After being confronted with his crimes, serial killer Westley Allan Dodd claimed that death was the only way to make sure he never committed them again.
One afternoon in 1989, Westley Allan Dodd walked into the bathroom of a movie theatre in Camas, Washington. There, he spotted a 5-year-old boy. A few moments later, Dodd grabbed him and started moving towards the door.
As Dodd walked out of the theatre with the boy in his arms, the child started crying. The theatre employees immediately became suspicious when the boy started fighting to get out of Dodd’s grasp. When the boy began screaming for help, they knew that they were witnessing an abduction and ran after Dodd.
Realizing that he wasn’t going to get away with the abduction, Dodd released the boy just outside the theatre and ran to his car.
Meanwhile, the employees told the child’s mother and her boyfriend, William Graves, that her son had almost been abducted. Graves immediately asked for a description of Dodd’s car and took off on foot after him. Luckily, he found the car had broken down just a few blocks from the theatre. Pretending to offer help, Graves approached Dodd and put him in a headlock.
Graves then physically hauled Dodd back to the theatre, where other witnesses bound Dodd’s arms with a belt as they waited for the police to arrive.
Once in police custody, Dodd started to talk. The incident in the movie theatre wasn’t the first abduction. There had been many others, and not all the victims had been as lucky as the boy in the movie theatre.
After three days of questioning, Dodd confessed to having murdered three children.
Armed with a search warrant, police searched Dodd’s room in the town of Vancouver, Washington. Inside, they found photographs of one of the murdered children, Lee Iseli, and the boy’s underwear. Nearby was a home-made torture rack and a diary containing a meticulous record of the murder.
With this evidence, the detectives could close the book on at least three murders. But the question remained: who was Westley Allan Dodd?
Westley Allan Dodd’s Background
Westley Allan Dodd grew up in Washington in a somewhat troubled home. Dodd was a shy child, but he also seems to have had a dark sexual compulsion to expose himself to other children, something he began acting on at just 13 years old.
But exposing himself wasn’t enough, and Dodd began molesting his younger cousins and neighborhood kids. At 15, Dodd was arrested for one of these incidents. Due to his youth, the police declined to pursue charges and recommended he get counseling.
Dodd continued molesting children for the next several years. In 1981, he joined the Navy. He was discharged after his superiors discovered he was molesting children on the base. This time, he served only 19 days in jail and was ordered to undergo counseling.
The counseling had no effect on Dodd’s compulsion to harm children. And he fell into a routine of molesting children, being caught, and being released with a slap on the wrist.
But his sexual desires continued to grow darker over the years. Dodd wrote in his diary about a desire to not just molest children, but to murder them. Darker still, he began writing about the possibility of performing medical experiments on his victims to turn them into zombies he could victimize at will.
In September 1989, Dodd lured Cole and William Neer, 11 and 10 respectively, to a wooded area. There, he forced them to undress and tied the boys to a tree. He then began molesting them. When he finished, he stabbed the boys repeatedly and fled the area. Both boys died of their wounds soon after.
A month later, Dodd lured four-year-old Lee Iseli to his apartment. He kept Iseli overnight, molesting him while taking photographs. He wanted to wait to kill Iseli so that the body would be fresh enough to perform experiments on. In the morning, Dodd strangled Iseli and hung his body in the closet before leaving for work.
When he returned, he took the body down and disposed of it in trash bags, keeping the boy’s underwear.
The body was soon discovered, sparking a manhunt for the killer. Westley Allan Dodd, meanwhile, stayed in his apartment making plans for future murders and constructing a rack on which to torture his next victim.
This was the planned fate of the boy at the movie theater two weeks later. Fortunately, he was apprehended before he could claim another life.
In court, Westley Allan Dodd refused to speak in his own defense, claiming it was pointless. He requested instead that he be executed by hanging, the same way his last victim died. He stated that he hoped that it would bring peace to his victims’ families.
Dodd seems to have understood that the system had failed to stop him too many times before. He was confident that if he were to be released, he would kill again. It’s hard to say how sincere Dodd’s remorse was, but he clearly wanted to be executed and actively resisted any attempt to appeal his execution.
“I must be executed before I have an opportunity to escape or kill someone else,” he said, “If I do escape, I promise you I will kill and rape again, and I will enjoy every minute of it.”
In the end, Dodd got his wish. He was executed by hanging in 1993, the first judicial hanging in the United States since 1965. The technique was now so unfamiliar that the executioners had to use an army manual from the 1880’s as a guide.
Dodd’s last words were a statement that he had found God, and other child molesters could change by doing the same.
Westley Allan Dodd stated a desire to help stop people like him from offending. And in a way, he did. Shortly after Dodd’s crimes came to light, Washington passed some of the toughest laws in the nation against sex offenders. One can only hope that, in some way, the tragic fate of Dodd’s victims helped save the lives of other children.