In 1989, Westley Allen Dodd sexually assaulted and killed three boys ages 11, 10 and four. His methods were so heinous, that forensic psychologists dubbed him one of the evilest killers in history.
Westley Dodd's Childhood Years
Westley Allan Dodd was born in Washington State on July 3, 1961. Dodd grew up in what has been described as a loveless home and was often neglected by his parents in favor of his two younger brothers.
At age 13, Dodds began exposing himself to children passing by his house. Realizing the dangers of getting caught, he started bicycling around the streets looking for opportunities to expose himself. His parents, distracted by their own problems of getting divorced, were aware of Dodd's strange sexual behavior but avoided confronting the boy about it or getting him help.
Even less attention was given to Westley after his parents divorced. His desires expanded from exhibitionism to physical contact. He first molested those closest to him. His younger cousins, ages six and eight and the child of a woman his father was dating, became regular victims of his growing perversions.
Entrusted Caretaker of Children
Dodd grew up to be a good-looking, fairly intelligent and personable teenager. These qualities helped him in finding part-time jobs where he was entrusted with the care of children. He would often babysit for his neighbors, seizing the private time to molest the children he was caring for as they slept.
He worked as a camp counselor during the summer months, taking advantage of children's trust and admiration for him. Dodd spent most of his teen years devising new and better ways to abuse children, putting any child that came near him at potential risk of being abused.
He learned how to combine the adult persona with a sense of conspiratorial camaraderie to completely control his young, innocent victims. He could cajole them into playing doctor or dare them to go skinny-dipping with him. He took advantage of their natural curiosity and often normalized what he did by offering it as a "grown-up treat". But Dodd could not master not being caught. On the contrary, he got caught a lot molesting kids, starting with his first arrest at 15 for exposing himself. Tragically nothing much was ever done, but to remand him to professional counseling.
Refining His Techniques
The older he got the more desperate he became to find victims. He discovered he could use more force and less cajoling and began approaching children in parks, demanding that they follow him into a secluded area or that they remove their clothing.
In 1981, after a failed attempt to capture two little girls was reported to the police, Dodds joined the Navy. That did not stop his pedophiliac desires which were growing into sadistic fantasies. While stationed in Washington he began hunting children who lived on the base, prowling the nearby movie theater restrooms and arcades in his spare time.
A Failed System
After the Navy, he got a job at a paper mill. His debased proclivities never ceased to occupy most of his thoughts and purpose. Once he offered a group of boys $50 to accompany him to a nearby motel to play strip poker. He was arrested, but the charges were dropped even though he admitted his intentions to molest them to the authorities. Not much later he was arrested again for attempted molestation and served 19 days in jail and was again ordered to seek counseling.
This wouldn't be the last time Dodd was caught. In fact, it could almost appear as if he wanted to be caught after being arrested several other times for assaulting the children of friends and neighbors. But as usual, Dodd's penalties rarely added up to any real jail time because many parents were reluctant to put their traumatized child through the court system.
In the meantime, Dodd's fantasies were escalating and he began to carefully plan his attacks. He kept a diary, filling its pages with his morbid fantasies of what he would like to do to his future victims.
"Incident 3 will die maybe this way: He'll be tied down as Lee was in Incident 2. Instead of placing a bag over his head as had previously planned, I'll tape his mouth shut with duct tape. Then, when ready, I'll use a clothespin or something to plug his nose. That way I can sit back, take pictures and watch him die instead of concentrating on my hands or the rope tight around his neck -- that would also eliminate the rope burns on the neck… I can clearly see his face and eyes now… "
"He suspects nothing now. Will probably wait until morning to kill him. That way his body will be fairly fresh for experiments after work. I'll suffocate him in his sleep when I wake up for work (if I sleep)."
Possibly the fact that he had now molested about 30 children with impunity helped Westley go a step further towards violence. His yearnings became increasingly difficult to control, and his fantasies darker. He went from sketching torture racks to actually building one. He stopped cajoling and persuading and began ordering. He began to tie up his victims. He became consumed with thoughts of torture, mutilation, and cannibalism.
The Desire to Kill
In 1987, at age 26, he could no longer ignore his desires to kill his victims. He made up his mind to do it. His first attempt failed when the eight-year-old boy Dodd's lured into the woods managed to escape back to where his mother sat.
He told his mother to call the police and Dodd was apprehended. Dodd received yet another slap on the wrist, in spite of the fact that prosecutors stressed his history of sex crimes. He served 118 days in jail and one-year probation.
His fantasies sunk to new depths, and he began to depersonalize his targets, thinking of them as "it", rather than he or she. He wrote in his diary, "if I can just get it home… ".
On Labor Day weekend at David Douglas Park, he hid beside a trail. His plans were frustrated by hikers, watchful parents and by the whimsy of the children themselves, who would come tantalizingly close, only to dart down a side path or skip back the other way from where he hid.
Dodd gave up, but the pressure to indulge his perverse and twisted desire to molest and kill a young child was overpowering and he returned to the park in the early evening hours, determined not to fail.
The Neer Brothers
Billy, 10, and his big brother Cole, 11, were late getting home from collecting golf balls from the local golf course, so decided to take the shortcut through the park. They came upon Dodd, blocking their way on the dirt trail. Dodd did not waste time and ordered the boys to follow him. The boys did as instructed, possibly out of fear when realizing the usually busy park was deserted so late in the day.
Once off the trail, it took Dodd only 20 minutes to molest the boys, stab them and clean up the evidence. Cole took most of the abuse, probably in an attempt to save his younger brother, but nothing could save either boy from the pure evil which possessed Dodd. Dodd slashed at the boys and believing both boys were dead, he took off.
Billy was found first, still alive, but he would die shortly after being taken to the hospital. Cole's body was found several hours later after the Neers reported that their sons were missing and authorities knew to look for a second child.
At first, Dodd worried that police would somehow link him to the murder of the Neer brothers, but Dodd's unspeakable lusts were only heightened by his successful kills. His monstrous thoughts reached new depths of depravity. He pondered the greater thrill of castrating a young boy and watching the child bleed to death, or to keep him alive so that Dodd could cook the victims genitals in front of him and force feed them to the child. Possibly, he considered, the terror would actually be worse if Dodd himself ate them in front of their previous owner.
When Dodd realized that the police had no leads in the murders of the Neer boys, he began to plan his next move. He drove across the bridge to Portland, Oregon and cruised the parks and playgrounds, having some near misses. He finally went to a movie theater, but no opportunity to abduct a child presented itself. The next day he went to Richmond School Playground. Some older kids were playing football, but he noticed four-year-old Lee Iseli playing alone on a slide.
Dodd asked little Lee if he wanted to have some fun and make some money. Lee - who had been taught not to talk to strangers - said no, but Dodd grabbed his hand and started toward his car. When Lee began to resist, Dodd told him not to worry, that Lee's father had sent Dodd to pick him up.
Inside Dodd's apartment, Lee was subjected to unimaginable acts of abuse and torture, all carefully documented by Dodds with pictures and entries in his diary. The morning after his capture, Dodds hung Lee Iseli to death in his closet before heading off to work. He took photographs of the little boy dying and hanging dead, hid the body behind some blankets and left.
After work, he made an entry in his diary that he would, "have to find a place to dump the garbage," meaning the tiny tortured body of Lee Iseli. He decided to leave the boy by the Van Couver Lake and burn any evidence, except for the child's Ghostbusters underpants.
Robert Iseli, Lee's father, still had hope. Although Lee had been missing for several days, Mr. Iseli made a public statement expressing the hope that Lee had been taken by a lonely, but kindly person, but on the morning of November 1, 1989, all hope ended after the body of Lee Iseli was found.
Capture and Confession
Dodd, avoiding the local parks, decided that movie theaters would be a good place to hunt his next victim. He went to the New Liberty Theater and waited for a young child to go unattended to the restroom. He managed to get the screaming six-year-old boy outside but was captured by William Ray Graves, the boyfriend of the child's mother.
Dodd was interrogated by police from Washington and Oregon, as a suspect in the murders of the Neer brothers and Lee Iseli. At first, he denied having any knowledge about the children and maintained that he only meant to molest the child from the theater. Then his whole attitude changed and he confessed to the murders, delighting in revealing the shocking details. He directed police to his diary, Lee Iseli's Ghostbusters briefs, the incriminating photos, and the unused torture rack.
Trial and Prosecution
Dodd was charged with three counts of first-degree murder plus the attempted kidnapping from the New Liberty Theater. Against his lawyer's advice, he pleaded not guilty but later changed that to guilty. It was up to a jury to decide the penalty.
The district attorney made it clear the verdict he expected. He told the jury, "He planned child murders. He committed child murders. He relived and fantasized child murders. With life in prison without the possibility of parole, two of those things are still available to him". The jury was then shown the diary, pictures, and other evidence.
Dodd's defense called no witnesses and presented no evidence. Dodd's attorney, Lee Dane, did offer that no sane person would be capable of these heinous crimes. Dodd received the death sentence on July 15, 1990.
Dodd refused to appeal his death penalty and chose to hang as the method of execution, claiming he wanted to experience what Lee Iseli had experienced. He told the court, "I must be executed before I have an opportunity to escape or kill someone within the prison. If I do escape, I promise you I will kill and rape and enjoy every minute of it."
When You Meet a Stranger
His date of execution was set for January 5, 1993. He received a lot of attention because no legal hanging had been done in the U.S. since 1965.
Dodd enjoyed telling his story to the media and he wrote a pamphlet on how to avoid child molesters entitled "When You Meet a Stranger."
During the months before his execution, Dodds seemingly turned to the Bible for comfort. During one of his interviews, he said, "I believe what the Bible teaches: I'll go to Heaven. I have doubts, but I'd really like to believe that I would be able to go up to the three little boys and give them a hug and tell them how sorry I was and be able to love them with a real true love and have no desire to hurt them in any way."
Westley Allan Dodd was executed at 12:05 a.m. on June 5, 1993. His final statement was, "I was once asked by somebody, I don't remember who, if there was any way sex offenders could be stopped. I said, 'No.' I was wrong. I was wrong when I said there was no hope, no peace. There is hope. There is peace. I found both in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Look to the Lord, and you will find peace." There were no apologies for his crimes, no obvious look of remorse.
Outside the prison, those who were in support of the execution could be heard chanting rhymes like "What the heck stretch his neck" while the non-supporters wept at the news that his execution had gone on as planned.