7 Real-Life Cases Covered in ‘Mindhunter’ Season 2

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

In case you missed it, season two of Netflix’s hit crime-thriller Mindhunter just hit the streaming platform. And, like the freshman season, the new chapter shows FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) continuing their study of some of the most notorious serial killers in history. Here, the seven murder cases they explore in season two.

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1. David Berkowitz, Aka Son Of Sam

Between 1976 and 1977, New York women and couples experienced complete hysteria when a murderer began to torment the city. He dubbed himself Son of Sam and shot and killed six people and wounded even more. Berkowitz targeted couples parked in their cars in private areas and sent cryptic letters to the media and police signed with his Son of Sam nickname and self-invented symbol. He was captured on August 10, 1977, and insisted that he was forced to commit these acts of violence because of a demon who overtook his neighbor’s dog.

In Mindhunter, we see Berkowitz (Holt McCallany) eventually admit that he lied about the demon, which leads him to be convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for each murder. He’s now 66 years old and is still incarcerated at Shawangunk Correctional Facility in New York.

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2. Dennis Lynn Rader, The Btk Killer

We’ve seen glimpses of Rader (Sonny Valicenti) since season one of the series, and we gain a greater insight into his crimes in this new season. We first see him in the season two premiere, when his wife finds him in a compromising situation. Later, he buries a mask of a woman’s face and a set of large high heels that he uses to cross-dress.

In real life, these proclivities ultimately lead to Rader murdering ten people between 1974 and 1991 by binding, torturing and then killing them, hence his BTK Killer moniker. He wasn’t caught until 2005, but was ultimately convicted of ten counts of first degree murder and sentenced to ten consecutive life terms. He’s now 74 years old and is being held in solitary confinement at El Dorado Correctional Facility.  

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3. Wayne Williams, The (potential) Atlanta Child Murder

We first meet Williams (Christopher Livingston) in Mindhunter when Holden goes to interview him in Atlanta regarding the strange series of letters he sent the police and the crimes he committed. While there, Holden also learns of the Atlanta Child Murders, which Williams surprisingly has a tie to in real life.

Williams, now 61, was accused and convicted for the murders of 27-year-old Nathaniel Carter and 21-year-old Jimmy Ray Payne in Atlanta in 1982, but he is also believed to be responsible for at least 23 of the 30 Atlanta child murders from 1979 to 1981. Despite the fact that he’s thought to be responsible for the slaying of innocent children, Williams has never faced charges for any of the deaths—nobody has. Thankfully, the Atlanta Police Department has officially reopened the cold cases in an effort to bring justice for the victims and peace to the families.

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4. William Joseph Pierce, Jr.

Season two offers a chilling glimpse into “Junior’s” mind. Although he claims to speak six languages, his handle over his own vernacular is poor at best. He opens up to Holden and Jim Barney (Albert Jones) after Barney bribes him with Mallomars. As he briefly explains, he killed nine people in the South between 1970 and 1971.

Outside of the show, Junior is currently serving life in prison and is about 87 years old. 

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5. Edmund Kemper, The Co-ed Killer

We met Kemper, played by Cameron Britton, in season one when Holden and Bill interviewed him about the murders of his grandparents, mother, family friend and six teen and college-aged women. In the season one finale, Kemper gave Holden a bear hug, which caused a series of panic attacks. In the new season, the Co-Ed Killer sheds light on the motives of serial killers and why they often return to the scene of the crime and keep tokens. In real life, Kemper is still alive and, at 70 years old, is incarcerated in Vacaville, California.  

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6. Elmer Wayne Henley, An Accomplice To The Candy Man

In Mindhunter, Henley (Robert Aramayo) is interviewed by Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv)—ya know, when she reveals her story about the professor she was once romantically involved with. If you’re wondering who the Dean Corll they’re referencing is, you may know him better as The Candy Man. Between 1972 and 1973, Corll sexually assaulted, tortured and killed as many as 28 young men in the Houston area. In both real life and the show, Henley was tasked with finding Corll’s victims for him. However, Henley ultimately ended Corll’s life and fatally shot him in 1973. He turned himself in and is now 63 years old and serving six 99-year terms in a Texas prison.

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7. Tex Watson, The Manson Murders

Charles Manson (Damon Herriman) is first to appear in season two, but it was really his follower Tex Watson (Christopher Backus) who committed what are now known as the Manson Murders. In real life, Watson helped to kill actress Sharon Tate, her unborn baby and friends Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger on August 9, 1969. The following evening he murdered Leno LaBianca. He and several of Manson’s other followers were arrested that November and convicted of seven counts of murder and one conspiracy to commit murder. He is 73 years old and still imprisoned in San Diego to this day.

In Mindhunter, Tex explains how Manson was able to convince his followers to commit such heinous crimes. He goes on to add that Manson encouraged him and the other followers to act on the inherent rage inside them. As Tex states, there’s “freedom” in thinking the world is about to end and consequences don’t matter.



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