Convicted serial killer Keith Hunter Jesperson, dubbed the Happy Face Killer for allegedly signing his confession notes with a smiley face, murdered eight women in the US between 1990 and 1995 while working as a long haul truck driver. While most of his victims were never identified, others were hitchhikers or prostitutes who were found strangled to death.
Following the 1995 murder of his 41-year-old partner, Julie Ann Winningham, Jesperson was ultimately caught and implicated in eight distinct homicides that took place in Florida, California, Oregon, Wyoming, and Washington.
The serial killer took a plea deal to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to six consecutive and concurrent sentences adding up to 120 years.
According to Bustle, Keith Hunter Jesperson aka the Happy Face Killer is currently serving multiple life sentences at the Oregon State Penitentiary.
ID’s Very Scary People, hosted by Donnie Wahlberg, will revisit the crimes of the Happy Face Killer in an episode titled after his infamous moniker. The upcoming episode airs on the channel this Sunday, May 21, at 9 pm ET.
Serial killer Keith Hunter Jesperson claimed he murdered to “put the victim out of her misery”
Keith Hunter Jesperson was dubbed the Happy Face Killer four years after he committed the first of many murders in 1990.
Jesperson grew up in violent and abusive surroundings in British Columbia, and eventually started working as a long-haul truck driver. Soon after, he committed a series of killings, strangling eight women and dumping their bodies along the roads in several states for five years.
According to reports, the majority of Jesperson’s victims were strangers who had boarded his vehicle for a ride, s*x.
He spoke about his several killings over a decade and justified his heinous crimes by saying that he committed the murders to “put the victim out of her misery,” starting with the murder of 23-year-old Taunja Bennett in January 1990.
As per the New York Daily News, the Happy Face Killer then killed seven more women in three years, some of whom were never identified.
During his murder spree, Jesperson taunted authorities with anonymous confessions that let him brag about his depraved slayings without giving himself away. He scribbled the first one, saying that he “beat her to death, r*ped her, and loved it.”
Jesperson then wrote to the Oregonian in 1994, describing his killings and the manner in which he disposed of the victims’ remains. Reporter Phil Stanford noticed that the note had a happy face similar to the one in the restroom at the bus station.
He then dubbed the serial killer the Happy Face Killer. He was only arrested after the 1995 murder of Julie Ann Winningham, 41, his girlfriend.
How was the Happy Face Killer brought to justice?
Julie Ann Winningham’s murder led authorities to Keith Hunter Jesperson, who maintained his innocence when interrogated about the murder in March 1995.
Nevertheless, he eventually admitted to his misdeeds in a letter to his brother. His brother then handed the written confession that implicated him to the police.
Jesperson was linked to eight murders that occurred in Florida, California, Oregon, Wyoming, and Washington and took a plea deal to avoid the death penalty after confessing to all of these killings.
As part of the deal, he was only convicted in the murders of Bennett, Winningham, and Laurie Ann Pentland. He was then sentenced to six consecutive and concurrent sentences adding up to 120 years.
Bustle reported in late 2021 that Keith Hunter Jesperson aka the Happy Face Killer is currently serving multiple life sentences at the Oregon State Penitentiary.
Very Scary People on ID will further delve into the case of the Happy Face Killer this Sunday, May 21, at 9 pm ET.
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