Just weeks after serial killer Todd Kohlhepp wrote to a South Carolina newspaper about how there may be more victims of his crimes, he is back in the news again. This time, it’s because of a piece of “murderabilia.”
The Disturbing Allure of Murderabilia
There has long been a market for items created by or owned by criminals, especially serial killers. Supernaught.com is a web site that specializes in the sale of such items. The more infamous the serial killer, the more an item may cost.
A cursory look at the site reveals items like a signed court photo of the “Night Stalker,” Richard Ramirez, on sale for $225.00; a painting by John Wayne Gacy that’s on sale for $3,900; and Charles Manson’s prison dentures that are listed for $100,000.
In December, a signed hand tracing by Todd Kohlhepp appeared on the web site, selling for $89.00. The item was taken down on December 28 once a newspaper inquired after it. While it wasn’t a high-end item, it did cause a bit of controversy.
“Son of Sam” Laws
When another serial killer, the “Son of Sam,” David Berkowitz, was first caught, rumors flooded in that film studios and book publishers were going to offer him huge sums of money for the rights to his story.
The State of New York responded quickly, passing a law that prevents criminals from making money on their crimes. Many other states passed similar laws despite questions regarding their constitutional legality.
Authorities in South Carolina are now investigating how Todd Kohlhepp’s signed hand tracing came into the possession of Supernaught.com. According to South Carolina law, prison inmates cannot profit from their crimes.
If a company wants to enter into a contract with an inmate, the offender is required to notify the Attorney General’s Office and the State Office of Victim Assistance. Any profits must then go to these two offices.
If victims discover that an inmate is illegally profiting from their crimes, they can bring a civil lawsuit against the offender. Offenders and their representatives who fail to notify authorities of any contracts may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
So how did the sketch get on Supernaught.com? Did the site purchase it secondhand or does it have an illegal deal with Kohlhepp? The investigation continues.