Vampirism in Self Defense

James Riva claimed to hear the voice of a vampire in April, 1980, before he shot his grandmother four times with bullets that he had painted gold. He then tried to drink her blood from the wound in order to get eternal life. Finally, he set her corpse on fire. Carol Page documents his tale and includes her interview with Riva in Bloodlust: Conversations with Real Vampires.

James RivaTo some degree, he claimed, it was self defense, because he was convinced she was drinking his blood while he was asleep. He believed that everyone was a vampire and that he needed to become like them. The secret, he was told by imaginary voices, was to kill someone and drink the blood. Afterward, the vampires would throw a party for him.

Fascinated with vampires since the age of 13, he drew pictures of violent acts and began to eat things with a blood-like consistency. He killed animals, including a horse (he says), to drink their blood. He also punched a friend in the nose and tried to spear another in order to get blood from them, and claimed that he had attacked strangers to get it, but didn't want to kill anyone. He kept an ax by his bedroom door and once told a psychiatrist he was going to kill his father.

Riva told a psychiatrist about the voices warning him to watch out for vampires. They said that he had to drink blood. He decided that his grandmother was using an ice pick at night to get his blood -- although she was in a wheelchair. He also believed that she was poisoning his food. On the day that he killed her, he felt he was going to die.

A jury returned a verdict of second degree murder, with a life term. He stopped drinking blood in prison, he said, because he couldn't get enough and he thought his body, used to human tissue consumption, was metabolizing his.



Written by Katherine Ramsland.
Originally published online at The Crime Library.
Reproduced with the permission of the author.



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From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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