Thursday, August 30, 2007

Jason Moss "The Last Victim" (1999).

Yesterday I mentioned a book by Jason Moss called The Last Victim: A True Life Journey Into the Mind of a Serial Killer. After completing high school, the author decided that he wanted to make contact with serial killers. He wanted to write a college honors thesis about his experiences, and eventually work as a criminal profiler for the FBI. His first target was "The Clown Killer", John Wayne Gacy. For those of you who don't know the story- Gacy raped, tortured, killed, and buried in his basement 33 young men. The Chicago native had owned a construction business and was well known in his community. Moss decided to read all the available material on Gacy and send a letter to him on death row.

In order to get Gacy to "open up", the eighteen-year-old Moss developed an alter ego. He posed as an abused, lonely, sexually confused youth... just the kind of boy that the killer whould have chosen as a potential victim. As the letter exchange continued, Gacy became more controlling and eventually began to prod Moss to initiate an incestuos sexual relationship with his younger brother. Despite the growing concerns his family members had about his obsession, Moss proceeded to write a second set of letters under the assumed identity of his younger sibling. His letters were constructed in a way that would convince his pen pal that he had indeed started such experimentation. He justified this decision to himself with the idea that it would hook Gacy for the long haul, and lead him to make significant revelations.

As time went on the unlikely pair exhibited more intimacy in their respective letters, and soon Gacy was calling Moss' personal telephone line at home. Gacy sent checks for the calls, and several of his paintings, in order to seduce his final prey. When Spring Break came around, Moss was invited to visit the the death row cell block in Illinois at the prisoner's expense. While his family was suspicious of Gacy's motives, Moss considered this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and accepted the offer. He flew to the prison by himself, and was welcomed by Gacy's nephew. The agreement was that Moss would stay at a hotel for three days on Gacy's dime, and visit the inmate for several hours each day. The young investigator thought that he would get crucial insights into the the killler's methods, and indeed he got more than he bargained for. In fact he was lucky to get out of the visit intact.

Moss didn't limit his pursuit to Gacy. Simultaneous to his budding relationship with "The Killer Clown", he also established contact with Charles Manson, Richard Ramirez, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Henry Lee Lucas. In each instance he varied his approach based upon his reading of each of their criminal profiles. Manson sent a series of enigmatic notes and poems, and actually forwarded a suggested reading list. Dahmer asked for photos of Moss in compromising positions. The interaction with Lucas was the result of an invitation Moss received to interview him in Texas before his execution. The prolific murderer graced the occasion with a list of tips for the would-be serial killer. But Ramirez was the most cooperative of the bunch. Moss told him that he was the head of a Black Magick cult in Las Vegas, and "The Night Stalker" bought it hook, line and sinker. It wasn't long before Moss was extended the invitation to join Ramirez' Satanic Friends Network.

It's quite clear from the book that this peculiar project caused the youthful Moss much psychic pain. In the beginning of his quest he had a hugely inflated assessment of his own ability to deceive and manipulate these sociopaths. Under "normal" conditions, this type of naive hubris usually elicits mild corrections that contribute to one's emotional growth. In the adventures of Jason Moss, the stakes were much higher. He wasn't dealing with anything conventional society would describe as normal. Moss had been sheltered by his family and surroundings, and he was armed mostly just with his innate curiosity and a nascent ability to bullshit others. He was challenging a subset of society that had resisted all efforts to control them. Although he escaped the clutches of John Wayne Gacy, his audacity had serious consequences. On 6/6/06 (a date with obvious occult implications), Moss shot and killed himself.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your review of The Last Victim and thought you'd be interested the film, based on the book, comes out early next year.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i read book about 5years ago when i was bed bound for a couple of weeks....moss really got me think about his own dark thoughts and at one point i was wondering who was having these thoughts..him or me!!he crossed lines that we tend to hang back from because you don't know if you can come back,he show's us that in the case of these men if they can be call men that their is always a trigger point in their lives that sets them on the road to darkness...i wonder if this book was his trigger point....

3:55 AM  
Blogger duke4172 said...

Does anyone know where Jason Moss is buried?

12:53 PM  

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