Melissa Moore grew up with an adoring dad. But behind the loving façade was a violent killer with a secret that would only be revealed years later – her dad Keith Jesperson was one of the nation’s most infamous serial killers, known as the “Happy Face Killer,” for the anonymous confession letters signed with a whimsical smiley face logo. Jesperson’s notorious five year, five state murdering spree resulted in the deaths of eight women.
Now, Melissa is speaking out on behalf of all the unwitting relatives of mass murderers, becoming an advocate for people like herself. She has written a book, has a TV series and tells “20/20” what it is like for children of serial killers to bear the burden of the sins of their fathers. “We, we are secondary crime victims. We, we carry that shame... we want to remove that. I feel in a sense, I am related to my father, but I didn't cause the pain. But knowing that my father caused some pain causes me pain,” she tells ABC News Anchor Juju Chang
Melissa estimates that she has corresponded with more than 100 children of murderers, including the Boston Strangler’s family and the daughter of the famed BTK killer, which she shares with “20/20.” Her new show, “Monster in My Family” includes the family of the DC sniper and the Spokane serial killer, among many other famous cases. Plus, Melissa is taking things an unprecedented one step further, bringing together the relatives of the killer with a relative of the victim. She also shares with “20/20” her own journey of healing – meeting with a family member of one of her father’s victims – to apologize for the unthinkable crime.
Melissa also speaks candidly to “20/20” about her life as a teenager after learning her father killed multiple women and her fears when she decided to have children of her own. She takes “20/20” back to the scene of her youth, near a place where her father also killed and disposed of one of his victim’s bodies. The report also includes an interview with Jesperson via phone from prison, who recalls his killing spree in chilling detail.
“Monster in My Family” airs on “20/20” on FRIDAY, JULY 10 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET) on the ABC Television Network. (This is an update of a report which originally aired 8/20/10.)
“20/20” is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and David Muir. David Sloan is senior executive producer.