Remembering the Kludts


This week featured the story of what might be one of the nation’s most prolific serial killers and his last victims, Bertha and Beverly Kludt,

The Kludts’ murderer, Jake Bird, did not fit neatly within the typical profile of a serial killer due to his age and race. But his lack of concern for any life but his own is obvious. He claimed to have murdered 44 people in twelve states, although just 11 of those murders were substantiated. His victims were typically white women, and his transient lifestyle gave him convenient access to victims and a means to avoid being caught.

Despite the possible number of victims involved in this psychopath’s self-serving rampage, it seems to be one of the least studied cases of its kind. This was a human being devoid of empathy who committed repeated, horrific acts of physical and sexual violence. He also injured the two police officers who caught him. Descriptions of his attempts to represent himself in court and how the guards at Walla Walla seemed to act as his assistants speak to that type of pervasive narcissism that draws out others’ compliance and even their admiration.

While I don’t know where the funding would come from, I believe that both an attempt to link Jake Bird to more murders and a study of the victimology should be made. Some of the family members of the victims are still alive and might still be in need of closure. Their names should be more well-known than his name; it is a continual frustration of mine that serial killers become pop culture icons while few people remember the victims’ names or the names of their family members. Learning more about this case could better equip psychologists and law enforcement to deal with the Jake Birds that are active right now.

The names of Bertha and Beverly Kludt should not be forgotten. Beverly gave her life defending her mother from an ax-wielding killer who had tried to rape her.  She was 17. Their gravestones are at and


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