Chase was born in Santa Clara County, California. He was abused by his mother, and Chase exhibited by the age of 10 evidence of the Macdonald triad: enuresis, pyromania, and zoosadism. In his adolescence, he was known as an alcoholic and a chronic drug abuser. Chase developed hypochondria as he matured. He often complained that his heart would occasionally “stop beating”, or that “someone had stolen his pulmonary artery”. He would hold oranges on his head, believing Vitamin C would be absorbed by his brain via diffusion. Chase also believed that his cranial bones had become separated and were moving around, so he shaved his head in order to watch this activity.
After leaving his mother’s house (believing she was attempting to poison him), Chase rented an apartment with friends. Chase’s roommates complained that he was constantly intoxicated on alcohol, marijuana, and LSD. Chase would also walk around the apartment nude, even in front of company. Chase’s roommates demanded that he move out. When he refused, the roommates moved out instead. Once alone in the apartment, Chase began to capture, kill, and disembowel various animals, which he would then devour raw, sometimes mixing the raw organs with Coca-Cola in a blender and drinking the concoction. Chase reasoned that by ingesting the creatures he was preventing his heart from shrinking.
In 1975, Chase was involuntarily committed to a mental institution after being taken to a hospital after injecting rabbit’s blood into his veins. He often shared with the staff fantasies about killing rabbits. He was once found with blood smeared around his mouth: hospital staff discovered he had been drinking the blood of birds and had thrown the birds’ corpses out of his hospital room window. Staff began referring to him as “Dracula”. While he was held at the institution, he claimed to have extracted blood from a therapy dog to curb his addiction, having obtained the syringes by cracking open the disposable boxes left in the doctor’s offices. Occasionally, he defecated on himself and smeared the walls of the institution with his feces. Chase was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. After undergoing a battery of treatments involving psychotropic drugs, Chase was deemed no longer a danger to society and, in 1976, he was released under the recognizance of his mother. Chase’s mother weaned him off the medication and got Chase his own apartment. Later investigation uncovered that in mid-1977, Chase was stopped and arrested on a reservation in the Pyramid Lake (Nevada) area. His body was smeared with blood and a bucket of blood was in his truck. The blood was determined to be cow’s blood, and no charges were filed.
On December 29, 1977, Chase killed his first known victim in a drive-by shooting. The victim, Ambrose Griffin, was a 51-year-old engineer and father of two. After the shooting, one of Griffin’s sons reported seeing a neighbor walking around their East Sacramento neighborhood with a .22 caliber rifle. The neighbor’s rifle was seized, but ballistics tests determined that it was not the murder weapon.
Two weeks later, he attempted to enter the home of a woman but, finding that her doors were locked, walked away; Chase later told detectives that he took locked doors as a sign that he was not welcome, but that unlocked doors were an invitation to come inside. He was later chased off by a returning couple as he pilfered belongings from their home and urinated and defecated on their beds and clothing. Teresa Wallin was Chase’s next victim on January 23. Three months pregnant at the time, Wallin was surprised at her home by Chase, who shot her three times, killing her using the same gun he used to kill Griffin. He then raped her corpse while stabbing her several times with a butcher knife. He then removed multiple organs, cut off one of her nipples and drank the blood. Before leaving, he collected dog feces from the yard and stuffed it into the victim’s mouth and down her throat.
On January 27, Chase committed his final murders. Entering the home of 38-year-old Evelyn Miroth, he encountered her friend, Danny Meredith, whom he shot with his .22 handgun. Stealing Meredith’s wallet and car keys, he rampaged through the house, fatally shooting Miroth, her six-year-old son Jason, and her 22-month-old nephew David Ferreira. As with Wallin, Chase engaged in necrophilia and cannibalism with Miroth’s corpse. A six-year-old girl with whom Jason Miroth had a playdate knocked on the door, startling Chase, who fled the scene in Meredith’s car, taking David’s body with him. The girl alerted a neighbor, who then alerted the police. Upon entering the home, police discovered that Chase had left perfect handprints and shoe imprints in Miroth’s blood.
In 1979, Chase stood trial on six counts of murder. In order to avoid the death penalty, the defense tried to have him found guilty of second degree murder, which would result in a life sentence. Their case hinged on Chase’s history of mental illness and the suggestion that his crimes were not premeditated. On May 8, the jury in the highly publicized case found Chase guilty of six counts of first degree murder and Chase was sentenced to die in the gas chamber. They rejected the argument that he was not guilty by reason of insanity. His fellow inmates, aware of the graphic and bizarre nature of Chase’s crimes, feared him, and according to prison officials, they often tried to persuade Chase to commit suicide.
Chase granted a series of interviews with Robert Ressler, during which he spoke of his fears of Nazis and UFOs, claiming that although he had killed, it was not his fault; he had been forced to kill to keep himself alive, which he believed any person would do. He asked Ressler to give him access to a radar gun, with which he could apprehend the Nazi UFOs, so that the Nazis could stand trial for the murders. He also handed Ressler a large amount of macaroni and cheese, which he had been hoarding in his pants pockets, believing that the prison officials were in league with the Nazis and attempting to kill him with poisoned food. On December 26, 1980, a guard checking cells found Chase lying awkwardly on his bed, not breathing. An autopsy determined that he committed suicide with an overdose of prison doctor-prescribed antidepressants that he had saved over several weeks.
- May, 23, 1950
- Santa Clara County, California
- December, 26, 1980
- Vacaville, California
Cause of Death