Charles Ray Hatcher is an American serial killer who was born on July 16, 1929 in Mound City, Missouri. He was born to mother, Lula and an abusive alcoholic ex-convict father, Jesse in a small town. Charles was the youngest of his three siblings and was being bullied at school. Charles and his brothers were using copper wire they found in an old Model T Ford in 1935 to fly a kite. Charles’ eldest brother Arthur Allen was hit with a high-voltage power line and was electrocuted as he was about to give Charles the kite. Arthur died, and Charles’ parents divorced each other after Jesse left home. Charles moved to St. Joseph with his mother in 1945 after his mother married her third husband.
Charles was employed at Iowa-Missouri Walnut Company for two weeks in 1947 before he stole a logging truck. He was convicted of auto theft and received two years suspended sentence for his crime. He was convicted of auto theft again for stealing a 1937 Buick in 1948 and was sentenced to two years in Missouri State Penitentiary. He served a little more than half of his sentence and was released on June 8, 1949. He was arrested a few months later for forging a $10 check at a gas station in Maryville and was sent back to prison. He escaped jail on March 18, 1951 and attempted to burglarize a place, but was caught and sent to prison for an extra two years added to his sentence. Charles was once again released from jail on July 14, 1954 after serving his time. It did not take him long to steal a 1951 Ford in Orrick which he received a four years sentence for in prison. He tried to escape from the Ray County Jail in Richmond and resulted in him receiving an extra two years added to the sentence he already had. He was released from prison on March 18, 1959.
Prison did not scare Charles because he tried to kidnap Steven Pellham (16 years old) on June 26, 1959. Steven was a newspaper boy that reported the crime stating Charles threatened him with a butcher knife. Police caught Charles while he was driving a stolen vehicle. He was then sentenced to five years in the Missouri State Penitentiary. He tried to escape the Buchanan County Jail while waiting to be transported to prison but failed. Charles was believed to be the most prominent criminal in Northwest Missouri since Jesse James after arriving at the Missouri State Penitentiary. Charles was blamed for the murder of inmate Jerry Tharrington on July 2, 1961 because he was the only person missing from the kitchen crew when Jerry was murdered. Jerry was found on the prison’s kitchen loading dock, raped and stabbed to death. Charles was sent to solitary confinement but was released because there was not enough evidence to convict him in court. Charles wrote a note stating he needed psychiatric treatment while he was in solitary confinement. His note was denied, but he was still released from prison on August 24, 1963 after his sentence was reduced.
Charles confessed to kidnapping William Freeman (12 years old) on August 27, 1969 in Antioch, California. He said he took William to a creek and strangled him. Charles kidnapped Gilbert Martinez (6 years old) on August 29, 1969 in San Francisco. A man walking his dog saw a man beating and sexually assaulting a little boy and called the police. The police arrived and arrested Charles, who identified himself as Albert Ralph Price, although his ID on him says Hobert Prater. The Federal Bureau of Investigation later identified who Charles really was while he was in custody. William survived the attack.
Charles was ordered a competency evaluation to see if he is capable of standing trial after he was charged with assault, attempted sodomy and kidnapping. The psychological evaluation worked in Charles’ favor because he was sent numerous times back and forth between the hospital and prison in 1970. Charles said he heard voices, pretended to be delusional and attempted suicide during his evaluation. The psychiatrist believes Charles was faking his symptoms/disorders and the court ordered two separate evaluations by two different psychiatrist in January 1971. The first psychiatrist stated Charles is insane and recommends vigorous treatment in a secure hospital. The second psychiatrist stated Charles is incompetent to stand trial and recommends him to be sent him back to the hospital.
Charles pleaded not guilty on May 24, 1971 by reason of insanity and was sent to a different hospital for more evaluations. The hospital stated Charles was unfit to stand trial. Charles was caught a week later in Colusa after escaping from the hospital on June 2, 1971. He was arrested for auto theft and using the name Richard Lee Grady. He was then sent for a mental evaluation at the California State Hospital. The staffs at the hospital said that Charles was a danger to other patients in April 1972, and he was sent to the prison state hospital in Vacaville. He was transferred to San Quentin State Prison to stand trial in August 1972. He was evaluated two times, and one said he was competent to stand trial while the other said he was sane at the time of the crime. He was finally convicted in December 1972 for kidnapping and molestation of Gilbert Martinez. He was sent to the California State Hospital in January 1972 as a "mentally disordered sexual offender".
Charles was sentenced to one year to life in April 1973 a medium security prison in Vacaville after he was caught on March 28, 1973 with two sheets stuffed into his pants trying to escape. Psychologist found him to be a "manipulative institutionalized sociopath" in May 1973.
He attempted suicide in June 1973 by slashing his wrists after he was recommended to be sent to a maximum security prison. The guards reported good behaviour for Charles in August 1975 at his parole review. The California Parole Board said in June 1976 that Charles has improved dramatically and set his parole date to be December 25, 1978. Charles’ parole date was modified in January 1977, and he was released on May 20, 1977 to a halfway house in San Francisco.
Charles was arrested on September 4, 1978 under the name Richard Clark for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy in Omaha, Nebraska. He was arrested and sent to the Douglas County Mental Hospital. Charles was released a few months later in January 1979. He was arrested for assaulting and for attempting to kill Thomas Morton (7 years old) on May 3, 1979.
The charges were dropped, and he was sent to the mental health facility, Norfolk Regional Center. He was released in May 1980 but was sent back for assaulting someone else two months after. Charles escaped the facility in September. Charles was arrested the following month, October 9, 1980 under the name Richard Clark in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was arrested for attempted assault and sodomy of a boy who was 17 years old. He was released 21 days after being sent to another mental health facility. He was arrested under the name Richard Clark on January 13, 1981 Des Moines, Iowa for being involved in a knife fight. He was released to a Davenport Salvation Army shelter in April after being sent to several mental health facilities.
Charles kidnapped Eric Christgen (4-year-old) on May 26, 1978 in downtown Saint Joseph, Missouri. Eric was sexually abused and died from being suffocated. Eric’s body was found along the Missouri River. The authorities investigated "every known pervert in town," which resulted questioning more than 100 possible suspects. Melvin Reynolds (25-year-old) was investigated for several months with polygraph examinations, interrogation under hypnosis, under sodium amytal ("truth serum") and an interrogation involving 14 hours of questions. Melvin said, "I’ll say so if you want me to." and gave details of the crime a few weeks later. The details were fed to him. He was charged with second-degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Charles confessed to three murders including the killing of Eric Christgen four years later, and Melvin was released from prison. Charles was arrested on July 30 for beating and strangling Michelle Steele (11 years old) to death on July 29.
He confessed to murdering fifteen other children from 1969 - 1982. He kidnapped his first victim William Freeman (12 years old) in August 1969 from Antioch, California. That was one day before he was charged with child molestation. He made a map that led searchers to find the remains of James Churchill in Rock Island Army Arsenal, near Davenport, Iowa. Charles requested the death sentence, but the jury refused and gave him a sentence of life in prison on December 3, 1984. He hanged himself four days later in his cell at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City on December 7, 1984 at the aged of 55.
Famous Killers: Charles Ray Hatcher
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