The Truth About The Happy Face Killer

Melissa Moore always sensed that there was something off about her father, Keith Jesperson. Writing for the BBC, she recalls being five years old when Jesperson discovered her playing with kittens she found in the family farmhouse cellar. She watched in horror as her gigantic dad, a six-foot-six powerfully built trucker, grabbed the kittens from her tiny hands, suspended them from a clothesline, and began torturing them. She begged him to stop but he wasn't done with them. The next time she saw those kittens, they were dead. In a separate instance, when Jesperson found Moore and her brother petting a cat, he proceeded to hold the feline down and twist its screaming head in front of his also screaming children.

When Moore was 13, her father claimed he knew how to get away with murder. "He just started to tell me how he would cut off the victim's buttons, so that there wouldn't be any fingerprints left, and he would wear cycling shoes that didn't leave a distinctive print in the mud." She thought he got it from the detective fiction he read. But this wasn't fiction. Unbeknownst to her, Kieth Jesperson was the Happy Face Killer, and he was happily recounting a murder he committed three years earlier.

The Happy Face Killer enjoyed describing his crimes

Much like the BTK Killer, Dennis Rader, Happy Face Killer Keith Jesperson took immense pleasure in flaunting his crimes in writing. When convicted for one of his murders, Jesperson insisted on anonymously taking credit. Per the BBC, he left messages on truck stop toilets and at bus stations and added smiley faces. After his arrest he began writing letters about eight rapes and murders he committed, making sure to include his signature smiley faces. In a letter specifically addressed to the Associated Press, Jesperson said, "I want this to end as soon as possible. Unlike O.J. Simpson, I do not want this to drag on." At one point he claimed to have murdered as many as 160 women, though it's believed the actual total is eight.

At times Jesperson even seemed to confess to confess to his daughter, Melissa Moore. She writes that while having breakfast at a Denny's he told her, "Not everything is what it appears to be, Missy." When asked to explain, he claimed to have something "really important" to share but couldn't bring himself to blurt it out. "I can't tell you, sweetie," he said. "If I tell you, you will tell the police. I'm not what you think I am, Melissa."

Jesperson once even seemed to admit that he belonged behind bars: "You know I drove past the Oregon State Penitentiary, and I honked my horn. I said, 'Someday I'm gonna be there. But not yet!'" That day came in 1995 when he was convicted. Jesperson was sentenced to consecutive life sentences. According to the Oregonian, the "serial killer has enjoyed a long and creepy correspondence with the newspaper."