Life as an Animal

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Complete fictional story. It is a Narrative, in the perspective of the interviewer and the serial killer. Tells a gruesome story of how an infamous killer came to be. Please only positive comments.

Submitted: January 07, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 07, 2017



Through the use of police transcripts and several interviews at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution with the authorization of Jeri Taylor, the Superintendent, over a period of 2 months, I, Paola Velasquez, writer and assistant editor of the Oregonian news site, was able to compile the life story of one of Oregon’s most infamous serial killers of the last century. Titled Life as an Animal, I begin the narrative here, in the perspective of Richard McGrath:

As a young boy, I awoke every morning with dread and fear instantly filling my stomach. Ever since my mother died in 1967, when I was six years old, my father drowned his senses in alcoholism. My mother, named Emily, I remember was so beautiful. She had hair the color of the sun. But after the bullet was put through her skull during the robbery at the convenience store, my father and I saw her hair stained with blood and brains. My father, Peter McGrath, started drinking shortly after. The beatings began right after that.

I can still remember the way his eyes looked; glazed over and droopy. And the way his hands would fumble with his belt as he took it off to hit me with it. Eventually he did much worse things to me. When he was angry, I was prey to violent sexual assault. When I struggled, he would cut my body with anything sharp; a knife, razor, or shard of glass. I still have scars on the back of my neck. On a very rainy night, at about 4 in the morning when I knew he was asleep, I left with only a pocket knife and the clothes on my back. I was fifteen years old. I didn’t see him again until ‘82 when I severed his hands and wrung his neck with his own belt in his home.

That wasn’t the first one, though. But before all the people, I played with animals. Isn’t that what they say? That all of them start out with animals. Of course, at the time I had no idea of what I was rapidly becoming. After an evening of being abused, I would sometimes escape outside, cross the creek and sit in a cold woodsy area. One of those times, as I staggered my way through leaves on the uneven ground, I heard the squealing of a dying animal. I followed that noise until I found the crooked body of a squirrel. It was almost as bloody as me. Probably barely escaped the claws of an owl. I made my way towards it, and it cried even louder as it struggled away from me. But I grasped it tight. I squeezed its tiny chest in my hands and could feel its rapid pulse beat underneath my fingers. Then I dropped it. I looked at my hands, smeared with mine and its blood, a black color in the evening light. Upon seeing it, I wanted to scream. But instead, I stomped on the squirrel until I couldn’t hear its voice anymore. From then on, I enjoyed the killing of stupid creatures; mostly stray cats, and once the chihuahua of the neighbors’. The feelings it gave me were mystifying.

The people though, were so much more fun. Harder still, but that’s what made it more exciting. I remember the first one so clearly. I was eighteen years old. I was sitting on a park bench, drawing something horrendous in my notebook, then I looked up and saw her. Hazel eyes, fair skin, and long golden hair. She was perfect. I decided to follow her, from a distance. I watched her for weeks, figuring out the streets she most commonly walked and the places she visited. Then on one evening, I grabbed her. I pulled her wrists behind her back and taped her mouth shut. There in the darkness of the park, hidden by trees, without another soul in sight, I ran my knife along her slender body. Even when she fell unconscious, I carved into her like she was a bloody pumpkin. And far too soon, her lungs stopped breathing and her skin turned cold. So I left her in the bushes, but not without taking a piece for myself. I left that city the same night with five of her delicate fingers in a doggy bag.

I moved west. Into a bigger city where there were so many more people. I got a job at a service station, first working clean-up and stocking then eventually promoted to the cash register. I saw so many different faces, all sorts of people that I could potentially choose for my next victim. But there was a specific one that caught my eye. She was another blonde haired woman, not as pretty as the first one though. She was as skinny as a twig. She would come by the station usually about 5 pm every other day, buy a coke, sometimes a pack of cigarettes. And when her arm would pass over the counter to hand me her money, her bones appeared so tiny and weak that I had to restrain myself from breaking them then and there.

And when the time came, it all was so easy. I went into her apartment, as silent as a mouse, and there she was, dead asleep on the couch. I can still remember the crunching sounds of her bones in my hands. And the way her eyes rolled back in pain, it brought me so much ecstasy. I cleaned up my mess better this time; meaning I dumped her lifeless body into the tub and let the ice cold water encompass her. The police were ridiculous. They searched that place a thousand times and still they couldn’t figure out it was me.

February 6, 2015 - Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution - Visitor’s Room #4

Interview with Richard McGrath

“And what were your feelings after hearing the investigation of your second victim as well as your first turned inconclusive in 1980?” I asked the man who sat across from me.

“I felt a sudden rush of empowerment. When I read the paper and realized that the cops were no where near catching the guy,  I laughed out loud. I felt like I could do it again and again.” McGrath laughed as he answered, I imagine the same way he did 35 years ago.

“During this time, after you murdered the first few victims, did you ever think ‘Maybe I need to stop?’ Did you ever stop and think, ‘This is wrong’?” I squinted my eyes at him, watching the changes in his expression.

“Yes.” McGrath slouched back into his chair after a moment of thought. “I knew right away that these things were wrong. There were times when I wanted to stop.”

“Then why did you continue?” I asked.

“Because…  my actions became impulsive. The first few I planned out and knew the how and whens; but after that, I was just overcome by an impulse and a high. The moment I had someone in my grasp, I was drunk with pleasure and my actions that followed were simply to keep that feeling going.”

“Is that why you began raping your victims as well as cutting and severing their bodies?”


“Do you believe that your actions maybe could have been directly related to your father’s actions?”

After a long pause. “Yes.”

“Care to elaborate?”

McGrath shakes his head no.

“Would you like to stop for now? We can continue another time.”

McGrath nods.

“Alright.” I said, and ended the interview.

End of February 6, 2015 Interview

By the year 1981, I had killed 6 people. I was becoming more violent and sporadic with my murders. It wasn’t enough to just slice them open or dismember them; I wanted to cause my victims more pain, giving me more pleasure in turn. I began going after a larger variety of people. I grabbed older women to young males; whoever resembled a weak gazelle in my lion territory of the city. I started having sex with them before I sliced my knife into their soft flesh. I admit that the whole ordeal was fun to me. I was an unsuspecting worker in an inconspicuous environment upwind from the cops’ noses. My hobby during the night was left undisturbed as long as I was careful.

At first, around the time of my third or fourth, I would sometimes have trouble sleeping. The images of the recent murders would scream at me from behind my eyelids and I would find myself tossing and turning at 3 am. However, it was not long after that I was settling into my bed comfortably and the images I saw did not disturb me at all. By the time I reached a dozen, I felt as if I was floating while asleep.

Then all of a sudden, I saw that man. Peter McGrath stood over my bed with a belt in his hand. He said my name with a distinct slur and raised his arm, ready to swing. I woke up to my slum apartment and memories of my childhood rushed into me. And with them, an extreme anger filled me to the brim. It was then that I decided to come after him. The abuse that I suffered from his hands needed to be inflicted back at him.

I made a trip back to my home town in Eastern Oregon. I was a little surprised to see my father hadn’t moved out of his old house, but then again, I had only left that place 6 years prior. I entered through the back door, easily picking the locks, and found my father slumped in the armchair planted in front of his television set. It was all a bit nostalgic, the scene I saw before me was so similar to my memories. This time, though, I would not let him raise a hand to me. When I finally made my presence known, my father seemed not to recognize me very quickly, but then he uttered my name with that drunken slur of his. Immediately I was enraged and I attacked him.

February 10, 2015 - Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution - Visitor’s Room #3

Interview with Richard McGrath

“What did you do to your father?” This time McGrath decided to stand during the interview while I sat at the table.

“When he stood up, obviously drunk, and took a step towards me, I punched his face.”

“And what happened after that?” I asked him.

McGrath paced a bit, with his hands behind his back, then he answered. “I tied him to a kitchen chair, and used my knife to carve into him. I watched him bleed. I muffled his screams using duct tape. He looked absolutely terrified.”

I wrote this quickly into my notepad, and looked up to see that McGrath was now staring at his hands; probably having subtle flashbacks of the murder in his head. “What then?” I prodded.

“His blood ran down his entire body and formed a puddle on the linoleum. He was struggling so violently, but that only made the blood spill faster. But I didn’t want him to bleed to death, not like the others, so I took his belt off and tightened it around his neck. Then I cut off his hands and took them with me.” McGrath held his hands in front of his face, then replaced them behind his back.

“Do you think you were messier with your father’s murder more than the others’?” I asked.

“Yes.” He answered. “I wasn’t careful enough. I didn’t clean up much either.”

End of February 10, 2015 Interview

I was far too messy with my father’s murder. That was when the cops got a good whiff of me. I returned back to my job and tried to restrain from doing my late-night hobby as much as possible. Months had passed and I started feeling safe again; my murders were small, clean little crimes of a random prostitute or two and none of them could be linked to me.

That’s what I thought, but then they found me.

End of McGrath’s Narrative.

Richard McGrath was apprehended on January 24, 1984 and tried for 17 counts of homicide in Salem 1986. His crimes also included rape and dismemberment of his victims. He pleaded guilty for every murder and was sentenced to fifteen life terms of imprisonment in the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution. Now 54, McGrath openly shared his story with me, Paola Velasquez, and allowed me to publicize it.

© Copyright 2019 Rowena H.. All rights reserved.

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