Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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A.K.A.: "The Vampire Slasher"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Told police he is a 2,000-year-old vampire who uses the blood of his victims to scrawl an Asian-language character for death
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 30, 1998
Date of arrest: November 10, 1998
Date of birth: 1966
Victim profile: Shirley Dillahunty, 48 (homeless)
Method of murder: Cutting her throat
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to 23 years to life in prison in 1999

Oakland Man Guilty In 'Vampire' Attacks

Throats of homeless were slit so he could drink their blood

Jaxon Van Derbeken - San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday, November 30, 1999

San Francisco -- The Oakland man accused of being the "Vampire Slasher'' was found guilty yesterday of second-degree murder in the slaying of a homeless woman in San Francisco and of assault charges in attacks on three homeless men last year.

The jury rejected a first-degree murder charge against Joshua Rudiger, who has a long history of mental illness, opting for the second-degree murder count in the throat slashing of Shirley Dillahunty on Oct. 29, 1998.

The jury also rejected attempted- murder charges in the three other knife attacks, convicting Rudiger of the lesser assault counts instead.

Jurors deliberated a day and a half, taking the Thanksgiving Day holiday off, before reaching the verdicts.

Rudiger pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. In the next phase of the trial, which begins tomorrow, the defense will try to prove that Rudiger is insane. That would allow him to be hospitalized indefinitely rather than be imprisoned for 15 years to life.

Rudiger, 22, said in a videotaped statement to police that he was a 2,000-year-old vampire. He admitted that he had attacked homeless people and killed the 48-year-old Dillahunty as she slept in a Mission District doorway.

"Prey is prey,'' Rudiger told investigators.

Rudiger's attorney, William Maas, argued that Dillahunty's death was an accident that happened as Rudiger was trying to ``draw a bead'' to drink her blood.

Maas said his client denied committing the attacks on the three homeless men.

The jury found Rudiger guilty of two assault charges each for the attacks on Willy Jackson, Robert Kurtz and Phat Sin. Jackson and Sin testified at the trial. Kurtz died of a drug overdose in January.

Braden Woods, the assistant district attorney handling the case, told jurors Rudiger that struck in the early hours of the morning, picking homeless people because they were vulnerable and there would be few or no witnesses. Woods did not offer a motive for the attacks.

Woods told the jurors that Rudiger used the blood of victims to write a Chinese-language character signifying death, a symbol he also had tattooed on his chest. Rudiger also told police he drank the blood, the prosecutor said.

Jackson testified that he lost consciousness after he was attacked and awoke to find his assailant drinking the blood from his slashed throat.

Maas said his client was the victim of an elaborate contrivance by a police investigator, Mike Johnson, who he said used pressure tactics and lies to get Rudiger to confess crimes that he did not commit.

Maas told the jury his client was "troubled'' and drank blood of victims to obtain "vitality.''

He said the prosecution had portrayed his client as a mastermind when he was merely a dupe who did not intentionally inflict fatal injuries on anyone.

"The prosecution's theory is that this little fellow over here is the Napoleon of crime,'' Maas said. But, he said, Rudiger sounded ``like an idiot'' during the police interview.

Rudiger told investigators he hoped he "hadn't done too much damage'' to Dillahunty.

"He believes he's a vampire; he says he needs it (blood) for vitality,'' Maas said of Rudiger. ``Maybe it's all going on in his head.''

Police and acquaintances said Rudiger has maintained at various times that he was a vampire, a samurai or a ninja warrior.

A judge ordered Rudiger to undergo psychiatric treatment as a result of a 1997 case in which he pleaded guilty to wounding a former friend with a bow and arrow. But he never showed up at a treatment center, and even if he had, officials conceded, his violent past and long waiting lists would have all but eliminated his chances of getting in.

Rudiger had spent six months at Atascadero State Hospital after the bow-and-arrow attack. He also spent three years at Napa State Hospital after he attempted suicide using a samurai sword at age 15.

Rudiger was recommitted to Atascadero after his arrest in the slashings last fall, but was later found mentally fit to stand trial. Prosecutors say they have two doctors who have examined Rudiger and found him legally sane.


Slashed suspect arrested in attacks on S. F.'s poor

Jaxon Van Derbeken - San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday, November 11, 1998

The man arrested yesterday in the throat-slashing attacks on San Francisco's homeless allegedly told police he is a 2,000-year-old vampire who uses the blood of his victims to scrawl an Asian-language character for death.

Joshua Rudiger, 21, of Oakland, was on probation for wounding a former friend with a bow and arrow and had been charged last year with stabbing a homeless man. He was arrested early yesterday after a fourth victim in the monthlong string of slashing assaults was attacked in Chinatown.

Police said they believe Rudiger killed 48-year-old Shirley Dillahunty on October 29 in the doorway where she slept on 18th Street in the Mission District. They also suspect he slashed the throats of two homeless men in a Nob Hill alley October 16. Both men survived.

"We have physical evidence tying four of these attacks together,'' said Deputy Chief Richard Holder. At three crime scenes, he said, the attacker left behind "an Asian character or symbol.''

Sources said the character was the word "death'' and that Rudiger claimed to have written it in blood. Rudiger has another Asian character tattooed across his chest that refers to childhood or youth, police say.

Holder said Rudiger had "admitted some guilt to the four incidents,'' but added, "We need to corroborate his statements.''

One claim was particularly gruesome, said a source close to the investigation. "He said he sucks the blood of the victims after he has cut their throats.''

But surviving victims did not report the attacker trying to drink their blood, authorities said. "It could be delusional,'' one source said.

Regarding Rudiger's claims of being a vampire, a source said, "His roommate says he had been watching vampire films, so he may have got it from that.''

Rudiger was booked on suspicion of murder and assault and was being held without bail at San Francisco County Jail. He is slated to undergo psychiatric evaluation today at San Francisco General Hospital, sheriff's officials said.

Rudiger was arrested at 12:30 a.m. yesterday after a 48-year-old homelessman fought off an assailant who slashed his throat as he slept on a park bench near Vinton Court and Quincy Street in Chinatown.

The unidentified man, who is expected to survive, alerted police. Officers Alane Baca and Gregory Huie spotted Rudiger about two blocks away, at Grant Avenue and Sacramento Street. He allegedly had a bloody knife in his belt.

"It was pretty good police work by the guys on the street,'' said Captain John Goldberg of Central Station.

Rudiger has been portrayed in court records as a schizophrenic as well assuffering from bipolar disorder. He is described as having an "odd''appearance and being prone to violent outbursts.

He attempted suicide at age 15, stabbing himself with a samurai sword, according to court documents. He was then institutionalized at Napa State Hospital.

"Mr. Rudiger exhibits low frustration tolerance along with the delusional belief that he is a samurai whose duty it is to `kill all bad people,' '' according to one evaluation in court records.

"I'm a samurai. I was samurai before I was born, even in another life,''he told one evaluator, according to court records. "I'm like a tiger. I'mOK if you leave me alone, but if you bother me, I strike.''

Court records show that he was arrested in San Francisco for allegedly stabbing a homeless man in the neck on February 5 last year. The victim was later arrested on a drug charge, then was killed by another inmate in jail.

"That destroyed that case,'' said John Shanley, spokesman for the district attorney's office.

Rudiger was arrested again after his former friend was shot with a homemade bow and arrow on August 3 last year.

Rudiger was originally charged with attempted murder but was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon with great bodily injury in May and given three years' probation.

The plea bargain came after Rudiger was found incompetent to stand trial and was sent to Atascadero State Hospital for evaluation.

By the time he was deemed fit for trial, the victim, Myron Scholes, had moved to the East Coast and was unwilling to testify, prosecutors said.

"We considered it a good plea in light of the fact we had no victim and no witnesses,'' Shanley said.

"It's a sad situation,'' he said. "This case involved a lot of strange circumstances. We're just pleased the police picked him up before he killed again.''

Rudiger had been staying for the past week at the Highlander Motel on MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland, police said, possibly under an assumed name.

San Francisco police searched Rudiger's first-floor room and interviewed a roommate, Christopher Brown, 41. Brown declined to speak to reporters.

A next-door neighbor, Pam Johnson, 43, said a man she believed to be Rudiger kept on making noise in his room while she was trying to watch Monday Night Football. The man may have been arguing with his roommate and repeatedly turned his music up loud, she said.

Johnson said the noise made it difficult for her to enjoy the game. "It ruined the last quarter,'' she said.


Joshua Rudiger

At his trial Dr. Paul Good, his psychiatrist, spoke of Rudiger’s childhood. He was the son of a homeless drug-addicted prostitute and an unknown father. According to Dr. Good, Rudiger sank deeper into mental illness despite years of treatment. “He did not know right from wrong at the time of the crime,” Good said. “The records show him to be psychotic from age 4, one diagnosis after another.”

Good added that with an IQ of 81, Rudiger was far from intelligent. Medical records show at age 7 months, Rudiger was found amid filth in the bathtub of his mother's apartment, unattended for two or three days.

He lived in four different foster homes in two years. At the age of 4 he would bang his head, bite his tongue and force himself to vomit. A diagnosis of mentally retardation and psychosis was given at this time. It was also about this time, he later told doctors, that he began living a "double life" in which he saw himself as a ninja warrior.

Rudiger lived in a succession of foster homes until age 15, when he tried to end his rather pitiful life by stabbing himself with a samurai sword (as all good Ninja's do). He spent the next eight months in six different psychiatric hospitals, winding up at Napa State Hospital. Rudiger would sneak out of his room at night and lick the chests of other patients. ``I'm going to be a vampire and suck their blood out,'' he told one therapist. When he left, at age 18, tests showed he was in worse shape than when he went in.

Following this stay in the nuthouse he was sent to an adolescent treatment center in San Jose, but he walked away after three months. Not long after he was picked up by police, carrying a dead fish, saying he was on his way to Japantown in San Francisco and hoped to use a lighter to cook "ninja sushi." (I always thought sushi was raw, but I'm not a ninja, so what do I know)

In 1997, he was arrested for a knife attack on a homeless man. But Joshua got really lucky and the victim died soon afterward in an unrelated incident, so with no one to testify against him police had no choice but to release Rudiger. At the time, he told hospital doctors he was a samurai.

In August, 1997, Rudiger spent six months at Atascadero State Hospital after a bow-and-arrow attack on a 'former' friend. Doctors said then that he was schizophrenic and had bipolar disorder, but in May 1998 they found Rudiger fit for trial. Once again Rudiger got lucky, the victim refused to testify, so Rudiger was placed on probation and ordered to a live-in treatment center.

Soon afterward, he disappeared, moving to a residential hotel in Oakland. Five months after being put on probation, Rudiger began his attacks on homeless people in San Francisco.

Two days before Halloween 1998 Rudiger found 48-year-old Shirley Dillahunty sleeping in a doorway. He pulled out his knife and slashed her throat. He then drank her blood. Rudiger must have been very thirsty because Dillahunty died from a lack of blood.

Within three weeks another three homeless people, all male, unwillingly donated blood to the Vampire Ninja, although none of these men suffered Dillahunty's fate, all surviving their neck wounds.

The local press showed a complete lack of imagination by claiming the attacks were at the hands of "The Vampire Slasher". A truly pathetic effort, and one not worthy of a character as bizarre as Joshua Rudiger. But anyway, back to the story.

Since it was fairly well known that Rudiger was a total nutcase, and that he was a Vampire it didn't take long to link him to the attacks.

When arrested he told authorities that he had been a samurai in another life who burned down the holiest temple in Japan, killing worshipers, and was punished by God in this life by being forced to drink human blood to maintain his "vitality."

At his trial he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but this was rejected by a jury. They chose instead to believe the prosecutions claim that Rudiger’s mental illness was invented so as to escape punishment for the attacks. So the jury chose to ignore the fact that he had been diagrosed as mentally incompetent for his entire life and found his sane.

The Wacky World of Murder


Joshua Rudiger

By Katherine Ramsland -

In San Francisco in 1998, Joshua Rudiger, 22, claimed to be a 2,000-year-old vampire and went about the city slashing the necks of vulnerable homeless people with a knife.  He hurt three men and killed a woman sleeping in a doorway, and when one victim's identification led to his arrest, he claimed that he needed to drink human blood.  The woman indeed died from a lack of blood. 

"Prey is prey," he told investigators.    

Rudiger proved to have a history of mental illness, having claimed alternately to be a vampire and a ninja warrior, and had once attempted suicide with a Samurai sword.  Dr. Paul Good, who testified in his case, discovered that he'd been diagnosed at the age of four as psychotic.  Rudiger went into foster homes and psychiatric hospitals, where he would lick the chests of other patients.  Before he was 18, he told a therapist that he was going to be a vampire and suck out the blood of the people around him. 

Allowed to leave when he was 18, he was definitely not cured.  In 1997, after attacking a friend with a bow and arrow, Rudiger was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Although his attorney entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for the homeless woman's death, Rudiger was found guilty of second-degree murder.  Despite the attorney's request that he be sent to a psychiatric hospital for treatment, he got 23 years to life in prison.



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