Something a little different……
Melissa Moore was 15 years old when she found out that her father was a serial killer. This wasn’t a man who’d abandoned her as an infant, it was the dad who dropped her off at school, who tucked her in at bedtime and laughed and told jokes at dinner.
But it was also a man who raped and strangled eight women and then confessed to at least one crime on the wall of a truck stop toilet stall. That man was Keith Jesperson, who the media named “The Happy Face Killer” because he drew a little smiley face at the end of his truck stop confession.
From 1990 to 1995, Jesperson killed at least eight women, most of them prostitutes. That made Melissa about 10 at the time of his first murder, and although he was often away for long stretches due to his job as a long-distance truck driver, he still found time for his children. Melissa wrote in an article for the BBC, she remembers him during this period as “doting and kind . . . a good dad.”
Looking back, Melissa recalls how even the doting dad had his dark side. He tortured some of the cats that wandered around her childhood farm. He told her once that he knew how to kill a person and get away with it. And once, just before his final murder, she was riding in the cab of his truck when she found a roll of duct tape under his pillow and a pack of cigarettes in the glove compartment. Her dad didn’t smoke.
Jesperson is currently serving a life sentence for his murders, and Melissa spent years grappling with the conflicting emotions of it all. How could a killer also be able to love his children? Was it just an act? In her case, at least, she finally found a semblance of an answer. After visiting Jesperson in prison, her grandfather came to talk with her, and what he told her was both chilling and final: “He said that he had had thoughts of killing you children.” For Melissa, that was enough to finally let go.