‘I met Monster of Rivers serial killer and got him to confess to unsolved case’

A former Royal Marine who has interviewed dozens of serial killers has revealed how he charmed a twisted murderer into confessing to an unsolved crime.

Christopher Berry-Dee says that although he had already become a successful true-crime author after leaving the Marines, he started writing letters to serial killers almost as a “hobby.”

He began collecting True Crime magazines to help with his research, and after reading about evil but fascinating characters such as Kenneth Bianchi and Colonel Russell Williams, he decided to start writing to them.

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Read more about the twisted individuals who are driven to kill and kill again on the Daily Star's dedicated Serial Killers page

One of the first killers Christopher got in touch with was Arthur John Shawcross, the so-called "Monster of the Rivers,” who murdered at least 14 people between 1972 and 1989.

“[Shawcross] started torturing little animals,” Christopher explained on the Crime World podcast. “He would throw kittens into a pond, watch them drown, and shoot birds. That’s how he started.”

Shawcross joined the US Army in 1967 and was shipped off to Vietnam: “He said he was a Rambo – that he went out in the jungle as a one-man killing team… shooting these Vietnamese women and skinning them alive and eating them.”

But in fact, Christopher says, Shawcross never actually saw combat. “He was actually just a store clerk, he never went anywhere near the front line.”

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But his sick cannibalistic compulsion for violence revealed itself soon after he returned to the US: “He went to prison for the murder of two little kiddies,” Christopher says. “A little boy and a little girl, Karen Anne Hill and Jack Blake.”

Many of Shawcross's victims were found with bite marks, especially around the genital area, although he always denied eating 10-year-old Jack's penis after killing him.

Master manipulator Shawcross managed to negotiate a plea bargain agreement, and instead of being locked up for life, he got a 25 year sentence.

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“He wheedled his way into the prison psychiatric unit, and he conned the shrinks – he ended up actually counselling other inmates. He got parole after 15 years.

“Some of the psychiatrists said, ‘don't let him out he's a psychopath – he’ll kill again.’ Well, they let him out and he went on to kill about 11 working girls.”

But at least one of Shawcross’s murders might never had come to light without Christopher’s questioning. After writing a series of letters to the murderer, who was locked up in the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York, Christopher eventually negotiated a prison visit.

“That's why he's part of my TV series. As a result of that relationship I had with Shawcross and the woman he wanted to marry – one of these murder groupie women called Clara Neal – I managed to clear up a cold case of Kimberly Logan in Rochester.

“I did some stuff with the Rochester PD homicide people – met the cops, went to the crime scenes and I got a confession out of him for the murder of the murder of this woman.”

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