The world of the paranormal and also that of fiction is populated by all manner of fantastical specters, demons, beasts, and monsters. This is a dark, only faintly lit world of things that shift, scamper, and prowl about the murk, shadowy abominations that defy all attempts to understand them. Scattered amongst tales of ghouls, ghosts, and vampires, there are those cases that are remarkable in their origins in real life, and which prove that sometimes human monsters are just as frightening and repulsive as anything from the depths of the supernatural and myth. One such case comes to us from the city of Sacramento, California, and it is a morbid and mysterious account of a serial killer, strange hauntings, and a journey into the very darkest depths of an abyss of human depravity.
The man who would go on to become known as the Vampire of Sacramento was born into this world as Richard Trenton Chase in May of 1950, and he quickly showed his propensity for the macabre from an early age. Growing up in Santa Clara, California, little Richard showed some rather strange tendencies, and by the time he was 10 years old he was already torturing and mutilating animals or starting fires, and he began an addiction to alcohol and marijuana not long after this. He was also a hopeless hypochondriac, often proclaiming that he was dying of a heart attack or even that his arteries had been stolen or that his head was changing shape, even going as far as to shave his head so he could observe his perceived shifting skull, and this just snowballed into further oddity from there. Richard would go on into increasingly bizarre behavior, often holding oranges to his head in an attempt to absorb vitamin C directly into his brain, and he was considered a rather odd child to say the least.
As he moved on in years this would not subside in the slightest bit, and would indeed become ever more unhinged. As he moved into his high school years he became even more into drugs and alcohol, and found that he was unable to be aroused by women in any conventional sense. He became increasingly obsessed with necrophilia and killing animals, the entrails of which he would sometimes mix up with copious amounts of blood and eat raw. He became more and more convinced that he needed this blood and sacrifice in order to halt the deterioration of his heart, which he believed to be withering away within his chest and which required constant blood to stop. When he was living alone, he would walk around his apartment in the nude, sometimes with blood smeared on his body, and he freaked out and alienated all of his roommates until he was truly alone.
Chase would go on to spiral into even more madness as time went on, and his strange delusions worsened. He began to suspect that his own mother was trying to poison him, and he became convinced that he required direct injections of fresh blood in order to stay alive. To this end, in 1975 he killed a rabbit, milked its blood, and injected it straight into his veins. Rather than having the life sustaining qualities he had hoped for, this infusion of rabbit blood instead made him very sick, and Chase was committed to a mental institution, which he would escape, only to be recaptured and sent to a more secure facility for the criminally insane. At the institution he was given heavy doses of drugs, mostly to combat his severe schizophrenia and hallucinations, but it is uncertain just how effective this treatment plan was. Chase continued his gruesome ways, managing to lure birds to his window, where he would kill them, eat them, and smear their blood all over his body, as well as covertly draw blood from therapy dogs, grim antics that would earn him the ominous nickname “Dracula” by staff and orderlies. Despite this sinister behavior, in 1976 Chase was released into his mother’s care, after which he got his own apartment and went back to his eccentric ways. He continued killing small animals and drinking their blood, and he would later admit to killing his mother’s cat and buying two dogs just so that he could bathe in their blood.
Chase also began to completely neglect his personal hygiene and health, taking on a feral, ghoul-like appearance that had people crossing the street to avoid him, certainly looking the part of the monster he was becoming. It was not uncommon for him to shout at neighbors and complain about the slightest perceived slights, and he was far from the most popular guy on the block, at one point even proudly telling a neighbor about how he had killed and mutilated their missing dog. He also started collecting handguns and literature on the serial killer known as the Hillside Strangler, who he became obsessed with, as well as fostering a belief that his blood was being turned into powder by mysterious forces and required fresh blood to stop. He would create a whole demented mythology for this in his mind, later explaining to the FBI that he believed it was all orchestrated by “Nazi UFOs,” if the bottom of his soap dish was dry he was safe, but if it was gooey that meant his blood was being turned to powder and that he required a fresh infusion to stave it off.
During this time, Chase once again alienated everyone around him, and also had several run-ins with the law, once when he was found roaming about a Native reservation at Pyramid Lake, Nevada, covered in blood and ranting unintelligibly, but this was found to be cow blood and he was not charged with any crime. There were also numerous complaints that he had stolen neighborhoods pets in order to mutilate them, indeed he had even boasted of this, but no evidence could be found to actually connect him. On another occasion Chase fired a .22 caliber handgun randomly into a neighbor’s house, an incident in which luckily no one was hurt. Yet, this was perhaps the beginning of his graduation to full-blown murder.
On December 29, 1977, Chase was out driving around when he was overcome with an irresistible urge to kill. This resulted in him shooting a random pedestrian, 51-year-old Ambrose Griffin, killing the father of two in his front yard as he was taking groceries inside. Chase then made several attempts to enter homes at night, often seen prowling abut like the Boogieman, and was thwarted by locked doors, but he did manage to enter a home to defecate and urinate on a baby’s bedding before leaving, and in January of 1978 he would kill again. On this evening, Chase broke into the home of a couple by the names of David and Teresa Wallin, after which he killed Teresa, who was pregnant, with three gunshots, after which he stabbed the corpse to the point that the entrails spilled out, which he ate portions of, sexually defiled the corpse, and removed blood and organs to devour, placing some of them sloppily back inside the husk. There was a bloodstained yogurt container found nearby that was believed to have been used to collect blood for drinking.
Not long after this, just a few days later, he broke into the home of 38-year-old Evelyn Miroth, where he encountered and shot to death her neighbor, Danny Meredith, before going on a killing spree, murdering Miroth, her six-year-old son Jason, and her 22-month-old nephew David Ferreira. When this killing was done, Chase violated Miroth’s corpse and ate portions of his victims’ bodies, before fleeing in her car when someone knocked at the door. He took little David with him, later mutilating the corpse, severing the head, drinking the blood, and dumping it at an empty lot near a church.
The crime was shocking and grotesque beyond anything the area has ever seen before, and authorities launched an intense manhunt for what was being called “The Vampire of Sacramento.” Luckily for them, Chase was a careless, sloppy, disorganized killer, and had left behind plenty of clear evidence, such as fingerprints, as well as handprints and footprints in blood, and it was not long before Chase was connected to the crimes and sought for questioning. Considering that he was sighted on numerous occasions wandering about in the area like a zombie in broad daylight, made several more attempted break-ins, and seemed to make no effort to conceal his whereabouts, they easily tracked him down and showed up at his apartment on Watt Avenue, where he was discovered to be lurking within like a pacing, cornered predator.
At first Chase refused to answer the door, forcing the police to pretend to leave and hide and wait for him to come out, which he eventually did carrying a box. They moved in to arrest him and immediately found incriminating evidence on his person, such as blood splotches of his parka, blood all over his shoes, a .22 caliber pistol stuffed into his pocket, along with Dan Meredith’s wallet and a pair of latex gloves. The box also proved to be a treasure trove of the macabre, containing rumpled up, filthy blood-soaked papers and rags. Yet it was the apartment itself that would really prove to be a charnel house of horrors. The entire interior seemed to be covered with a sheen of caked blood, with very few surfaces left untouched, and there were various pieces of bone, organs, and body parts found strewn haphazardly about, especially in the kitchen, which was complete with a blender clogged up with blood and chopped up entrails. There were also found animal collars, a book on human anatomy, and a calendar with the dates of the murders marked, and all of this was witnessed through a haze of the stench of putrid decay.
Despite all of this, Chase still amazingly went on to deny that he had had any hand in the murders, merely admitting to killing some dogs, but the wealth of grim evidence said otherwise. On May 8, 1978, he was perhaps not surprisingly at all found guilty of 6 counts of first degree murder, and all efforts from his defense to plead insanity and illustrate that Chase was only half-conscious of what he had done fell on deaf ears. Chase was dealt a swift sentence of death by gas chamber and locked away to rot. At this point Chase was completely unrepentant, and took to frightening other prisoners with his tales of drinking the blood of his victims. He was also convinced that the prison guards were trying to poison his food.
While in prison he was interviewed by Robert Ressler, author of the true crime book Whoever Fights Monsters, to whom he related his tale of mind-controlling Nazi aliens and explained that he had only killed because his blood was being turned to powder by these evil forces. In his deranged mind, Chase had been forced to do what he had done in order to preserve his own life. According to him, he was under telepathic mind control by these UFOs, and that they had often ordered him to kill. Throughout the interview he frequently demanded to be given a radar gun, which he believed would allow him to capture the aliens and bring them to justice, and demanded that a sample of food he had smuggled out of the cafeteria be analyzed for signs of poisoning. In his opinion Chase was not a well man, and Ressler suggested he be transferred to a psychiatric facility, but after a short stint there he wound up back in prison.
On December 26, 1980, Chase was found dead in his cell, having taken an overdose of anti-depressants and foiling his death sentence. The vampire was dead. The case of Richard Trenton Chase remains one of the most shockingly brutal and depraved killing sprees on record, and is so spectacularly over-the-top that it has even contributed to FBI profiling procedures, serving as an archetype for identifying what are called “disorganized killers.” In 1992 the case was further immortalized with the Hollywood film Unspeakable, which was heavily based on Chase and his crimes.
While it may seem obvious to many that if there is a Hell, then Richard Chase surely would have a place by the fire, in the years since there have nevertheless been many signs that he is still around in a sense, and his apartment and murder scenes have been sources of numerous reports of ghostly phenomena over the years. EVP phenomena of what is claimed to be Chase’s voice and his victims has been recorded on occasion, and shadowy apparitions and anomalous noises and voices are commonly reported. The homes of Evelyn Miroth and Chase himself are said to be particularly haunted, with strange figures or objects such as orbs and mists caught on film here, as well as shouts and screams when no one else is around. In more frightening cases there are more sinister goings on.
One very harrowing encounter was reported by a witness named Craig, on the site Your Ghost Stories, and revolves around his experience at an apartment in the same complex where Chase once lived. He claimed to have moved in there in about 2001, and that the small bedroom was immediately different in that it held a sort of thick feeling of menace and foreboding, and he claimed that he would be terrorized by incredibly real nightmares and sleep paralysis, as well as a sense of a malevolent presence glaring at him from the shadows, to the point where he could barely sleep at all, forcing him to start sleeping in the living room. He would manage to get a good night sleep in the living room, but the bar in the hide-a-bed he was using began to hurt his back, and so he moved back into the dreaded bedroom and began going back and forth between the two, only ever experiencing night terrors in the bedroom. The witness would explain what happened next as follows:
Then towards the end of my six month stay in this apartment, I experienced two extremely frightening and weird things in that bedroom. The first, I was dreaming about sitting with my parents at their home. It was sunny outside but suddenly things went dark, and then it was as if something came crashing into their house and the roof crashed down on me. At this point in the dream I awoke screaming, and then quickly noticed that I felt like I had been punched in the nose pretty hard. In fact I was bleeding slightly from my nose. I moved back to the couch this night for sure.
The second incident, I awoke in the bedroom lying on my side. I as went to move and roll onto my back, it instantly felt as if someone was lying behind me in bed with their arms wrapped around my torso pinning my arms to my side and squeezing tight. This force pushed me back onto my side and would not let me move. I lay there not totally sure if I was awake or asleep and dreaming, but eventually I was able to move again after an unknown amount of time. Obviously when my lease was up I moved out. Since I moved out I still continue to get the occasional nightmare now and then, but nothing as intense as I experienced there and also have not had any episodes of sleep paralysis since.
It is unclear if this had anything to do whatsoever with Chase, but it is interesting that there have been other similar reports of a malignant presence lurking about in the area where he used to live, so perhaps he is still prowling about, just as violent and as out for blood as he ever was. The hauntings persist, and there have been several attempts to investigate it all, to mixed results. Ghostly phenomena would certainly put an eerie spin on the whole tale of Richard Chase, but looking back on his grisly deeds and troubled life, I am not sure it needs it. It is already an extremely disturbing series of events as it is and, ghosts or not, it shows that sometimes the monster that lurks within some of us is every bit as terrifying as anything in the world of the supernatural.