Startling Detective and the Glamour Girl Killer
Updated: Mar 25
There was something wrong with Harvey Glatman. As a child, he used to strangle himself with a rope for sexual gratification. His parents assumed he’d grow out of it. Hey, who knew about these things? It was the 1940s.
When class let out at the Bronx Jr. High school he attended, he’d follow women home and sexual assault them, sometimes at gunpoint. When he wasn’t breaking into homes to steal women’s undergarments, he participated in the Boy Scouts and his school’s camera club, where he learned the basics of photography.
While still In high school, he was caught and arrested for sexual assault and sent to a reform school for a month. He was let out in time to graduate with honors.
After high school, he was arrested again for kidnapping and sexually assaulting several women. During his stay in Sing Sing, he was diagnosed as a psychopath. But he was paroled after serving two years. Maybe the doctors thought he had grown out of it.
Glatman invested in a camera and moved to Los Angeles, California, with dreams of becoming a professional photographer. He hired models, telling them they were posing for the cover of a crime magazine. At his apartment, he would bind the women, take photographs, sexually assault them, take more pictures, and murder them.
When he tried to recruit a model off the street, she fought back, which got the attention of the police. Glatman was arrested and confessed to the murders.
Ironically, His story made the covers of many detective magazines out there. The same magazines his victims thought they were posing for. While horror comic books were banned in that era for being too violent and risque, magazines like True Detective, Extreme Detective, and Inside Detective remained unscathed. They were displayed in the grocery stores on the magazine racks next to Hot Rod, Mad, and Good Housekeeping.
They were still around in the 1970s. I picked one up when I was a kid and read it in the store while my mother did the grocery shopping. At that young age, I knew some women whom men had attacked. I had known a girl who was raped, murdered, and dumped near a lake. I knew the firestorm of trauma that victims and their families and friends are left with. Maybe I was searching through the pages of Starling Detective for an answer as to why someone would be so cruel to another human being.
I read more about Glatman many years later in Jay Nash’s book, Bloodletters and Badmen, and I loosely based a character in my novel, Last Stop Slumberland, on the killer.
Some criticize Quintan Tarrantino’s handling of historical events in movies like Inglorious Bastards and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. He doesn't give the real-life monsters an easy way out. Even though it doesn’t change the heartbreak they create, something is satisfying about seeing them get what’s coming to them. Chalk it up to poetic justice, if you will.
In the end, Glatman was executed in 1959 in the San Quentin gas chamber. The character in my novel doesn’t get off so easy.