Practically from day one, it seemed as if Harvey Glatman was a deviant. His parents first noticed that he exhibited sadomasochistic sexual tendencies when he choked himself with a rope at the age of 12, but a family doctor told Glatman’s parents that he would eventually “grow out of it.” Unfortunately for his victims, he never did.
While still a teenager growing up in Denver, Colorado in the 1940s, Glatman began to bind, gag, rob, and molest women. One of his earliest known victims was a young woman named Eula Jo Hand whom he accosted at gunpoint, tied to a telephone pole, and molested in May 1945. Hand told Denver police she recognized the teenager who had assaulted her: Harvey Glatman, one of her classmates at East High School.
Glatman was arrested for the first time shortly after his assault on Hand, and, instead of graduating high school with his fellow classmates, he moved into a Denver jail. Glatman’s mother eventually bailed him out, and he went right back to what he knew best. In July 1945, he bound, gagged, and molested another woman, this time in Boulder, Colorado. He was arrested two days after that attack and re-jailed. This time, Glatman was put away for 8 months behind bars.
After his short stint in prison, Glatman went to live in New York with his mother in July 1946. Only one month later, he was arrested and charged in a series of robberies and assaults on women, and he ended up in prison in New York for over 4 more years.
After he served his term in New York, including some time in the notorious Sing Sing prison, Glatman returned to Colorado in 1951, where, as part of his parole, he remained under the care of a Denver psychiatrist. Unfortunately, no doctor could cure what ailed Glatman.
No one knows for certain if Glatman committed any crimes while he lived in Denver from 1951 until 1957, but he is considered the main suspect in a famous “Jane Doe” murder case in Boulder. In 1954, hikers discovered the body of a woman whose identity remained a mystery until 2009, when she was eventually identified as Dorothy Gay Howard, an 18-year-old woman from Phoenix, Arizona.
One thing is for certain: Harvey Glatman’s crimes really escalated when he moved to Los Angeles in 1957. Glatman had paid women in Colorado to pose tied up so he could photograph them. In California, he began pretending to be a professional photographer, luring women to his apartment with lies that their photographs would end up on the covers and in the pages of pulp fiction magazines.
Once Glatman had the women in his apartment, he tied them up and assaulted them, took photos of them, and, in some cases, murdered them and dumped their bodies in the desert. Glatman is known to have murdered at least 3 women in California by the time he was arrested on October 27, 1958 in Orange County. That day, police apprehended Glatman after he attempted to tie up and rape a woman he had hired for “detective magazine photographs.”
Police found a toolbox belonging to Glatman that contained hundreds of chilling photographs of women in bondage situations. Among the evidence were three photographs of missing women: Shirley Bridgeford, Judy Dull, and Ruth Mercado. Glatman admitted to strangling the women, and he was charged with murder. The press nicknamed Glatman the “Glamour Girl Slayer” because he targeted beautiful women who worked as models.
In December 1958, Harvey Glatman was sentenced to death for his crimes in California and sent to prison. The following September, Glatman was executed at San Quentin. He was only 31-years-old.
As is the case with many serial killers, we will probably never know exactly how many victims the “Glamour Girl Slayer” claimed, but Harvey Glatman’s crimes – the ones we known of – remain a haunting chapter in both Southern Californian and Coloradan history.
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