Taunja Bennett “Claudia” (unidentified victim) Cynthia Lynn (Rose) Wilcox Laurie Anne Pentland “Cindy” (unidentified victim) “Susanna” (unidentified victim) Angela Subrize Julie Winningham : “Keith Hunter Jesperson: The Happy Face Killer’s Reign of Terror (1955-1995)”

Death – Obituary – Accident and Crime News : Keith Hunter Jesperson, also known as the “Happy Face Killer,” terrorized multiple states between 1990 and 1995 with his brutal murders. Born on April 6, 1955, in British Columbia, Canada, Jesperson had a troubled upbringing. He was the middle child in his family and experienced abuse from his father, who would often hit him with a leather belt as a form of punishment.

Growing up in Chilliwack, Canada, Jesperson was larger than his classmates and became the target of bullying. He was taunted with names like “Monster Man” and “Igor,” which likely contributed to his violent tendencies. As a child, Jesperson displayed cruelty towards animals, killing cats and snakes and inflicting pain on creatures like deer, rabbits, and coyotes under the guise of hunting.

Jesperson’s first victim was Taunja Bennett, a 23-year-old developmentally disabled woman whom he met while out drinking. He convinced her to go to his house, where he assaulted, beat, and ultimately strangled her. This murder marked the beginning of Jesperson’s killing spree.

Over the next few years, Jesperson continued to target vulnerable individuals, including sex workers and short-term acquaintances. He would rape and strangle his victims, leaving their bodies in various locations across Oregon, California, Florida, Nebraska, and Washington. Jesperson’s criminal activities extended beyond murder, as his history included instances of animal cruelty, arson, and sexual assault.

Jesperson gained notoriety for his anonymous confessions, which he would leave in messages containing smiley faces. This led to his nickname, the “Happy Face Killer.” In addition to these confessions, Jesperson would share details of his crimes on restroom walls and send anonymous letters to newspapers, signed with smiley faces as well.

Eventually, Jesperson was apprehended after the discovery of his last victim, Julie Winningham, who happened to be his girlfriend at the time. He attempted suicide but ended up confessing to her murder. In a letter to his brother, he admitted to being a killer for five years and claimed responsibility for eight murders.

Jesperson received multiple life sentences for his crimes but was spared the death penalty. He currently resides in the Oregon State Penitentiary, where he spends his time creating artwork. Some of his pieces have even been featured on “murderabilia” websites.

The story of Keith Hunter Jesperson has been the subject of various books and films. A television movie titled “Happy Face Killer,” starring David Arquette as Jesperson, aired in 2014. Several books, including “I: The Creation of a Serial Killer” by Jack Olsen and “Dangerous Ground: My Friendship with a Serial Killer” by M. William Phelps, have delved into Jesperson’s life and crimes. Additionally, Melissa G. Moore, Jesperson’s older daughter, has written “Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter” and explored her father’s actions in the podcast “Happy Face.”

Keith Hunter Jesperson’s reign of terror may have ended, but his heinous crimes and the impact they had on his victims and their families continue to haunt the memories of many.

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