Episode 1: John Brennan Crutchley - The Vampire Rapist (Show Notes)

She staggered, shifting her feet forward and back, urging herself to go on. She was weak, exhausted, terrified, and she had just endured what would be one of the most painful and horrifying experiences that she or anyone cold think would ever experience. Crying, she shuffled down the highway. She was nearly naked, and drenched in blood and sweat. One car passed her by, then two. Reminiscent of the biblical story "The Good Samaritan," it was the next car that would stop to see if she was okay. But, would you stop? Would you pause your life for someone who was on the side of the road, not to mention bound, pale, and naked?

This is the story of John Brennan Crutchley, known to the public as "The Vampire Rapist." This is the story of a man who, while intelligent, was sadistic, masochistic, and psychopathic.

Let's dissect the background, crime, and capture of John Crutchley.

Young Jonathan Crutchley

John Brennan Crutchley was born October 1, 1946 to a well-to-do family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was a friendless child and preferred to spend most of his time tinkering with electronic gadgets in the basement of his home. His penchant for electronics paid off early when he earned a good amount of money repairing and rebuilding what have been referred to as complex radio and stereo systems before he graduated from High School.

He went on to graduate with a bachelor's degree in. physics from Defiance College in Ohio in 1970, and then earned a Master's degree in engineering administration from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Before he graduated with his graduate degree, he was married to his first wife in 1969.


He departed from his job at Delco after an investigation was made by plant security into missing materials. At that point he moved to Fairfax County, Virginia in. the mid-1970s and subsequently remarried. He worked for several high-tech firms in the Washington, D.C. area, including TRW, ICA, and Logicon Process Systems. At this time, and although it has never been linked directly to Crutchley, several teenaged girls disappeared in and around the area.

The belief Crutchley was involved in Virginia disappearances from Fairfax police.

In 1977, seven years after his move to Fairfax County, a 25-year-old secretary, Debora Fitzjohn, disappeared. Crutchley was placed under close scrutiny because he was Fitzjohn's boyfriend and she was last seen alive at the trailer park where Crutchley lived. He was questioned several times for his possible involvement in her disappearance.

Nothing came out of questioning due to the lack of evidence, even after her skeletal remains were found by a hunter in October the following year.


As mentioned before, other disappearances in the area have not been definitively linked to Crutchley. There were, however, a rash of disappearances in Pennsylvania when he resided there. In some cases, bodies of women were found in remote areas in the state. Some investigators have linked Crutchley with the disappearance of two teenaged girls, the Lyon Sisters, in Wheaton, Maryland, and a possible rape-murder of teenager Kathy Lynn Beatty in nearby Aspen Hill, both in Montgomery County, where his second wife's family lived.

The Lyon's Sisters
Kathy Lynn Beatty

According to FBI profiler Robert K. Ressler, Crutchley fit the profile of a serial killer even though he was convicted of a single, non-fatal kidnapping and sexual assault.


Thanksgiving, lat November 1985, in Malabar, Brevard County, Florida, something occurred that could have been pulled right out of a horror film. A woman hobbled down the roadway, was past by two vehicles, maybe more. A motorist stopped to help her. She was 19, nearly nude, handcuffed at her wrists and ankles, and she was filthy and exhausted. She begged the motorist to not take her back to where she came from, and when he asked where, she told him to remember a certain house. He then took her to his home and called the police and ambulance.

The hospital determined that whatever her other injuries were, she was missing between 40 and 45 percent of her blood. The blood was seemingly withdrawn through several small pin pricks.

So what happened to her? Only her story could answer those questions.


She had been hitchhiking the day before, and the man who offered to give her a ride was willing to take her where she needed to go. He said he had to stop off at home first. He invited her in and when she refused, he got into the back seat of the car and choked her to the point of unconsciousness.

Crutchley's Florida Home and Site of Crime

The hitchhiker awoke to find that she had been tied to a countertop in the kitchen. Her arms and legs had been fully immobilized. A video camera had been set on a tripod, along with lights. The man entered and raped her as he videotaped what happened. He then inserted needles into her arm and wrist and carefully extracted blood. He began to drink it and told her he was a vampire. He then handcuffed her and she was dropped into the bathtub. He returned later for another round of sexual assault and blood extraction.

The next morning, after a third assault and bloodletting, the man handcuffed the hitchhiker and left her in the bathroom saying he would be back later for further assaults. He threatened her as he did each time he left her in the bathroom by saying if she tried to escape, his brother would come and kill her.

After her attacker left the house she was able to push out of the small bathroom window and crawl to the road. Doctors believe that if she did not escape at that time, she would not have died from a further round of blood extraction.


A search warrant was served for John Brennan Crutchley, whose wife and. child were away for the Thanksgiving holiday. The videotape in the camera was partially erased which, according to the victim, would otherwise have contained footage of her rape as well as the extraction of her blood.

Crutchley was arrested during the search, which took place at 2:30 a.m. During the first search, photographs of the house were taken at the time. These showed a stack of credit cards several inches thick. A second search did not turn up those credit cards, nor a collection of women's necklaces concealed in a closet which had been noted, but not confiscated by the police during the first search.


After being contacted by local authorities for his professional input, Robert Ressler, the FBI agent who coined the term "serial killer" was convinced Crutchley had almost certainly killed before, and was what is termed a "serial killer of the organized type" It was Ressler who instigated the second search of much wider scope and detail than was the first. The first had been performed only be local police and they only knew they had a "particularly nasty rapist" on their hands.

Ressler notated there had been four female bodies found in Brevard County in the previous year, and that unexplained bodies had also been found and missing women reported in Pennsylvania while he lived there. No evidence was found to link these deaths to Crutchley, however.

In addition to suspecting Crutchley of murders in Florida and Pennsylvania, Ressler also suspected him for the 1978 disappearance and murder of Debora Fitzjohn, the secretary he met in Fairfax, Virginia. She had been in his mobile home, and as noted earlier, police identified Crutchley as the last person to see her alive.

While Crutchley was intensely investigated, it was discovered that he was not only into extremely experimental sex, but that his extensive sexual exploits had been meticulously recorded and that his wife had participated. During the second search of Crutchley's home, police found a stack of 72 3x5 cards on which he had recorded women's names and described their sexual performances. Some of. the partners indicated that Crutchley had perhaps taken the bondage and dominance a bit too far, crossing the line into assaults which had been initially "consensual acts." These "acts" turned ugly when "stop phrases" were ignored.


Crutchley seemed to have found his soulmate as his third wife had substantial involvement in his sexual escapades. According to his first wife, his escapades were numerous and tended to revolve around sadism. Crutchley, although appearing rather unobtrusive and bookish, was said to be exceptionally controlling in his dealings with other people.

At the time he plea-bargained to guilt on kidnap and rape charges in exhange for dropping the "grievous bodily harm" charge for extracting the victim's blood and for drug possession, his wife - evidently trying to categorize this affair as nothing more than a little S&M that got out of hand - said that this had been a "gentle rape, devoid of any overt brutality." After the trial, his wife told reporters that her husband wasn't guilty, but was just "a kinky sort of guy."


The judge chose to exceed the state guidelines and sentenced Crutchley to 25 years to life in prison with 50 years of subsequent parole. 

Crutchley’s initial defense at the time of his arrest was that the hitchhiker was “a Manson girl” who had solicited kinky sex from him. Oddly enough, she did not initially want to press charges even after having passed a lie detector test, and having tests performed which indicated the presence of semen. She was convinced to press charges only after a counselor convinced her of her duty to other women. 


Crutchley Is an organized serial killer. These killers collect mementos, which are generally used as props in sexual fantasies commemorating their murders. Many forensic psychologists believe that serial killers of the organized type are initially driven to kill as a result of a powerful and recurrent sexual fantasy with sadistic themes, and many also believe that most of the organized-type serial killers may have had not murder, but rather violent sadistic rape in fulfillment of their fantasy, as their initial objective.

However, having once killed and escaped arrest, many seem to analyze their realization of their sadistic fantasy and incorporate their successes and eliminate their mistakes. Thus, an addictive fantasy of sexual sadism (or sadistic sex) becomes a blueprint for subsequent actions. Ressler believed that from the degree of organization, of “rehearsed-ness” evident at the time of arrest, that one can gain insight into the degree of successful practice of their crimes. 

Based on that thought by Ressler, Crutchley would appear to have had long, successful experience with at least sadistic sex, bondage/rapes (whether consensual or not), and with extraction of blood from victims. His practiced capture of his victim suggests that he had either been out specifically cruising for a victim, or habitually carried a ligature to the purpose of choking a person unconscious. 

The technique of getting behind the victim and then strangling with a ligature suggests that he was practiced, or had given it substantial forethought. All of this, combined with his readiness to videotape the act, suggests that this had all been done many times before. His sexual history was established through interviews with former partners and suggests that this may have been his preferred means of sexual gratification, so called “consensual rape with bondage” with the thrill of video recording added. 


Ressler predicted, in 1992 about the 1986 conviction, that Crutchley’s “25 to life” sentence would result in release as soon as 1998. In fact, Crutchley was released in 1996, two years earlier than that. After 11 years of his sentence, Crutchley was released from Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida for the Brevard County Jail for good behavior. 

He may have been released, but he didn’t have anywhere to go. Officials in Fairfax County, Virginia where his mother lived at the time, did not want him, nor did the people in Malabar and Melbourne, Florida.

He was transferred to the Orlando Probation and Restitution Center, a half-way house where he would undergo counseling and pay restitution even while serving his 50 years of parole. 

Less than a day later, he was arrested again for violating his parole after being tested positive for marijuana. Crutchley denied it at the time, saying inmates blew marijuana smoke in his face, but prosecutors in the subsequent trial showed him confessing to a corrections inspector that he smoked the substance because he was nervous about his impending release and he thought that the drug would make him relaxed. 

This convicted crime violated his parole and resulted in a sentence of life imprisonment to be imposed on Crutchley January 31, 1997 under the “three strikes law.” This was his third conviction.


On March 30, 2002, Crutchley died in prison. Corrections officials reported on April 2, 2002, that he had been found dead in his cell at the Hardee Correctional Institute with a plastic bag over his head. The cause of death reported was asphyxiation. Subsequent reporting around August 1, 2003 from the Florida Department of Corrections declared that the “Florida Vampire Rapist” died of autoerotic asphyxiation. 

Adding to all of the insanity, at the time of his arrest, Crutchley was found to be in possession of a great deal of highly-classified information regarding naval weaponry and communications. Unnamed federal agencies other than the FBI considered opening an espionage case against him. Crutchley’s employer, Harris Corporation, was highly involved with not only the NASA research and launch facilities at Cape Canaveral, but also with other Naval contractors and subcontractors. 

Naval investigators also said that they were exploring a possible link between the unsolved slayings of two local Navy women and Crutchley. Crutchley had access to the Norfolk Naval Air Station during the time the two Navy women were slain at the base. 


In media coverage later on, notably American Occult, Crutchley declared that the attribution of vampirism is pointless, declaring that “its all about the label of the ‘big V,’ the ‘big V’ is empty, that’s not me.”

A Professor Ramsland notes of Mr. Crutchley that there was nothing at all about him which would send danger signals to potential victims, indeed, she states that there was “nothing about him that would indicate he was anything but an engineer. 

Looking into an article from 2002, despite the fact that officials could not link Crutchley to the other murders or disappearances I mentioned earlier, one of the women, Patti Volansky, 29, of Mims, Florida (also Brevard County), disappeared while hitchhiking March 15, 1985. Her identification card was found in Crutchley’s desk at Harris Corporation. He also had her birth certificate and pictures of her family. 

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