Unusual help in 'murderabilia' fight

April 4, 2008 5:10:15 PM PDT
There's secret help to crack down on so-called "murderabilia," the selling of items associated with notorious murderers and other convicts. We've learned Houston victim's rights advocates have been getting tipped off from an unusual source. Andy Kahan with the city of Houston coined the term "murderabilia." And for close to a decade, he's made it his mission to stop the sale of items from or related to notorious killers. And unbeknownst to most people, his biggest ally in that fight is a man you'd least likely suspect.

In his small downtown office, Kahan has a bizarre collection of goods.

"This is his used deodorant," said Kahan of one of a convicted killer's items.

Fingernail clippings, hair samples, all of it from convicted killers. They're the kinds of souvenirs he's been fighting for years to outlaw. And despite the best efforts of Kahan and others, it's still easy to find murderabilia all over the Internet. We found one site that sells it and another that auctions it off.

Name a notorious killer and likely you'll find something for sale. It was case eight years ago when Kahan stumbled upon the business and sent letters to well-known serial killers in the country asking if they knew about this.

"I just sent out twenty letters all over the country," he said.

One of them wrote back and has been writing ever since.

"Well, it says 'Dear Andy, I hope you are doing well and I wish you the best for the new year'," said Kahan.

Kahan's pen pal is David Berkowitz. That David Berkowitz, the 'Son of Sam' killer who terrorized New York during a summer in which he shot to death seven people 30 years ago.

"I couldn't have achieved some of the stuff I have done legislatively without his help," said Kahan.

Kahan doesn't make excuses for Berkowitz and doesn't consider him anything more than a co-worker in the effort to ban what he calls despicable.

"It doesn't get any better than when you have who all of the profiting laws are named after, 'Son of Sam' laws, actually working on your behalf," said Kahan. "He gets numerous requests from dealers all over the country trying to entice him to send them some of his letters or his artwork or anything that is tangible with his name on it. And he, in turn, sends all of the letters to me."

Kahan heads to Washington next week for a meeting with lawmakers there. There's a bill pending in both the House and Senate which could outlaw the sale of murderabilia nationwide.

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