It's impossible to imagine what life must be like for the family members of serial killers — and it's surely no easy feat when these family members want to reach out to victims' families. But, Melissa Moore, host of Monster in My Family on LMN is the perfect person to facilitate these meetings for a tragic reason — her own father, Keith Jesperson, is a serial killer. Today, Moore is an expert on both violent crimes and recovering from trauma. In the Season 2 premiere of the LMN show, Jesperson is mentioned in passing — but who exactly is Melissa Moore's dad, the "Happy Face" serial killer?
According to ABC, Jesperson was a truck driver who killed eight women during a murder spree that began in 1990. His eerie moniker comes from drawings that he sketched on letters to the police in which he bragged about the murders. The outlet reports that Jesperson went undetected for years, and he was the one to turn himself in for the crimes. He went to prison in 1995 and is currently serving three consecutive life sentences in Oregon’s state penitentiary. Moore has not spoken to her father in over 10 years, and she chooses to focus on turning her painful experience into something positive by helping family members of other killers or their victims heal and find some level of peace and closure.
In a separate ABC report from 2010, Moore said that she adored her father as a young child. On the surface, he was a doting father who was skilled at concealing his dark side. But, she recalled one traumatic occasion in which she claims she witnessed his troubles firsthand — Moore allegedly saw her father torture animals. Moore said that was the moment she first caught a glimpse of the man who was responsible for the murders of eight women. When Moore was 10 years old, her mother left Jesperson and took her children to Spokane, Washington.
According to the same ABC report, Jesperson committed his first murder in 1990, the year his divorce was finalized. He killed the victim, 23-year-old Taunja Bennett, at his house in Portland, Oregon after a night of drinking that he alleged lead to an altercation between the two. ABC reported that he claimed that he killed Bennett because he was afraid he'd go to prison for "slugging her in the face." During his five year killing spree, he wrote a detailed confession letter to the The Oregonian and signed it with a happy face rather than his name. When the body of his eighth and final victim was discovered, a receipt with Jesperson's signature was found with her possessions. He was taken in for questioning and turned himself in the next day.
The "Happy Face" serial killer will remain behind bars, but his daughter has chosen to use her traumatic past to help the family members of both serial killers and their victims. You can watch her work on LMN when Monster In My Family airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET.