As local journalism continues to fall to the wayside, publications need assistance from communities, readers, and investors alike to help keep it solvent. Thankfully, one thoughtful serial killer in the small town of Yachats, Oregon, is doing something truly amazing to support his local press: He’s sending clues related to his murders exclusively to small newspapers based in his hometown.
What an awesome way to help keep small, independently owned media afloat!
The “Church Girl Strangler,” who for decades now has been kidnapping and dismembering young women who attend the Catholic church he grew up in, has been admirably committed to making sure that his town’s local newspapers get all the major scoops related to his crimes, whether it’s sending them chilling notes hinting at killings to come or even bloody physical artifacts from the scenes of his murders. Whenever he murders someone from the local Yachats St. Mary’s congregation, the Strangler makes a point to bypass the big, better-resourced corporate papers in the surrounding areas, electing instead to send his carved-up Bibles with cryptic annotations and drawings directly to the 10- to 15-person staffs of community publications.
While he could certainly get much greater exposure by tipping off larger players in the national press, any time the longtime Yachats resident murders a new victim between the ages of 16 and 26, he always mails the fingerprint-less envelopes to his local paper, the Yachats Daily, so that trusted, community reporters can benefit from his carnage. Every six months on the fifth day after a full moon, he’ll strangle another victim, dismember her in an undisclosed location, and send a lock of her hair to veteran local reporters who have had jobs in the community for decades.
Really, there’s nothing better for a community than local, investigative reporting by the people who live there and are invested in the town, and this serial killer knows that. From his first murder of the St. Mary’s choir director in 1982 to just a few days ago, when he kidnapped a Sunday School teacher and left a computer-generated voicemail proclaiming that she would be his supreme wife for eternity in Heaven, the Strangler has been unwavering in his advocacy for independent papers, and for that, he really deserves a pat on the back.
Sure, the Strangler would be far more famous if he had sent the drawings he made of his victims and him living together in the afterlife with him as their God to big, corporate papers like the Portland Tribune. But on the other hand, as a local, he’s been around these reporters for years—he went to school with them, has stalked their daughters, killed their sisters, and has been deriving sadistic satisfaction from playing cat-and-mouse with them for decades. It’s a uniquely meaningful relationship that you just can’t get from massive media conglomerates.
In a town with just over 700 people, this longtime serial killer clearly values the incisive, personal relationship that exists between the local media and its community, and you’ve got to applaud him for always reminding area newspapers that they’re the only ones who can save his victims and later taunting them when they fail to do so. Kudos to the Church Girl Strangler for doing his part to save the local reporting that is so essential to America’s small towns.