When I first thought of the idea to write serial killers that are currently serving life sentences in prison, it was while listening a true crime podcast.
There’s so many films and documentaries out there using these crimes for captivating entertainment- why not tap into an additional layer by creating fonts based off their handwriting? I did some research on which serial killers are still alive and in prison (obviously) and found a few and thus started my journey . The first thing I had to do was get in contact with these individuals – which was no easy feat. After a few months of sending out letters after letters, I was finally got a few responses. Let me tell you the rollercoaster of emotions you have when you open your mailbox and see a letter with a return address from inside a prison and the name of a notorious serial killer from fear, to excitement, to pure elation.
I won’t bore you with the details of every single killer, but I will share some of their stories with you.
The first letter I ever received was from “The Happy Face Killer” Keith Hunter Jesperson. Keith was arrested in 1995 and is currently serving 3 life sentences plus 240 years in prison. He has confessed to killing over 160 people – though the actual confirmed number is 8.
The second letter I received was from “The Green River Killer” Gary Leon Ridgway. Gary was arrested in 2001 and is currently serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. He has confessed to killing over 70 people – though the actual confirmed number is 49.
The third letter I received was from “The Son of Sam” David Berkowitz. David was arrested in 1977 and is currently serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. He has confessed to killing 6 people – though the actual confirmed number is 5.
It was a very eery feeling receiving letters from Keith every time I wrote him.
He would respond every time rather quickly. It was around the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas that Keith and I corresponded. He would send his letters on holiday printed paper and end each letter with “Take Care.”
He liked to talk about himself and recommended what books he suggested I read that were accurate about him and which were “garbage.” The book he recommended was written by someone who corresponded with Keith and became friends with him, so he feels the book’s words are “words of his own.”
Our conversations went to other things like painting which Keith is great at creating artwork.
He paints some very morbid stuff; if you’re lucky, he will send you a custom painting (for a fee.) He doesn’t call it a fee because murderabilia is illegal; he doesn’t “want shit from the guards.” He likes to call it a donation to his books. I was writing Keith before this whole wave of a serial killer craze because of American Horror Story, Netflix, and murder & true crime podcasts. At the time, he was asking for a $200 donation for a painting. I am sure his price has increased since then.
Keith willingly gave me a sample of his handwriting and provided a sentence that contained every letter of the alphabet so I could create the font The Happy Face Killer. The font is terrifying if you consider the story behind the hand that wrote those letters.