After revealing a photo of Charles Manson in a beige prison jumpsuit with a lock of the cult leader’s hair in a plastic protector, Freeporter Dr. David Adamovich reached over and unveiled other plastic protectors with locks of John Wayne Gacy’s and Ted Bundy’s hair.
The Manson cult killed seven people in August 1969. Gacy raped and murdered 33 boys and young men between 1972 and 1978. Bundy raped and killed 28 women between 1974 and 1978.
Adamovich curates one of the world’s largest privately owned “murderabilia” collections. That’s according to Rick Staton, the so-called “grandfather of murderabilia,” who gained notoriety after Gacy selected him to broker his art from prison.
On Thursday, pieces of Adamovich’s collection were scheduled to be on display at the Freeport Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber of Horrors Valentine’s Day Dinner at the Freeport Yacht Club.
Adamovich is also known as the Great Throwdini, and promotes himself as the world’s fastest and most accurate knife thrower.
Steve Giannangelo, an author and a friend of Adamovich’s, said that collecting the hair, art and autographs of series killers has a certain macabre appeal. And although victims’ rights groups find such collections offensive and disrespectful, Giannangelo said that there is historical value in preserving such items. According to Staton, Gacy’s artwork proved extraordinarily popular, and sold widely. “I received tons of media attention,” Staton said. “I took advantage of the shock value and sold more art.”
“I don’t make a moral judgment on these items,” Giannangelo said. “These are historical artifacts useful to discuss what happened in the past.”
Adamovich agreed. Preserving “murderabilia” is simply preserving the past, he believes. “I don’t glorify them,” he said of the killers. “We’re simply looking at what these criminals did once they were arrested, once they’ve been locked up. It’s an after story on their life.”
Adamovich, who acquired the collection less than two years ago through a friend, has spent the last year organizing and archiving it all. He said his plans are not to sell the items, but to preserve and display them across the country.
“The main focus is educational,” Giannangelo said. “David’s collection is priceless and has value historically — it teaches the history of these criminals.”
Arrayed across Adamovich’s kitchen were dozens of binders that held 43,000 pages from 9,000 signed letters written by serial killers like David Berkowitz, also known as the Son of Sam and the .44 Caliber Killer, who plunged New York City into a panic when he killed six people and wounded seven others in the summer of 1976.
In the collection, there are also letters from Susan Smith, who was sentenced to life in prison after drowning her two children in 1994. There are even letters from Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated President John F. Kennedy in 1963, and James Earl Ray, who killed the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.The list of killers continues. The letters, according to Adamovich, tell the stories of their lives in prison. “Some of them find Jesus in jail,” he said.
Giannangelo said he was taken aback by the letters of Aileen Wuornos, who murdered seven men in Florida in 1989 and 1990 by shooting them at point-blank range. Through these letters, he was able to better understand her thinking after her conviction. The letters, he said, showed moments of “honesty and seriousness.”
Aside from the letters, there were dark paintings, obscene drawings and self-portraits by Gacy in his clown suit. Adamovich even has a paint chip from Bundy’s death row prison cell.
“These are serial killers from the ‘heyday’ of serial killing,” Adamovich said. “Most of them are dead.”
“We take this topic seriously in the historical sense,” Giannangelo said. “We’re not trying to disregard anyone’s feelings. We’re not glorifying anyone.”