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Monday, January 31, 2022

"Murderabilia"

     For Eric Holler, it started 25 years ago with a letter to Richard Ramirez--a serial killer and rapist known as the "Night Stalker," who was active from 1984 to 1985. He [Holler] was fascinated by Ramirez's case and decided to introduce himself in a letter. A few weeks later Ramirez wrote back, asking Holler for his phone number. After being in touch for a while, Ramirez requested that Holler--who was in his early twenties at the time--act as his art dealer. Holler agreed, so Ramirez sent over a package of his artwork, which Holler then sold on a new online auction site.

     "I put his stuff up on eBay and it sold really well," Holler tells Rolling Stone. "So he sent me another package and another package and another package and he just continued. And I started writing to other [serial killers] and other guys started sending stuff too."

     In 2008, Holler started "Serial Killer Ink"--a website selling true crime collectibles--and he's not alone in this retail space, though eBay no longer permits the sale of these items. As he learned when the first set of art by Ramirez sold out, there is clearly a demand for physical objects associated with notorious crimes and criminals. In addition to art, this so-called "murderabilia" can take many forms, including but not limited to articles of clothing, personal possessions, and locks of hair belonging to murderers. But is this simply a macabre hobby--collecting parts of dark history--or something more problematic? It all depends on who you ask. Welcome to the world of murderabilia.

Elizabeth Yuko, "Inside the Murderabilia Machine," Rolling Stone, August 8, 2019

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