Even the most vile criminals and serial killers like to cut loose and throw back a few adult beverages on occasion. Many of them even had a favorite watering hole to unwind, their own little “Cheers.” For example, when Edmund Kemper wasn’t cruising around looking for his next victim, he was hanging out at his favorite bar in Santa Cruz. Known around the joint as “Big Ed,” the 6’9″ 280 pound serial killer was a regular at The Jury Room bar. It was there where the clean cut Ed Kemper would yuck it up with local law enforcement. You see, the bar is just across the street from the Santa Cruz Courthouse, and a popular spot for off-duty officers. The cops that frequented The Jury Room loved “Big Ed,” which is how they fondly referred to him. Kemper even told them he would have joined the force if he hadn’t been over the height limit.
Another California killer, serial murderer and rapist Richard Ramirez also had a favorite hideaway, Margarita’s Place. A native Texan, Ramirez moved to Los Angeles in 1983 and would soon seek out this little spot as he terrorized LA for 14 months, earning himself the moniker ‘The Nighstalker.’ The little Mexican restaurant on 7th street in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles was conveniently located right next door the the notorious Hotel Cecil, where Ramirez stayed. Employees reported Ramirez always came in alone and never spoke with anyone. He frequented the location often, coming in for lunch and sometimes late night. Alfred Leyba, a cook at Margarita’s said of Ramirez, ‘When I looked him in the eyes, he seemed worried about something.”
Here in Cincinnati, Charles Manson is our notorious native son and City View Tavern in Mt. Adams was his favorite haunt. City View is located in a cool little district in the city, prominently situated on a steep hill just adjacent to downtown. In the 60’s, this area was Cincinnati’s Hippie Mecca, anchored by Eden Park and Krohn Conservatory. It was definitely brimming with Flower Power. Local legend has it that Manson frequented City View Tavern where he would enjoy his favorite libation, tequila. It is said Manson would down shots and then threaten to jump off the tavern’s outdoor deck. An alternate version takes it up a notch stating that once, Manson actually did jump. To prevent further drama the tavern stopped serving tequila and that policy remains intact to this very day. I visited City View, snapped a few pics and chatted up the bartender who attests to the Manson legend. There was no tequila to be had, but I can tell you they make a mighty fine cheeseburger!
Venturing south we have The Last Resort Bar, a favorite of Aileen Wuornos, long known as the place where she drank her last beer. The Last Resort in Port Orange, Florida, has made a name for itself celebrating the notorious connection to the infamous femme fatale. Going as far as offering its very own “Crazed Killer Hot Sauce” the biker bar further capitalizes on all things Aileen by featuring countless photos of her plastered on the walls and a large mural of her face alongside a list of her victims.
Ted Bundy liked to hold court at Dante’s Tavern, a lively college hangout in the University District of Seattle, Washington. Ted preferred to sit at a booth in the corner and check out the cute sorority girls that frequented the bar. Interestingly enough, Bundy victim Lynda Ann Healy lived in a rooming house a couple blocks away and visit Dante’s just hours before being abducted by Bundy. The bar was permanently closed in August 2015 after being heavily damaged in a fire.
I can’t close this story without mentioning the preferred dive of not one, but two creepy killers who preyed on young men, the L&L Tavern. Both John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer were known to troll for victims at this small, unassuming watering hole located at the corner of Clark and Belmont in Chicago. Gacy even reportedly showed up to the bar once in full clown costume! It’s said that Dahmer liked to hit on a certain employee at the L&L named Frankie and would sit in the corner by the window eyeballing young men at the Dunkin’ Donuts that used to be located across the street.
Dahmer, who was a big drinker, had another fave spot as well, the Ambassador Hotel. The hotel which was built in 1928 has recently been restored to it’s former grandeur, but back in the 80’s – when Dahmer frequented the place – it and the surrounding neighborhood were in major disrepair. The area offered a perfect hunting ground for Dahmer and his sadistic pursuits. He even chose The Ambassador as the spot to commit what is believed to be his first Mikwaukee murder. In the fall of 1987, Dahmer met 25-year-old Steven Tuomi at a bar and persuaded him to return to the Ambassador where he was renting a room. It was there where he would give Toumi sleeping pills, rape, then beat him to death. Dahmer smuggled the battered body out of the hotel in a suitcase and then transported it to his grandmother’s house where it sat for a full week before he decided to cut it into pieces. He severed the head, arms, and legs from the torso. When Dahmer was arrested in 1991 he admitted to murdering Toumi and provided the sordid details. The dismembered body of Steven Toumi was never recovered and Dahmer was never charged with his murder.
So there you have it – some of the favorite hang-outs of some very notorious people. Because sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, even if you’re a homicidal maniac.
Holley, David. Recalling Ramirez: Even Friends Didn’t Trust Him. September 8, 1985. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California.
Lacitis, Eric. U District bar still a haunt for Ted Bundy? January 14, 2008. The Seattle Times. Seattle, Washington.