IT’S not only the victims who suffer at the hands of merciless serial killers – often the murderer’s innocent family is also left at a loss.
That was the case for Jenn Carson, 48, who at eight years old found out her dad Michael Bear Carson was a ruthless killer who murdered at least three people in California with her step-mum Suzan Barnes.
13Jenn Carson has spoken out about being the daughter of a cold-blooded serial killerCredit: AP
13Jenn’s father was serial killer Michael Bear Carson, who killed people he thought were witchesCredit: AP
The duo were infamously dubbed the San Francisco Witch Killers as they believed their victims had supernatural powers.
Jenn opened up about how their evil crimes had a devastating impact on her life in an interview with People.
“By nine, I viewed every adult as a potential killer. The whole world terrified me. I also feared that I would grow up and kill people,” she said.
“I want people to understand that this type of shame is so corrosive. And that’s why I tell my story.”
Many of the most world’s notorious murderers once led relatively normal lives with wives and children, who had no idea about their sickening crimes.
Here we take a look at other children of deadly monsters.
Melissa Moore’s father Keith Jesperson is currently serving three life sentences for strangling at least eight women to death, although he once claimed his victims numbered as many as 185.
Jesperson was called the Happy Face Killer as he left smiley face drawings next to his victims’ bodies.
13Melissa Moore says she’s had to get counselling to try to overcome the trauma of her father’s crimesCredit: Facebook
13Keith Jesperson once confessed to having killed as many as 185 people
In 2010, Melissa revealed that as a child, she saw her dad, whom she labelled a sociopath, torture and kill kittens and got a feeling there was “another side to him”.
Speaking in a 2015 interview, she said: “We [children of serial killers] are secondary crime victims. We carry that shame and we want to remove that.”
She added: “I feel in a sense I am related to my father, but I didn’t cause the pain. But knowing that my father caused some pain causes me pain.”
Melissa has also spoken about how she’s had to seek counselling in an attempt to overcome the trauma of being related to a cold-blooded killer.
Last year she revealed Jesperson, now 67, has been sending her letters from prison – including one asking why he wasn’t invited to her wedding and telling her the marriage wasn’t going to last.
‘I turned in my murderous dad’
13Amy Balascio turned her father in after discovering he had murdered five peopleCredit: Getty
13Edward Wayne Edwards is believed to have killed over 15 people and was sentenced to deathCredit: AP:Associated Press
After decades of suspecting her father Edward Wayne Edwards was a killer, Amy Balascio finally built up the courage to launch her own investigation in 2009.
She remembers her father, who physically abused her mum, being obsessed with murders and police investigations – he often had clippings of local crime reports and would call cops about their probes.
Edwards would move his family around every six months in the middle of the night, leaving no traces behind.
After months of digging, Amy eventually discovered her dad had killed at least five people, and turned him into the police.
Kids aren’t stupid. There were dead bodies. Someone was always murdered wherever we livedAmy Balascio
After Edwards’ arrest further investigation revealed he had killed more than 15 people.
He was sentenced to be killed by lethal injection in August 2011 but died of natural causes four months prior.
In 2018, Amy said: “Kids aren’t stupid. There were dead bodies. Someone was always murdered wherever we lived.
“During this whole process, you’re still holding out for hope that he’s not this monster that I think he is, that he’s just my dad and has a temper.”
‘Mum blamed me’
13Stephen West revealed the shocking details of his last conversation with his evil mother RoseCredit: PA
13The vile pair killed 10 young women and girls including members of their own familyCredit: Rex Features
Together Fred and Rose West committed rape, abuse, incest, and murdered 10 people, including some of their own kids, with most taking place at their home in Gloucester.
Investigating their dreadful crimes, detectives discovered they would kidnap girls from bus stops, keep them prisoner for several days and torture them before ending their lives.
Their atrocities involved Rose killing Charmaine West – Fred’s stepdaughter from a previous marriage – and their daughter Heather Ann.
Fred also raped his own daughter Ann Marie and forced her to work as a prostitute.
In 1999 she called me with hate and was blaming me for everything. She said I should have died when I was bornStephen West
The couple had nine children between them, including Stephen, who in 2002 was jailed for having sex with a 14-year-old girl while he was in his early 30s.
In 2021 Stephen revealed the last conversation he had with his mother 20 years ago before he cut her off.
“In 1999 she called me with hate and was blaming me for everything. She said I should have died when I was born and all that sort of stuff. It was a disgrace,” he recalled.
“She was the callous, the evil, spiteful, vindictive, manipulative person out of them. He was just a minion in a way. He just did what she wanted him to do.
“I’m not saying he didn’t get any gratification from it. I’m sure he did. But basically, the torture was driven by her.”
Rose, 69, is now serving a whole life order at HMP New Hall but Fred died in 1995 after killing himself while on remand at HMP Birmingham.
‘Living with a psychopath’
13Kerri Rawson says she had no idea her father was a psychopathCredit: Courtesy of Kerri Rawson
13Kerri at the site where her childhood home stood – her father hid bodies underneath the floorboardsCredit: Getty
Dennis Rader, who went on a 30-year killing rampage, found pleasure in describing himself as the BTK killer – meaning bind, torture, and kill.
He killed 10 people in Wichita, Kansas, and sent taunting letters to the police and media, in which he would describe the details of his heinous crimes.
The letters were his downfall as they led to his arrest in 2005 – upon interrogation, he told cops the “motherload of evidence” was under the floorboards of the home he shared with his wife Paula and their two kids, including Kerri Rawson.
In 2014, Kerri emerged to say the family had no idea he was behind the brutal murders.
Five years later, she explained: “My mom and I have both said, early on, if we had known, we would’ve gone screaming out the door, running to the police.
“It’s not like you’re going to sit there and make dinner for the guy after finding out he’s murdered 10 people. [We] didn’t know we were living with a psychopath.
“They’re really good at hiding… I mean, my mom lived with him for 34 years, and 90, 95 per cent of the time, he was a good, loving father and husband.”
The 77-year-old monster is serving 10 consecutive life sentences at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas.
‘Loving and supportive’
13Gary Ridgway often picked up women with his son Michael in the carCredit: AP
Throughout the 80s and 90s, Gary Ridgway killed as many as 80 women and was able to hide behind his reputation as a loving family man.
His son Matthew described his father as loving and supportive, who did normal activities with him like going on fishing trips and bike rides.
He would often pick up women with Matthew in the car to lure his victims and evade suspicion.
The vile monster would then kill them and have sex with their corpses – in a documentary, he claimed that his young son was with him for at least one of the murders.
Matthew was 26 years old when his father was first arrested in November 2001. The 74-year-old is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Now in his late 40s, Michael lives a reclusive life in the San Diego area.
Family of crime
13Francis Weaver was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a drug dealerCredit: Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office
13He carried on three generations of murderers following the convictions of his stepdad and step granddadCredit: Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office
For two months from January 2002, Ward Weaver III killed a 12-year-old girl, and her classmate, 13, in Fairfield, California.
Weaver had a tumultuous childhood as his own father, Ward Weaver, Jr, had been convicted of the double murder of a couple in 1984.
During the younger Weaver’s trial in 2002, his stepson Francis, who both believed they were biologically related, was applauded and called a hero for providing a witness statement that helped nail the killer.
The family’s history of violence continued in 1998 when Francis was suspended from school for choking another student and charged with aggravated assault after firing a rifle into a vehicle full of teenagers the following year.
Fast forward to 2016, he found himself in further trouble with the law and was sentenced to life in prison for shooting a drug dealer in the face in 2014.
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk