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Crime Pays For The Collector of Murderous Memorabilia

When Julie Craig opened her booth at the Stetson Country Christmas Expo on December 7, 2017, a collector offered her $500 for a ribbon encircled wreath. The decoration said: “Stupid Should Hurt.” The potential buyer had a strange business offer for Craig.

A self-described collector of crime souvenirs, the buyer field the “Stupid Should Hurt” labeled-wreath held value as Craig sold one or more throughout the Route 91 Harvest music gala.

“He told me he’d help me out economically,” Craig said.

She didn’t sell to the man, but he did give her a peek into the box of ‘murderabilia.’ In the eclectic slice of collectors, purchasers and vendors barter items related to offenders, victims, and places where crimes occurred. Since the October 1, 2017, shooting, buyers have been lining up to buy items believed to be connected with the shooting. Sellers have posted items online, and it’s a buyer’s market.

William Harder took a recent vacation to Las Vegas where he enjoyed sightseeing and toured Hershey’s. He also bought some clay from the spot the bullets hit and plans to sell the soil as piece of a Las Vegas massacre ensemble. Starting bid: $55.

Individuals, like Harder, often hand over thousands of dollars to grab notes and sketches from history’s infamous serial killers.

“I didn’t invent this hobby,” said Harder. “Al Capone is a folk hero, and Charles Manson is an icon.”

Harder began collecting while visiting a Roman Coliseum on a European trip. He was stuck forever with the magnetism of items linked to person who saw men perish for sport in the ancient coliseum.

Macabre enthusiasts have been around for decades — if not longer. Passers-by rubbed handkerchiefs in John Dillinger’s blood when he was killed in 1934 Chicago.

Whiskey Pete paid, in 1997, $85,000 for the shirt Clyde Barrow wore when he was shot to death six-decades before.

While New York passed “Son of Sam laws” four decades ago to prevent murderers from benefiting from crime, Nevada’s Supreme Court termed the state’s version a “breach of the First Amendment” in 2004 and struck the law from the books.

Although not linked to a Vegas crime, one infamous weapon was sold in 2008 for a then-record $2 million. The gun used by Jack Ruby to kill Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963 was auctioned by Earl Ruby, Jack Ruby’s brother.

Earl got just over $200,000 for the weapon, and it was later sold for $2 million to Pugliese Pop Culture Collection in Las Vegas.

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