AS the Swinging Sixties roared to a turbulent finish, a crafty and sadistic serial killer who would turn out to be often called the Cape Cod Vampire was wreaking havoc and sowing terror on the East Coast of the US.
The horrific crimes of Antone “Tony” Costa, whose believed to have butchered as much as eight younger girls between 1966 and 1969, unfolded earlier than the extra notorious Manson household murders and served as a daunting precursor to the so-called “golden age” of serial killers.
Costa earned his vampirical moniker for the brutal approach by which he mutilated his victims: some had been dismembered, others had been decapitated and a quantity had chew marks on their pores and skin.
No less than one in all Costa’s victims was discovered with organs lacking and most of the girls appeared to have been sexually abused after their deaths.
The good-looking and charming 24-year-old hippie, who was additionally known as the Cape Cod Casanova, was solely convicted of two of the murders however was suspected of killing as many as eight – three of whom have by no means been discovered.
Believing Costa’s horrifying spree was finally overshadowed by a broader “darkish interval” in American historical past, true crime writer Casey Sherman has revisited the murders in his new e-book, Helltown: The Untold Story Of A Serial Killer on Cape Cod.
For Sherman, a Massachusetts native who grew up near the place the murders occurred, Costa is without doubt one of the most vicious serial killers who ever lived.
“I’ve coated upwards to 50 homicides in my profession as an investigative journalist and I’ve by no means seen something this unhealthy,” Sherman advised The US Solar.
“I actually do imagine it and I am not overplaying this, however, to me, Tony Costa is probably the most vicious serial killer since Jack the Ripper.
“These girls weren’t simply murdered, they had been brutalized within the crime scene pictures and seemed like they’d been attacked by an amazing white shark – not a human killer.
“That is how vicious these wounds had been … photos of their accidents nonetheless keep on with me now as I am speaking.”
By the late Nineteen Sixties, the hippy scene in Provincetown, Massachusetts, was in full circulation, and on the heart of all of it was a 24-year-old divorced carpenter by the identify of Tony Costa.
Often called Sire by the myriad of admiring younger girls that orbited round him, Costa’s attractiveness and charisma initially protected him from suspicion when a variety of women began disappearing within the Might of 1968.
Nevertheless, Costa’s luck would solely final so lengthy.
All of it started with the disappearance of Sydney Monzon, who was final seen alive by her sister getting right into a automobile with Costa, vacation spot unknown.
Monzon vanished with no hint thereafter, though younger folks disappearing within the space wasn’t unusual on the time.
The 18-year-old was amongst nineteen youngsters to vanish from Provincetown in 1968.
The city was thought-about transient and it was believed Monzon had probably joined a caravan to embark on a drug-fueled journey to both California or Mexico.
A number of months later, on September 10, one other native teenager referred to as Susan Perry additionally vanished into skinny air.
Perry was a identified acolyte of Costa’s whom he also known as his “child chick.”
When investigators got here by asking questions, Costa stated the lady, like Monzon, had set off to start out her life anew – this time someplace in Europe.
It wasn’t till the disappearances of Patricia Walsh and Mary Anne Wysocki — two girls of their 20s who spent a weekend in Provincetown in January 1969 – that suspicions began to mount.
Throughout their go to to the Cape, the lady had been staying on the similar boarding home that Costa was dwelling in.
Costa had even given the pair a journey into city on Jan.25, which is when the 2 girls had been final seen alive.
Walsh was a second-grade instructor and Wysocki was an schooling main at Rhode Island Faculty.
When the 2 mates failed to show up for work and faculty, police launched an investigation.
The day after they had been final seen, an odd observe was discovered tacked exterior the door of the room the place they’d been staying, which learn: “We’re testing. Thanks on your many kindnesses.”
Walsh’s gentle blue Volkswagon was then discovered parked thirty toes inside a wooded space within the close by city of Truro on February 2.
Curiously, the automobile had been left parked subsequent to an space the place Costa was identified to develop Marijuana and stash his different medicine.
Referred to by Costa as his “backyard”, and positioned subsequent to a graveyard, police started looking the realm and on Feb. 8 discovered the mutilated stays of Susan Perry who had been lacking for 5 months.
Perry’s physique had been minimize up into eight items and her head decapitated. The younger lady’s breasts had additionally been minimize off and her genitals mutilated.
A month later, Wysocki’s head and torso had been present in a close-by forest clearing. That sickening discovery was adopted carefully by the unearthing of Walsh’s stays.
The 2 mates had been mutilated with a knife, although appeared to have died from gunshot wounds to their heads.
THE CAPE COD VAMPIRE
In Helltown, Sherman unsettlingly recounts how Costa shot the 2 girls, earlier than sexually assaulting their corpses and hanging them from a close-by tree.
As the ladies’s lifeless and bare our bodies had been suspended in mid-air, he hacked away at them with a pointy blade he chillingly known as his “pig stabber”.
Based on Sherman, Costa carved from Walsh’s sternum all the way down to her public space, earlier than “peeling her pores and skin again like an open sweater” and amputating each of her legs.
He then minimize Wysocki’s physique into 5 items, severed her head, and buried the 2 dismembered girls in a shallow grave.
In that very same grave, investigators would additionally later discover the butchered corpse of Sidney Monzon.
Information of the killings shocked and disturbed the in any other case quiet and idyllic seaside hamlets of Provincetown and Truro, Massachusetts.
Legislation enforcement did little to quell the panic, with District Lawyer Edmund Dinis additional fanning the flames throughout a press convention with the media.
Throughout his assertion, Dinis falsely said that the “hearts of every lady had been faraway from the our bodies and weren’t within the graves.”
He additionally disclosed that “every physique was minimize into as many components as their are joints.”
When requested by a reporter if the killer was a “Cape Cod vampire,” Dinis nodded his head. He additionally claimed that teethmarks and different indicators of cannibalism had been discovered on the our bodies.
A media frenzy ensued, and the legend of the Cape Cod Vampire was born.
Tony Costa was arrested for the 4 murders shortly after.
Along with the deaths of the 4 girls, he’s suspected of killing two younger girls – Bonnie Williams and Diane Federoff – whom he had provided to drive from Pennsylvania to California in 1966.
The 2 girls by no means made it to the Sunshine State and had been by no means seen once more, although Costa would later insist he had dropped them off.
Throughout his time in California, police additionally imagine he murdered his girlfriend Barbara Spaulding in 1968.
Spaulding left her youngster with relations and vanished on the day that Costa left to return to Massachusetts. She was by no means seen once more, and murder detectives now imagine that Costa murdered her.
Costa’s eighth believed sufferer is Christine Gallant, who was killed on November 23, 1968, in her New York Metropolis house.
Nevertheless, the serial killer was solely tried for the deaths of Walsh and Wysocki.
He maintained his innocence in all of the killings, blaming the crimes on each real-life acquaintances and an evil alter-ego he referred to as Cory.
Costa was convicted for the murders of Walsh and Wysocki in Might 1970 and sentenced to life in jail.
He would die 4 years later aged 29 after being discovered hanging inside his cell with a leather-based strap tied round his neck.
Whereas his dying was dominated a suicide, some specialists imagine Costa was truly murdered by a gaggle of fellow inmates.
THE ‘DEVIL INCARNATE’
Simply months after the extent of Costa’s horrendous crimes was realized, a cult chief by the identify of Charles Manson was arrested on the opposite aspect of the nation together with a gaggle of his disciples after a collection of murders in California.
Manson – who immediately is arguably one of the vital notorious criminals in American historical past – relegated Costa’s case from the entrance pages of each newspaper across the nation, rendering him and – crucially – his victims nearly forgotten, in keeping with Sherman.
“Charles Manson sucked all of the oxygen out of the room in 1969,” stated Sherman.
“And as you learn the e-book you discover out that Costa, when he is ultimately captured, may be very cognizant of this and a bit jealous of the infamy Charles Manson has created for himself.
“Costa needed to be spoken about in the identical breath as Manson, however fairly frankly his murders had been much more vicious than what the Manson household did.
“Costa was the dwelling, respiration epitome of Norman Bates in Psycho.”
Throughout his analysis for Helltown, Sherman trawled via greater than 2000 paperwork referring to the case, together with a manuscript written by Costa concerning the murders which has by no means earlier than been revealed.
Sherman makes use of that manuscript to get contained in the thoughts of the killer at every homicide scene, disclosing what his inside voice – or “Cory” – was apparently telling him as he carried out his wicked acts.
Whereas within the manuscript Costa apparently blames Cory for the murders, Sherman stated the manuscript makes it clear it is “Tony Costa he is speaking about.”
“This man managed to create an alter ego for himself to commit probably the most heinous crimes doable and never solely did I benefit from his manuscript and the studies, however I additionally had 12 hours of audio-taped conversations with Costa behind bars,” Sherman defined of getting inside Costa’s thoughts.
“I perceive now how his victims had been put relaxed; he is very good, very unassuming, and really clever.
“He was the final man within the room that you would need to be involved with, however finally he was the satan incarnate.”
A HAUNTING PROCESS
Sherman, who has now written 15 books, referred to as Helltown probably the most difficult and emotionally taxing undertaking he is ever labored on.
“Studying police studies was one factor, however opening the information labeled ‘post-mortem’ and ‘crime scene pictures’ was one other,” he stated.
“I’ve seen a whole lot of stuff in my profession however I’ve by no means seen something as brutal, vicious, and wicked as I’ve seen in these photographs.
“As I am speaking now, I see the top of Mary Anne Wysocki minimize off and resting on a slab on the funeral parlor.
“That is very actual to me,” Sherman continued. “These photographs proceed to stick with me.
“That is why I devoted the e-book to the reminiscence of the victims as a result of I by no means needed to lose sight of the ladies that sadly obtained into Tony Costa’s crosshairs and did not survive.”
Costa’s murdering spree unfolded shortly earlier than the dawning of what is now often called the “Golden Age of Serial Homicide” which lasted from 1970 till 1999.
Throughout that 29-year span, round 80% of all identified American serial killers had been in operation.
The rationale behind that is manyfold — together with every thing from sociological shifts, to biology, to know-how, to linguistics — nevertheless it makes Costa considerably forward of his time.
Sherman says the 12 months 1969, and all of the turbulent ongoings throughout its 12-month span, is nearly a personality in and of itself in Helltown.
“I take a look at 1969 very similar to I take a look at 2022 as a result of it appears as if all hope is misplaced,” Sherman stated.
“The Summer time of Love is a distant reminiscence, the Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations are contemporary in America’s thoughts, and you then’ve obtained the DNC protests in Chicago, the inauguration of Nixon, the moon touchdown, Chappaquiddick, and so many different historic occasions earlier than touchdown on the ultimate exclamation level of the Manson murders.
“1969 was the 12 months of reckoning in American historical past, and I believe a lot occurred throughout that point that finally Tony Costa’s crimes had been forgotten or overshadowed by different occasions.”
Helltown: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer on Cape Cod is out there now.