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Serial Killer Jake Bird
The name of Jake Bird lies buried in relative obscurity amongst the pages of history. But his ghastly crimes mark him as one the country’s most prolific serial killers. However, it wasn’t until October of 1949 when he was captured in Tacoma, Washington, tales of his horrid past emerged. Bird was a notorious rapist and serial killer.
The 45-year-old,black transient had broken into the home of Bertha Kludt and her daughter, Beverly June. After plundering the residence he bludgeoned the two women to death with an ax.
Police officers were sent to 1007 S 21st Street to investigate a disturbance. As they approached, a barefoot man dashed out the back, crashing through a picket fence. After climbing over several back yard fences, the fugitive was finally cornered in an alley.
According to police Bird pulled a knife and attacked, cutting one officer’s hand and stabbing another in the shoulder. The fugitive was quickly subdued by a left hook to the jaw and a swift kick to the groin. The prisoner was taken to a Hospital where he received treatment for head and face lacerations. He was then transported to the Tacoma City Jail where he confessed. There was no sense in denying he committed the murders as blood and brain tissue from both victims was found on his clothing. Additionally, his bloodyfingerprints, the ax and his shoes were found at the murder scene.
When police officers began investigating the scene of the crime, they found 52 year old Bertha Kludt, slain in her bedroom. The body of her daughter, age 17, was found dead on the kitchen floor. It was also determined an attempt had been made to sexually assault Bertha. Apparently, Beverly had heard her mother’s screams and rushed downstairs where she also met her fate.
He was convicted of first-degree murder and given the death penalty. While on death row, Bird bragged of committing or being involved in at least 44 other murders. Of these 44 only eleven were ever proven. However, Bird knew enough details about the other murders for investigators to believe he was being truthful.
Apparently Bird was no stranger to a life of crime. His criminal record included burglaries, assaults, attempted murder, and murder. He had already served about 15 years in various prisons for his crimes.
Not much is known about Jake's early life except he was born in 1901 "somewhere out in Louisiana where there ain't no post office. "He left home at 19 years old. Bird was a drifting wanderer preferring not to stay in one place very long. He supported himself with odd jobs and sometimes working as a section-gang laborer on the railroad. This life style made it easy for him to stalk and murder women.
During his trial bird withdrew his confession, claiming police had beaten it out of him. But the judge didn’t buy the story. After deliberating for only 35 minutes, the jury returned its verdict…guilty of first-degree murder.
When it came time for Bird to deliver his final comments he said, “I’m putting the Jake Bird hex on all of you who had anything to do with my being punished. Mark my words you will die before I do.” He was then sentenced to death by hanging. Many believe there was power in Bird’s curse. Within a year period, six men connected with Bird’s trial died. Consider the following events:
· The judge died of a heart attack a month after handing down the sentence.
· One of Bird’s lawyers died a year later.
· A police officer who recorded Bird’s second confession died in January 1948.
· The court’s chief clerk died shortly afterwards.
· The officer who took Bird’s first confession also died of a heart attack.
· One of Bird’s prison guards died shortly after that.
True to his word Jake lived to see them all die. Bird was executed on July 15, 1949. He was the seventh African American to be executed in Washington State since the death penalty was established in 1904.