After a nearly two-year wait, Mindhunter is returning to Netflix on Friday, Aug. 16. While Season 1 followed serial killers like Dennis Rader, Ed Kemper, Monte Ralph Rissell, Richard Speck, Jerry Brudos, and Darrell Gene Devier, the FBI Behavioral Science Unit will get some new subjects in Season 2. The trailer promises that audiences will see Charles Manson and David Berkowitz, while also diving into the Atlanta Child Murders. And photos of the Mindhunter Season 2 serial killers in real life are proof of how close the Mindhunter producers stayed to the real life inspirations.
Season 1 followed Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), and Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) at the FBI's newly minted Behavioral Science Unit, where they paved the way for serial killer criminal profiling. This strenuous process involved speaking with convicted serial killers to find patterns in their behavior in order to prevent future killings. And now that their research is finally paying off, they're able to gain access to killers with a higher profile — Charles Manson, most notably.
As Entertainment Weekly pointed out, Damon Herriman has portrayed the '60s cult leader in both Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood and now Mindhunter Season 2. So before the series premieres, here's what these subjects looked like in real life.
David Berkowitz/Son of Sam
In June 1978, Berkowitz was given a 25 years to life sentence for killing six people in and around New York City, per the New York Times. Just 25 at the time, the serial killer was a formal postal worker and referred to himself as the Son of Sam. His trademarks involved using a .44 Caliber to shoot his victims (he was initially known as the ".44 Caliber Killer") and writing bizarre letters, according to Time. He allegedly took orders from a black Labrador retriever, per the New York Times, whose owner was Berkowitz's neighbor, Sam.
Since then, Berkowitz has become a Christian and attributes the murders (only three of which he pled guilty) to being demon-possessed, the New York Times reported. "I am absolutely convinced without a shadow of a doubt that I was demonically possessed and controlled," he told the paper back in 1999. "I allowed these spirits through my own ignorance to control me. The murder and mayhem was a result of that."
BTK Killer/Dennis Rader
After killing 10 people between 1974 and 1991, Dennis Rader was sentenced to 10 consecutive life terms in August 2005, according to the Washington Post. The BTK Killer (which stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill") evaded capture for over 31 years, per the article, and had been both a Boy Scout leader and the president of the Lutheran Church. "I hope someday God will accept me," Rader said in court, the same article reported. "The dark side was there, but now I think light is beginning to shine. People will say I am not a Christian, but I believe I am."
While there have been other serial killers depicted in Mindhunter, Charles Manson is almost certainly the most high profile. Manson, who died in jail on Nov. 19, 2017 of natural causes, was a master manipulator and cult leader, according to Vox. He had a large following of young women, whom he'd offer to people for sex, per the article. On Aug. 9, 1969, Sharon Tate (who was eight months pregnant), Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Steven Parent, and Abigail Folger, were murdered in Tate and Roman Polanski's house on Cielo Drive, per the Washington Post. The following night, Aug. 10, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were killed in their Los Feliz home, the L.A. Times detailed, where "DEATH TO PIGS" and "HEALTER SKELTER" were written on their walls.
As a result, Manson, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel were convicted on seven counts of murder in the first degree and conspiracy to murder on Jan. 25, 1971, per the New York Times, while Leslie Van Houten was convicted on two counts of first‐degree murder as well as conspiracy to murder. According to Time, they were later given the death penalty, but it was later changed to life sentences when California banned the death penalty in 1972. On Oct. 12, 1971, Charles "Tex" Watson was convicted of seven counts of first‐degree murder and one of conspiracy to commit murder, the New York Times reported.
The most widely accepted motive is something called "Helter Skelter," per the L.A. Times — which was put forth in Vincent Bugliosi's 1974 book, Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders. Bugliosi, who was a prosecutor in the Tate-LaBianca trials, held that the Manson Family killings were meant to start a race war.
Pierce was released from a Georgia prison for arson and burglary charges in May 1970, although his counselors warned the parole board that he might be a danger to himself or others. Just months later, in December 1970, he raped and murdered a 13-year-old girl. He would later go on to rape and murder eight other victims. He was finally caught in 1971 and sentenced to life in prison. That's where Holden and Tench find him in Mindhunter Season 2, eager to talk about the motives behind his crimes and his past.
In 1979 through 1981, approximately two dozen children were murdered in Atlanta, according to the New York Times, most of whom were black boys. While no one was ever convicted of all the murders, Wayne Williams was the police's primary suspect. In April 1981, a policeman heard a splash while Williams was crossing the South Cobb Drive bridge above the Chattahoochee River, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, and was consequently stopped and questioned. Two days later, Nathaniel Cater's body was found downstream, where Jimmy Ray Payne's corpse had been discovered a month prior, per the AJC article.
Furthermore, the police discovered some dog hair and carpet fibers on the two victims that matched ones found in Williams's car and home, per the Washington Post. While it wasn't enough evidence to pin him for of all the murders, Williams was convicted of killing Cater and Payne, according to the Washington Post, who were both adults. Williams still resides in jail a few hours outside of Atlanta, per the New York Times, and has continuously maintained his innocence.
Elmer Wayne Henley Jr.
In Episode 4, Wendy and Greg take a trip to Texas to interview Elmer Wayne Henley, Jr. who was serving six life sentences for kidnapping, raping, and killing at least 28 teenaged boys with his accomplices Dean Corll and David Brooks. Henley, at 17 years old, eventually shot Corll dead in 1973.
William Henry Hance
As they talk about in his interview in Episode 3, Hance is believed to have murdered four women around military bases in Georgia in the late '70s. He also sent letters to police threatening to kill black prostitutes. He was convicted for three of the murders and not brought to trial for the fourth one. Hance was executed by electric chair in 1994 and maintained his innocence, according to The New York Times.
So now that audiences know what these serial killers look like in real life, they'll be able to see how their onscreen counterparts measure up when Mindhunter Season 2 premieres on Friday.