Richard Trenton Chase became known as “The Vampire Killer of Sacramento” because he would drink the blood of his victims and practiced cannibalism with their body parts. Six known victims were claimed by Chase.
Chase was born on May 23, 1950 in Sacramento, California. As a child he was known to set fires, wet the bed, and torture animals. Once he became older, he started drinking and using drugs, mostly smoking marijuana and using LSD. He was in and out of mental institutions during much of his life. He developed hypochondria from his drug and alcohol abuse which caused him to tell doctors that his pulmonary artery had been stolen, his heart would stop beating, and he claimed that his blood was turning to powder.
When he was 21, he lived on his own in an apartment. His roommates became fed up with his behavior and decided to move out, and he eventually had to return home. He didn’t stay long because his father put up rent for a new apartment. He had no social life and no girlfriends. Chase spent time capturing and killing animals, and then eating them raw or blended up.
In 1976, he was hospitalized for blood poisoning after injecting himself with the blood from a rabbit he killed. Many patients and nurses were frightened by him and referred to him as Dracula. He was frequently found with blood smeared on his face which he claimed was from cutting himself shaving. However, he was actually biting the heads off birds and sucking their blood. Once he began taking medication, he was released.
A year later, Chase was found in a field near Lake Tahoe, Nevada. He was naked and covered in cow’s blood. The incident was reported but nothing else was done. Only a few short months later, Chase shot and killed Ambrose Griffin. The event was a drive-by, according to the FBI. Chase was not identified at first as the shooter.
His next victim, Terry Wallin, was the 22 year-old pregnant wife of David Wallin. She was found by her husband when he arrived home from work, disemboweled and drained of her blood. It appeared that Chase had collected her blood into a yogurt cup to drink it. Again, Chase was not identified as the savage killer. An investigation began and other incidents were discovered, such as the burglary of a house nearby where the disemboweled remains of a dog were found.
The FBI developed a profile for the suspect based on the evidence; it was a perfect match for Chase. The FBI asked for any information leading to his capture but it wasn’t long before another murder was committed. A neighbor entered the home of Evelyn Miroth, only to find a massacre. Not only was 36 year-old Evelyn found dead, but her 6 year-old son Jason and family friend Daniel Meredith were also found dead. Evelyn’s 22 month old nephew, Michael Ferreira was also missing from the home. The playpen where Michael would normally be found was covered in blood and contained a pillow with a bullet hole, so it was assumed he was also killed and the suspect took the body with him when he left.
A significant lead for the police came from a woman in her 20s who mentioned that she ran into a man she had gone to high school with and he approached her car. She noticed that his eyes were sunken, he was extremely thin, and he had blood stains on his sweatshirt. She identified him as Richard Trenton Chase. The police discovered that he resided within a mile of most of the murder sites. After staking out his apartment, police took Chase into custody. He was forcefully detained and a gun found in evidence was linked back to all of the murders. Authorities also discovered a 12-inch butcher knife, rubber boots, animal collars, three blenders containing blood, and several dishes inside the refrigerator containing body parts. A calendar was even found in his apartment containing the word “today” marked on the dates of the Wallin and Miroth murders. A mummified, decapitated, baby was then found later in a box outside of a vacant lot. It was determined to be the nephew of Evelyn Miroth.
The trials began in 1979, and Chase pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. However, he was deemed legally sane at the time he committed the crimes and was found guilty on all six murder counts. During an interview, Chase admitted to walking the streets checking to see if doors were unlocked. He stated that, “if the door was locked that meant you weren’t welcome.”
Following his conviction, he began receiving medication. Instead of actually taking the medication, he stockpiled it until he had enough to commit suicide. He was found dead in his cell in December 1979.