Episode 6: The Trinity Murders

Scott Christopher Nelson -Richard Stephenson

Scott Christopher Nelson and Richard David Stephenson (Source: cncpunishment.com)

Episode 6 of Crime Historian: the Podcast is a full length episode that tells the story of the Trinity Murders, named for the school the victims attended. Scott Christopher Nelson and Richard David Stephenson, two high school juniors, were kidnapped, raped, and murdered on their way to a high school football game in 1984. This happened in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky and has haunted me ever since I first heard the story.

Little did the boys know, they would not reach their destination. When they got lost and stopped to ask for directions, they were taken advantage of by Victor Taylor and George Wade who forced them to drive to an abandoned parking lot. They would not make it out of that situation alive, and now one perpetrator is serving life in prison while the other awaits a death sentence.

Head on over and listen to episode 6 here: https://soundcloud.com/user-293072616/episode-6-trinity-murders or on your favorite podcast app.

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Serial murder: more common than you think?

how much more common is serial murder than believed_What true crime buffs already know

Let’s review, class. According to a 2014 article, serial killings account for no more than 1 percent of US murders. Since there are approximately 15,000 murders annually, that leaves the amount of serial murders at about 150 per year. It also mentions the FBI believes there are between 25-50 serial killers operating in the US at any given time. Not exactly news, right?

With articles floating around with titles like “Are American serial killers a dying breed?” and “The Decline in Serial Killers“, it’s clear that the consensus is that serial murder is not as common as it used to be.

Author Peter Vronsky, an investigative historian, is quoted in a Guardian article as saying that “it appears that we’re arresting and apprehending less serial killers, and when we do apprehend them they have a much smaller victim list, per killer. So yes, there seems to be a decline in American serial killing. Either there are less serial killers or we have gotten better at catching them earlier.”

Ok, great. I would love for this to be true.

But could the FBI be wrong?

I was listening to episode 9 of Jensen & Holes’ “The Murder Squad” podcast (which has become a new favorite of mine), and they were discussing the possibility of an active serial killer in Chicago, Illinois. Their guest from The Murder Accountability Project, founder Thomas Hargrove, challenges the commonly held belief that only 1% of all murders are committed by serial killers.

Hargrove’s major argument is that serial rape accounts for more than 1% of all rapes, so serial murder must account for more than 1% of all murders. He cites a study conducted in Cleveland, Ohio in which authorities tested all the recent rape kits from sexual assault victims. The shocking thing they found? More than 13% of all those rapes was committed by serial offenders. That definitely begs the question: how much more common is serial murder than believed?

The Murder Accountability Project published an article in March of 2019 noting that half of all Native American homicides are not reported to the FBI. Now this is not to say they are not reported to local or state authorities, but for whatever reason, they are not being reported to federal authorities. If the FBI is missing a total of 2,406 murders in their total of 15,000 homicides being committed each year, what else are they missing?

Your chances of being a serial killer victim, according to the FBI, are pretty slim. I’m not saying you should be scared. What I am saying is that there are educated people and organizations who believe we are vastly underestimating the currently held belief that serial murder accounts for only 1% of all homicides.

As someone who loves facts and has done a whole lot of reading on serial killers, I found it interesting.