11 months ago
One Australian woman is seeking pen pals—preferably the kind that have write her back with death threats.
Amanda Howard has been writing to serial killers for more than 20 years. She says her work is for a good cause, to help solve crimes, but it’s a calling that comes at a price.
Howard first became fascinated by serial killers back in 1989 in Australia, when a man started killing elderly women in Sydney’s North Shore suburbs. The killer was later identified as a 57-year-old pie salesman, John Wayne Glover.
“It just showed how normal these people are, it was quite shocking. I was hooked,” Ms Howard told news.com.au.
But it was four years later, when Ivan Milat’s backpacker murders became public, that Howard started delving into the minds of serial killers. Howard and Milat had lived close enough to see each other’s houses from their own, so he became one of the crusader’s first contacts.
“I would have bumped into him at the shopping centre and not even known,” Howard told news.com.au. “When it’s someone local and you can see the cop cars out the front, that creates that link. You go down that rabbit hole.”
Since then, Howard has been writing to serial killers to try to get into their minds and discover what makes them tick. She uses this as research for her true crime novels. Her first book was published in 2004, with her most recent, Rope, published last year.
Howard has approximately 55 serial killers on her mailing list, varying in age and notoriety. Many are from the United States but others come from Australia and England. She claims to receive about 40 letters a week from across the globe.
She says all the killers play games. One of the murderers, “Toolbox Killer” Roy Norris, threatened to put an ice pick in her ear — the m.o. he and his partner had used to dispatch their victims. Some of the letters also get grossly pornographic. “They all can switch on the charm and switch it back off,” said Howard.
Watch the 2014 Studio 10 interview with Amanda Howard below.