CHESTER, OR—Saying there had to be some sort of logic to the string of grisly murders he had committed over the past seven years, local serial killer Christopher Palley admitted to reporters Friday that he had completely lost track of whatever pattern he had originally been going for.
Despite his best efforts to recall the underlying thought or theme that had been the catalyst for his murderous rampage when he took his first victim in 2008, Palley, 44, conceded that he now had “no idea” what the common thread was connecting his killings in terms of motive, choice of victim, or a larger message he wished to communicate to the world.
“I feel like I had such a crystal-clear vision of what I was trying to do when I started out, but I just can’t put my finger on it anymore,” said Palley, who even after mentally retracing each of his murders and reading old, clipped-out newspaper accounts of the crimes to jog his memory was no closer to discerning any coherent through-line. “It seems like now when I stalk a woman for hours through the night, snatch her off the street, and then strangle her to death in my car, it’s like I’m just making it up as I go along.”
“I was taking locks of hair for a while, but I didn’t keep them separate and now they’re all wadded up together in a shoebox under my bed. And I have a single thumb for some reason.”
“I know I target roughly college-age women, but is that it? I could have sworn there was more to it than that,” Palley continued. “Now that I think about it, most of those women didn’t look remotely alike. There were blonds, brunettes, a redhead; they’re different heights, body types, even ethnicities. Jeez, what the hell was I driving at with all this?”
Though Palley can distinguish some vague structure in his method of killing, such as his “calling cards” of garroting his victims and posing their bodies with their hands pressed together over their chests as if in prayer, he told reporters that he felt as if he was just going through the motions during his last several kills without any sense of broader purpose or big-picture rationale to help guide him along.
“So, I definitely used the same nylon cord to asphyxiate all my victims—that part I’m 100 percent clear on,” Palley said. “After that, though, it gets a little hazy. Just a month ago, I was halfway through cutting out this woman’s heart when I just stopped and was like, what am I doing? Is this even part of my plan? Now I have no clue what I’m supposed to do with my next victim.”
While he was able to confirm that he consistently disposes of each body in the same patch of dense brush several hundred feet off Route 126, Palley acknowledged that he was uncertain if this site was a symbolic choice, an arbitrary location selected solely for convenience, or, possibly, whether the numerology of the route number somehow tied back to the dates on which he killed his victims.
He added that anyone’s guess was as good as his.
Palley, who to date has murdered nine people, reportedly keeps a journal of his crimes. However, the frustrated killer said that reviewing the entries left him with “more questions than answers” as to what the overarching motif of his homicides could possibly be.
“Okay, so on April 23, 2010, I wrote ‘the time draws near’—what on earth does that mean?” Palley said as he pored over an old notebook, the cover of which was dense with a confusing array of hand-drawn, vaguely Masonic iconography and dozens of scrawlings of the word “subdue.” “I totally forgot to write anything down about the next two murders and then, on February 12, 2012, I all of a sudden start referring to myself in the third person.”
“Is that a God complex thing, maybe?” Palley continued. “Like, I’m an avenging angel, sent to cleanse the world of sin or something? That doesn’t sound like me.”
Palley added that if his intention was simply to gain notoriety or taunt authorities, his plan was “completely out the window by this point,” expressing his deep-seated concern that, with the apparently arbitrary timeline of his murders and the growing inconsistencies between each crime, law enforcement officials might reasonably conclude there are nine different killers on the loose.
At one point, Palley said, he thought that perhaps the “trophies” he kept from his victims would provide some insight into his initial plan, but quickly came to realize that the macabre keepsakes only further highlighted his own lack of organizational skills.
“I was taking locks of hair for a while, but I didn’t keep them separate and now they’re all wadded up together in a shoebox under my bed,” Palley said. “And I have a single thumb for some reason.”
“Boy, I really made a mess out of this,” he added.
Fearing that his plan may have gone entirely off course, the serial murderer admitted to reporters that, at this point, it might be best to simply start over with a completely new, more manageable pattern and to “just take it day by day.”
“I think maybe I need to wipe the slate clean and go back to basics,” Palley said. “I’ll start really simple, like, ‘I hate women and they deserve to die,’ and then I can just flesh it out as I go along.”