enough in protecting the people it should have.

Jim Harold (27:30):

I also think there’s got to be cases where people aren’t believed. Somebody says, this person is a threat to me, this person is dangerous. And it’s kind of like you’re exaggerating those kind of things. It kind of plays into what you just say, but I got to believe that’s part of the picture too that happens where people simply aren’t believed and then they end up dead.

Richard Estep (27:51):

Absolutely. I mean, going back to, excuse me, Jeffrey Dahmer, there is the very well publicized incident in which the police found one of his victims bleeding naked rectally in the street and accepted at face value the explanation that it was just a lover’s tiff. It’s just unbelievable. And our willingness to believe somebody I say mean, the general willingness is often colored by judgments about them and their lifestyle. So if the person involved is a sex worker, if the person involved is an addict, or experiencing homelessness, or is on the fringes of society, they are often treated as less credible than the quote-unquote respectable individual who lives in the suburbs and has a career.

Jim Harold (28:37):

Now, is there, I mean, I’m sure there’s multiple, but are there one or two cases that really stick out in this book? Either maybe things you didn’t know or they were even worse than you thought, or just some that stuck out for whatever reason? Do you have any examples, any thoughts on that?

Richard Estep (28:54):

Yeah, one that fascinates me perpetually is the Lizzie Borden case, simply because it’s one of the great what ifs of American, heck global, true crime literature. I think it was Bill James the author, who said in his excellent book on true crime, he said, it’s impossible to see how Lizzie Borden could have carried out the murders. And then his next sentence was, it’s impossible to see how anybody but Lizzie Borden could have carried out the murders. So looking at that conundrum and something that if you go online today, and of course never read the comments, right? But if you go online today, the defenders and the persecutor of Lizzie Borden are as vociferous now as they were back then, if not more so . She has an army of people that maintained she could not possibly have done it or that she was guilty as sin.

Jim Harold (29:49):

I just saw something, and I don’t believe it’s in this book, but I just saw something that there’s a group working to try to get truth in the Lindbergh kidnapping case in the subsequent murder of Charles Lindburgh Jr. And it amazes me, I think it’s a double-edged sword. I mean, you’ve got these kind of citizen-investigators, citizen detectives who are out there trying to get to the truth, and there have been cases where actually they have taken DNA information and been able to break. There was one case from the late seventies up in the Pacific Northwest, and I can’t remember the name of it, but literally it was a citizen detective using DNA who broke the case after 40 plus years, which is amazing. But then you get people who go on these social media sites and Reddit or wherever it might be, and start accusing people of murder people who are alive. So it seems to be a real double-edged sword. How do you feel about that and the proliferation of true crime podcasts and that sort of thing?

Richard Estep (30:59):

Well, I think firstly, when it comes down to the armchair detective or the citizen detective, I don’t want to denigrate them, so I dunno what the correct term is, but you’re right, it’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there are cases in which they have kept cold cases alive for years or reinvigorated interest, interesting cold cases, which they are doing an absolute service to the victim’s memories and to their family members by not letting this fall by the wayside and be lost to history. On the flip side, they are also generating a lot of smoke that police have to wade through. Detectives have to go through this kind of stuff, and it takes time away from their actual investigative process. They generate a lot of false leads, and I do believe it’s many, many more false leads than valuable, valid ones in such cases. So again, a double-edged sword. Certainly their hearts seem to be in the right place, and they do make a contribution that’s valuable on occasion, but how much are they detracting from the actual official formal efforts? So I really see the value of them in keeping alive cold cases, and even if it’s just the reminder that we’re not going to let some of this stuff go.


But yeah, stopping short of accusations is something that should be happening though, and it’s very easy to libel or slander somebody, and that can have consequences for both sides.

Jim Harold (32:23):

I mean, the thing was when I was doing a true crime podcast, I always kept in mind my journalism classes in college. I got a degree in undergrad and grad degree in communication, but I wasn’t technically a journalism major, but at least I had some classes would say, you don’t make false accusations, you don’t make unproven when you’re talking about a case, the person is accused until they’re convicted. And there’s so many people out there putting out media, whether it’s podcasts or video or writing, just people singing at their keyboards, writing on forums, and they don’t understand just the basic stuff about journalism. And they’re essentially become citizen journalists, but with none of the training, and they just go out and make these. And there’s been criminal cases where people have been gone after, and civil cases, I think civil cases, the people have been gone out correcting myself, I believe there’ve been civil cases where people have been gone after for slander, libel, those kinds of things. So I think it’s something we have to be very careful about and remember that even the accused are innocent until proven guilty. I think that’s so important. Even if it looks totally like a slam dunk, they were found with the gun in their hand, the smoking gun, until they’re convicted by a jury of their peers, they’re still innocent until proven guilty. I think that’s a very important thing.

Richard Estep (33:54):

I’ve broken that rule myself in at least one major instance, and I’ll tell you about that if you like, but I agree with you. And that was the Fox Hollow Farm murders. When I wrote my book about Herb Baumeister, the I -70 Strangler and the horrors of Fox Hollow Farm, Baumeister murdered anywhere between 11 and 19 men, it’s still unclear, but he killed himself, shot himself in the head prior to trial, let alone conviction. Now, the overwhelming landslide of evidence points to Baumeister as the perpetrator of those murders. The bodies were all found in his backyard. I mean, it’s a mountain of evidence. However, he was not alive to be put on trial. And part of me wondered if that book should have actually been, I should have inserted the word alleged every time I said serial killer. And if you are strictly following the interpretation, I probably should have done. In that particular case, though, there is not a shred of doubt that Herb Baumeister killed those individuals. So I do stand by it, but in other cases, yeah, I absolutely agree with you. We should tread carefully and get multiple sources.

Jim Harold (35:09):

How many of these cases are kind of a generational continuation? In other words, the murderer has been subjected to abuse and those kind of things, and that has led them to do what they do? Not that it’s justified, but it is part of a motive.

Richard Estep (35:31):

I mean, that does play into certain cases, but it’s also intriguing to me that you see instances in which one of, you’re dealing with siblings, and so they’re raised under equally abusive circumstances. One of the siblings becomes something monstrous and the other doesn’t. A good case in point, in which children had every opportunity to be this way was the Cromwell Street House of Horrors in England. Fred and Rose West, who I’m sure you’re very familiar with, they subjected their children to the most appalling physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. And yet those children grew up and struggled to have a productive life. Fred West’s son looked so like his father, and he was, I believe, a plumber, couldn’t find work because he would knock on the door and the customer would open the door and just be horrified because there is this vision. So I find it very interesting that in so many cases, if you would expect anyone to turn out much like the abuse of the parents, it would be those kids. And they went on to, I won’t say lead happy lives. They were haunted and tormented through no fault of their own, but they certainly did not go on to commit the atrocities their parents did. So I almost see these individuals as the perfect storm of circumstances, Jim, a number of factors have to align in order for these monstrous things to happen. And sometimes it stops short by just one or two things. Sometimes everything falls into place, unfortunately, and another tragedy takes place.

Jim Harold (37:06):

Was there a case that you weren’t aware of before you started this that blew you away? Kind of like, wow, it’s like this is extremely impactful.

Richard Estep (37:17):

There were several, and I’m just kind of perusing the contents list as a reminder as we go through, because I wrote the book a year ago. But in terms of being impactful, I think that the one that made me really sit up and take notice was the Parker and Hulme case, which if you saw the movie by Peter Jackson, I believe it was Heavenly Creatures or Beautiful Creatures, I forget which. But it was the one in which you had the two young girls in New Zealand who ended up murdering the mother of one of them because they were going to be split up, and they were living in this joint kind of fantasy world that they had created together. That was the Parker and (overlapping speech) Yeah, sorry, go ahead.

Jim Harold (37:57):

Yeah, no, no, no, go ahead. I mean, that is interesting. That is very, very interesting. Go ahead.

Richard Estep (38:04):

But what interested me more was in this particular case, they were split up afterwards. Of course, they went on to live completely separate lives, both of them moving to the UK, changing their identities. One of them went on to become a trainer of horses. And so for decades, kids would come and they would learn to ride horses at her stables, having not the slightest inkling of her background, who she was and what she’d done, it’s very easy in many of these cases to see the neat ending with a bow of the killer is thrown behind bars for life or is sent to the electric chair or takes their own life or whatever, or they rot in prison. But there are those cases in which they are actually out and about and they receive their freedom and they’re getting to be a little bit more common. I mean, another one that came up just recently was Gypsy Rose Blanchard is the name of everybody’s lip right now. She is in the book, that case is in the book. Although she didn’t actually wield the knife herself, it’s very clear that she massively enabled the murder that her then-boyfriend is still doing time for. So to see her on TV doing social media chats and Q and Qs right now, it’s almost surreal to me.

Jim Harold (39:24):

Yeah, that does seem very, very strange. Very strange. A case that always fascinated me, and this goes back to a TV mini series from the eighties or early nineties about Jeffrey McDonald, and he had been in the US military at a time when, I mean it was Vietnam-era, if I remember. So there were many people who had problems with the military and the US involvement in Vietnam. But many people, I would say that probably support the military was in some ways higher than in terms of if somebody was in the military, they were respected. And you got this young officer and his family ends up killed, if I remember correctly, and this is a very foggy memory, the idea was is that he kind of pinned on a Manson-like gang that killed his family. And that’s interesting too because here you have potentially someone who killed his whole family blaming another set of serial killers, which is like a very kind of meta thing. That McDonald case though, that always fascinated me. What did you find about that one? I know it’s been a year, but that’s one that stood out for me.

Richard Estep (40:41):

He’s the known as the Green Beret killer, right? I believe a doc with a Special Forces group. And so his whole story was essentially that he was asleep one night, and as you say, this Manson-esque group breaks into his house on base on a military base, they need access to a military base. They come in, they beat him, and then they go murder his entire family, but he survives. The thing that strikes me most about that story, Jim, is if you are said murderers, you kill the biggest threat to you. You deal with them first, but you deal with them most aggressively, right? Because you do not want this Green Beret trained special forces doctor at your back still alive when you’re going to murder the family. It makes no sense. The fact that his injuries, although serious, were not life-threatening, it was almost suspiciously so.


I do believe McDonald’s self-inflicted some of those injuries on himself. If you look at the wounds to him versus the wounds to his family members, there is no comparison at all. So he survived. He got, well, he stuck to this story, and I will say that he has always stuck to this story. And he pursued appeal after appeal, after appeal as high as possible. And he is now out of appeals. He cannot get released. I never found his story convincing at all. I just don’t understand how he expects people to believe he suffered such minimal injuries and was left for dead, and yet his family was so horrifically murdered in the same house by the same people.

Jim Harold (42:23):

And interestingly, the person who portrayed him in that TV movie was Gary Cole. Most people would probably know him from the movie Office Space. He was the boss in Office Space. He also played the Mike Brady character in the Brady Bunch movies, and I think now he’s on CSI. So he’s gone on to be in a lot of different vehicles. He’s a really good actor. But anyway, be that as it may. So in doing these books, how has it changed you and your thoughts about these killers? Did you go in with one set of perceptions and it came out the same at the other side, or has it evolved over time? Has it informed your philosophy about it, and Richard Estep’s thoughts on killers and murderers?

Richard Estep (43:11):

Certainly this book, when I look at the serial killer books, there’s no way you can remotely empathize with the people in those books. You are dealing with people who are fundamentally broken, who need to be locked up, who are not fixable. What struck me most when I was writing this book was how in a number of the cases, we keep coming back to anger, Jim. And I think that’s something we can all relate to, whether you are looking at the news, the state of the world, it’s so easy to get angry these days, I think far easier than it ever has been through various factors that we’re all aware of. Social media does it to us. The media does it to us. We are primed to become angrier people. And in these cases, I think a number of them, I’m not excusing anybody in this book, but anger flared up and it ended in tragedy. And it’s interesting, I was recently talking with, do you know Jeff Belanger?

Jim Harold (44:08):

Oh yeah, I know Jeff well, yes,

Richard Estep (44:11):

Wonderful guy, a wonderful author. And I was interviewing for a book, I’m writing about demons and one section of the, well, I’ve written it now, it’s in. But one section that I wanted to talk to Jeff about was this whole idea of the devil made me do it. This classic defense of I wasn’t myself, I was possessed. And Jeff, something very astute, and it does relate to this topic. He said, if you were to go to any federal penitentiary and talk to some of the people that are in there for these kind of crimes, before they did what they did, a lot of them were probably John and Joe, excuse me, John and Jane Q. Public. They were really no different than all of us, but that something flared up, the wrong set of circumstances, caught them at the wrong time, on the wrong day, and they exploded.


And he said, we’re not literally saying they were possessed, but the devil being anger, that fit for a couple of minutes, or maybe even just 30 seconds, something else was driving them. And we’re not talking about a literal demon, Jim, we’re talking about rage. We’re talking about being temporarily incited to the point where you are no longer the rational, thinking, kind, compassionate person that you are most of the time you are this monster, this animalistic expression of rage. And I saw that over and over again in this book, and it made me look at, I think anger is one of the biggest problems facing our species right now. Maybe the biggest because it’s at the heart of all of the bad decisions or almost all of the bad decisions I saw made in this book and that we see made on the grand stage in life.

Jim Harold (45:50):

And really, you kind of have, I mean more so than the average true crime writer other than maybe someone who has a law enforcement background. You kind of have a unique perch because as you had mentioned before, as a paramedic, you see the aftermath of some of these things, whether it’s full blown murder or if it’s something like beatings and those horrible kind of things. But you see it up close and personal. You’re not just reading about it in books. You see the real world results on this stuff.

Richard Estep (46:25):

Absolutely. And as I said, we see spikes in violence after major sporting games. We see them on holidays, go to any –  alcohol. Go to any emergency department on a Friday or a Saturday night. 50% of the people in that emergency department are there with alcohol as a factor. And I don’t mean that they’re intoxicated necessarily, but I mean that somebody got angry and decided to beat down on them in a bar, things of that nature. So yeah, I do see the aftermath of this. And unfortunately, far too many people are living and dealing with chronic rage related issues. (overlapping speech)

Jim Harold (47:04):

Go ahead. No, no, no, no. Go.

Richard Estep (47:07):

I’m going to say. And also many of them are suffering quietly. There may be no obvious signs. So I know we talked about this earlier, but seeking help if you feel like you’re threatened, there is an escalation from verbal abuse through emotional and psychological abuse, through physical abuse. And ultimately it can end in homicide. And the most tragic thing is not just about the homicides of adults, but when children who are absolutely blameless are also dragged in and are killed. It breaks your heart. It absolutely does. And you just wish something had been noticed and said to stop this before it happened.

Jim Harold (47:49):

Indeed, wise words, and we have it on the screen here, and for our audio listeners, if you’re in a domestic abuse situation and, add anything you want Richard, there are resources and one of them is, Also, the phone number is 1-800-799-SAFE 1-800-799-SAFE. Anything you’d like to add on that, Richard?

Richard Estep (48:15):

Just a couple of things. One is that I would absolutely agree with you, Jim, and also even if it’s somebody you know, encourage, give this information to them. Lastly, the final four pages of this book are all resources for those who are suffering violence. If you would like those resources, shoot me a message at and I will mail you that list of resources. Absolutely no cost or anything at all, but please think about getting help if you need it.

Jim Harold (48:44):

Indeed. I think those are wise words, and please do and use those resources. Richard, it’s been a pleasure. Congratulations on the new book, Family, Friends and Neighbors: Stories of Murder and Betrayal. Where can people get the book and more information about everything you do?

Richard Estep (49:03):

Well, the book is available at all the usual suspects, Barnes and Noble, brick and mortar bookstores around the world, can be purchased from online retailers as well. And if you want to say hi to me, reach out to me at or any of my social media platforms. You can find me on Twitter, Estepr, Instagram, Facebook, Richard Estep, author.

Jim Harold (49:24):

Excellent. Richard Estep, it’s always a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for joining us today on the Paranormal Podcast to talk about something, not Paranormal, but certainly frightening indeed. Thank you again.

Richard Estep (49:36):

Thank you, Jim. Talk to you soon,

Jim Harold (49:38):

And thank you for tuning into the Paranormal Podcast. We appreciate it. And remember, we also have the video version over on my YouTube channel at, and we would ask that you share the show. This is my original podcast, the one I started off with in 2005. And certainly while it’s a younger sibling, the Campfire has surpassed it in popularity. I still have a soft spot in my heart for this show, and I really believe we bring some good content, and I think maybe sometimes this show gets lost in the mix when you look at the fact there are so many interview paranormal shows out there these days. But I think this show is a cut above and we want to raise its profile. So please, if you enjoyed what we did today, share the show with a friend today. We’ll talk to you next time. Have a great week, everybody. Stay safe and stay spooky. Bye-Bye.

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