Richard Chase “The Vampire of Sacramento”

Over the years stories of vampires have been told to generations, from the original vampire story of Dracula from the 1897 gothic novel by Bram Stoker to the more modern and tongue in cheek stories like the twilight saga or the vampire diaries. In the latter stories the vampires are told as sexy and romantic old souls, and for a time they became sparkly in sunlight, which was weird and for some reason as I recall now just gross, vampires stayed as Lost Boys for me. There’s nothing sexy, romantic or sparkly about this, the case of Richard Trenton Chase AKA “The Vampire of Sacramento”.

Chase was born on 23rd May 1950 in Santa Clara, California. He was raised in a strict and abusive household where he was beaten often by his father. By the age of 10, Chase had started displaying signs of future violent tendencies including bed wetting, starting small nuisance fires and cruelty to animals.

Through high school Chase had a handful of girlfriends, but he had difficulty maintaining any romantic relationships due to his inability to achieve erection and his inability to become aroused around women in a conventional sense. Case sought psychiatric help for this issue, and he was told that the root of his issue was either repressed rage or mental illness. Chase did not seek any further help or information after this diagnosis, after his arrest it was determined that he could only achieve arousal and orgasm in violent or disturbing situations, such as killing animals or necrophilia.

After moving back in with his mother in adulthood Chase developed hypochondria, he would complain that his heart would “occasionally stop beating” or that “someone has stolen his pulmonary artery”. This condition caused him act strangely based on his beliefs about his health such as holding oranges on his head because he believed that Vitamin C would be absorbed by his brain through diffusion, he believed that his cranial bones had become separated and were moving around, so he shaved his head so he could “watch his activity”, the final straw in his deteriorating mental health came when he repeatedly accused his mother of poisoning him, because of this his father forced him to move out.

Chase rented an apartment with friends, but they would often complain about his excessive drug use saying he was constantly high on marijuana and LSD as well as excessively drinking, while intoxicated he would walk around the apartment nude even in front of company, so eventually his roommates demanded that he move out, when he refused they moved out instead leaving Chase in the apartment on his own.

Now that he had the apartment to himself Chase began to capture, kill, disembowel animals, which he would then eat raw. He would mix the raw organs with Coca-Cola in a blender and drink the mixture, he believed that when he drank these “smoothies” I guess you’d have to call them that they were preventing his heart from shrinking, he feared that if his heart shrank too much it would disappear, and he would die.

The blender Chase would use to make his “smoothies”

In 1975 Chase was involuntarily committed to a mental institution after being rushed to hospital with blood poisoning, he had tried to inject rabbit’s blood into his veins. He escaped from the hospital and went to his mother, he was quickly caught and sent to an institution for the criminally insane. Chase shared his fantasies of killing rabbits with staff and was once found with blood smeared around his mouth on one occasion, it was revealed that he had captured two birds through the window of his room, snapped their necks and sucked their blood out, after this incident staff gave him the nickname Dracula. There was also another incident involving his fixation on blood, it was found out that Chase had stolen some syringes and had been extracting blood from the institution’s therapy dogs.

Chase was diagnosed by staff at the institution as paranoid schizophrenic, he underwent several treatments involving psychotropic drugs, after treatment he was no longer deemed a danger to society and released to his mother’s custody in 1976.

While living with his parents again his mother decided that he did not need his medication and started to wean him off it. His parents got him another apartment, he did initially have roommates, but just like the last time he drove them to move out with his strange behaviour. While living alone he again began to capture, torture to death and drink the blood of rabbits, dogs, cats. On occasion he would kill his neighbour’s pets, he even once contacted the neighbour to explain what he had done to their pet.

Around this time, he developed a fascination with firearms, he purchased several handguns and practiced with them obsessively. Chase also started to read the case of the Hillside Strangler, he became obsessed that the strangler was a victim of a Nazi/UFO conspiracy that he was also a victim of. As these obsessions worsened Chase began to lose interest in taking care of himself, he neglected his personal hygiene, he wouldn’t bathe or brush his teeth, he stopped eating and dropped to 145 lb (10st 3lb).

In 1977 just before Chase’s murder spree he went to his mother’s house, when she opened the door to him he thrust a dead cat in her face, threw it to the ground, knelt down next to it and began to rip open the cat’s stomach with his bare hands, he proceeded to put his hands inside the cat and smear the blood all over his face while he screamed at her. His mother calmly closed the door on Chase and did not report the incident to anyone.

On 3rd August 1977, Nevada state police found Chase’s Ford ranchero lodged in a sand drift near Pyramid Lake, Nevada. In the car they found two rifles, a pile of clothes, a bucket full of blood and a cow’s liver, the officers managed to track Chase down, he was found naked and covered in blood from head to toe while he was screaming in the sand. When questioned Chase claimed that the blood was his own and it had leaked out of him through his flesh.

On 29th December 1977 Chase took his first human victim, 51-year-old engineer and father of two Ambrose Griffin, he was helping his wife bring in the shopping when he was killed in a drive-by shooting by Chase. One of Griffin’s sons reported after his father’s shooting that he had witnessed one of the neighbours walking around their neighbourhood in East Sacramento with a .22 rifle earlier in the week, the police seized the rifle, but the ballistics test determined that it was not the murder weapon. The gun Chase had used had however been linked to another incident from two days earlier where a woman reported that a bullet had been shot through her kitchen window. This incident was Chase “training” with his gun, it is speculated that he accidentally shot through the window, and nearly hitting a person “woke something” in him.

On 11th January 1978 Chase attacked a local woman he had been in high school with named Nancy Holden, he asked her for a cigarette then forcibly restrained her until she gave him the entire pack.

Two weeks later Chase attempted to enter the home of another woman, he walked away from this as she had locked her doors, Chase told detectives after his arrest that he took locked doors as a sign that he was not welcome at the property, but unlocked doors were an invitation to come inside. He was caught in another incident after breaking in to the home of a couple, they came home and found him stealing their belongings, so they chased him away, they found once he’d gone that he had also urinated and defecated on their child’s bed and clothing.

Chase continued to try and enter several homes until he came across the home of David and Teresa Wallin, David was at work while a three month pregnant Teresa was taking out the garbage, thus leaving her door unlocked, Chase snuck into the home and surprised her, he shot her three times, once in the hand as she raised it to defend herself and twice in the head. Once she was dead Chase dragged her body into the bedroom and raped her post-mortem, he repeatedly stabbed the body with a butcher knife while he raped her. When he’d finished, he carved open her body and removed several of her internal organs, he used a bucket to collect her blood and bathed in it. He also sliced off her nipple and drank her blood using an empty yoghurt container as a drinking glass, before he left the property he went out to the yard and found a pile of dog faeces, he then stuck the faeces in her mouth and throat.

On 23rd January 1978, two days after he killed Wallin, Chase bought two puppies from his neighbour, he then killed the puppies and drank their blood, and left the bodies on his neighbour’s lawn.

Four days later, on 27th January 1978 Chase committed his final murders, he entered the home of 38two-year-old Evelyn Miroth, she was babysitting her 22-month old nephew David, Miroth’s 6-year-old son Jason was also in the house along with a visiting neighbour Dan Meredith. Miroth was in the bath while Meredith watched the children, Meredith went into the hallway when he was met with Chase entering the home, Chase shot him at point blank range with the .22 handgun that had been used in the other murders, Meredith died instantly. Chase then stole Meredith’s wallet and car keys. 6-year-old Jason heard the shots and ran into his mother’s bedroom, Chase followed and shot him twice in the head at point blank range, while he followed Jason, he also encountered 22-month old David who he also shot in the head and killed.

Chase entered the bathroom and shot Miroth once in the head, he dragged her body into the bedroom and laid her on the bed, he proceeded to sodomise her body and drink her blood through a series of slices to the back of her neck. Medical examiners noted finding an inordinate amount of semen in her rectum, this indicated that there was an “unusual amount” of ejaculations.

After he had finished raping Miroth’s corpse he stabbed her at least six times in the anus, stabbed her with such brutality that the knife penetrated her uterus. Chase made sure to stab her in vital points of the body so the blood from her internal organs would spoil in her abdomen, he then sliced the abdomen open and drained the blood in to a bucket and consumed all of it. He turned his attention to David, he retrieved his corpse and took it to the bathroom to split the skull open, he pulled out some of his brain matter and ate it.

The sole print Chase left in Miroth’s blood

It was at this point that a neighbour had knocked on the door, it was a 6-year-old girl knocking for a playdate with Jason Miroth, this startled Chase, so he fled the residence in Meredith’s car and took David’s body home with him. The girl meanwhile alerted a neighbour to the car speeding from the house and the neighbour broke in to the property and alerted the police to the discovery of the bodies. When the authorities arrived, they found that Chase had left s perfect handprint and sole print in Miroth’s blood.

After leaving the property Chase continued with David’s corpse at his apartment, he chopped off David’s penis and used it as a straw to suck the blood out of the body, he then sliced the corpse open and ate several of his internal organs, making smoothies out of some of them, he then disposed of the body at a nearby church.

The FBI got involved in the investigation after the Wallin murder, agents Russ Vorpagel and Robert Ressler were the ones investigating and building a profile of the killer they profiled that the killer would be tall, malnourished, a loner, physically unclean and that he was the type of killer that could not or would not stop until caught.

Five days after the mass murder in the Miroth house, Nancy Holden heard the profile that the FBI released and immediately recognised the killer as Chase, she contacted the FBI and gave the name Richard Chase. A background check was run on Chase and found his registration of a .22 calibre semi-automatic pistol.  A team of officers went to Chase’s apartment and asked to speak to him, Chase refused, so the officers waited in the hallway for Chase to leave his apartment. He was eventually arrested when he left his apartment carrying a bloodstained box, he was also wearing a parka and shoes that were bloodstained. They searched inside and found shredded and bloodstained wallpaper, and the .22 calibre he used for the murders also covered in blood, Chase tried to claim that the blood on the wallpaper and gun were from killing dogs, a search of Chase’s person revealed that he was still carrying Dan Meredith’s wallet.

After the arrest a full search was conducted by detectives along with Ressler and Vorpagel, they found blood all over the apartment on the walls, ceiling, in the refrigerator and all over the cooking, eating and drinking utensils, they found his blender that he used for the “smoothies” caked in coagulated blood and rotting matter from internal organs. They opened the refrigerator and inside Chase had been keeping David’s brain in a Tupperware container, pieces of his body wrapped in cling film, several animal body parts, and several of Miroth and Wallin’s internal organs. Along his kitchen counters there was a collection of pet collars and on the kitchen table, he had spread several different diagrams showing the various aspects of human biology.

Chase when he appeared in court

Chase stood trial in 1979 facing six counts of murder, his defence tried to have the charges dropped to second degree murder in order to avoid the death penalty, with second degree murder Chase would have been given a life sentence instead. They relied on Chase’s history of mental health, with that it shows his mental state made it difficult for him to plan a crime, therefore the murders were not premeditated a big part of a first-degree murder charge resulting in the death penalty.

Chase was found guilty of six counts of first-degree murder on 8th May 1979, his defence asked for some clemency in the sentencing, which resulted in the judge determining that Chase was not legally insane, as he was fully aware of what was going on around him and understood what’s right and wrong. He was sentenced to die via gas chamber.

While Chase sat in the notorious San Quentin State Prison on death row other inmates learned of his crimes and how gruesome the acts were, they began to fear him. According to prison staff several inmates would try and convince Chase to kill himself, as they were too frightened to try and kill him themselves.

His mental health didn’t seem to improve while he was in prison, he still spoke of his delusions about the Nazis and UFOs, he told one of the agents that profiled him Robert Ressler in series of interviews that the murders weren’t his fault, that he had been forced to kill to save himself, believing any other person would do the same, he asked for access to a radar gun so he could apprehend the Nazi UFOs, and they could stand trial for the murders. He closed the interview by handing Ressler a large amount of macaroni and cheese from his pants pockets, he said that prison officials were trying to poison him as they were in league with the Nazi UFOs.

Chase was found in his cell on 26th December 1980, a guard doing cell checks found him lying awkwardly on his bed and unresponsive. An autopsy was performed, and it showed that Chase had committed suicide with an overdose of antidepressants that he had been prescribed by the prison doctor, he had been saving up his pills for weeks leading up to his suicide.

This case is one of the more bizarre ones that you’ll come across, it’s clear that the main reason or motivation in Chase’s crimes was his mental health, he was suffering from severe delusions for most of his life that led him to intensely believe that the things he was doing needed to be done, the need to kill was something that became a compulsion, aggravated further by his excessive abuse of hallucinogenic drugs, cannabis and alcohol in his teens. This led him to genuinely believe he would die if he didn’t do these things. The medication seemed to have subdued his delusions somewhat, enough to be released in the eyes of the institution anyway, but I think him being weaned off the medications and the drug abuse was too much for his already chaotic brain and it led to a break and an escalation in his violence. The argument that the murders weren’t premeditated relied heavily on his mental health, it made him kill as I said, but the killing itself was premeditated, the victims were not, he didn’t plan a murder in the sense he picked a victim and stalked them to find the perfect opportunity to strike unnoticed, he would just try and find a victim at random, but the evidence of the human biology diagrams placed out to study show he had intent to learn further how to dissect human bodies and continue killing at random.

Despite his gruesome interests he doesn’t display any signs of sadism toward a living victim, all the victims were shot with the intent to kill instantly, there was no suffering or torture, he just wanted them dead for their bodies, This isn’t to say that Chase wasn’t a sadist you can see from the way he treated some of the corpses that he was, what he did to Wallin’s corpse shows this because he wanted whoever found her to be tortured by the state he left her in, he wasn’t content with the violence he had already inflicted he decided to humiliate her as well, this wasn’t necessarily about the victim it was about inflicting the most shock or trauma he possibly could giving him an extra thrill, this is why he would do things like tell his neighbours he’d killed their pets or show the neighbours dead puppies, the fear and trauma these things inflict on people was just as much of a disturbing sexual thrill as having sex with a dead body.

I feel I should mention his sexual interest in dead bodies, Chase was a necrophile, this was not a result of just his mental health issues, as the psychologist he spoke to about his sexual problems diagnosed it could have been repressed rage or mental illness, with his mental problems as well it’s easy to forget that he was physically abused as a child and this can cause repressed rage as the victim of abuse is too frightened to stand up to their abuser it manifests later on in life into rage that can’t be healthily expressed. Like any person who has been abused Chase would have felt like he had no control, especially as he relied on his mother and father more because of his problems. The repressed rage coupled with the mental illness and violent delusions made him crave complete control in some aspect of his life, so it came out in the sexual aspect of his life he was sexually attracted to dead bodies because there is nothing more submissive than a victim that can’t fight back because they’re already dead.

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