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Evil Lives Here profiles The Happy Face Killer: Keith Jefferson is confirmed to have killed 8 women, he claims many more

Mugshot of Keith Jesperson
Keith Jesperson, aka The Happy Face Killer, murdered eight women. Pic credit: Riverside County Sheriff’s Office

Keith Jesperson was a Canadian born American serial killer, who became known as the Happy Face Killer because of the smiley faces that he drew on his letters to the media.

He murdered at least eight women between 1990 and 1995 in six states throughout the US. His job as a long truck haul driver enabled him to select victims over a wide area. His victims were mostly sex workers or homeless.

Jesperson’s first known murder was Taunja Bennett, who he raped and strangled in January 1990. At the time, a couple was wrongly convicted for this murder, which angered the killer. He began writing letters to the media and police, annoyed that he wasn’t getting the attention he felt he deserved.

He wrote to the Oregonian newspaper claiming responsibility for multiple murders.

His calling card became the smiley face which he would leave wherever he could, most commonly on bathroom stalls at truck stops. He often sent them to the police to taunt them.

Police arrested Jesperson in 1995 for the murder of his girlfriend, Julie Ann Winningham. Eyewitnesses in the case had given police his description.

Keith Jesperson liked to boast about his murders

It was while he was in jail that he began talking to his lawyer about the previous killings.

Talking about his victims, he once stated, “It was their fate to die by my hands, like a car accident or illness.”

He is serving three consecutive life sentences at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem and has claimed to have killed as many as 185 people, but only eight were ever confirmed.

The daughter of Jesperson, Melissa Moore, has spoken openly of her horror at discovering as a teenage girl that her father was a serial killer. She has written a book about growing up with the murderer who she said could at times be kind and doting.

More from Evil Lives Here

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on Evil Lives Here.

Jack Spillman, Aka the Werewolf Butcher, was convicted of murdering a mother and daughter in 1995, and a young girl in 1994 in Washington State.

He got the nickname due to the ferocity with which he attacked his victims. He once told his cellmate he wanted to be the “world’s greatest serial killer,” thankfully he failed in this endeavor.

Timothy Spencer, aka The Southside Slayer, embarked on a crime spree in the 1980s when he raped and murdered at least five women in Arlington County, Virginia. He is known as the first killer charged and convicted using DNA evidence.

Watch The Happy Face Killer: Evil Lives Here on Monday, April 13, at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.


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