He Cut Out The Heart of One Man & Ripped Out The Heart of Another | Blind Hatred: The Horrific Story of Joseph Christopher | 1980s Serial Killers

(Joseph Christopher. Picture credit: nypost)

[Please be aware that this post contains some disturbing content which covers racism and self harm/suicide]

It's hard to believe that there is not much out there about this particular case, I only just stumbled across it myself recently. I was putting together my 6 chosen serial killers for each decade of the 70s, 80s and 90s and Joseph Christopher's name just jumped out at me. I'd never heard of him before but as I delved in deeper through my books, I realised what a psychotic and sick person he really was. 

In this series, my aim is to cover cases that you may know about but also cases you may not have heard of before and so Joseph Christopher is the focus of this post. His case is a very disturbing story to say the least. He was born to a decent family on the 26th of July 1955 in Buffalo New York. His parents were hardworking and he grew up with two older sisters and a younger sister. His mother was a nurse and his Dad was a maintenance worker, they weren't rich but the family was comfortable and there were no traumatic events that occurred in Joseph's childhood to explain in some way what he would later become but he did struggle with the usual feelings of self-consciousness, being shy around girls and all of that sort of thing, nothing abnormal. 

Growing up in predominantly female household wasn't that much of a struggle for Joseph, he was very close to his father and whilst his mother and his sisters would be either cooking, shopping or doing what was seen as traditionally feminine pastimes, he would simply go and spend the day with his father. Joseph and his Dad would go walking for hours and do some hunting or fishing. His Dad was a fan of the outdoors and was into all things camping so he would teach Joseph tricks of how to live off the land, use guns and be self-sufficient.  

Joseph had dreams of making his Dad proud and using all that he had taught him by one day joining the army. He wanted to make something of himself and was a firm believer in what his parents had taught him about hard work. 

So the future looked bright for Joseph Christopher but as he got older he began to notice that he would suffer from mood swings, paranoia and hear voices in his head. At the time he put it down to stress. This strange experience would come and go. He did his best to carry on with his school work and was later described as a smart child but not 'book-smart'. I think that Joseph was more pragmatic and more of a hands on person who learned how to do things for himself but maybe not as gifted academically. Whatever the case, he kept himself to himself and did well in his studies and tasks. 

Being tired of studying he took the impulsive decision to drop out of school and not continue with his studies. Like a lot of young men he wanted to start making some money so he took some odd jobs but they never seemed to last very long. He wasn't very good at sticking to things or finishing tasks when he started them. He seemed to be a person that would give up easily and the psychological problems that he was having were still there, he was still troubled by the voices. 

After a string of jumping around different jobs he finally found one that looked like he would be able to stick at it for a decent length of time. He managed to get a job as a maintenance man at a college but he soon managed to mess this up by falling asleep and getting fired. 

Not having much money and facing months of unemployment yet again, he had no choice but to go back to his parents and ask them if they could help support him until he could get back on his feet again. He was only in his early 20s but he was feeling that pressure of wanting to have his life in order but things never seemed to go his way. Depression due to his already fragile mental state combined with being unemployed and struggling for money started to take their toll. He sought professional help and was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia. Finally he had an answer for all of those years of feeling out of place, the paranoia, the mood swings, the voices. With this psychological condition, a sufferer will also experience delusions and hallucinations so it is quite a difficult thing to go through and requires regular monitoring and medication. 

With so much time on his hands and difficulties financially and not being able to find a job, Joseph began to spiral out of control with his depression but he admitted to himself that he needed to get some professional help. He was willing to be placed in a psychiatric hospital until everything was under control. In a shocking turn of events, Joseph explained to the psychiatrist at the hospital how he was feeling and surprisingly the psychiatrist felt that it would be best for Joseph to just go home. In their opinion, Joseph was not a danger to himself or to other people so they refused to admit him into the hospital. 

Joseph went home and things just continued to go from bad to utterly horrific because just 14 days after being sent away from the psychiatric hospital, Joseph Christopher went on a sickening killing spree. His target was African-America males. His first victim was just a 14 year old child by the name of Glenn Dunn. His killing spree lasted from September to December of 1980. He attacked 19 innocent people, all male, all African American for no reason other than the colour off their skin. People would be sitting in their cars minding their own business, there would be no argument or conversation, he would just walk up to people and either shoot or stab them and walk away. Some of the victims were strangled as well as being stabbed, some were slashed. At least two of the victims had their hearts removed. One victim's heart was cut out and another victim's heart was ripped out of their chest. It was like something out of a horrifying movie. 

His oldest victim was a 71 year old man, it all made no sense. He took a small break in between the murders to enlist in the United States Army but was soon put on a short period of leave so the killing resumed. When he did finally return back to the Army he tried to kill a fellow soldier who was African-American but luckily the man survived. Realising that he was totally out of control he was placed in solitary confinement where he tried to take his own life. When he was finally seen by a psychiatrist he told them that he wanted to kill all African-Americans.

A search of his home had turned up a stack of evidence that proved to the police that he was the person that they were looking for in connection to all these murders. Joseph cut quite a pathetic figure, he looked like he could cry at any minute and certainly didn't look like someone who could be a cold-blooded killer but as we know, appearances can be deceptive. He was placed on trial for the murders and was found guilty. He'd attacked 19 innocent people, 12 of which had sadly passed away and 7 who survived. In prison, Joseph claimed that he had actually murdered 13 people. He was sentenced to life, a 60 year jail term but this was overturned because the judge had barred the defense from presenting evidence to prove Joseph's mental state and history of Paranoid Schizophrenia. 

(Joseph Christopher. Picture credit: gravereviews)

Joseph was just 25 at the time of the murders and nobody knows why he did these terrible things but his mental health played a huge role in his downfall and the lack of proper help was a huge factor. He did try and get professional help but an error in judgement seen him not taken seriously. It reminds me of the McDonald's Massacre case that I covered back in 2019 where Thomas Huberty had tried to contact a mental health facility in an attempt to get some help because he was having suicidal and homicidal thoughts. The call for him came too late and utter devastation occurred on that horrible day of July in 1984. 

There's no excuse for what either of these individuals did, they were both evil but their mental health had a huge part to play in their actions. One wonders, if they had been given the proper help, would they have still committed these horrendous crimes or would it have just delayed the inevitable? 

Joseph Christopher spent just over a decade behind bars with nothing to show for his life but a horrible legacy of pain, suffering and racism. His crimes put a community in fear and turned neighbours against each other. Tensions were high and in some places they are still this way to this day. At the time, the African-American community was living in fear because they had no idea when this murderer was going to strike next. The police would not help them, would not give them added protection or reassure them. The tensions between the police and the African-American community were tense then and they still remain tense to this day. 

It seemed that a little bit of karma came back around for Joseph Christopher and at the age of just 37 years old, he died of a rare form of breast cancer on the 1st of March 1993. 

His story is a horrible one from history but should still be remembered to this day. I'm saddened to say that I do not have any pictures of the innocent victims, they are nowhere to be seen. All we have is their names and I have no idea why that is. We have to take these lessons from history seriously and we have to take mental health more seriously. I'm shocked at the number of times potential murderers and sex offenders have proven themselves to be a danger to the public and yet they are allowed to walk the streets. Is it lack of funding? not enough beds or rooms for these people? The early 80s we had problems with a lack of mental health services in both the US and the UK and it seemed that today, in 2023 it's still the same and that is shocking. How many more innocent lives must be lost before our governments do something? It's true what the rapper and musician Tupac Shakur said ''They got money for wars but can't feed the poor.'' and this can apply to everything, feeding the homeless, lack of proper healthcare, lack of mental health care. It's a sad and dangerous situation to be in. We can but hope and pray that we will see positive change one day. 

RIP to the innocent victims & blessings to their families. Let's remember their names even if we don't have any pictures, to remember their names is so important. RIP: Glenn Dunn, Harold Green, Emmanuel Thomas, Joseph McCoy, Parler Edwards, Ernest Jones, Luis Rodriguez, Antone Davis, Richard Renner, Carl Ramsey, Roger Adams and Wendell Barnes. 

Thoughts also go to the survivors: Colin Cole, John Adams, Ivan Frazier, Albert Menefee, Larry Little, Calvin Crippen & Leonard Coles. 

Further Reading & Sources: 

Joseph Christopher: Article | New York Post

Joseph Christopher | Murderpedia

Absolute Madness | Book by Catherine Pelonero

Joseph Christopher | Wikpededia

Joseph Christopher: News Article | WKBW

Hunting Humans | Book by Michael Newton

The Big Book of Serial Killers: Volume 2 | Book by Jack Rosewood & Rebecca Lo

Thank you for taking the time to join me for this case in my Serial Killer series which has been focusing on this decade of the 1980s. I will be back in the next post and hope you will join me for that one too. I post every Sunday evening and you can find me on all of my socials here

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Thank you so much for your support, see you (hopefully) in the next post. Stay safe x 


  1. I hope that you’re having a nice Sunday Jo.

    I read your latest instalment of your True Crime serial killers series. Brilliant work as always. Bone-chilling racist & heartless killer. I didn’t know Joseph Christopher before reading your latest case. I’m sure that being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia was terrible for him but it’s certainly no excuse for what he has done to all these innocent victims. Having said that, I was angry about the psychiatrist when he refuses to admit Joseph Christopher at the hospital for help. I’m sure it would have prevented all the violence and disturbing gruesome things that he has done. Only 14 days after the psychiatrist decision to not admit him, he went on his killing spree. I was in shocked to read that he was sent home.

    You are right Jo, this case does reminds me of the McDonald’s Massacre case too. When somebody is asking for help, people in charge must act accordingly. It would have saved so many lives in both cases.

    It’s always difficult for me to understand racism in our society. It should have never exist in our world but in this case, I was in disbelief that a sick individual like him can commit gruesome acts of violence like he has done to these African-American black people.

    RIP to all the innocent victims. It’s beyond sad that there aren’t any pictures of them. Obviously my thoughts are with the families but also the survivors.

    Thank you Jo, because of your work, these innocent victims will never be forgotten Xx

  2. Wow... I have never heard of this case before and I'm shocked and yet not surprised at the same time, seems like unless there's a full blown riot that the mass media and news outlets can capitalize on we don't hear about it. And the lack of info-saturation prior to the advent of the I.T. Age made it that much more difficult for these stories to come to the light. But this case is incredibly unique in the fact that we have a two fold issue here. Extreme Racism and a lack of Mental Healthcare... I find it to be quite curious that Joseph's mental health (suffering from Paranoid Schizophrenia) that it pushed him to solely target African-Americans.

    But with that there's a two fold issue that I see, why are we not taking care of the mentally ill? Why are we as our societies love to call ourselves "Enlightened" not addressing these issues? We are more likely to shun someone that says "Hey... I'm depressed" versus taking a moment and helping that person. We're more likely to slam a door in someone's face the moment their mental health comes to be questioned. If that psychiatrist had just taken the time to actually do something to help, this most likely would never have happened. In my opinion this psychiatrist should of been barred from further practice (I hope he was) and held to some degree of accountability for Joseph's actions as it was the psychiatrist that refused to admit him to the hospital.

    The other thing that really grinds my gears is the lack of help and the inaction of the police department to protect the African-American community in Buffalo. I remember going through Buffalo a few times in the late 80's and early 90's and being shocked at how appalling the city really was, especially at night. So in all reality I'm not surprised by the police departments lack of action, it a very gritty and grim city to visit let alone live in. But we've seen this kind of racial discrimination numerous times through out the years whether it's the race riots in Chicago in 1919 and again in 1968, to Rodney King to Martin Luther King Jr. The only difference now from the past is that we have the media markets jumping on these situations because they all thrive on clicks and views now, versus waiting for it to make a blip on the 5 o'clock news broadcast.

    I'm still in complete shock and disbelief at the fact that the brutality that Joseph exhibited in his murders, to cut out a persons heart is hard enough that I don't even want to imagine but to rip out someone's heart with your bare hands is something unparalleled and truly horrifying to fathom. And on top of it all that Joseph committed these crimes in reality in a very short time frame of 4 months. This to me really highlights the incompetency of the police departments in the Buffalo city area, and I can only imagine the fear and terror that the African-American community felt at that time.

    I'm still a firm believer that monsters of this nature should never receive a life-sentence, they should be executed and that these should be mandated by the Federal Government to all 50 states. The fact that he was sentenced to life in prison as short as it was in reality is a burden on the taxpayers that should never happen. My heart breaks for the families of the 12 victims that this monster killed and I pray that the victims that survived this monster were able to fully recover.

    And I hope that someday our societies can stop seeing people as black or white and see people for their actions as wrong or right, once that happens than maybe humanity can finally have equality. And with that equality we can focus on the more important issues like Mental Healthcare and finding a way to bridge the gap between the rich and poor to create financial equality as well.

    In closing, I truly enjoyed this week's True Crime Case as I always do. Your work is as riveting as it is insightful and intense as it is thought provoking and I can never say enough about how incredible you are and how amazing your work truly is. 🙏❤

  3. Tara (box5angel)5 August 2023 at 14:34

    This disgusting, terrible and horrible man. I can’t imagine what any of the victims went through and probably continue to go through. The survivors and the families. It’s a shame that no photos of the victims are available. And that unrest still continues in that community. Thanks for posting about this. First time I’ve heard of this story.