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The Untold Truth Of The Poughkeepsie Tapes

What makes the serial killer in “Poughkeepsie” so sinister? According to Nightmare on Film Street, the film combines famous true crime elements to craft “a Serial Killer Chimera … a masterful blend of every well-known serial murderer, allowing him to bore his way into the fear-center of every viewer’s brain.”

Nightmare on Film Street lists some of the most striking bits of this “DNA.” The massive library of video-recorded crimes parallels the infamous “Toy Box Killer,” David Parker Ray, and criminal partners Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, who, like the Water Street Butcher, also brainwashed and psychologically broke down their victims. The killer’s invasive, shiver-inducing tour of Cheryl Dempsey’s house has echoes of stalker-killers like Dennis Rader and Richard Ramirez.

One of the most unpleasant echoes is how the Water Street Butcher starts his killing with a young girl playing in her yard; many true crime scholars, as detailed on Crime Traveller, suspect that Ted Bundy’s murders may have begun with him killing his 8-year-old neighbor when he was only 14. A fictional Bundy even appears in the film, advising detectives on how to catch their elusive prey. What he tells them, however, is what the real Bundy said about the Green River Killer.

The Water Street Butcher is a convincing serial killer because he’s a composite, cobbled together from the strategies and methods of many killers who were all too real.

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