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Brian Ward at 2021 DHHC

Meet Brian Ward

The Showrunner tells us how he embarked on the journey that led to the creation of the Dark History and Horror Convention and his podcast, Dark History Time with Brian

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About The Hat

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True Crime and Dark History is Brian's passion. He explains:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by and interested in true crime. My introduction to this genre was through the shocking and infamous case of Charles Manson. After learning about him and the murders committed by his followers, I was hooked. I learned as much as I could, as quickly as I could, about other infamous crimes. I worked in my high school library and had numerous books, newspapers, and magazines at my disposal. Dating myself a little bit, I could even use a microfiche reader to find materials that were written at the time of the incident(s) and then print them to read and for reference.

 

My collection of books and newspaper clippings grew rapidly. I learned of a murder that took place only 50 miles from my hometown and I realized that these things can occur anywhere, at any time, to any person. The man tried and convicted of this murder was a highly educated maker of medical orthotics, and I learned that the perpetrators of these types of crimes have no set make up. They come from all walks of life and all sorts of backgrounds. Their motivations may be simple or complex. Because of this, I have found the study of true crime and the psychology behind these events endlessly fascinating.

 

While I was still in high school, Ted Bundy was executed in Florida (1989). This was front-page news. I remember the TV news coverage, and working in the library let me see a number of front page headlines from major newspapers around the country, as well as in magazines and assorted other media. Not long before that, the actor Mark Harmon had starred in a TV series about Ted Bundy (The Deliberate Stranger, 1986), and even earlier, John Wayne Gacy was convicted of the murder of 33 young men (convicted 1980 and executed 1994) in my home state of Illinois.

 

Shortly after graduating high school, a case in Milwaukee garnered international attention. A man had been arrested and police had found numerous body parts in his house. I recall the news being splashed everywhere, and a movie starring Jeff Fahey, called Body Parts (1991)—about a man getting an arm transplant from a serial killer—had advertising pulled by Paramount due to the events in Milwaukee. Of course, hearing about this certainly piqued my interest.

 

At the time, my mother received People magazine and I got a hold of it and as many papers and magazines as I could. There was the customary mad rush [by publishers] to put out books on the Jeffrey Dahmer case and I eagerly purchased them all. This was before YouTube and the Internet. All we had was television, print media, and VHS tapes. Cameras were allowed in the courtroom in Milwaukee regarding Jeffrey Dahmer’s sanity and fitness to stand trial; however, I didn’t have cable. I recall very vividly that the entire tape of the courtroom proceedings were available at the video rental store, but I couldn’t rent it due to being under the age of 18.

 

A short time earlier, in February 1991, the movie The Silence of the Lambs had been released and taken the country by storm. Everywhere you looked and everything you saw seemed to be related to serial killers. Serial killer mania was in full effect. Television news channels ran specials, newsmagazine shows devoted entire segments, and daytime talk shows discussed numerous topics about serial killing. This all fed my growing curiosity and I dove in headfirst, starting my collection of true crime books, magazines, and newspaper articles. To those who knew me, I was considered a minor expert on the topic of abnormal psychology and serial killing.

 

I started to travel to locations related to what I call dark history. I photographed these places and put them into a scrapbook along with summaries that I wrote documenting how they looked at the time of the crime vs the time of my visits. When I show this book to people, these narratives offer a brief synopsis of what happened there. Planning trips around the Midwest to find these locations became my biggest and most favorite hobby.

 

Then came the Internet, I used www.findagrave.com to find and visit numerous grave sites that had some bearing in dark history. Needless to say, the photographs were extensive. Then came social media and Facebook. I created a page called simply Brian‘s Dark History and Pop-Culture Page. There I shared my photographs and my documentation on events. They reached numbers I never imagined. The page became quite popular.

 

Numerous people asked if I intended to write a book about my travels and these cases. I hadn’t given it much thought, simply because it seemed that anyone interested in these events would probably already know anything that I would write. These were just my observations, I supposed, and I wasn’t sure there would be an audience for that.

 

The years went by and I was able to attend a crime convention. I became friends with a number of people in the true crime and murderabilia arena. From there I formed the Dark History and Horror Convention, which I have run for the past eight years. Each year my contacts and knowledge grow, and I continue to lead a rather normal working class life, pursuing my hobby as much as I can.