Brudos_mugshot.jpgJerome Brudos

Ashley Cuprak


31 January 1939 in Webster, South Dakota, a serial killer was born by the name of Jerome Henry Brudos. He became known as “the lust killer” and the “Shoe Fetish Slayer.” He obtained this name due to the trophies he would take from his victims-which included breasts, a foot, women’s shoes, bras, panties, girdles, keys, photographs, and newspaper clippings. He preyed on young Caucasian females and his MO (modus operandi) was burglary, fetishism, bondage, rape, strangulation, bludgeoning, necrophilia, and mutilation. (Ramsland, n.d)

However- Jerome Brudos did not just pop out of the womb royally messed up. There are many factors that caused him to act in the manner of which he did. Jerome was the youngest of 4 brothers. His mother had been desperate for a girl- however when Jerome was a boy it became his fault. Despite him being a boy- she dressed him in girl clothing and often made him resemble a Barbie doll. He was abused regularly by her- often being belittled and looked down upon.

By the age of 5 Jerome already had a fetish for women’s shoes and underwear. He was often caught stealing them from his neighbors. By his teenage years- his behavior only worsened. He spent much of these years in and out of psychotherapy and mental hospitals (Wikipedia). Then his behavior grew dangerous-he began to stalk women in his town, often knocking them down or choking them to the point of unconscious and then fleeing with their shoes.

By the age of 17, Jerome was arrested after he abducted and beat a woman and then threatened to stab her if she did not follow his sexual demands (Wikipedia). He was soon then placed in a psychiatric ward in Oregon State Hospital- where he stayed for nine months and was diagnosed with schizophrenia (Donnelley 2009). It was at this point he realized his sexual fantasies revolved around his hatred and revenge against his mother and women in general.

Ironically in 1961, Jerome married a 17-year-old gal- with whom he had two children with. However, he would force her into doing house chores naked but wearing high heels and then he would proceed to snap pictures of her (Donnelley 2009). It was at this time he began having migraines and blackouts- to relieve these symptoms he would go out and steal more shoes and lace undergarments this led into his killing spree.

He murdered four young women from 1968-1969: Linda Slawson, Jan Whitney, Karen Sprinker, and Linda Salee. The only lead police had was perpetrator was seen as a large man dressed in women’s clothes. He bludgeoned and strangled the four, proceeded to have sex with their dead corpse and then dumped their bodies in the river. Jerome was also known to keep trophies of his victims (Donnelley 2009). After being caught by police, they discovered in his garage two pairs of amputated breasts that were used as paperweights and a left foot, which he used to model the shoes he collected.

Jerome admitted to the killings and was sentenced to life in prison. At the age of 67 (28 March 2006) he died from natural causes.

Psychoanalytic Perspective

Sigmund Freud, known as one of the most prominent thinkers of the 20th century, would have had a field day studying Jerome. Much of Freud’s research centered around sexual desire-that of which he felt was the primary drive of all human life. Freud divided up the human psyche into two aspects: the conscious and the unconscious. The conscious is what you are aware of at any given point, whether it’s your perceptions, memories, thoughts, fantasies, feelings, and etc. The unconscious would be all things that are not easily available to awareness. This includes our inner drives and things we suppress to avoid the negative trauma that may result (Boeree, 2009)

Freud created stages- stages in which the sex drive was the main driving force. Jerome’s personality would be stuck in the phallic stage, that of which he remains in up until his death. The phallic stage is one in which “sexual energy is focused on the genitals… (S/he) may explore their genitals and masturbate (Friedman & Schustack, 2009).” This stage begins at puberty and represents the resurgence of the sex drive in adolescence, and the more specific focusing of pleasure in sexual intercourse (Boeree, 2009).

From birth Jerome’s mother portrayed him to be a girl. While facing abuse from her he was often dressed as a girl, further causing a physiological breakdown and causing him to become unstable. It is clear to see at age 17 Jerome’s sex drive was increasing and upon getting married, his wife could not suppress these sexual feelings. With the unconscious over taking him- he was unable to suppress the hate he felt towards his mother and women in general thus he began killing. After he was done killing, Jerome would waltz around in high heels and proceed to masturbate to their dead corpse. Later on it was discovered that before dumping the bodies in the river, Jerome would freeze them then take them out- place them in positions he felt would please him and then would masturbate once again. Even up until his death he was trapped in the phallic stage. Jerome would write countless letters to shoe companies begging them to send him a pair of high heels because shoes to him were his “pornography” that of which could please him sexually. Jerome lacked any conscious-it was his unconscious that fed his dislike towards woman.

Freud claims the Oedipus complex is central to the phallic stage, however I must disagree in Jerome’s case. Despite being obsessed with masturbation, the Oedipus complex deals with “a boy’s sexual feelings for his mother and rivalries with his father (Friedman & Schustack, 2009).” Jerome was not in competition with his father simply because he loathed his mother for her abusive and off-the-beaten-path treatment of him. It was discovered after he was arrested at the age of 17 that he realized much of his sexual fantasies revolved around the hatred he felt towards his mother and women in general. Thus Jerome does not suffer from fear of being castrated by his father.

Biological Perspective

A second way in which Jerome could be studied is by looking at the biological aspects of his personality. The key theorists credited with this are Charles Darwin, Ivan Pavlov, and Hans Eysenck.

Hans Eysenck drew from the introversion and extroversion idea and ties it to the central nervous system-which is the biologically based personality theory. From it he discovered that extroverts have low level of brain arousal and seek stimulation. Introverts on the other hang have high level of brain arousal and shy away from over stimulation. Eysenck had a 3 type theory- biological determinism- Heredity in Everything. It included: Extraversion, Neuroticism, and Psychoticism (which is linked to endocrine gland-especially which controls sex drive.) As stated by Heath and Martin (1990), "It is conceptualized as a continuum of liability to psychosis (principally schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder) with 'psychopathy' (i.e., anti-social behavior) defined as 'a halfway stage towards psychosis"

Child psychology has often focused on the idea that environment influences personality. For example, in present day hundreds of books have been published on how to raise your child the ‘correct way.’ “The emphasis on the environment is due in part to cultural belief in opportunities for self improvement (Friedman & Schustack. 2009).” This deals with the nature vs. nurture debate, which has never been settled. The nurture aspect of this debate mainly impacted Jerome.

The manner in which Jerome was nurtured is the main reason why he grew up to be so deranged. Disappointed he was a boy; his mother abused him on a daily basis while emotionally scaring him by dressing him as a girl. Due to being abused from early on he had no escape and could not prevent the mental health issues that would soon result. And her constant abuse created a deep-rooted dislike that eventually Jerome took out on four innocent women.

If you take into account Eysenck’s model of personality theory- psychoticism was said to be linked with psychosis such as schizophrenia. Ironically at age 17- Jerome was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Psychotic tendencies include recklessness, disregard for common sense, and inappropriate emotional expression (Boeree, 1998).” It was also discovered that higher psychoticism scores were reported amongst psychopaths and criminals.


Carl Jung, who is a founder of analytical psychology once stated, “The healthy man does not torture others. Generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers.” This statement rings true for Jerome Brudos. Upon arriving out of the womb- he was abused by his mother. Between the abuse and the gender confusion, it fed his hate towards his mother and women. This torture reversed itself when Jerome began preying on young girls to take out the years of abuse and pain he had accumulated. Needless to say, it is quite obvious to state Jerome’s sexual desires drove him to act in the way he did. It was disturbing to read the manner in which he committed his crimes and the complete disregard and disrespect he had for human life.

Jerome can be seen stuck in the phallic stage. He is stuck in this stage due to his obsession with masturbation that of which never receded, even up until his death. Jerome lacked any form of a conscious- rather his unconscious prevailed when he could not suppress the years of abuse and torture that had been directed towards him.

Another factor that influenced Jerome’s behavior is how he was raised. This deals with Eysenck’s model of personality theory- specifically psychoticism. It was not so much his genes that caused him to act in the way he did but rather the environment that he was raised in.


Boeree, George. (1998). Personality Theories- Hans Eysenck. Retrived:
Boeree, George. (2009) Personality Theories- Sigmund Freud. Retrieved:

Friedman, Howard & Schustack, Miriam. (2009) Personality. Classic Theories and Modern Research. (pg 150-165)

Donnelley, Paul. (2009). 501 MOST NOTORIOUS CRIMES. Great Britian; Bounty Books.(pg 395)

Heath, A.C, & Martin, N.G. (1990). Psychoticism as a dimension of personality: A multivariate genetic test of Eysenck and Eysenck's psychoticism constuct. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 111-121.

Ramsland, Katherine. (n.d). The Fetish Killer. Retrieved: