Serving in the military may be a draw for more than just service to fellow citizens and the country. For some notorious killers, the military offers the kind of structured anonymity they need to carry out undetected murders. Sites like Ranker, Cheatsheet and Quora have lists or discussions posted about the interplay between military service and serial killings, but some sites like the American Journal of Arcane and Obscure Research claim the number of military-influenced killers is much higher than you might think at around 275.
Serial killer and ex-army serviceman, Robert Charles Browne, claimed he killed nearly 50 people during his peak activity between 1970 and 1995, when he was arrested and convicted of the 1991 kidnapping and murder of a 13-year-old girl. Browne first pled not guilty to the murder of Heather Dawn Church but later entered a plea agreement to avoid the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison and is currently serving at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility.
Browne served in the army from 1969 to 1976 and toured in South Korea. He was dishonorably discharged for drug abuse according to research compiled on Murderpedia. In 2000, while Browne was already serving his sentence for the murder of Church, he sent a letter to investigators claiming he murdered nearly 50 others. In the letter, he told law enforcement, “Seven sacred virgins entombed side by side, those less worthy are scattered wide. The score is you 1, the other team 48.”
“When the urge comes to people like him, everybody’s in danger,” – Robert Ressler, retired FBI profiler.
According to NBC News, former Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said he believes Browne’s claims. “The combination of moving around a lot, picking random victims and being pretty clean about it, if he’s telling the truth about how he disposed of the bodies — that would show some pretty calculated methods to avoid detection,” Suthers told NBC.
Criminologist and Sam Houston State University professor Robert Keppe told NBC he was doubtful Browne would tell the truth about his other victims to authorities. “Probably no doubt the guy’s murdered a lot of people, but numbers are just for media purposes,” Keppel said to NBC.
“The Devil’s Right-Hand Man: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert Charles Browne” by Stephen G. Michaud covers the six-state investigation that was sparked by Browne’s letter. The New York Times in 2007 published a long-form feature about Browne’s confession, covering FBI investigator Charlie Hess’ efforts to pull the truth and a reason out of Browne.