The morning of June 23, 1990 started out perfectly normal at a McDonald’s in Bellevue, Washington — until an employee went to take out the trash.
Lying incongruously near a pile of sweepings was a nude deceased woman. Although investigators saw no visible gunshot or stab wounds, they noticed something unusual – the victim’s body was deliberately posed.
“Somebody had taken quite some time staging the body. I had noticed there was a large size coffee cup lid covering her right eye. One foot was crossed over the other and her hands were folded over her stomach and they were holding a pine cone,” Detective John Hansen told the press.
The police knew they had a sadistic necrophile on their hands. What they did not expect was that they were facing a serial killer with one of the most distinctive methods of operation in history – George Russell.
On August 9, 1990, seven weeks after the first murder, a 13-year-old girl realized her mom hadn’t woken up for work yet. When she went to check on her, she walked into Russell’s second murder scene.
The victim was carefully positioned in an open display on top of her bed. She was naked, except for a pair of red and white high-heeled shoes on her feet. The victim’s legs were completely splayed and her exposed groin was facing the doorway of her bedroom. Inserted well up into her vagina was the barrel of a rifle that the victim kept under her bed, with its stock resting across her shoes.
This time, Russell slashed his victim’s ear and left 13 distinctive Y shapes on her body. She had been bitten and kicked with such ferocity that two broken ribs penetrated the chest cavity. Her head was bound in a plastic dry-cleaning bag.
Just as the investigators thought they were making progress investigating the first two murders, Russell claimed another victim.
Once again, the “Charmer” took his time to pose the victim. Her legs were spread and an electronic dildo was inserted in her mouth, with the book More Joy of Sex cradled in her left arm.
The victim’s spread-legged body was stabbed and covered from the scalp to the bottom of her feet with 231 small knife wounds, some in patterns.
According to Dr. Robert D. Keppel, the victims “were posed in sexually degrading positions: naked, arms spread or folded over as if in deliberate repose, holding or supporting items that revealed the killer’s attitude toward them, and legs deliberately spread.”
“The killer obviously received an intense sexual thrill from manipulating the victims’ bodies so as to demonstrate their vulnerability after death. These bodies belonged to him. As part of the pose, only items that the killer found at the crime scene were incorporated into the victim’s portraits—the crime shots that he knew would be taken by police photographers. He did this consistently in all three murders,” Keppel said.
Two weeks after the third attack, Russell was arrested while trying to break into the residence of his fourth intended victim Robyn Oldenburg.
In November 1991, the “Charmer” was found guilty of all three murders and sentenced to two life imprisonment terms plus 28 years.
Despite the conviction, in one of his phone interviews, Russell continued denying his guilt and told the press that much of the evidence against him was circumstantial and he had alibis.
“Supposedly I’m a Ted Bundy fan. I had books on him, but as far as a fan, no!” Russell told Seattle Post-Intelligencer.