In the early to mid-1990s, a lone serial murderer was responsible for the deaths of at least eight women across the United States. Dubbed the “Happy Face Killer” due to the smiley faces drawn on his many letters to prosecutors, police departments and media outlets, the perpetrator largely targeted transients and prostitutes spanning six states.
In late-March 1995, the killer’s reign of terror came to an end when he turned himself in to authorities. The “Happy Face Killer” was revealed to be Keith Hunter Jesperson, a truck driver and father of three who had murdered his longtime girlfriend, Julie Ann Winningham, a few weeks before confessing to that crime in addition to the other killings (while Jesperson has claimed to have murdered as many as 160 people, only eight victims are currently confirmed).
As the families of Jesperson’s victims reeled over the revelation of the “Happy Face Killer’s” crimes, a group on the other side of the murderer’s brutal actions were also left to deal with the fallout of his arrest: Jesperson’s own family.
Jesperson’s daughter, Melissa Moore, has recounted her life before and after discovering her father’s secret identity in Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter, a memoir she co-authored along with M. Bridget Cook. The book covers Moore’s challenging childhood – living with extended family in overcrowded quarters along with her mother and two siblings following her parents’ divorce – and continues into the trauma she endured during her teen years. Along the way, Moore’s complicated and often uncomfortable relationship with her father is documented as she grows into adulthood.
Now a wife and mother, Moore employs her passion for helping other people affected by violent crime as host of the Monster in My Family docu-series in addition to serving as a correspondent for Crime Watch Daily.
Shattered Silence is not only a survivor story, but also a fascinating glimpse into how a notorious criminal’s actions affect those closest to them – the other category of victims often not recognized.
Purchasing information for Shattered Silence is available at this link.
(Special thanks to Vikki Downs and Katreina Eden at Cedar Fort Publishing)